April in the Garden

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”

–  William Shakespeare 

April is a magical month in the garden; Tulips are showing their cheery faces in a rainbow of colours, the weather gets warmer and it’s the peak month for planting all your summer-flowering favourites.

To keep yourself busy in the garden this month, here’s a list of our essential gardening jobs to do this April.

Add Instant Colour

Enjoy instant colour in the spring garden by planting Primulas and Polyanthus. These pretty plants are perfect for brightening up pots and the front of border during the spring months.

Keep on top of Deadheading

With early spring flowers beginning to fade, keep on top of deadheading garden Daffodils, Crocus and Pansy flowers; this will help the plants conserve their energy for next year’s blooms.

Water as the Weather Warms Up

When it comes to watering, there are no hard or fast rules. It’s a judgement call that depends on the type of plant, the soil and the weather. Ideally, it is best to increase watering during the plant’s growth, and water in the morning to avoid evaporation loss during the day.

Mulch Shrubs and Trees

Mulch Rose and shrub beds with a 3 inch layer of organic matter. This will help retain moisture during dry spells, reduce weed build-up and over time improve soil structure. Take extra care around Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camellias, as their flowering will be impaired if they are allowed to dry out during their growth in the Spring.

Plant out Dahlia Tubers

Prep for beautiful summer blooms by starting off your Dahlia tubers in the Spring. From early April, start your dahlias off in pots. If you are using tubers that have been stored over winter, give them a thorough inspection and cut off any diseased or soggy pieces with a clean knife. Pot them up, keep them well watered, and after all risk of frost has passed, plant them out in the garden.

HAVE FUN GARDENING THIS APRIL!

Why Gardening is Great for Your Wellbeing

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.”

Luther Burbank

According to the World Health Organisation, good health means more than just the absence of bad health symptoms. It means the presence of positive emotions, quality of life, sense of community and happiness. Research has shown many times that gardening is good for our mental and physical health. With GPs now even prescribing gardening to patients with depression and anxiety, here’s how our gardens are special spaces with many restorative qualities and benefits.

Gardening Connects Us with Nature

“Embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein

Nature has long been recognised for its relaxing qualities as a place for humans to find tranquillity and healing. Recreating nature around our home is a savvy way to develop that special bond with our environment. Surround yourself and your family with cheer everyday by planting an array of pollinator-friendly trees, bushes, and flowers to attract of bees, butterflies and everything in between to your garden.

Gardening Brings Responsibility

“Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

A person who can grow things is a person a little more in tune with the earth. Gardening is also a great way of caring for something; sometimes just the satisfaction of keeping a plant alive, and the responsibility that comes with it, is enough to give us a sense of purpose and pride. They are places where our efforts result in a real sense of achievement, boosting confidence and self-esteem.

Gardening is Great Exercise

“The key to happy living is that Mind should be at rest and body must be exercised and active.” – Hiyamedia

The health benefits of gardening are impressive. Gardening uses all the major muscle groups – the legs, shoulders, stomach, arms, neck, and back all get a workout. Gardening also increases flexibility and strengthens joints. Recent research indicates that 30 minutes daily of moderate exercise such as gardening lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, helps prevent diabetes and heart disease, and prevents or slows osteoporosis. You may even live longer. It’s all good news for gardeners!

Gardening is Therapeutic

“I like gardening — it’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.” – Alice Sebold

Even the simplest things can brighten our mood, as soil has been found to have similar effects on the brain as antidepressants to lift mood. A study by the University of Bristol and colleagues at University College London found that the ‘friendly’ bacteria normally found in soil, altered their behaviour in a similar way to that produced by an antidepressant. Simply planting up some potted Dahlias or a watering a hanging basket can have a huge impact on your stress levels, helping to stave off anxiety, slash depression risk, boost productivity and ease insomnia.

