Eat your greens, and reds, and yellows… If you’re tired of the usual summer salad trio; lettuce, cucumber and tomato, then the edible flower revolution will be right up your street! If you haven’t tried the crunch of a begonia petal or the sweet nectar of a primrose, then you’ve really been missing out!
Edible flowers aren’t just suitable for jazzing up salads; they can be used for decorating cakes too. Get your bake on, and top your cupcakes with pansy blooms, carnation petals or the minty florets of Agastache!
During our recent open days, I surprised visitors by introducing them to the wonderful world of edible blooms, as I picked fragrant begonia flowers straight from the plant. They’re crunchy, succulent and have a lovely citrus taste!
Our Pansy Tasty Mix is actually specifically bred to have thicker petals, to give more crunch. They’re frilly and decorative, and each bloom gives you a mini dose of vitamin A too!
Many herbs and vegetables have edible flowers too; harvest chive florets for a mild onion taste, or the little yellow blooms of rocket for a spicy kick, and let’s not forget nasturtiums where you can eat the flower, leaf AND ripe seed pod, which is akin to a caper!
To discover the world of edible flowers and how to use them, read our guide on edible flowers.
So, judging by the weather it looks like I jinxed it when I shouted summer is here, it has lasted all of a week! The occasional down pour is actually quite important for plants. The rain will encourage leafy growth, meaning you get even bushier plants, with the potential for more blooms! As long as it doesn’t stick around, I will be happy.
We are sure it will return just when you are jetting off on your summer holidays so it is important to invest in watering systems to keep your garden looking its best whilst you are away.
Whilst the rain will keep your borders hydrated, it doesn’t always manage to get into patio pots. If your patio container plants have a dense canopy of leaves means, rainfall will often bounce off, so watering by hand (or setting up an irrigation system) can’t be beaten. There are some really efficient systems now available, often with computerised timers, so you won’t have to forgo those weekends away!
You could consider asking a neighbour to water them for you! When you go away try to move the plants into a shaded area, this will cause them to dry out a little less. Remember how thirsty tomato plants can be. Plenty of water and feed will give you bumper crops. Try to be consistent though, to avoid problems with fruit set. Our tomato auto-watering collars are a great way of getting water directly to the plant roots. This is especially useful in grow bags, where water runoff can be an issue.
Feed is so important! A top dressing of Incredibloom® RIGHT NOW will give the effect of your plants supping an energy drink! But will last much longer. Remember that Incredibloom® gives more bountiful growth, more stems, more leaves, AND more flowers!!
How do you keep your plants watered during summer and holiday periods?
I’m getting so excited right now, as it’s almost time to cut the ribbon on our new Thompson & Morgan trials garden at the world famous Jimmy’s Farm.
Keen customers of Thompson & Morgan will have noticed that we stopped holding our annual open weekend a few years ago. We became short of space when we built a bigger warehouse at our main HQ, and our new trials site was located so deep in the countryside nobody would be able to find it.
However, the brainwave of teaming up with Jimmy’s Farm meant we could again show off our plants to the public. There’s nothing better than being able to see plants for real! We do our best with the photography in our catalogues, but it can be difficult to show scale and the true beauty of some flowers. Now, you can visit our Thompson & Morgan garden, with our best-sellers such as Begonia Apricot Shades and climbing Petunia Tidal Wave; also get the first look at brand new 2016 varieties. But, I’m not giving anything away, you’ll have to come and see for yourself!
Behind the scenes we are putting the finishing touches to the site; to ensure you’ll be able to enjoy flowers and vegetables throughout July and August. Although we are opening the garden from 1st July, I’d advise you to hold on a week or two though. A few more weeks of warm weather will really get those beds filling out, and the pots billowing with colour, and occasionally fragrance. Why not come and smell our fragrant Begonias for real?!
So, the invitation is there. Come and spend the summer with us in the Thompson & Morgan garden. Once you’re there, we’ll tell you how to share your favourite flowers on social media too, and you’ve got the chance to win a prize.
See you soon!
When you look at how many fuchsia varieties are available in the UK, in Europe, even worldwide, you would be forgiven for thinking there’s nothing left to discover or breed. But, you are wrong.
As a product developer, I have a mental wish list that covers pretty much every Genus… and for fuchsias it’s just as long a list than any other. My dreams cover: a true yellow fuchsia, a fuchsia with tasty berries, triphyllas for hanging baskets in every colour, more exciting coloured hardy fuchsias…. you get the idea!
Whilst some plant breeders may be beavering away on these projects behind closed doors, they could still be 20 years or more away. However, there’s some superb fuchsias right around the corner too.
We could soon be seeing fuchsias more suited to growing in sunny borders, which could change how they can be used in the garden or the patio. For many years, fuchsias have flagged in full sun, and far prefer dappled conditions. Their versatility will grow!
One of the most interesting breeding angles to emerge recently has been one that’s responding to European tastes; table top fuchsias. These small beauties, called the Bella Series, are covered in blossom, jutting out in every direction, not just dangling and hiding in the leaves!
And then, how could you have missed it? One of the biggest developments in fuchsias, the climbers!! Well, they’re not truly climbers, as they have no tendrils, but varieties such as new ‘Pink Fizz’ have upright growth, and reach 6 feet in just a few months too! Finally, an alternative to the predictable choice of clematis!
Are you planting up a new garden and don’t know where to start? I would recommend garden shrubs as a starting point. By selecting more compact varieties, and those which are easier to prune and tame, you can make life easier for yourself! A garden which only includes bedding plants is a blaze of colour, yet is so much more difficult to maintain, and needs re-planting every year, whereas shrubs will last for 20 years or more.
It’s so easy to build a new garden, or fill gaps in an existing garden, when you buy small shrubs online! Thompson & Morgan are also offering an ‘instant garden’ range this year which offers large, chunky plants (and same size as garden centres) which will begin to fill borders from the moment they’re planted.
There are some fantastic evergreen shrubs for small gardens in this range, and those which offer something a little bit different in colour, form and fragrance!
I’d like to show off to you, Buddleja ‘Buzz’; the very first garden-friendly Buddleja! Buddleja are well-known as being easy to grow shrubs which attracts birds, bees and butterflies to the garden and now they will stay restrained; growing no more than 1.2m and without self-seeding everywhere they shouldn’t!
Daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’ is similar in that it’s a well-known shrub in miniature! Powerfully perfumed blooms, on rounded plants, which sit well at the front of the border or in decorative pots. An extremely long-lasting shrub too, plants will last well over 20 years! Cut some sprigs fort indoor winter vases too!
But, let’s not forget the fuchsia family, especially the hardy varieties which are little mini shrubs all of their own! Super hardy, branching and dripping with jewelled blooms throughout the summer. There’s almost a hardy fuchsia for every position too; from creeping ground cover to mid-sized bush or even robust hedging!
Why not try a new shrub in your garden this year and let us know how you get on?