Help Mr Fothergill’s fundraise for charity

September 6th, 2017 | News | 0 Comments

At Mr Fothergill’s we like to support as many charities as we can – so far we’ve raised over £150,000. Over the last few years, we’ve supported and fundraised for the Royal Hospital Chelsea Appeal, Greenfingers Charity, and RSPB – among others!

For these charities, in particular, we’ve have been selling sweet peas, seeds or fundraising through events. If you’ve contributed to any of these, then thank you – all of these charities need help and we are grateful to have given them the chance to assist their causes further.

We’ve recently completed a 20 mile walk, that some of our team took part in to raise money for the Greenfingers Charity. You can find out more about our walk here. In addition to this walk, we’ve set up a page for each of the charities that we support – so if you’d like to help with our fundraising efforts, you can find each of the pages below.

 

 

 

If you’re going to donate your hard earned money to a charity, it’s important that you know what your generous donations are going towards. Each of these charities supports very different causes and all of them important.

Greenfingers Charity

Greenfingers Charity is dedicated to supporting the children who use hospices around the UK, along with their families, by creating beautiful, well-designed outdoor spaces for children to enjoy with family, friends and siblings, whether through play and fun, or therapeutic rest and relaxation.  To date, Greenfingers Charity has created 51 inspiring gardens and outdoor spaces in hospices around the country and has a further waiting list of hospices that need our help now.

RSPB

RSPB are the largest nature conservation charity in the country, consistently delivering successful conservation, forging powerful new partnerships with other organisations and inspiring others to stand up and give nature the home it deserves.

Royal Chelsea Appeal Limited

The Chelsea Pensioners are the iconic faces of the UK’s veteran community. They reside at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, their 325-year-old home founded by Charles II, in the heart of London.

Thank you in advance for all the support you’ve given us and these charities over the years, we hope we can continue to help them through the sale of our seeds and fundraising. 

 

 

Super snapdragons for longer flowering

December 6th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Antirrhinum 'Madame Butterfly' (left), 'Twinny Rose' (top right) and 'Antiquity'

We all know the snapdragon flower, the antirrhinum. Squeeze the sides of the tube at the back and the lips at the front part as the flower opens. And when a bumble bee lands on the lip the weight of the bee opens the flower so that the bee can get inside to do its pollination duty.

But as soon as the flower is pollinated, well, its job is done and the flower hastens towards shrivelling up and falling off. Not necessarily… Some snapdragons have flowers in a slightly different shape, a shape that hinders rather than helps pollination and encourages the flowers to last longer. There are two types.

Some, including ‘Antiquity’ and ‘ReminiScent’ have open flared flowers with no obvious landing point for a bumble bee and no familiar symmetry guiding the bee to land in the right place to pick up pollen to carry off to another flower. The almost-trumpet shape also shows off more colour.

And then there are double flowered forms, and especially the ‘Madame Butterfly’ mixture and ‘Twinny Rose’, where the centre of the flower s full of extra petals. This, again makes pollination difficult, and although it usually works in the end, as it does with all these varieties, the delay gives us a few extra days of colour.

‘Twinny Rose’ and the ‘Antiquity’ mixture are shorter varieties for the edges of sunny patio pots while the lemon-scented ‘ReminiScent’ mixture and the ‘Madame Butterfly’ mixture are taller, for borders, although ‘Madame Butterfly’ is especially good for cutting.

No rush to sow, spring is fine, but it pays to get your seed order in early – just in case…

December Gardening Advice

December 2nd, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Two pale green enamel mugs containing mulled wine, orange slices and star anise

The smell of a winter spruce, the warming taste of a spiced mulled wine and a seasonal wreath on your front door. Without a doubt, the festive season is upon us.

