Posts Tagged ‘bedding plants’

5 Ideas to Help You Start Growing Earlier This Year [video]

January 16th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

 Sweet peas all in a rowAre ready to get gardening even though it feels a little soon?  Well, we are here to help. In this video, you can find some top tips to help you start growing earlier this year.  Growing earlier means cropping earlier and so every little tip and trick will help.

  • Some crops can be sown and grown directly in the ground if they are offered some protection. Late winter is the best time to do this as the soil will be warmer than the depths of winter, and the days are getting longer offering more light.
  • Cold frames can be used to great effect to start off some vegetable crops.  Even though the temperature inside is not balmy, the difference is just enough for a lot of the more hardy crops.  Cold frames also offer protection from snows and wind to overwintered plants too.
  • Cover soil a week or so before sowing your seeds, this will allow the soil to dry and warm up a little before sowing.
  • You can create mini greenhouses from recycled plastic bottles.  Popped over the top of young plants will assist with growth early on when the weather can still be quite sharp.  The video below gives you instructions for creating mini greenhouses – a great way to reduce, reuse and recycle!
  • Other early varieties can be planted into a greenhouse or polytunnel.  Sown in pots, seed trays or cells, young plants will grow slowly and steadily until it is time to plant them out.
  • Some seeds must be grown indoors if they are sown earlier, this allows them to germinate and they can be moved outdoors at a later date.
  • In winter, if plants are being grown indoors you can use grow lights to allow seedlings to get enough light to grow healthily.

These are just a few tips to start growing earlier, there are plenty more in the video below. As always, if you have any more suggestions on how to start growing earlier, do let us know and help your fellow gardeners!

 5 Ideas to Help You Start Growing Earlier This Year

 As noted in the video, onions and shallots are great vegetables to start growing early. You can find our selection of onion and shallots here. Happy early sowing!

Free Sunflower seeds with every seed order at Mr Fothergill’s

March 2nd, 2015 | News, The flower garden | 0 Comments

Free Sunflower Pacino ColaAnyone who places a seed order from the spring edition of Mr Fothergill’s mail order catalogue, published on 28 February 2015, may claim a free packet of sunflower seed in celebration of what has been declared the Europe-wide Year of the Sunflower.  The variety Pacino Cola (20 seeds per packet) is compact at just 50cm (20in) high, but produces plenty of medium to large blooms on well-branched plants all through the summer.

The Year of the Sunflower was the idea of Fleuroselect, the organisation which assesses new flower varieties from around the world to determine their suitability for European conditions.  Mr Fothergill’s Tracy Collacott is the sole UK seed company representative on the Fleuroselect Home Gardening committee.  “We hope as many people as possible will grow sunflowers in 2015, and to set the ball rolling we are delighted to send all our spring customers a free packet of this beautiful variety, which is particularly easy to grow and tailor-made for first-time gardeners”, says Tracy

Sunflower Pacino Cola has golden petals and contrastingly dark centres.  The neat, compact plants are ideal in beds, at the front of borders or in large terracotta pots, where they are sure to attract attention.  During the summer the large heads attract a wide range of beneficial and pollinating insects, while in autumn wild birds can feed on the seed heads.

You can order Pacino Cola or any other sunflower seeds from our extensive range from Mr Fothergill’s on the website, or by mail order from our catalogue.

Sunny Babe and Buttercream lead the way for Mr Fothergill’s Sunflower Year

February 17th, 2015 | News, The flower garden | 0 Comments

Year of the Sunflower seed stand

Mr Fothergill’s is putting its weight behind a Europe-wide celebration of the once-humble, but now trendy sunflower by introducing nine new varieties, including brand new  Sunny Babe and Buttercream F1, to its range of these bright, bold annuals for 2015.

The initiative comes from the home gardening division of Fleuroselect, the organisation which assesses new flower varieties from around the world to determine their suitability for European conditions.  Mr Fothergill’s Tracy Collacott is the sole UK seed company representative on the Fleuroselect Home Gardening committee.  2015 has been declared the Year of the Sunflower by the organisation, which hopes to see them grown in gardens everywhere.  Easy to grow, great favourites with children and now available in so many different colours and plant forms, sunflowers are really versatile subjects for modern gardens.

Sunny Babe is a multi-stemmed variety, producing an abundance of golden orange 3-4in wide single heads on plants which grow up to 5ft.  Buttercream F1 has soft, butter-yellow heads which are pollen-free.  Again multi-stemmed and reaching around 5ft, its blooms are slightly larger at around 6in across.  Both varieties are great for garden display and for cutting.

Other F1 hybrid sunflowers being introduced by Mr Fothergill’s include Infrared in a range of rich bicolour shades, Summer Breeze with unusually green centres and Copper Queen, a superior ‘take’ on the traditional sunflower and pollen-free.

You can order Sunny Babe and Buttercream F1, or any other sunflower seeds from our extensive range from Mr Fothergill’s on the website, or by mail order from our catalogue.

