Hydrangeas – Michael Perry picks his favourites!

Shrubs are the stalwarts of the border- they last for years and years, fill gaps and offer decorative foliage AND flowering! And, what better place to start than Hydrangeas– one of the most versatile shrubs you can find, and I’m going to show how comprehensive the range is too!

  1. Hydrangea aspera ‘Hot Chocolate’

This Hydrangea gives a colour explosion in the garden right from the word go! The foliage is long, elegant and the same colour as your favourite chocolate bar! This foliage changes with every few weeks that passes; from chocolate-brown to deep green, and then it surprises you by transforming to the most delectable amber and golden shades! ‘Hot Chocolate’ is a robust hydrangea which really fills the borders, and even performs in poor soils!

 

Hydrangea 'Hot Chocolate' and Hydrangea 'Endless Summer - Bloomstruck'

Hydrangea ‘Hot Chocolate’ and Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer – Bloomstruck’

  1. Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer’

If you really want maximum flower power from your Hydrangea shrubs, then ‘Endless Summer’ is a real breakthrough! Usually, a Hydrangea macrophylla will only flower on old wood, which means they set their flower buds for flowering in the previous summer. ‘Endless Summer’ not only does this, but it ALSO flowers on new wood, so you get a double whammy! Remember this type of Hydrangea (macrophylla) also gives different coloured blooms on different soils; expect blue on acid and pink on alkaline!

  1. Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bobo’

This type of Hydrangea is a bit more woody than most, but with that comes extra hardiness, resilience and an easier pruning method! Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bobo’ is short, compact and makes a rounded, neat specimen for the border or pretty patio pots. The snowball flowerheads almost cover the plants throughout the summer, and gently turn to bubblegum pink as the season progresses!

 

Hydrangea 'Bobo' and Hydrangea 'Miss Saori'

Hydrangea ‘Bobo’ and Hydrangea ‘Miss Saori’

  1. Hydrangea ‘Miss Saori’

Undoubtedly the star of the Chelsea Flower Show in 2014, ‘Miss Saori’ was the winner of Plant of the Year, thanks to its crystallized-effect, two-tone flowers, which look like mini tiaras! A strong-growing plant, where the flower colour is less affected by different soil types too, you know you’ll be enjoying the colour you were expecting!

  1. Hydrangea ‘Ayesha’

This Hydrangea macrophylla has a distinctive appearance; with mophead blooms where each floret is curled like a piece of popcorn! An easy to grow shrub for sun or shade, great for small gardens or large patio containers! Enjoy pink blooms on alkaline, blue blooms on acid!

 

Hydrangea 'Endless Summer - Blushing Bride' and Hydrangea 'Ayesha'

Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer – Blushing Bride’ and Hydrangea ‘Ayesha’

 

Michael Perry
Michael works as Thompson & Morgan’s New Product Development Manager, scouring the globe for new and innovative products and concepts to keep the keen gardeners as well as amateurs of the UK happy!

Take a tour of our petunias with Michael Perry

“We’ve really pushed out the boat with our new Petunia introductions this year, and it now means there’s a Petunia for almost any part of the garden! So, let’s take a bit of a tour…

Right outside your backdoor, there’s room for a few terracotta pots filled with some of the newest and most colourful petunias! Mix and match with varieties such as ‘Green with Envy’, new ‘Cloud Nine’ and super scented ‘Anna’! Or, for something really indulgent and show-off, try ‘Black Night’, with jet-black, velveteen blooms! Also, for little pots, try Calibrachoa ‘Crackerjack’, with its sprawling habit, with blooms a lot smaller than a standard petunia, but boy there’s a lot more of them!

 

Petunias 'Green With Envy', 'Cloud nine' and 'Anna'

Petunias ‘Green With Envy’, ‘Cloud nine’ and ‘Anna’

 

Then, look up, where Petunia ‘Surfinia’ is trying to escape the hanging baskets like Rapunzel letting down her hair! ‘Surfinia’ offer some of the longest trailing stems in the business, and is actually one of the best known petunias IN THE WORLD! For something a bit more ‘designer’, try out ‘Peach Sundae’. The flowers change colour from yellow to peach, with a myriad of shades in-between!

 

Petunias 'Black Night', Calibrachoa 'Crackerjack' and Petunia 'Surfinia'

Petunias ‘Black Night’, Calibrachoa ‘Crackerjack’ and Petunia ‘Surfinia’

 

So, imagine you’re starting to walk down your garden, and you’ve got some borders by the path to fill. Why not plant a ground-covering variety that would make a low, billowing hedge! Step forward ‘Tidal Wave’! Although we often promote this as a climbing variety, the vigorous habit means it can also be used for carpeting. Don’t underestimate the sugary fragrance of each bloom either!

