Plants for Pollinators: Native plants or garden flowers?

November 23rd, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Plants For Pollinators available from Mr F

It’s easy to think that to attract native pollinators to our gardens we need to plant native plants. But it turns out that this is not necessarily true, which is just as well because garden plants tend to be more colourful then natives.

The Royal Horticultural Society conducted some very diligent research, counting insect visitors to native and non-native plants in carefully controlled experimental plots.

These are their conclusions, and I’m going to quote their advice in full because it makes it very clear that to attract encourage pollinators we do not need to plant only native plant species.

The RHS says:

• In your garden the best strategy for gardeners wanting to support pollinating insects in gardens is to plant a mix of flowering plants from different parts of the world.

• As part of this mix aim to have more plants that are native to the UK and the northern hemisphere than the southern hemisphere. Exotic plants can be used to extend the season (especially late summer flowering) and provide nectar and pollen for some specific pollinators. Many gardeners in the UK already adopt this approach since native and northern hemisphere plants are usually very reliable in a UK climate and a smattering of more exotic plants helps provide flowers up to the first frosts and often introduces unusual flowers colours and shapes.

• Regardless of plant origin (native or non-native), the more flowers your garden can offer throughout the year, the greater the number of bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects it will attract and support.

Mr Fothergill’s highlights over two hundred plants as being attractive to pollinators and other insects. Start with these.

Herb Garden Design Ideas

November 21st, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

Every garden needs herbs! Herbs like rosemary are what transform meals – contributing bags of flavour and turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The great thing about herb gardens is that they can be designed to fit any style, size or shape. Read on or watch the video for ideas to fit more herbs into your garden.

Where to Grow Herbs

There are herbs for every situation, so whether you have just a compact corner to spare or an entire garden, you can use herbs to create a space that’s both useful and beautiful.

Choose herbs suited to your growing conditions. Herbs like rosemary, oregano, sage and thyme thrive in drier, sunnier positions, while softer leafy herbs like mint, parsley, chives and lovage grow well in moist, part-shaded areas.

Grow herbs in among your vegetables, alongside flowering ornamentals, in a wildflower meadow, on the patio or within a dedicated herb garden – the choice is yours.

Growth Habit

When designing with herbs the first thing to consider after growing requirements is growth habit. Tall, statuesque herbs like angelica contribute vertical interest to the garden. They are generally planted towards the back of a bed so they don’t overshadow shorter plants but can also look great thrusting skywards among lower growing plants.

Medium-sized herbs, from about 1-3ft, or 30cm to 1m in height, will form the bulk of your planting. Combine a variety of leaf shapes, colours and textures to break up blocks of planting. And, of course, most herbs will also draw in numerous beneficial bugs, most noticeably bees that will go on to help pollinate vegetables and fruits.

Lower-growing herbs like parsley or chives should be planted at the front of any scheme where they can form a neat edging or spill outwards.

Edging and Paving

Herbs for edging look simply stunning. Grown alongside a path they’ll release their aroma every time you brush past.

Creeping herbs like thyme, oregano and prostrate forms of rosemary are great for growing within paving, planted into cracks, opportunistically at the edges, between slabs or in other gaps. From here they’ll extend out to soften hard surfaces, while taking advantage of the radiated heat to waft their delicious fragrance even further.

These types of herbs work well bursting out from any landscaped surface to create a more relaxed, informal feel. Or try planting them en masse to form a practical, yet highly attractive, living mulch that also works to crowd out weeds.

Formal Herb Gardens

Formal herb gardens use straight lines and patterns for pleasing symmetry. Raised beds especially lend themselves to this type of setup, helping create a sense of ordered calm. Plant a mix of hrebs or just one type of herb per bed to emphasise the order and make maintenance far simpler.

Formal needn’t be on a grand scale. A simple herb wheel is a great way to pack a handy selection of herbs into a space little wider than your average steering wheel. Selecting herbs that enjoy the same growing conditions – like this wheel of Mediterranean herbs – makes ongoing care easier, while dividing up the space into individual planting pockets helps stop herbs growing into each other or one herb from dominating.

Container Herb Gardens

Many gardeners can only afford space for a few pots of herbs. But that doesn’t mean you can’t design an effortlessly stylish herbal heaven! Cluster pots of herbs, salads and vegetables together to create a living tapestry of leafy loveliness. Use bold forms like rosemary to create a feature on your terrace, or mix them up in stone or metal troughs and herb towers to really pack your herbs in while ensuring an eye-catching centrepiece to feed both body and soul.

Herbs can also be used to offer vertical interest by growing them in containers held up on posts, or secured onto walls and fences.