But if you’re hoping to spend the month partying, or wanting nothing more than a cosying up in front of a warm fire, make sure you take time out to reflect on what you’ve achieved in the garden and on the allotment this year – what worked, what didn’t, and what you’re hoping to achieve in 2020. We may be restricted on what we can do in the garden this time of year, but our minds should be filled with creative, wonderful ambitions for the new growing season ahead. Look through seed catalogues, write lists and draw garden plans. Read gardening websites and talk to garden bloggers. This is an exciting time for gardeners, so there’s plenty to get inspired by. And with the promise of spring on the horizon, this should spearhead us into the new year.

In the flower garden

Protection

There’s still time to move your outdoor pots and containers, as we generally don’t get exposed to the extreme weather until January. If you don’t have a greenhouse, polytunnel or shed, group them together in a protected area of the garden. Keep them raised and off the frozen ground, as this will not only help the drainage for excess rain and melting snow, but prevent ground frost from cracking your pots. If your containers are too heavy, wrap horticultural fleece around your exposed shrub. Bubble plastic is another option. A wrapped potted plant will not only benefit from the added warmth but your expensive pot won’t crack from the frost.

A gardener sowing seeds into a seed tray filled with soil by handSowing

If waiting for spring to sow seeds seems too far away, there are seeds you can sow right now. Ensure they have somewhere warm and bright, such as a heated greenhouse or propagator, otherwise shorter daylight hours and cold temperatures will quickly put a stop to any possible germination. Seeds to consider are sweet peas, snapdragons and cyclamen.

Pruning

With leaves now fallen, a tree’s structure is clearly visible. Think about the three ‘Ds’: dead, damaged and diseased. Prune any deciduous tree branches that fall under these categories, but remember the overall structure and try not to prune too hard. As winter is a time of dormancy, many ‘sap’ based shrubs and trees, such as vines and acers, can also be pruned. Finally, start winter pruning wisteria. Ensure you cut summer side shoots back to no more than three buds.

Roses

Another plant that will benefit from pruning are bush roses. Bare-root varieties can now be planted up. Ensure all climbing roses are sufficiently tied-back, as winter winds can cause damage. A fresh supply of mulch around your garden plants will help protect them from the cold.

Root cuttings

Consider taking root cuttings from herbaceous perennials. This will increase your flower border supplies, and save you the expense of having to buy new plants next season.

An interior shot of composting leaf mulch leaf mould in a wooden compost bin

Leaf mould

Continue to keep borders and paths clear – debris and foliage can make paths slippery as well as harbouring slugs, snails and other pests. If you have the space why not create a large bin for leaves to break down naturally.  Four posts forming a square, pegged into the ground and surrounded with chicken wire is an easy and cheap solution. Twelve months from now, you’ll be spreading your own rich leaf mould across your garden beds.

Soil

If your beds are of heavy soil, dig over any bare areas. Try to do this when the ground isn’t waterlogged or in the midst of a frost. By leaving them as freshly turned clods winter will go to work on them, break them down and help to make your soil more manageable come spring. You could also consider adding organic matter to help lighten your soil. However, if you have a light soil avoid digging until spring as the free-draining soil will be prone to moisture loss.

Christmas trees

Many of us will be looking to purchase a Christmas tree over the coming weeks. With so many varieties to choose from, it’s worth thinking about a pot grown tree. Once the season is over, they can be moved outside to continue growing, and not thrown out like so many are in the new year. A one-off purchase from a reputable grower or nursery could have you enjoying your tree all year round. When it becomes too big to bring inside for the Christmas season, why not permanently plant it out into your garden? Not only will this one tree continue giving you and your family years of enjoyment, but it will also benefit the garden wildlife.

Failing that, if you do buy a pre-cut tree, don’t be so quick to throw it away in the new year. It can be chopped up and used as mulch for acidic plants such as blueberries, and the branches could find also find use as support canes for growing peas on your allotment.Christmas wresth making materials laid out on a table, including pliers and pinecones

Christmas wreath

If you’ve been growing ivy or holly then you might want to consider creating your very own Christmas wreath. By using cuttings of evergreen, or branches of crab apples and pyracantha berries, this is the time to let your creativity go wild.

