Plant of the Month; Eranthis in the Green (Winter Aconites)

January’s plant of the month is a cheerful, early-flowering bulb that will bring some much needed colour to your garden in these gloomy months.

Also known as Eranthis hyemalis, winter aconites beam a golden glow into the garden at a time when the sun rarely breaks through the clouds. These golden yellow flowers bloom the earliest of all spring flowers and will delight you with vibrant yellow flowers in January and February.

We strongly recommend trying Winter Aconites to kick off your spring display, and they are particularly recommended for rockeries and naturalising. These gorgeous yellow blooms are contrasted by beautiful green foliage, which covers the ground long after the flowers have disappeared.

Although bulb planting season is at an end, there is still time to get some last-minute colour in your garden. If you’re looking out at a wintery garden and can’t wait for spring, consider investing in our Eranthis in the Green available now ready for planting and flowering this year.

Our Eranthis in the Green offer guaranteed pre-grown success from these Eranthis hyemalis, supplied in the green ready to be planted straight in the ground.

Click here to shop Eranthis in the Green

Competition Time: WIN a donation to your local community

Community comp1

Do you have an idea for a project to improve your local area and include your local community? We want to help.

Whether it’s starting an allotment with your neighbours or helping cheer up some local land with spring bulbs, we’d love to hear your best ideas to improve your community with gardening. More than that – we want to help you make it a reality.

Gardening can bring people together and transform a neighbourhood – and here at J. Parker’s we want to support all your hard work. Tell us your idea for your local community and we’ll choose five of our favourites to donate what we can to help make it happen.

Big or small, simply write up your idea in under 250 words, detailing a project that would really help your community and send it to us to competition@jparkers.co.uk by 10th November 2017. Tell us how you would organise your project, how it would help your local area and how a donation of bulbs or plants from J. Parker’s would help.

We want to hear about your community and how our donation could help it thrive. Perhaps you want to raise that community spirit with a big gardening project or regenerate a local area, just tell us why you want to help and how you plan to pull it off and we’ll choose our favourite to support.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

  • We will view all entries and any which meet the criteria outlined below will be considered for the prize of a donation of J. Parker’s products to go towards the project outlined in the entry.
  • Three winning entries will receive a donation of bulbs or plants from J. Parker’s for use in their proposed community project
  • Entries should be under 250 words. Images can be used so long as your entry email is less than 5mb in size.
  • Send your entries by email to competition@jparkers.co.uk (please keep your entries under 5mb to ensure we receive them).
  • Entrants agree that their names and stories may be published publicly with their entry. No other details will be shared with any third parties.
  • Entrants agree that, should they be successful, their story and their project may be used in future for coverage on our blog and social channels.
  • All entries using photographs or drawings must be original images, taken/produced by the entrant. You must own all rights to the image and in entering the competition you agree to allow us to use your image in further promotions, on our blog, on social media or in print.
  • The winning entry will be judged on the criteria outlined below. The Judge’s decision is final.
  • The following criteria will be used to judge entries;
    • The idea itself, its practicality and how well it has been outlined by the entrant.
    • How the idea will benefit local communities and environments.
    • The originality of the idea and anything that sets it apart from other entrants.
  • The winners will receive a donation of J. Parker’s products with a value of up to £500 subject to available stock. This will be made up of products of our choosing based on the project described in the entry, cannot be exchanged for cash and there is no substitution for this prize. This donation of products can only be used for the purpose outlined in your entry.
  • All entries will be considered. Competition closes 10th November 2017. Winners will be notified by email before the 20th November 2017.

 

10 Ways Gardening can Help your Community

Gardening can bring people together and transform a neighbourhood. Here at J. Parker’s, we are big believers in the benefits of a simple bit of gardening, and we’ve gathered some of the best ideas to give you some inspiration.

side banner 1Healthy Living

A community garden patch or allotment can provide fresh, healthy produce for the whole community. From organic vegetables and tasty herbs to juicy fresh fruit, your community garden could be an excellent source of vitality for you and your neighbours.

