Summer is almost here! We want to be able to keep our fuchsias looking good for months to come.
However to get to that situation – they do need some care and attention to keep them looking at their best! Luckily once fuchsias get going, they will flower until the first frosts or until you have had enough!
So here are my top tips for keeping your fuchsias at their best for many weeks to come!
• Feed when it is really hot, watering becomes a priority so we tend to forget to feed on a regular basis and any goodness in the compost will tend to have been used up sometime ago. So make certain that your plants are still being fed. A balanced feed at this time of the year will ensure lots of good flowers but also ensure that the plant is healthy and ready for the season ahead! I must admit to being a fan of the slow release fertilisers that you can add to the compost, they should last right through the summer – but if you feel the plants are starting to look tired then give them a boost with a real feed!
• In really hot weather (it must come eventually!) and when you have to give a lot of water, the roots of the plants can be the indicator that the plant is under stress. Lift the plant out of the pot to have a look – white roots are a good sign – brown the fist sign of a potential problem. The heat that builds up inside a plastic pot can damage the roots. The modern terracotta pots that we use are thin so we need to protect the roots – poor roots equal a poor plant! So I drop the pot into a second pot, this traps a layer of air and keeps the roots cooler, think of it as double-glazing for the roots. Alternatively growing plants in real terracotta pots can be better still as even on the hottest day of the year they still feel cool. However the only trouble is the weight, so use them for your tubs etc rather than plants that you have to move about!
• Check that your plant is dry before you water it – in hot weather the symptoms of over watering – looking limp etc, are identical to that of a plant looking dry. So feel the compost, if it is really wet – then pop the plant in the shade for a while to reduce its stress!
• The last few summers have tended to be windy. The plants have taken a real battering, standards can be particularly prone to problems toppling over or loosing their heads. Check their ties regularly or even pop in a second cane, it might look a little strange but at least your standard won’t lose its head. Always make certain that the cane or support is taller than the standard so that all the head is supported. Check the ties as they can loosen! Most of my standards are against a fence and if they are looking a little prone to blowing over I actually tie them to the fence as in the middle of the summer they get a little top heavy.
• Keep on deadheading your plants! Removing dead flowers and seedpods will encourage your fuchsias to carry on flowering – it can be time consuming but it makes such a difference!
• Juggle your plants – if something is looking tired then swap it for another – if it is part of a mixed tub then you can always replace one plant for another!
Let’s keep our plants flowering as long as possible this summer!
From an early age lots of people have influenced my gardening. My grandfathers were both keen gardeners, my neighbours when I was a child and also my mother. I have to clarify this by saying that I think even my mother would admit she was not the world’s keenest gardener, but she likes her garden to look nice and has always cared about its appearance.
I, a child through the 1960s and 70s, remember spending a lot of time in the garden. My brothers and I spent a lot of time outside, mainly playing football and cricket (I still hate cricket) playing with space hoppers, Action Men and I also remember having a Tippy Tumbles doll. My memories of our first garden are vague, but I remember the roses that I fell into and still bear the scars of. I remember also the standard roses particularly one called Peace that my mother was very proud of and I think there was one called Princess Elizabeth that was pink. I remember also the driveway and the day we had the drive tarmacked. This was a very modern thing to do and my parents were very proud of the black gooey smelly stuff with its white pebbles dotted around in it.
Every Spring my mother liked to have a hanging basket, it would be lovingly looked after all year until the frosts killed it. My mother would also supervise the annual planting of the front garden. Invariably this would involve blue lobelia and white alyssum planted alternatively up the drive. Some years there were rows of tagetes or some years there would be lipstick pink geraniums (in those days everyone called them geraniums but they are also known as pelargoniums).
My mother tried to take cuttings of the geraniums, rooting powder would be bought and plant pots of dying cuttings would line the windowsills. It was clearly an impossible task. I was amazed by this as surely plants only came from the garden centre. The thought of making new ones from existing plants seemed incredible and I still think getting a cutting to take is a magical thing.
Lobelia erinus ‘Blue Wings’
Last year I grew some alyssum by accident, they were part of an annual mix I sowed and I was charmed by the plants. They lasted for months; indeed some have got through the winter and are flowering still. I looked at them and remembered gardens past and thought it was time to revive this style of planting. I decided to grow a 1960s garden. Well, I say garden, I mean a patch of border.
I am lucky to be a member of the Thompson & Morgan plant trial panel so when I got the catalogue to choose from this year I quickly ordered some blue lobelia and white alyssum and waited for the time to sow.
They are now duly sown and starting to germinate. This is very exciting for me and I am looking forward to taking this project forward.