 

Petunias 'Peach Sundae', 'Tidal Wave' and 'Art Deco'

Petunias ‘Peach Sundae’, ‘Tidal Wave’ and ‘Art Deco’

 

Then, if you really want to show off petunias in your borders, why not plant up some of the very new and very shiny, ‘Art Deco’! Each bloom is a work of art, and the plants are well-behaved in the border too, rounded and compact, with so many blooms you can’t see the foliage…!”

Michael Perry
Michael works as Thompson & Morgan’s New Product Development Manager, scouring the globe for new and innovative products and concepts to keep the keen gardeners as well as amateurs of the UK happy!

10 Hidden Gems

With so many new plants to choose from in our 2016 range, we think you might need a bit of help! So, I’ve decided to pick out 10 hidden gems for you- whatever the size or style of your garden.

Power DaisyPower Daisy – It’s not often that an entirely new type of plant comes along, but let me introduce the ‘Power Daisy’. Arching, hanging plants, bejewelled with golden button blooms from May to October. You’ll finally understand the meaning of the phrase ‘flower power’. This is a unique new species of Calendula, and the shape of basket plants of the future.

 

 

Lily Exotic SunLily ‘Exotic Sun’ – I just love how the exotic buds of this lily open. The best part is that they take their time doing it, unfolding over a few days, meaning you get to enjoy a really theatrical show. They’re such a lovely refreshing lemon yellow too, and this ain’t no shy border lily either, as plants sit at just under a metre tall.

 

 

Geranium-Bug-OffGeranium ‘Bug Off’ – Avoid outdoor mosquito attacks by planting these lemony-scented pelargonium. They’re so neat that they’ll suit table-top pots, and can be on guard for the pesky gnats, and it might well repel wasps too. The summer blooms are like little angels, and really compliment the dinky foliage. I think this plant deserves to be called ‘CUTE’!

 

 

Bidens-BeeDance-Painted-Red Bidens ‘BeeDance Painted Red’ – Pow! There’s no mistaking this bright spark. Over the years, I’ve found that gardeners always love a bicoloured flower. Bred to absolute perfection in Japan, the ‘BeeDance’ Bidens series can easily cope with short periods of drought, or a position in bright, all day sun. You’ll be surprised by the honey scent from each small bloom too.

 




Curcuma-CollectionCurcuma- Siam Tulip – Gardening is often about showing, we know that, let’s all admit it! These Curcuma offer you the perfect opportunity to evoke comment with your friends. Often referred to as the Siam Tulip, these Thai beauties are imported especially. The waxy blooms are very tropical, and last a long time too!

 

 

Ptilotus-JoeyPtilotus ‘Joey’ – How can something that looks so delicate be so easy to grow? One of the most unique discoveries in recent years ptilotus comes from the Australian outback, so has an inbuilt resilience to… well, everything! The fluffy presence of ‘Joey’ will revolutionise your pots.

 

 

Cosmos-EclipseCosmos ‘Eclipse’ – An extra special selection of cosmos atrosanguineus, chosen for its rich, chocolatey fragrance. Yes, you heard that right… chocolate! Aside from the indulgent fragrance, the flowers are near black, and the plants branching, yet compact. In fact, there isn’t anything not to like about this plant.

 

 

Tomato-Tutti-FruttiTomato Tutti Frutti Collection – Now these tomatoes will form part of a fun summer game, as you ask your visitors to guess the flavour. Breeders have selected these fruits, not just for their sweetness, but for their resemblance to a range of unique flavours. You’ll have fun matching up the mandarin and melon flavours. As easy to grow as any tomato, and with thin skins, ensuring a melt in the mouth flavour.

 

 

Kalmia-RubraKalmia ‘Rubra’ – To plug a gap in the border not just this year, but for many years to come, shrubs are very useful. Kalmia is something a little bit different, it needs an acidic soil, but could easily be grown in a big tub of ericaceous compost. The flowers have to be seen to be believed, when I first saw one in real life I was literally stopped in my tracks.

 

 

Begonia-DaffadowndillyBegonia ‘Daffadowndilly’ – It’s a case of confused identity with this new Begonia tongue-twister! Each elegant bloom faces upright and has the shape of a daffodil, albeit in a deep salmon-pink. With a befitting fancy name of ‘Daffadowndilly’, you know this classy new plant will be flying off the shelves, so reserve your tubers now.

Michael Perry
Michael works as Thompson & Morgan’s New Product Development Manager, scouring the globe for new and innovative products and concepts to keep the keen gardeners as well as amateurs of the UK happy!