Serenity and a Ripple new at Mr Fothergill’s: Osteospermum and Petunia new varieties added to the range

February 16th, 2015 | News, The flower garden | 0 Comments

Osteospermum and Petunia“The best osteospermum available” is how Mr Fothergill’s plant manager Tom Stimpson describes the company’s brand new variety Osteopermum Serenity Blue Eyed Beauty.  “The Serenity series is famed for its naturally well branched, compact and rounded habit and long flowering season – from early June through to October, and this latest addition is a real stunner,” says Tom.  “It is easy to grow, with the minimum of attention required to keep plants looking good, and has superb garden performance, where it is ideal for patio containers in a bright, sunny spot.”

Serenity Blue Eyed Beauty is a unique colour in osteospermums, has the added advantage of remarkable floriferousness, and is already proving very popular with Mr Fothergill’s customers.  Plants reach a height of 35cm (14in).  A pack of five young plants cost £8.95, with despatch from mid to late April 2015.

Another brand new introduction for the 2015 season is the Cambridgeshire-bred Petunia Ripple – pictured here is Tumbelina Damson Ripple.  The Tumbelina series is well known to Mr Fothergill’s customers, who appreciate its reliable nature and abundance of fully double blooms.  Tom says what sets this new colour apart from many of its competitors is the reliable nature of the colour combination; blooms do not revert to one single colour, but keep their unique white and rich damson format all through summer, from June to October.  Tumbelina Damson Ripple is an outstanding subject for hanging baskets and other containers, where it trails to around 45cm (18in).  Again, a pack of five young plants cost £8.95, with despatch from mid to late April 2015.

You can order Osteopermum Serenity and Petunia Ripple from Mr Fothergill’s on the website, or by mail order from our catalogue.

What to do in the garden in December

November 28th, 2014 | Garden Diaries, The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Winter finally arrived in this corner of Suffolk with a few hard frosts at the end of November, preceded immediately by a prolonged period of heavy rain.  We do not normally experience too many pre-Christmas frosts nowadays, but it will be interesting to see what December has in store for our trial ground.  Next summer seems a long way off at present, but it will not be many weeks before our trials team makes the first seed sowings in readiness for next year’s displays and crops.  We hope you will be doing the same for your garden.

GroBox line-up

With Christmas also looming on the horizon, we have pulled together a few ideas on inexpensive gifts for gardening friends.   There are lots of things you can buy a gardener, and something else is always needed whether it is a new plant, new tools or something as extravagant as a bumblebee lodge or a polytunnel.  So take a look at our ideas and find something to suit your budget.

RSPB Give Nature a Home

Newly introduced for 2015 and especially for those who are relatively new to ‘growing their own’ we have introduced a range of Grobox and Gromats pictured above.  You should also take a look at the RSPB range of seeds we’ve developed specially chosen to help our birds, butterflies and bees.   There are three seed collections and three shaker boxes of seed blends which will both help our native birds and pollinators, but also make great stocking fillers this Christmas too.

But before we send you out to your labours in the garden this month, may we just take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Christmas and a fantastic year in the garden throughout 2015.

 

Jobs in the flower garden in December

Pansy seedsDecember is generally one of the quietest months in the garden, but why not plant up a patio pot or two with pansies,  primroses and polyanthus to bring some welcome colour in the weeks ahead?

If you have an unheated greenhouse with space at the moment, plant some bowls with crocus or hyacinths.  With the protection the greenhouse gives, they will probably flower ahead of those planted outside and can be brought into the house in early spring to cheer up the home.  There is also just about time to plant tulip bulbs outside;  they are still on offer in our local garden centres.

Crocus

On the subject of early seed sowings, summer bedding favourites such as geranium (Pelargonium zonale) and fibrous-rooted begonia (Begonia semperflorens) can be sown  from January onwards, either in a heated propagator or on a warm windowsill.  If you are looking for the classic red geranium, always a great favourite with our customers, look no further than our Moulin Rouge F1, which boasts an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, which means it should perform really well in your containers, beds and borders.  This one really looks superb in traditional terracotta pots on a terrace or patio.

Fibrous-rooted begonias are unbeatable for edging beds and borders, and they never seem to know when to stop flowering.  They remain neat, compact and full of flower from early June onwards.  This year, some of ours at home were still in bloom until the middle of November, which just goes to show what great value they are.  Begonia Mr F’s Special Mixed F1 includes both green- and bronzed-leaved types and is a real star performer.  Remember that both begonias and geraniums will need frost protection as they develop next spring before being planted out to their flowering positions in late MaBegoniasy.

Seed of sweet peas can also be sown in January, so now is the ideal time to place an order for our seed.  Sowings can be made in pots of good quality compost in an unheated greenhouse.  Although sweet peas are hardy annuals, it is a good idea to protect the emerging seedlings and young plants with some fleece when hard frosts threaten, but they need very little pampering.

We are rather proud of our range of sweet peas, which includes lots of individual varieties, plus many blends and mixtures.  As you browse our selection, you will see that several of our sweet pea varieties are labelled as ‘Bred by Dr Keith Hammett’, who is the world’s leading breeder of these beautiful flowers.