Growing your own food is incredibly rewarding, and can also boost awareness of healthy diets that can improve your fitness and general well-being.

Provide Activities for Kids

Including children and providing workshops can really do wonders for the kids in your community.

Whether its simply including them in a grander project or setting up something just for them, kids love to get in and get gardening. Why not have them plant a bank of spring Daffodils or decorate a local school.

It might just inspire the next generation of green fingered folk!

Sustainable Living

Gardening in your community can spread the importance of local conservation and environmental awareness. The very attitude of getting out there and making a difference is vitally important and can puts out an extremely positive message.

We have to look after our world, and that starts from the bottom up. Promote recycling, educate people on how to reduce their footprint and get people involved in efforts to spread the word. Getting together to support each other and discuss your work is a wonderful, practical way to really encourage sustainable living changes in your whole community.

Reach out to all areas of your Community

We all love gardening. Its natural, relaxing and good for you. But there are people in your neighbourhood who might find it more difficult to join in. Whether its physical or mental health restrictions, whether young or elderly, you can reach out to these corners of your community and involve them.

This kind of inclusion gives vulnerable or overlooked parts of your community opportunities to contribute in really positive activities.

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Learn New Skills

Nothing beats a good, hard day’s work on something that’s important to you. Everyone deserves a chance to experience that, and working on a garden can help develop important skills. You can learn all about plants, the type of soil they prefer, how deep to plant them, and how to care for a garden.

If you’re an advanced gardener, maybe you’d like to give back to your community by giving them practical experience in planting and maintaining a garden.

Transform Land

Of course, the greatest boon of a good garden project is the end result. You can turn a derelict, forgotten area of your local community into a beautiful space you can all be proud of.

From rooftop gardens to forgotten allotments, look for land that is in desperate need of some TLC and find out what you can do to help.

Help Wildlife

Modern life is tough on birds, bees and other wildlife that frequents our garden. Some species are struggling more than others, and this is particularly true in cities and built up areas. You can create an area of land that not only attracts them, but helps them thrive. Be sure to design an area that will really appeal to everything, with plenty of flowers to pollinate or places to hide and nest.

 

October Plant of the Month: Heuchera

Heuchera are famed for their superb range of spectacular foliage and attractive late spring/summer flowers. Uusually bought for their amazing coloured and veined foliage, the vibrancy of leaf colour alone makes these semi-evergreen perennials a must have.

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When many plants in the garden are fading in October, the beautifully coloured and marked foliage of Heucheras really stand out and often become more vibrant.

Hosta1

We have a huge range of Heuchera and Heucherella available, our largest selection yet. These beautiful, colourful perennials will brighten up your garden with a vibrant range of colours and distinctive foliage. Try growing in pots on the patio or at the front of any border (even in shaded locations).

POTM Planting

Planting and Care

Choose an area of partial shade for best results, but Heuchera are also versatile enough to cope in the full shade of tricky, hard to fill spots in the garden as well as full sun. They like nutrient rich, well-drained and slightly acidic soil, so be sure to give the space a bit of preparation. Heuchera prefer a site with good drainage so be sure not to over-water and stick to damp soil.

Given their low-growing, compact habit Heuchera are perfect for the front of a border but they will also grow well in pots and look stylish decorating the patio in containers.

Choice Varieties

Ideal for growing in border, rockeries or in patio containers, try mixing Heuchera together for a rainbow colour effect. The variation and range of colours available is unmatched by any other dwarf evergreen perennial. We have sourced the best varieties to offer, perfect for adding real style to your garden.
black jam
Blackberry Jam produce rich purple and maroon foliage, with deep veins. Try growing in pots on the patio or at the front of any border (even in shaded locations). Height 30-40cm.
heuch mix
Our luxury mixture is the perfect choice if you want to get started with Heuchera. A spectacular mixture of 10+ premium varieties, these plants are sure to brighten any border or patio container. When many plants begin to fade, this mixture will bring you remarkable colour all year round. Height 30-40cm.
You can also shop our full range of Heuchera online here.

