Posts Tagged ‘sunflower’

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.

‘Teddy Bear’ is back in favour

November 2nd, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Sunflower 'Teddy Bear'

The new ‘Sun King’ sunflower was one of the hits of this summer in my garden. Its densely double, rich yellow flowers stood out for months, both in the garden and when cut.

But it’s tall, mine all reached at least 2m in height which in many of today’s gardens is rather awkward. They also needed stout support and while the flowers repay close inspection, you wouldn’t really want to grow them on a patio or a balcony. But there’s a shorter version.

I’ve been uncomplimentary about ‘Teddy Bear’ in the past, it’s a variety that’s been around for a while but a few years ago I found that my plants were not all double and were also all different heights, 60cm or 1.2m is a big difference. So I stopped growing it.

But in the 2017 Mr F trials I noticed that it was back to its original quality. It’s also recently received an AGM for use in containers and the RHS assessors commented: “striking double, large heads, rich yellow-orange, floriferous, performing well over a long period.” Fair enough.

My point is now that its quality is back and that the RHS has awarded ‘Teddy Bear’ the much coveted Award of Garden Merit, it’s been added to the Mr Fothergill’s AGM seed range for the coming season. So it’s available on the special Mr F AGM garden centre seed rack, on the Mr F website and in the Mr F seed catalogue.

Next year I’m going to grow ‘Sun King’ and the back of the border and ‘Teddy Bear’ in front where it will hide the bare stems of its taller cousin. I’m already looking forward to it.

Halloween Finale for Staff Competitions at Mr Fothergill’s

October 31st, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

Each year the trials team at Mr Fothergill’s organise fun growing competitions for the staff to have go at.

This year volunteers could grow the tallest sunflower or the heaviest pumpkin. The ones with artistic flair could grab any pumpkin from the field and carve it for Halloween display.

The tallest Sunflower reached 3.06m high and was grown by Lisa from the IT department. She not only watered them every day, but also gave them names, talked to them and sung from time to time.

Lisa commented: “I enjoyed the competition and looking after my sunflowers. Everyday watering with the addition of Seasol every two weeks did the trick. Moreover, when you talk, you release carbon dioxide which plants use to produce food, therefore helping them to grow. I also believe that all living things are somehow connected, so just like animals and people, they need to feel a sense they are loved. I spent 5 mins every evening after work telling them about my day! Now, when it all finished and they died I really miss my three plants I used to talk to.”

12 people took the challenge to grow the heaviest pumpkin. Rachel from our trials team won the competition with a pumpkin weight of 24.3kg. Production director Jeremy gained 2nd place with a 19.5kg fruit and mail order manager Paul was just behind him with 18.7kg.

Rachel said: “It was an amazing summer and pumpkins are very thirsty. I fed the pumpkin only a couple of times with Seasol, I watered every other day in the height of the summer, a whole watering can full at a time as I felt it needed it. It was only when it got a little cooler that the pumpkin got bigger, it ripened well and I did not realise how heavy it was until I tried to lift it!”

At Mr Fothergill’s the growing season ended with the pumpkin harvest and carving competition this year. Eight judges scored six amazing entries. Gladys the Witch created by Carol, Lindsay and Hannah was the judges’ favourite, followed by an eye ball carved with attention to detail by Suzi. Joint 3rd place went to Colin’s Polar Bear Mafia and Jeremy’s Little Boo. All participating employees put much effort and creativity to create a stunning Halloween display.

Gladys-the-witch-stole-1st-place-of-Mr-Fothergills-pumpkin-carving-competition

Congrats-to-Suzi-on-2nd-prize-of-Mr-Fothergills-pumpkin-carving-competition-with-eerie-eye-ballWell-done-to-Colin-for-joint-3rd-place-with-Polar-Bear-Mafia-creation

SWell-done-to-Jeremy-for-joint-3rd-place-with-Little-Boounflower Giant Single costs £1.40 for 75 seeds, Pumpkin Atlantic Giant priced £3.05 for 10 seeds.

Mr Fothergill’s has a wide range of pumpkins and squashes that will look great on Autumn displays, many of them having amazing flavours when cooked. They are available from Mr Fothergill’s retail stockists throughout the UK, from our latest Seed Catalogue or online. Visit your local garden centre for the full range or head over to www.mr-fothergills.co.uk.

King of the sun

August 3rd, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Sunflower 'Sun King'

One of the great things about being able to visit the trial ground at Mr F is that it’s possible to see all the varieties of a single plant growing side by side. This year, it’s nasturtiums (more on them another time) and last year I paid special attention to the sunflowers. This one, ‘Sun King’, really stood out.

I used to grow a double flowered variety called ‘Teddy Bear’ but I found that it had become less and less consistent, especially in terms of its height: It’s supposed to be relatively short, about 60cm, but some were noticeably taller than the others and that sometimes made for a very odd looking group.

‘Sun King’ reaches 2m and they’re all consistent at about that height. The flowers are larger too – and don’t they look spectacular, packed with petals around that vivid green eye.

I raised them by sowing three seeds in 9cm pots, in April, and keeping the pots in the cold greenhouse. They were soon through – well, the ones the mice didn’t get were soon through – and by that time the greenhouse door and all the vents were open and so hardening off wasn’t really necessary.

I planted the whole potful of seedlings when they were about 10cm high, watered them in with liquid feed and away they went. When they were about 60cm tall I supported them with a 1.2m bamboo cane to each group of plants intending to add a stout dahlia stake later but that never happened. And they stood tall and upright through the hammering rain and the wild wind without the extra support.

I haven’t picked any yet, I should have sown a few more potfuls after the episode with the mice so there’d be plenty. But they’re branching well and just one head, in a heavy vase on the kitchen table, will be just the thing.

Still time to sow sunflowers!

June 1st, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

'Teddy Bear' sunflowers

“It’s June, and you’re suggesting I sow sunflowers?” You know what, I’ve even had them flowering well from sowing in July. OK, it was July 2, but still.

But there’s two things to keep in mind. Firstly, don’t put your faith in a June sowing of ‘Titan’, which can reach 3m, or ‘Kong’, which can grow even taller. These need an early sowing. Secondly, give them a good start, keep them growing strongly and never allow them to get dry. And there are also two approaches getting them going.

You can sow them outside, in the border or even in a container, where they’re going to flower. The advantages are that you don’t need any special equipment and they never suffer any root disturbance so grow steadily. The disadvantages are that you may have to plant them between other plants which soon overshadow them and that they feed the slugs.

I favour sowing individual seeds in 7.5cm pots of fresh new compost and keeping them in a cold greenhouse with the tomatoes – full ventilation. Or in a sunny and cosy place outside. Be sure to set mousetraps, I’ve already learned the hard way this season that mouse traps are essential.

When the the roots are emerging from the pot, plant them outside, stake them with a slender cane and water them in well with tomato feed in the water.

Whatever your approach, water them every week with tomato food and watch them grow – and then watch them flower. And the varieties to try? I tried it with ‘Solar Flash’ and ‘Teddy Bear’ but I’d say that ‘Choco Sun’, ‘Little Leo’,‘Santa Lucia’, and perhaps even ‘Garden Statement’ would be worth a try.

Take a look at all the Mr F sunflowers, and choose for yourself.