Sweet Pea Jimelda

We have become great friends with Keith and have the highest regard for his work – that’s why we like to single out his varieties for you as being something rather special.  For example, Keith is responsible for our latest exclusive introduction Jimelda, which we have named in honour of husband and wife actors Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton.  We really love this crimson and cerise bicolour, and it will certainly stand out in your garden.

Roses, especially taller ones, can be pruned back to about half their height ahead of more severe pruning early next spring.  Remove all rose leaves on the soil’s surface to prevent the build-up of disease through the winter months.

If you notice any hellebore leaves with brown patches (leaf spot), remove these by cutting the whole leaf stem off at the base.  Taking off these diseased leaves also makes it easier to see the flowers when the appear.  Follow this with a mulch of well-rotted organic matter such as leafmould to give the plants a boost.

Azaleas are popular house plants at this time of year, and they benefit from correct watering.  Keep the pot in a saucer and poor just a little water at a time into the saucer when you notice the surface of the compost is dry.  Rain water is best for this purpose, but boiled (not boiling!) water is a reasonable alternative as it has less alkalinity than water straight from top.  Always ensure the water you use is at room temperature.  Tap water tends to make the foliage turn yellow.

 

Jobs in the vegetable garden in December

Brussels sprouts

Out in the vegetable garden or on the allotment, seed of broad beans Aguadulce and Superaguadulce can be sown direct in their cropping positions when soil and weather conditions permit.  The plants are usually as tough as the proverbial old boots, but the beans they produce early next summer are deliciously sweet and tender.

Taller varieties of Brussels sprouts can sometimes work loose in the soil due to high winds.  It is worth checking plants and firming the soil in with your heel around any which look a little wobbly.  On exposed sites it may even be worth staking them for extra stability.

While parsnips are often ready by October, the flavour always seems to improve once the roots have experienced a frost or two.  We believe the frost makes them sweeter and tastier – and a lot of gardeners believe the same is true of Brussels sprouts.

parsnipsWhile conditions allow it is a good idea to continue digging over any bare patches of the vegetable garden or allotment.  If you have well-rotted farmyard manure or other bulky organic matter to incorporate as you dig, so much the better.

December is a good month to start making plans for next year’s vegetable garden and ordering seed of favourite varieties. So put on a pot of tea and sit back in a comfy chair to peruse your catalogue or browse through the website’s vegetable seed offerings.

If you like the idea of growing some large onions from seed (and incidentally the largest bulbs are always produced from seed rather than from sets), you must try The Kelsae, which is capable of yielding large, heavy bulbs even with the minimum of attention.  It remains one of the finest strains for producing large, heavyweight bulbs and is a showbench classic.

The Kelsae

Serious onion growers sow their seed in gentle warmth in late December or in January to give the plants as long a growing season as possible.  Growing large onions is one of the most satisfying aspects of vegetable gardening.  For the best results and heaviest bulbs, sow seed of The Kelsae from December onwards in gentle warmth – and even if you don’t win first prize at your local horticultural show, the bulbs make excellent eating, with a lovely mild flavour.

Aubergine MoneyMaker f1Aubergines need a fairly long growing season, although they are not difficult.  Their seeds can also be sown in gentle warmth from January onwards – the earlier you start it, the better.  Our Moneymaker F1 is many people’s idea of the best of the purple-skinned varieties, being heavy yielding and well suited to our climate, but if you are looking for something rather different and very colourful, take a look at our aubergine Mixed, which includes long thin fruits, red and green Asian types, plus small red ones and both large white and purple types from the Mediterranean area.

Many of our customers also grow potatoes, and as we begin delivery of our seed potatoes in January, it is certainly not too early to take your pick from our extensive collection.

We have a superb offer, which combines great old favourites, such as Epicure, King Edward and Desiree, with the best of modern breeding, such as Vivaldi, Picasso and Apache.  Few crops are as rewarding or satisfying to grow as potatoes.  Even seasoned gardeners still get a thrill when they put their fork into the soil to reveal the first new potatoes of the summer.  By the way, all our seed potatoes are certified ‘Safe Haven’ or equivalent status, so you can be assured they are of the finest, healthiest quality and will give you superb results.  All our seed potatoes are also grown in mainland Britain.  To grow the best, you must plant the best.

 

Jobs in the fruit garden in December

Apple trees

Apple and pear trees can be pruned during December.  Take a look at the tree and first remove any damaged, broken or crossed branches, especially those which are growing into the centre of the tree.  Nowadays spur- and tip-bearing fruit trees tend to pruned similarly.  Cut back this year’s growth on main branches by around a third.  Do not prune side-shoots (laterals), as these will develop fruit buds in their second year.

Autumn fruiting raspberry canes can also be pruned back in December.  Cut back all canes to within 2-3in of the soil surface, as next year’s crop will be borne on stems produced next summer.  With the canes gone, cut out any suckers, remove all nearby weeds and finish off by giving your canes a good mulch with well-rotted organic matter to give them a great start to their new growth next year.

On less wintry days in December, it is possible to get out there and plant fruit trees during this month.  Although fruit trees are all dormant now it is the perfect time to ensure the root balls establish well as next year gets underway.

Take a look at our range of fruit trees on offer and consider planting a mini orchard in your garden this season!