2-in-1 Cropping Vegetables

Whichever way you look at it, our new vegetable plant creations make sense! Space-saving, double-cropping, fun for kids, easy for beginners, and not to mention tasty and flavoursome…

Let’s look at the story of the dual cropping vegetables!

ketchup and chips

First we launched the TomTato®. Known for many years as a phenomenon within the horticultural world, this novelty has now gone mainstream! In days gone by, allotmenteers actually spent time sellotaping tomato plants onto potato stems in order to create the fabled ‘TomTato®’.

It wasn’t until a few years back that we finally found a way to produce plants on a commercial basis. But, we didn’t do this with just any tomato and potato. On the top, we grafted a super sweet variety, with a Brix content so high it makes it taste as sweet as a strawberry. The fruits are also deliciously thin-skinned, so much so that you’d never find them in supermarkets (as they would not transport as successfully!) The variety is also a bumper cropper! Plants can produce in excess of 300 fruits per plant.

However, don’t forget that below the ground your plants will be creating that surprise harvest; 2-3kg of delicious white potatoes!! A further year’s development has also meant we’ve been able to select an even heavier cropping potato for the base, now giving 50% more ‘tatties’ than the first incarnation of the TomTato®!

When we released the TomTato® to the public, it took the world by storm – more than 1million plants have sold worldwide since 2013. The plant resonated with such a wide range of people too, and not all of them were necessarily gardeners or plant-lovers! Even teenagers were tweeting about this exciting plant, which some nicknamed ‘frankenfood’. Of course, this was inaccurate, as it’s just 2 plants fixed, pegged, grafted together, so everything is 100% natural!

egg-and-chips-image2

With our grafting projects, the next obvious step seemed to be to choose another compatible duo, and we’ve been playing with a few ideas over the last few years. And we are now ready to reveal Egg & Chips® to the world…! If this sounds utterly crazy, don’t worry we’re not talking chicken eggs! Our latest dual cropping plant pairs an aubergine (better known in the US and Europe as the Egg Plant) and potatoes. The potato base grafting actually gives the Aubergine an extra vigour boost, meaning Egg & CHIPS will produce better aubergines in the UK than a traditional aubergine plant can.

So, as well as ketchup and chips or Patatas Bravas from our Tomtato plants, you now have the components to make a really tasty aubergine and potato gratin all from one plant!

Grow your TomTato® and Egg & Chips® in patio containers, growbags (turned up on end!), on the allotment or on the veg patch. Be part of the dual cropping revolution, order your plants today, we expect them to sell out quickly!

Michael Perry
Michael works as Thompson & Morgan’s New Product Development Manager, scouring the globe for new and innovative products and concepts to keep the keen gardeners as well as amateurs of the UK happy!

Ketchup and Chips

No, your eyes do not deceive you! This is a plant which produces tomatoes AND potatoes. That’s a whole meal in one; ketchup AND chips!

ketchup and chips

Once thought of only as a horticultural phenomenon, the TomTato® is now a reality. Despite reports of ‘Frankenstein food’, the TomTato® is 100% natural and is created by grafting, a natural process which has been carried out on plants for many years.

Experts in the Netherlands take a baby potato plant and slice the top off it; they then do the same to a baby tomato plant, and finally clip the 2 together. Compatibility (both are members of the Solanaceae family) means that those 2 plants then grow together as one!

ketchup and chipsIt took many years to get the TomTato® project just right though! We had to consider many things. Firstly, we needed an early tomato and a later cropping potato, as you don’t want to lift your potatoes and ruin your ripening tomato crop! Next, we had to make sure we chose just the right varieties; we needed a strong stemmed potato, which could take the weight of that bumper tomato fruit crop above! Plus, of course, we had to consider flavour- the tomato on the top of the ‘Ketchup and Chips’ plant is super sweet, with an exceptionally high brix content (measure of sweetness in fruit and veg), and a tangy flavour. It is remarkably high cropping too, 100’s of fruits per plant. The potatoes on the bottom are just as delicious; and can be boiled, mashed or roasted!

We launched the TomTato® to much fanfare in 2013, and twitter and facebook went mad for this crazy new food crop! Young and old were fascinated by this plant, which wasn’t just a novelty, but was space-saving, productive and exciting to grow!

Secure your TomTato® plants now for delivery next Spring. Hurry whist stocks last!

Michael Perry
Michael works as Thompson & Morgan’s New Product Development Manager, scouring the globe for new and innovative products and concepts to keep the keen gardeners as well as amateurs of the UK happy!

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