 

September Plant of the Month – Kniphofia

Kniphofia

 

Kniphofia-uvaria-Group

Commonly known as Red-Hot Pokers or Torch Lilies, these excellent perennials are often forgotten, which is a real shame because the tall spikes of colour are as useful an addition to a garden border as the cottage garden favourites such as foxgloves or hollyhocks.

Kniphofia
Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia)

The vibrant tall spikes of colour are a great addition to a border. They work well in hot, zesty themed displays with their multitudes of vivid orange, red and yellow tones.

Kniphofia-Alcazar
Kniphofia Alcazar

With their tall grassy foliage they work particularly well planted amongst contrasting ornamental grasses to add a dramatic burst of colour and texture.

Kniphofia-Ice-Queen
Kniphofia Ice Queen

Planting

 

POTM-Planting

Native to Africa, they will thrive in a sunny spot in the garden and are very easy to grow and maintain. Plant in humus-rich, well drained soils. They will cope with dryer soils, they don’t like waterlogging. Water as well when they are growing but keep dry.

Kniphofia-Traffic-Light-
Kniphofia Traffic Light

They will do well in coastal climates.

Kniphofia-Sunningdale-Yellow
Kniphofia Sunningdale Yellow

Deadhead after flowering but leave the plant alone over winter. Give them a tidy in mid-spring, remove any dead leaves, slugs and snails that you find attacking the new flowers, and cut the dead flower spikes right out at the base of the plant, any stumps left behind are a nice house for pests so best avoided!

kniphofia-nancy's-Red
Kniphofia Nancy’s Red

 

August Plant of the Month – Perovskia atriplicifolia Blue Spire

JOBS-AUG

Perovskia atriplicifolia Blue Spire

(Russian Sage)

 

perovskia-atriplicifolia-Blue-Spire-in-garden

 

These spectacular plants, also known as Russian Sage are incredibly popular right now, and it’s easy to see why.

 

Perovskia-atriplicifolia-Blue-Spire-with-bee

 

Producing impressive tall spires of silvery leaves topped with spikes of gorgeous, tiny, violet purple bell-shaped flowers bloom in late summer. Loved by butterflies and bees, it makes a great cut flower with its lovely scent, which is a mixture of sage and lavender. Perovskia atriplicifolia Blue Spire holds an RHS Award of Garden Merit.

 

POTM-AGM

 

Native to central Asia, Russian Sage’s natural habitat is on dry plains and they are natural sun lovers. They are deciduous shrubs which, once established, are hassle free, drought tolerant (in fact they prefer it) and need an annual pruning in spring.

 

Planting

 

POTM-Planting

Perovskia will grow well in any soils, even poor or chalky, as long as they get really good drainage, water-logging will lead to root rot. They like to be in full sun and can withstand seaside air.

Prune hard annually in early to mid-spring for a healthy plant and better flowers that year. If you don’t they will come back week and floppy and generally be an untidy mess.

Cut back previous years flowering stems to within one or two buds of the older woody framework. Remove thin, weak and damaged growth. Then mulch and feed. For the first year keep them moist but not soggy to get them established. In following years they will withstand significant neglect!

They are best planted out in autumn when dormant – if you buy one that is in leaf in the spring be sure it hasn’t been growing in a poly tunnel as it may struggle when you expose it to the elements in your garden.

Perovskia-Little-Spire

Companion planting

 

 

Russian sage is mainly used as an ornamental plant and is pretty versatile for pairing with lots of late summer ornamental grasses and perennials. You can create a really powerful display planting near other silver leafed perennials, near a lavender bush for example, and as both are bee magnets they are a great choice for wildlife friendly gardens. Tall bright coloured perennials will also look great with it in a mixed border, for examples look at Geums, Sunflowers, Rudbeckia and Helenium to name a few!