Happy gardening this spring planting season!

beautiful, flowers, and gif image

Top 10 Summer Bedding Plants

May is the perfect time to think about your summer bedding plants for a stunning display of colour all summer long. They’ll lift the garden, adding vivid highlights of colour, and are particularly useful when it comes to the later days of August when the gardens often look tired.

Our bedding range features hundreds of summer bedding varieties, from the much loved, popular varieties to some unique and unusual types that are certain to add something a little different to your garden. For this summer, we’ve specially selected J Parker’s Top 10 bedding plants to create a summer garden bursting with life and vibrancy!

Top 10….

Petunia

One of the most popular flowers for summer bedding in the garden; Petunias are well known as one of the easiest annual flowers to grow and provide long-term colour to brighten up any garden beds or borders.

Facts:
  • Native to South America; genus of about 35 species of flowering plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).
  • Introduced to Europe in the 19th century, where it gained popularity.
  • There are 4 main types of Petunias: grandiflora, hedgiflora, multiflora and milliflora.

Petunia Night Sky

Check out the world’s first speckled flowering Petunia. This Petunia is guaranteed to twinkle in your beds and borders with their white speckled, deep blue petals, resembling stars in the night sky. Planted in summer beds, Petunia Night sky will provide a unique avalanche of vibrant colour.

Calibrachoa

These sun-loving annuals are ideal for the summer garden landscape. These extremely vigorous flowers grow at an amazing rate and to add a touch of class to the garden when planted along walkways.

Facts:
  • Like Petunias, they are native to South America and they are a genus of plant in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family.
  • Commonly known as Million Bells or Trailing Petunias.
  • Evergreen, short-lived perennials with small petunia-type flowers.

Calibrachoa Blueberry Scone

A new addition to our Calibrachoa range. Blueberry Scone produces blue, yellow and purple shaded blooms in an ever-changing display that will flower all summer long. Their bicolour flowers change as a response to the light, climate and weather conditions for a magical summer display.

Verbena

If you’re searching for long lasting blooms that perform even during the hottest days of summer, consider the Verbena flower. These pollinator-friendly plants will not only bring bees and butterflies to the garden, their exquisite, showy flower heads will create a real showcase of beauty in the summer garden.

Facts:
  • Native to North and South America, as well as Asia.
  • Typically found in tropical and subtropical habitats.
  • Commonly known as ‘vervain’.

Verbena Endurascape Purple

Long flowering, mildew resistant and tolerant of adverse weather conditions, this beautiful creeping Verbena makes a fantastic addition to any summer garden. This variety’s deep purple blooms make a real statement as a bedding plant.

Lobelia

Lobelia produce a beautiful abundance of flowering during the summer months that are filled with vibrant contrasting blooms in a variation of bright colours. These plants are perfect for edging around your stunning summer garden borders and pathways.

Facts:
  • Native to nearly all the temperate and warmer regions of the world.
  • Genus of the family Lobeliaceae, which is compromised of 415 species.

 

Lobelia California Dark Blue Eye

Versatile and easy to grow, Lobelia are a popular choice for long-lasting summer flowers. Producing masses of dainty bright blue flowers they will make a beautiful addition to the edges of borders, bedding and pathways if you want a summer garden bursting with life.

Osteospermum

These spectacular sun-loving, daisy-like plants are guaranteed to liven up your summer bedding for a bright and cheerful display of vibrant blooms.

Facts:
  • Native to Africa.
  • Genus of flowering plants belonging to the Calenduleae.
  • They are also known as daisybushes or African daisies.

Osteospermum 3D Lemon Ice

This amazing double African daisy produces stunning white petals that surround a prominent creamy yellow centre. This unique variety open all day and night, for beautiful 24 hour blooms. Their larger than standard pom-pom flowers create a stand out show in beds and borders.

Rudbeckia

One of our favourite summer flowering perennials has to be Rudbeckia. These beautiful pollinator-friendly plants are a great way to add life to your garden and are a beautiful, modern addition to the back of summer borders.