Garden wildlife

Ensure all bird-feeding stations are clean and replenished regularly. A fresh water supply will also help our feathered friends at this time of year. Check all water features, including ponds, don’t freeze over, as this can damage the structures as well as being harmful to the fish and garden wildlife.

Freezing temperatures

Keep an eye on the weather reports and overnight temperatures. If you have plants in the greenhouse, then a heater might make all the difference on a cold night. If there is a snowfall, ensure all snow is removed from the greenhouse exterior, as any plants growing in the greenhouse will need all the warmth they can get. However, a warm greenhouse does increase the risk of pests and diseases, so regularly check all plants, pots and trays.

On the veg patch

Winter veg

It’s time for your winter veg to play their part on the Christmas day menu. Continue to check crops for pests and diseases, removing any fallen, yellowing or rotten foliage. The later you can leave digging up the veg, the fresher it’ll be on the big day. However, take into account the possibility of the ground being hard or frozen.

Primary cultivation

As winter veg gets dug up and plots start becoming bare, remove old debris and add to the compost heap. If the ground’s not too hard, turn over the soil to expose dozing pests and to aerate the soil. If you can, spread a thick layer of compost, or well-rotted manure over the plot.

If you have a compost heap then turn it over, as this will help it break down.

A gloved gardener's hand taking hardwood cuttings of a gooseberry bush with a pair of red pruners in winterFruit

If you’re growing currants or gooseberries, take hardwood cuttings. If you’ve been growing rhubarb for some years, dig up the crowns. Split them, top to bottom with a spade, and then re-plant. If you’ve purchased new varieties, plant them directly into the ground or large containers. Remember, leave a newly planted crown untouched for a year, that way it can become established, and produce quality stalks.

This is a good time of the year to plant bare-root fruit bushes and trees. Again, if you have established fruit trees, these can now be pruned. Again, think about the three ‘Ds’ and act accordingly. Check all staked fruit trees. If not securely tied-in, wind rock can cause damage and potentially kill the plant.

Winter salad

Continue to successional sow winter salads and check leaves for any slugs and pests. If they are grown outside and not in a greenhouse, ensure they are protected with a cold frame, cloche or horticultural fleece.

Other crops you can now sow in a heated greenhouse are leeks, broad beans and radish.

Prepping tools

If the weather has taken a turn for the worse, retreat to the potting shed. Once warm, set about cleaning and sharpening all hand tools. Service all power tools, including the lawnmower. Thoroughly clean all empty pots and trays in hot water with diluted washing up liquid. Carrying out these tasks now will ensure your tools last for years to come.

Other jobs

  • Add colour to the home with poinsettias, hyacinths or cyclamen persicum. However, keep watering to a minimum and place them in a draught-free environment, out of direct sunlight.
  • Start ordering seeds for the 2020 growing season.
  • Cuttings of evergreen, mistletoe and sprigs of holly can make excellent mantle and table displays.

The right way with roses

November 29th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Rose 'Pompadour' (right) and 'Amelie Nothomb'

Why am I writing about roses in November? Yes, got it in one: planting time. And not planting potted roses from the garden centre but planting bare root roses from Mr F. So, what’s so good about bare root roses?

Firstly, bigger root systems. When nurseries pot up roses they have to cut off half the roots to squeeze them in the pot so by the end of the first season, bare root roses will have overtaken potted roses because of their larger root system.

Secondly, the compost nurseries use in the pots tends to run out of nutrients fairly quickly. Planting bare root plants into soil that you yourself have improved with long lasting soil improver is a better bet.

So. When your plants arrive soak the roots in water with SeaSol organic seaweed concentrate added and then plant them in the usual way – just make sure that you’ve improved the soil with weed-free soil improver, or with traditional well-rotted manure if you can get it.

