About a month ago we posted about the Great British Garden Revival, a new gardening show on BBC2 that aims to reignite the nation’s passion for gardens full of flowers, plants and trees. The 10-part series starts tonight at 7pm, with Monty Don and Joe Swift featuring in the first episode.
Michael Perry and Christine Walkden
Each episode is presented by two well-known gardeners, with each of them focusing on an aspect of gardening that they feel particularly passionate about. The series kicks off with wildflowers and front gardens, followed by programmes featuring topiary, cottage gardens, bedding plants, kitchen gardens, lawns, ponds and many more interesting topics.
In the summer, a film crew visited Thompson & Morgan’s trial grounds to record material for the episode on ornamental bedding, presented by Christine Walkden and scheduled for Monday 13th January.
The Great British Garden Revival aims to restore the nation’s love of gardens and gardening, by showing viewers just how easy gardening can be, with hands-on tips and practical advice on how to get the most from their gardens.
Britain has such a rich horticultural history, but there is a real decline in gardening – people simply don’t have the time or desire to spend time in their gardens. The need for low-maintenance gardens and parking spaces has meant that many front and back gardens have been paved over. As a result, a staggering 95% of rainwater in urban areas is classed as ‘run-off’, overwhelming drains and gutters and increasing the risk of flooding. Fewer green spaces have led to a decline in many species of wildlife, especially birds and butterflies.
Gardening with children
And you don’t even have to spend hours and hours toiling away to get your dream garden! It’s a great form of exercise, it clears the mind and is a great way to get children involved and interested in gardening and wildlife. We’d love to hear what you think about the series and whether it changes your opinion of gardening.
The giant pumpkin, which in October broke the UK record for the heaviest pumpkin, has today been cut open so that the seeds inside can be counted. The pumpkin was transported to Thompson & Morgan’s Suffolk headquarters after it tipped the scales at an impressive 1,520lbs at the annual Autumn Pumpkin Festival in Southampton.
The monster pumpkin has been gracing the entrance to our reception area for most of November while it was decided what to do with it. Various ideas were put forward. Should we make a giant pumpkin pie? Should we carve it into a ghoulish face for Halloween? Sadly the pie idea was discounted – our canteen oven wasn’t big enough by far! In the end, we announced an online competition to guess the number of seeds inside this behemoth of a squash.
As the date of the seed count approached, our hard-working groundsmen, Dave Rich and Eddie Margetson were dispatched with appropriate tools to break open the pumpkin (what do you use to crack open a 1,520lb pumpkin?) and extract the seeds. It was a tough job, but they managed to open it up to reveal the cavernous interior and a large number of seeds.
The seeds have now been counted and the giant pumpkin contained 539 seeds! The lucky winner from the 337 competition entrants is Mrs Sophie Dave, who guessed 541 seeds. Mrs Dave will receive £250 worth of Thompson & Morgan vouchers and 5 of the seeds from this record-breaking pumpkin so that she can try her hand at growing a huge exhibit for next year’s competition!
Did you know? Pumpkins get a bit confused as to whether they are a fruit or a vegetable, but like the cucumber and the tomato, they are actually fruit. The pumpkin is a squash, also related to gourds, and is in the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae.
…Thompson & Morgan!
The Sun’s Peter Seabrook presenting the award for Best Online/Mail Order Retailer to Paul Hansord, Thompson & Morgan’s horticultural director.
At the annual Garden Retail Awards, held last Tuesday, 5th November at the Grosvenor Hotel on London’s Park Lane, Thompson & Morgan won the online/mail order category of The Sun’s ‘Britain’s Best Plant Retailer’ competition.
This is the second year that The Sun has run its competition in conjunction with the Garden Retail Awards, but this is the first time that the separate category of Best Online/Mail Order Retailer has been introduced.
Peter Seabrook, The Sun’s gardening editor travelled to Thompson & Morgan’s headquarters in Ipswich to present horticultural director, Paul Hansord, with a specially engraved spade.
‘We’re so pleased to have won this award’, Paul said, ‘and particularly because it’s been voted for by the gardening public. Competition is tough in online and mail order plant retailing, so we’re very proud to be placed first in this category’.
Last summer The Sun decided to celebrate the work of garden centres, retail nurseries and mail order firms who serve the gardeners of the UK through difficult times and adverse weather conditions. Sun readers were asked to vote for the company they believe is Britain’s top garden centre, retail nursery, online retailer or mail order company.
The award – a specially engraved spade.
When launching the competition in August, Peter Seabrook said in his gardening column in The Sun, ‘We are looking for the company that always offers a great range of topquality plants that represent good value – and which also gives sound and free advice and proper service.’