Facts:
  • Native to both damp woodlands and dry prairies in North America.
  • They have several common names, among which are: Black-eyed Susan, Gloriosa Daisy, and Yellow Ox Eye.
  • Rudbeckia is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and has similar daisy-like flowers.

Rudbeckia Goldstrum

This multi award winning Coneflower is a firm favourite among gardeners. Their masses of compact, yellow daisy-like flowers are guaranteed to bring the warmth of the summer sunshine to your beds and borders.

Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)

Looking for a flower that has multiple uses in the garden, smells great, attracts pollinators and comes in scads of colors? Then you should be planting snapdragons. Their typical compact nature and bright colours make the perfect candidate for beautiful summer borders.

Facts:
  • Native to the Mediterranean region and parts of the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Their genus name Antirrhinum comes from the Greek words anti meaning like and rhin meaning nose or snout, which describes the shape of the flowers.
  • There are approximately 40 different species of Snapdragons.

Antirrhinum Antirinca Rose

These stunning pastel pink flowers will add a splash of colour to your garden borders. Their highly fragrant, uniquely shaped blooms will add beauty with their sight and smell and will become a highlight of the summer garden.

Helichrysum

Commonly known as the everlasting flower, these beautiful annuals will marvel in the summer garden from June until the first frost. Their compact nature and range of bold, bright colours will provide a rainbow of beauty in the summer border.

Facts:
  • Native to Africa, Madagascar, Australasia and Eurasia.
  • Flowering plant of the daisy family Asteraceae.
  • Grows on dry, rocky ground around the Mediterranean.

Helichrysum Nevada Gold

This stunning plant produces prolific flowering blooms in a beautiful golden yellow, resembling little rays of sunshine. Otherwise known as the everlasting flower, this compact variety would make the star of any summer border.

Coleus

This bushy, evergreen perennial comes in a wide range of magnificent colour and forms, so there is something for every garden. Their unusual and vibrant foliage will make a true sight to behold in the summer border.

Facts:
  • Native to southeast Asia and Australia.
  • Genus of flowering plants in the Lamiaceae family.
  • Otherwise known as Painted Nettle or Flame Nettle.

Dwarf Coleus Wizard Mixed

This mixture of compact and bushy dwarf Coleus will produce the most spectacular carpet of rich and well defined foliage, which will add an explosion of colour during the summer months. This mix of vibrant foliage will thrive in a sunny border display.

Dianthus

Otherwise known as ‘Pinks’, Dianthus are prized plants for their delicious, spicy fragrance that will fill the summer garden with stunning sights and smells and will look amazing as part of a summer border display.

Facts:
  • Native to Europe, Asia and Africa.
  • Genus of flowering plant in the Caryophyllaceae family, the carnation family.
  • Dianthus include 300 species of perennial plants.

Dianthus deltoides Pink Carpet

This dwarf-growing perennial is perfect for adding a touch of dimension and colour to the border that is quite simply impossible to ignore. Their lilac pink flowers are ideal for creating a carpet of summer colour.

Bedding Ideas

Have fun with colour and texture. If you’re feeling a little bit wild, try a dramatic combination of purple, reds and blues. Or tone things down a little with pinks and whites. Mix things up and see what happens! If you don’t like the results, or they’re not quite what you wanted to achieve, no problem. It’s really easy to try again – or go for something completely different.

suggestions:

Don’t think you have to stick with straight lines and symmetrical patterns if it doesn’t suit your space or the style of the rest of your garden. Informal planting is a case of anything goes. Why not try a cottage garden look that’s charmingly higgledy-piggledy?

Suggestions:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carpet bedding is a technique that produces the effect of a complete carpet of a mixture or a single colour scheme. This bedding style is the perfect way of creating a minimal yet bold statement with your summer bedding.

Suggestions:

Plant of the Month: Geranium (Perennials)

Are you looking for a beautiful, low-maintenance plant for your summer garden? As one of the most popular garden perennials on the market, hardy Geraniums will sail through the challenges of the seasons. Bursting with flowers, hardy Geraniums also enjoy a lush foliage which adds valuable texture in the garden. Incredibly tough, pest and disease resistant, perennial Geraniums give a lot and require very little.