Design a Herb Garden

Designing your own herb garden is hugely satisfying, and the GrowVeg Garden Planner makes it easy. Play around with different layouts at your leisure. Drop in any number of containers, planters, troughs or raised beds from the selection bar, or design your own beds using the drawing tools. Once you’re done, select Herbs from the dropdown menu and begin planting. If you’re unsure which herbs are best for your garden, click on the information buttons for handy growing advice, plus details on how each herb may be used. You can also use the Custom Filter button to narrow down the selection to show, for example, only easy-to-grow plants, or plants that will grow in partial shade. Have fun trying out a few designs and perfecting a herb garden that’s unique to you.

Herbs contribute so much to the garden – and us! Whether it’s a little something for livening up recipes or a profound sense of beauty.

If you have a herb garden, we’d love to know about it! Comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Mr Fothergill’s Staff ‘Smarten Up’ to Raise Money for BBC Children in Need

November 20th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

Staff at Mr Fothergill’s Seeds dressed up for the occasion last week to help raise money for BBC Children in Need. Tim Jeffries, Mr Fothergill’s Commercial Director donated £1 for each person who came to work wearing a tie, an idea which came about as he is normally the only person to wear one in the office!

Tim said “I thought it would be a great challenge for my colleagues to take a leaf out of my book and come to work wearing a tie! I am delighted with how many people took part and that we could do our bit to help raise money for such a great cause.”

‘Ties for Tim’ was part of a week of fundraising activity at the Suffolk seed specialist, with staff also taking part in a cake bake, the Children in Need annual duck race and coming dressed up in their finest yellow or spotty outfits, with all proceeds going to BBC Children in Need.

The money raised during the week totalled over £400 and has been boosted by a further £15,800 from sales to date of Mr Fothergill’s Sunflower Pudsey and Pumpkin Pudsey seed packets into retailers.

The two packets for children were launched earlier this year as part of Mr. Fothergill’s partnership with BBC Children in Need, with 30p from each packet going to the charity. David Carey, Mr Fothergill’s joint Managing Director commented “We are so pleased with the positive reaction we have had from our trade customers about our Children in Need seed packets. We are already receiving top up orders from our initial sell in, so are looking forward to being able to add to an already tremendous donation total over the coming season.”

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

Helping helpful insects

November 16th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

BlueTit-©-Francis-C.-Franklin--CC-BY-SA-3

We’ve heard so many of reports recently about the decline in insect populations, both pollinators and other insects, that many gardeners are wondering how they can help. Recent news of the decline in bird populations and the populations of other vertebrates is also rather chilling.

Insects are not only vital pollinators for our crops and for wild fruits and for seed-set in wild and garden flowers, but they also provide – not to put too fine a point on it – themselves as food for birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and even other insects. A brood of ten blue tit chicks can get through one thousand caterpillars – per day! [At first, I didn’t believe that either but the British Trust for Ornithology confirms the figure]

But blue tits are also very efficient predators of aphids, and I’ve watched them dealing with infestations on roses and lupins very efficiently, carrying beakfuls off to their chicks.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we plant roses so that blue tits and other birds can feed on their aphids! But the help of gardeners can be crucial in two ways: firstly, by attracting wildlife of all kinds to our gardens through providing food and nest sites, and secondly by planting varieties that insects appreciate. Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking at different ways to help insects and other wildlife.

Of course, protecting natural habitats is crucial and one way of helping with that is to buy friends and relatives memberships of conservation organisations such as local wildlife trusts as Christmas gifts – and to join up yourself.

So that’s a start: your local wildlife trust. And next time I’ll be thinking about insect friendly flowers.

Make a difference with Mr Fothergill’s and BBC Children in Need

November 13th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

Together, let’s make a difference and grow seed! 30p from each packet of Sunflower Pudsey and Pumpkin Pudsey will go to BBC Children in Need.

We are delighted to announce our new partnership with BBC Children in Need, launching two new seed packets for children – Sunflower Pudsey and Pumpkin Pudsey. 30p from each packet sold will benefit BBC Children in Need, to help make a real difference to the lives of children all across the UK. Let’s join together and have some fun growing the tallest sunflower and scariest pumpkin and help make a difference.

BBC Children in Need believe that every child in the UK should have a childhood which is safe, happy and secure and allows them the chance to reach their potential. To help achieve their vision, they provide grants to projects in the UK which focus on children and young people who are disadvantaged. They currently support 2,400 of these projects. Since 1980, over £800 million has been raised in aid of BBC Children in Need.

Mr-Fothergills-Sunflower-Pudsey-in-aid-of-BBC-children-in-needFothergills

Sunflower Pudsey flowers the same year as sown. Easy, fast-growing with huge heads on giant stems. 75 seeds for only £1.99!

Pumpkin Pudsey is perfect for carving at Halloween – with sweet tasting orange flesh it’s perfect for pies, too. 100 seeds only £1.99!

For more information on BBC Children in Need and all the great work they do, head to www.bbc.co.uk/childreninneed.