Recognising that for many gardeners, shopping for plants online and via mail order has become the norm, readers were encouraged this year to also vote for their favourite online and mail order plant retailers.
Whilst at Thompson & Morgan to present the award, Peter said, ‘We know how difficult it is for retailers to maintain the high quality of their plants – we had a long cold spring, scorching summer and then, more recently, we’ve had high winds and rain, so we felt it was right to celebrate the best garden retailers out there.’
This Halloween we set up a pumpkin carving competition on our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages and had some amazing entries. We offered 3 prizes consisting of £20, £10 and £5 in Thompson & Morgan vouchers and the winners have now been chosen.
The quality of carvings was very impressive, and it was quite hard to choose the winners, but three pumpkins really stood out from the rest:
1st prize – £20 voucher
Rebecca Baker sent in this picture of her intricately carved ‘Aztec’ pumpkin, which must have taken lots of time and patience to complete.
2nd prize – £10 voucher
William Bannink’s ‘ET’ took us right back to the 80s. We just hope there were no ‘ouch’ moments while he was carving the pumpkin!
3rd prize – £5 voucher
These mischievous cats were carved by Rachel Furnish and her entry was chosen as the 3rd prize winner by our team of judges.
We also thought we should mention our three runners-up – Syliva Comben’s witch, Tim Furnish’s elephant and Alison Balch’s owl:
Witch by Sylvia Comben
Elephant by Tim Furnish
Owl by Alison Balch
Well done and thank you to everyone who took part.
Hyacinths are a popular spring bulb grown for their showy, colourful and highly fragrant flowers. Hyacinth bulbs can be planted in borders, containers and window boxes, looking most impressive when planted in groups. They naturally flower in the spring but they can also be forced indoors for a Christmas display. Read on to learn how to grow hyacinths successfully in your home and garden!
Hyacinth ‘Berries and Cream Mixture’
Planting hyacinth bulbs
Hyacinths are best planted in the autumn, and as with most bulbs, need a well-drained, fertile soil in full sun. Make sure the area you are planting has been cleared of weeds, and incorporate some organic matter such as well-rotted manure, recycled green waste or compost into the soil. This will help improve light or very heavy soils and provide some nutrients. Wear gloves when planting as the bulbs can be a skin irritant. Plant hyacinth bulbs at a depth of 10cm (4″), spacing them 8cm (3″) apart. Cover them with soil and lightly firm in – avoid treading them in as this may damage the growing tips. They shouldn’t need watering in if the soil is moist.
Hyacinths in pots
Hyacinths make fantastic pot plants due to their neat and compact habit, and growing them in containers allows you to enjoy the scent up close. Any compost can be used for growing hyacinths in containers – for short term displays use multi-purpose compost and for longer term displays use soil-based compost such as John Innes No.2. Lightly work some slow-release bulb fertiliser into the compost surface in early spring to help feed your bulbs for next year’s flowers. For short term displays bulbs can be planted closer together than usual for a fuller effect, spacing them 5cm (2″) apart. Once planted, ensure the compost remains moist to help them establish.
Growing hyacinth bulbs indoors
Hyacinths can be ‘forced’ for wonderfully fragrant Christmas gifts or simply to brighten up your own home! Look out for prepared hyacinth bulbs in garden centres, which have been heat-treated to initiate earlier flowering.
- Start by placing a layer of damp compost into your chosen container – there is no need to add any fertiliser
- Set the hyacinth bulbs on the compost, close together but not touching each other or the sides of the container
- Fill around the bulbs with more compost, leaving space between the container rim and compost surface to allow for watering. The top of the bulbs should just show at the compost surface
- After this, indoor hyacinth bulbs need a cold dark period, preferably around 9°C, in a shed, garage or cellar for up to 10 weeks. Cover the pots with black bin liners to stop light getting through and check them regularly, watering them sparingly if the compost feels dry
- Once shoots have appeared a few inches above the compost surface, bring them indoors and place in a bright, cool position, taking care not to place them above a radiator
- Water regularly when the compost dries out and they should start flowering within 3 weeks.
The perfect Christmas gift
Hyacinths in pots should be watered with care, avoiding over-wetting the compost or allowing it to dry out completely. After flowering, indoor hyacinths can be planted outdoors where they will bloom the following spring.
Hyacinths grown in the ground require very little maintenance. As soon as hyacinth flowers have faded they can be removed, but do make sure you let the leaves die back naturally to feed the bulb for next year. Hyacinths often have large, dense flower spikes in their first year as they are subjected to various treatments in the nursery, but will produce fewer flowers per stem in their second year under normal growing conditions.