Benefits

Pretty Pastels for the Garden

To make a garden– a beautiful garden! You must choose garden colour schemes smartly. On a deeper level, colours can evoke certain emotions in us. Bright colours can make us feel more energetic and vibrant. Cool colours can make us feel calm, content, tired or melancholy and pastel colours can make us feel relaxed, refreshed and peaceful. In a garden space intended for peace, quiet and relaxation, pastels are the perfect garden colour scheme this summer.

Using pastels in the garden can create a space where we can unwind after a hard day and feel refreshed. A pastel garden can be placed almost anywhere in the yard. Pastel colored flowers look beautiful in bright sunlight, but also stand out in shade gardens and can brighten up especially dark areas.

Blues

Hibiscus Blue Chiffon

This award winning Hibiscus Syriacus has cool pale blue flowers, arranged like layers of ruffled chiffon. The centres are subtly marked with flashes of star-like burgundy-purple veins. A fabulous deciduous shrub which holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit, its quality’s guaranteed. A fine stand- alone specimen, or reliable addition to the shrub border, it will also make a great informal hedge or screen. It is a great choice for attracting butterflies to your garden.

Polemonium viscosum Blue Whirl

This beautiful clump forming Jacob’s ladder that produces clusters of small lavender blue flowers on shorter stems with fern like foliage. This compact perennial is perfect for patio pots or rockeries for creating a burst of cool colour.

Iris Sibirica Dear Delight

The Siberian Iris is a hardy perennial Iris which produces graceful flowers from May to July in an unusual tone of powder blue with white shading.

Pinks

Lily Elodie

This pale, baby pink Asiatic Lily is an excellent choice for bedding with very sturdy stems and upright flowers that will add plenty of elegant, pastel colour to your garden in the summer. For a lovely soft pastel display plant alongside creamy pink roses such as Joie de Vivre or our pink and white Dahlia Mix. These can be cut for a delicate and romantic bouquet.

Gladioli Adrenaline

Gladioli Adrenaline are a stunning blend of pale pink and white, they are sure to add glamour to your summer garden. We recommend planting Gladioli in groups at monthly intervals, starting early spring, to extend the flowering season for a showcase that lasts all summer long.

Lavender Rosea

A twist on the traditional lilac evergreen Lavender varieties, Rosea produces beautiful pale pink flower heads as well as the instantly recognizable Lavender fragrance.  They are ideal for planting in rows as illustrated or in pots around the patio and garden.

Yellows

Double Hollyhocks Yellow

Hollyhocks, otherwise known as Alcea, are a stable of many gardeners and synonymous with cottage garden displays. This beautiful Double Yellow variety produces stunning flowers in a sunny yellow shade. The flowers are perfect for attracting bees, butterflies and other nectar loving insects into your garden.

Dahlia Boom Boom Yellow

Unique pale yellow blooms that look amazing in the summer border. These Pompom Dahlias produce fabulous double spherical blooms which are sure to add a new dimension of shape and texture to any garden. Each flower head is made up of layers of silky, inwardly curved petals creating a perfectly formed sphere. Tall sturdy stems not only provide excellent support; but also provide the Dahlia with its iconic bobbing habit in the breeze – an uplifting and calming sight, especially in a hot sunny garden.

Rose Peace

In 1976, Rose Peace was voted the first ever ‘world’s favourite rose’ by the Rose Hall of Fame, and it isn’t difficult to see why. This exquisite variety of Hybrid Tea Rose produces elaborate, slightly frilled double blooms of creamy yellow, flushed at the edges with delicate pale pink. The Peace Tea Rose also emits a mild but delightfully sweet fragrance, as with other Hybrid Tea varieties.