You can also try under-planting with spring bulbs, such as Tulips or Alliums, as they will do well at hiding the bulbs foliage as it dies off in the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Crocus

CROCUS-VERNUS-MIXED

There’s nothing like the first crocus sighting of the year. While it doesn’t necessarily mean spring is right around the corner – it certainly pushes the winter gloom away!

 

Whilst I love sightings in parks and woodlands, it’s rather lovely to create your own display at home. In a larger garden a secluded out of the way patch with a host of naturalising bubs is a delight, and where space is limited crocus lend themselves well to creating a lively potted display.

1-Crocus-mixed

Of course, one of their best features is that they are great naturalisers, creating a bigger display each year as they mature.

 

How to plant

 

Crocus corms like good drainage and are really well suited to rock gardens as well as beds and borders. Plant 5-7cm deep in a good sunny position. The bottom of the corms are flat, but if you plant them upside down nature will sort itself out so don’t worry too much!

Crocus-Mixed-bed

The natural look…

Crocus will come back year after year, making them ideal if you want to ‘naturalise’ an area in your garden. Pick a well-drained spot that gets plenty of sunshine, toss your bulbs into that area, then plant them where they land. The idea is to get a natural clumped and haphazard display rather than neat rows you would find in a more formal setting. They will do well if you fertilise your crocus every other year, and you should only cut down the foliage when they have fully died off naturally for the season, other-wise you may not get as good a showing of flowers the following year.

 

 

Fun Fact

 

You can save money by growing your own luxury items!

 

Grow you own saffron

 

Saffron is a rare and highly coveted spice and if you’ve ever brought it you’ll already know it’s literally worth more than its own weight in gold! To grow your own is quite easy – however it takes quite a lot of flowers for a good crop. One flower will produce three strands or ribbons of saffron – so to get a pounds work (450g) you would need about 50,000-75000 flowers! So unless you have an acre of land…..

 

Saffron-field

If you’re planning on growing saffron for your own use however, 50-60 flowers will probably get you a tablespoons worth.

Saffron

Harvest by hand – even commercial growers have to harvest saffron by hand – that’s why it’s so expensive.

Harvesting-saffron-by-hand

The good news is thanks to crocus’ brilliant ability to naturalise –each year they will multiply and flower again giving you an ever increasing display – and stock of spice!

 

 

Autumn Flowering Crocus

 

Autumn Flowering Crocus
Autumn Flowering Crocus

 

Crocus Species (Winter/Spring Flowering)

 

Winter/Spring Flowering Crocus
Winter/Spring Flowering Crocus

 

Large Flowering Crocus

 

large
Large Flowering Crocus

 

 

 

 

Daffodils & Narcissi

The Narcissi or daffodil as is it more commonly known, is one of the most recognisable perennial bulbs in the British garden, and has been for centuries. The joy that these simple to grow bulbs can bring is no more prominent that in the poem entitled “I wandered lonely as a cloud” by William Wordsworth where he stumbled across “a host of golden Daffodils”. The sight of Daffodil flowers dancing adds thoughts of joy and pleasure to the poet and to millions of British gardeners for centuries. Plant bulbs in the autumn for a superb spring show, ideal for borders, rockeries, pots on the patio, or even in hanging baskets.

Narcissus-Tete-a-Tete-2

Easy to plant

Daffodils are one of the easiest bulbs to have success with and are suitable for gardeners of all levels of experience. Plant at least 10cm deep or approximately three to four times the depth of the bulb. Space as desired or plant in clumps for a cluster display. Daffodils prefer a spot well sheltered from the wind, preferably with plenty of access to sun. Daffodils are best planted in well drained, fertile soil. It is important that you keep the soil moist during the growing season and allow the leaves to die back naturally before deadheading. They can be lifted and moved once the foliage has died off or they can be left to naturalise when planted in grass or under trees, where they can be left undisturbed for years.

 

Video-daffs

For more help on planting find our helpful step-by-step video tutorials with plant expert Jeff Turner.