Varieties? There are thousands. But Mr F are the only people who list all these outstanding French varieties created by the legendary Delbard family in France. They bring together two vital features, fragrance and disease resistance, into a range of roses ideal for small gardens.

I’m not going to rattle through them all, you can check them on the website, but two especially appeal. ‘Pompadour’ (above right) is a super scented pink Floribunda with old fashioned flowers and ‘Amelie Nothomb’ is a neater apricot Floribunda – and both have that mildew and black spot resistance we all crave in our roses.

Order now, if the soil’s still too wet to plant when they arrive just heel them in until the soil is workable – as long as you get them in by the end of February they should be fine.

Bikes in the greenhouse? No, thanks…

November 22nd, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Chrysanth Pennine Series (left) and Mayford Perfection Series

Things in the garden tend to look a bit bleak at the end of November, especially this year. The rain, yes the rain, not only blighted some people’s lives but kept us out of the garden and off the soil. And there are so few plants that flower naturally at this time of year that – but there are some, my Pennine Series chrysanths (left, above) are still hanging on.

Many of us grow tomatoes in a cold greenhouse, and this last summer proved that outdoor toms don’t always do as well as we’d like, so growing them in an unheated greenhouse is a very good idea. But, when the last toms are picked, do we leave the greenhouse empty till it’s seed sowing time in spring? Do we use it to store the fair weather bicycle? Or do we use it for December flowering chrysanths?

The thing about the Mayford Perfection Series (above) is that they flower late, from about now onwards when we really need some colour, but they don’t need to be under cover until just before the first frost. So we can grow them in pots outside all summer – remembering, of course, to keep them well watered and fed – and when the tomatoes are over we can remove the plants to the compost heap, clean up the greenhouse and move the pots of chrysanths in.

You don’t need a heater, just open everything up on sunny days to let plenty of air through and close things down when it’s cold. Your rooted cuttings will arrive in May, pot them into 7cm or 9cm pots, keep them in the greenhouse for a few weeks and they’ll grow strongly. In June move them into 20cm pots and stand them outside in a sunny place, keep them watered and fed and provide some support. Bring them in when the first frost threatens. Each plant will give you four or five well branched stems of beautiful flowers – and they’ll still be going at Christmas.

Ties on for Tim Again as Mr Fothergill’s Seeds Raises Money for BBC Children in Need

November 15th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Once again, the team at Mr Fothergill’s Seeds have donned their finest ties to help raise money for BBC Children in Need – an idea which came about as Tim Jeffries, Mr Fothergill’s Commercial Director is the last and only person to ever wear a tie in the office! And this year their colleagues in Australia have done exactly the same. Tim again donated £1 for each person wearing a tie with the company’s joint Managing Directors John Fothergill and David Carey matching his donation.

Mr Fothergills UK office taking part in Ties for Tim to raise money for BBC Children in Need

Mr Fothergills Austrailia office taking part in Ties for Tim to raise money for BBC Children in Need

‘Ties for Tim’ is part of a week of fundraising activities at the Mr Fothergill’s offices in Newmarket, with staff also taking on the challenge to ‘Be the Masterchef’, the Children in Need annual duck race and coming dressed up in their Pudsey inspired yellow or spotty outfits, with all proceeds going to BBC Children in Need.

The money raised during the week will be added to sales of Mr Fothergill’s Sunflower Pudsey and Pumpkin Pudsey seed packets, with 30p from each going directly to BBC Children in Need. To date, this donation has reached over £24,000.

Tim commented “It’s fantastic that everyone at Mr Fothergill’s gets behind such an important cause, having fun in the process. If only everyone came to work looking as smart as they did on Monday! But it’s just as important that our retail customers and their customers are engaged and we have seen that through sales of our Sunflower Pudsey and Pumpkin Pudsey seed packets.”

Sunflower Pudsey and Pumpkin Pudsey have an RRP of £1.99 and are available from selected garden retailers, online at www.mr-fothergills.co.uk and in Homebase stores.