Purples

Syringa meyeri Palibin

An upright deciduous shrub which produces dense clusters of sweetly fragrant, light pink and white panicles over attractive heart shaped foliage from late spring into early summer. When in bloom, the gorgeous flowers will bring butterflies to your garden.

Agapanthus Melbourne

A stunning new bi-colour addition to the Agapanthus range, with purple buds that open to reveal white flowers with a lilac purple stripe through each petal. Known as the African lily, these are drought tolerant and like well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. They flower throughout August and September, boast masses of strappy foliage and tall 1m stems making these the ideal addition to the back of the border.

Petunia Tumbelina Priscilla

Tumbelina Petunia produce large unique double blooms in abundance during the summer months. The numerous flowers and its long trailing habit (up to 60-80cm) make it perfect for hanging baskets. Flowering from June through to October the fragrant flowers can create a wonderful display whether planted on their own or with other trailing varieties or colours. Priscilla is a lilac- purple variety with heavily veined petals.

ENJOY GARDENING THIS SPRING!

Plant of the Month – Dwarf Rhododendrons

Dwarf Rhododendrons

Dwarf-Rhododendrons

 

The stunning flowers of the Rhododendron have earned them a legion of fans, and quite right too! Some varieties of full size Rhododendrons will simply keep growing until they grow into giant trees, although you can prune them down, these larger varieties may not be an option in your garden.

This month we’re taking a look at some stunning dwarf varieties. The compact growth habit of these shrubs give them an outstanding formal appearance, making them ideal for small city gardens or courtyards where space is at a premium. They’re even small enough to slot nicely beneath taller shrubs in the border, or grow nicely in a rock garden.

Rhododendron Princess Anne

Rhododendron-Princess-Anne
A dwarf evergreen shrub variety with soft primrose yellow flowers which appear in spring, sitting nicely alongside the green foliage. A very reliable performer, its holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Height and spread only 50-60cm as adult plant.

 

POTM-AGM-April

Rhododendron Dwarf Collection

Dwarf-Rhododendrons
Our collection brings together Scarlet Wonder (red), Moerheim Lilac (lilac/mauve) and Pink Drift (cool-toned, light pink). A burst of colour for your border or patio, all three are exceptionally compact and manageable. These varieties produce trusses of up to three funnel shaped, vibrant flowers from April-June, against a lush background of ovate, glossy dark green leaves.

Planting

POTM-April

 

You can plant out in March/April or in October.

Prepare the ground by digging in plenty of compost, neutral or acidic organic matter, or leafmold etc. Plant so the roots are covered, not too deep and apply a good layer of mulch lightly over the surface, don’t pack it down. Re-mulch and feed with an ericaceous fertiliser each spring.

Ericaceous fertiliser? This is for plants that are not as happy in limey soils. It’s a lime-free acidic compost that was habitually made with peat – however as awareness that adding peat to soils is bad for the environment you can now easily find peat free varieties to buy.

Dwarf varieties can cope with positioning in full sun but need evenly moist, well drained soils so keep on top of watering them in the hottest part of summer. Rhododendrons like lots of water and use rain-water if you can – you should particularly avoid tap-water if you live in a hard water area. As with larger Rhododendrons they won’t do at all well subjected to frost so take care to protect them and avoid areas you know are prone to it in your garden.

Rhododendron Praecox

Rhododendron-Praecox-without-label
Technically this one will reach a mature height of 150cm, so not quite as dwarf as the varieties above but this stunning variety shouldn’t be missed out. Its one of the earliest flowering varieties, producing an abundance of rose-purple blooms as early as February and throughout March. It holds the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Azaleas and Rhododendrons – what’s the difference?

In truth not very much! Azaleas are a group within the Rhododendron family and they have some small differences. Rhododendrons will have ten or more stamens, while an Azalea will usually have five stamens. Rhododendrons have larger leaves and they will be paddle-shaped, Azalea have smaller, elliptical leaves. Also Rhododendrons are evergreen, whereas Azaleas can be evergreen or deciduous.