 

Hardy Bulbs which can naturalise

 

Daffodils are a great choice as they are hardy perennial bulbs which will come back year after year. They are very simple to grow and will even naturalise if left undisturbed for years.

Narcissus-Cheerfulness-Yellow-Cheerfulness-edit

Wordsworth even makes reference in his famous poem to their ability to naturalise and multiply, as they stretch in a “never-ending line” along the fields and below the trees.

Peom-fine-and-faded

 

Daffodil Varieties

 

Cyclamineus Narcissi

Daffodil-Narcissi-Cyclamineus-Mixed

These dainty daffodils have small cups with swept back petals and usually flower in early spring. Perfect for en masse planting or a rockery.

 

Double Daffodils

Narcissus-Delnashaugh

Double Flowering Daffodils are cultivated for one or more flowers per stem and are perfect for creating that ruffled effect that stands out from the crowd. We have some great varieties available for flowering in early spring or mid spring. Double Daffodil and Narcissi bulbs are suitable for planting in autumn and flowers burst onto the scene in spring. Perfect for planting in a colourful border!

 

Indoor Daffodils and Narcissi

Narcissi-Avalanche-INdoor

Incredibly popular, these are specially treated so that they will flower during the winter months. If you get your timings right, you can have a fabulous Christmas display!

 

Fun Fact

Anniversary-flowers

Daffodils are the 10th year wedding anniversary flower.

 

 

Jonquilla Narcissi

Jonquilla-Narcissi

Sweetly scented daffodils that come in a great variety of shapes, sizes and colours.

 

Miniature Rockery Narcissi

Narcissus-rockery-mix

These dainty daffodils are fragrant and charming! A great choice for patio containers and pots, or the front of a border. Available in a range of golden yellow and traditional white Narcissi bulbs. Plant in autumn and wait for a colourful spring display.

 

Multi-headed & Triandrus Narcissi

Narcissus-Narcissi-Daffodil-Geranium

These can offer up to five pendants on each stem and a superb naturalising Daffodil perennial bulb. Browse our range below and plant in autumn. They make a great border Daffodil but are also suitable for planting in areas where little else grows such as under trees and woodland scenes.

 

Tall Daffodils & Narcissi

Narcissi-Green-Pearl-for-tall

Perfect impact plants for the border or rockery. Taller varieties can tower over miniature spring flowering bulbs and help create a colourful setting that can be appreciated and enjoyed by all.

 

Trumpet & Cupped Narcissi

Narcissus-Gigantic-Star-CUpped

Cupped and Trumpet Daffodils produce an array of small or large sized cups (or coronoas as they are also known), perfect for all situations where the petals really do jump out at you.

 

Fun Fact

Daffodils-in-vase-cropped

Daffodils are poisonous – so don’t eat the bulbs and don’t arrange with other flowers without soaking them for 24 hours first.

 

Orchid Flowering Narcissi

Daffodil-Narcissi_Trepolo_Paul_1-for-orcid

Breath-taking flowers that really do offer something a little different than traditional varieties. Orchid Daffodils propel a gorgeous split cup or cornona that gives the flower the appearance of being an orchid, hence their name. They are a great addition to any spring garden display and are also very effective as cut flowers. A real Jewel in the Daffodil bulb range.

 

Poeticus/Tazetta Narcissi

Poet_tri

Free flowering, these produce amazing shows in spring. Tazetta Daffodil bulbs can produce up to an amazing 20 small flowers per stem making them superb value and ideal for growing in border, rockeries and patio containers. Fragrant Poeticus Daffodil bulbs are great for naturalising and will create an abundance of small cups in a variation of colours with large white petals.

 


 

And the Winners are….

Winners-Banner

A huge congratulations to our competition winners!

We have had a phenomenal response to this year’s competition and the standards have been particularly high so a big thank you to everyone who entered – you made it very difficult for us to choose!

 

The Winners

Gold

Our Gold Prize of £100’s worth of J Parkers vouchers goes to Deborah Fox for this lovely group spring bulbs shot.

Deborah Fox
Deborah Fox

Silver

Our Silver Prizes of £50’s worth of J Parkers Vouchers go to Jenna Sanders for her crocus shot, and to Kim Fletcher for her Allium and Snail image.

Jenna Sanders
Jenna Sanders
Kim Fletcher
Kim Fletcher

Runners up

Our runners up will all receive a Bronze Prize of £25’s worth of J Parkers Vouchers. They are: Barry Roberts, Bellinda Ferretter, Hayley Bromley, Isabelle Johnson, Jay Rae, Patricia Baird and Teresa Sherman.

 

Once again a huge thank you to everyone who entered, you’ll be able to see lots more of the entries from this and previous years on our facebook and pinterest pages from next week.

 

July Plant of the Month – Geum

Geums

 

Geum blooming in the garden. Totally Tangerine

 

Geums were once a severely overlooked plant, often used to plug the gaps in a cottage garden scheme. But then suddenly everyone started noticing new bright, zesty flowers colours appearing all the time at flower shows boasting spectacular long flowering times turning these beauties into stars in their own right.

 

Geum Mrs Bradshaw. One of the most popular and well-known varieties. Holds an RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Geum Mrs J. Bradshaw. One of the most popular and well-known varieties. Holds an RHS Award of Garden Merit.

POTM-AGM

 

A fantastically useful plant, they are disliked by slugs and snails so are very useful deterrents in the garden. Boasting disease free foliage with a neat compact habit and the pretty flowers, they are a great addition to any display. The evergreen/semi evergreen foliage with is excellent for smothering weeds making them very useful groundcover all year.

 

Geum Totally Tangerine. Multiple award winning Geum, featured regularly at the Chelsea flower show. New bright and zesty colours making them suitable to star in the garden instead of juts filling the gaps!
Geum Totally Tangerine. Multiple award winning Geum, featured regularly at the Chelsea flower show. New bright and zesty colours making them suitable to star in the garden instead of juts filling the gaps!

 

Each stem produces lots of buds that will flower in succession, giving you a long summer display. Good for cutting but get the most out of them in the garden first.

 

Geum chiloense Lady Stratheden
Geum chiloense Lady Stratheden

 

New bright and zesty colours making them suitable to star in the garden instead of juts filling the gaps!

 

Geums are perfect for attracting butterflies and bees.
Geums are perfect for attracting butterflies and bees.

 

Geums don’t tend to come true when seed raised, which is why there are lots of interesting crosses out there so a great variety on offer.

 

Cocktail Geums

 

This beautiful Cocktail range of pastel coloured Geums are great for growing in pots with their neat habits and mature height of just 30cm.

 

Planting

 

POTM-Planting

 

Position: There are three different groups of cultivars rivale, coccineum and chiloense. The rivale have nodding, bell-like flowers. They like moisture retentive soils and prefer to grow in shade or semi shade. Coccineum are an alpine plant, flowering well after a cold winter and have upward facing flowers. The choloense are tall, sturdy plants producing large double flowers and can tolerate full sun as well as semi shade.

Soil and propagation: Geums like moisture retentive soils and will benefit from an annual mulching. Low maintenance but if you divide them when they start to loose growth from the middle they will last much longer, bringing years of pleasure. You can also take cuttings from the base in early spring.

They may succumb to powdery mildew at the end of the summer, just remove any affected stems. Prune back hard after flowering to give the foliage a boost for the rest of the year.

Companion Plants

 

Geums are very popular for Cottage Garden style designs and work really well with lots of perennials. Featuring a few well places Dahlias amongst your Geums will make them more of a colourful backdrop to the main event. Make them pop by paring the red, yellow and gold tones of geums against purples from Alliums or Pulmonaria. You can enhance the golden shades by planting daisy like Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Coreopsis or Helenium.

If you need good coverage in a shaded area why not try planting with Helleborus, which boast a similar stock of healthy evergreen foliage but will flower earlier in the year, giving you dashes of colour throughout the seasons as well as a constant lush green coverage.