This is one stage one, there is much to do and I am excited about how this project will develop. I will keep you informed as to progress.
We are offering a £1,000 cash prize to find the nation’s tallest sunflower.
With Sunflowers high on everyone’s sowing list thanks to an industry-wide Year of the Sunflower Campaign, we are hoping to see the World Record for the tallest sunflower brought to UK shores, and are encouraging the nation’s gardeners to take part with the launch of a £1,000 cash prize for the tallest UK specimen grown in 2015 whether it sets a new record or not! The current Guinness World Record, a whopping 8.75m (28ft 8in) giant grown in 2013, was raised by Hans-Peter Schiffer of Kaarst-Vorst,Germany.
Gardeners looking to get their hands on the UK prize can grow any variety from any seed firm. At the end of the season, when plants are at their peak and upward growth has stopped, all you need do is take a photo of your plant and upload it to the competition page here.
Photo entries must include the whole plant from soil level to the top of the flower and you must pose alongside your plant to give an idea of scale, you’ll need to state your height and the height of your plant when submitting your entry.
We now offer more than 30 sunflower seed varieties, including new ‘Tall Timbers’, a hybrid form of ‘Russian Giant’ offering improved vigour and more chance of growing a record breaker. Reaching 4m (13ft) with no special care, ‘Tall Timbers’ also produces impressive flowers and rivals other two towering specimens ‘Russian Giant’ and ‘Mongolian Giant’.
Horticultural Director Paul Hansord said: Our Sunflower Competition is open to everyone. This is something the whole family can take part in, why not set up a little family rivalry and grow one plant per member of the household and see who fares best? Failing that, challenge your friends, neighbours or allotment buddies with a bit of friendly rivalry. If you are growing sunflowers this summer, this is the only competition you’ll want to take part in – £1,000 for raising a single plant from seed – that really is a cash crop worth tending to!
We will also reward the most creative use of sunflowers in a second photography competition. If towering giants aren’t your thing, why not work with smaller varieties this summer, such as ‘Helios Flame’ and the unusual basket variety ‘Inca Gold’, there will be a £50 Thompson & Morgan voucher available for the two most creative entries supplied by the end of Friday 30th October.
Thinking about taking part? Why not blog about your record attempt? If you’d like to spread the word about your efforts and show off your progress through the season, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
Sunflowers are one of the most versatile plants you can grow. They can be grown as cut flowers or for wildlife and they are the perfect introduction to encourage children into gardening. That is why we are joining Fleuroselect in the celebration of this much loved garden favourite.
Growing sunflowers is so simple;
1.Sunflower seeds should be direct sown outdoors from April to May.
2.Position in full sun on well drained soil.
3.Sow seeds thinly, at a depth of 1cm in drills spaced 45cm (18″) apart and cover seed with its own depth of soil to exclude light.
4.Water the ground regularly, especially during dry periods. Germination usually takes up to 21 days. When sunflower seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them out to 30cm (12″) apart.
There are so many varieties but here are our top five for inspiration!
Great for garden bouquets the Sunflower ‘Helios Flame’ is a lovely tall stemmed variety that will make an eye catching addition to your vases.
‘Inca Gold’ is a trailing plant that will make an unusual yet exciting addition to your summer hanging baskets. This variety will also look incredible as ground cover in your borders.
Sunflower ‘Mongolian Giant’ is the perfect competition variety. They are fun to grow and will produce magnificent yellow blooms ready for the show bench.
Top tip – plant with chive to deter aphids!
Think outside the box with this unusual variety and grow deliciously creamy blooms! Sunflower ‘Italian White’ is a step away from the typical yellow and perfect for flower arranging.
Sunflower ‘Solar Flash’ is a dwarf variety for patio containers or grown as a cut flower.
Don’t forget, whether you are trying to grow the tallest sunflower or growing for fun, make sure you send your sunflower pictures in for your chance to win! Find out more here.
Like Willy Wonka opening the gates to his chocolate factory, the chance to get a glimpse of the immaculate Thompson & Morgan trial grounds at our Suffolk HQ drew thousands of gardeners from far and wide each summer though the 90’s and 00’s. The annual open weekends were a highlight of the local horticultural calendar, with gardeners and gardening clubs attending from as far afield as France and Germany.
The annual event was drawn to a temporary close in 2011 when 5,000+ visitors attended over two days. Thompson & Morgan New Product Development Manager, Michael Perry, explained: “The success of our open days was part of their temporary demise; our site just couldn’t cope with the numbers coming to see our displays. Our catalogues and online listings show off the Thompson & Morgan range perfectly, but there’s nothing like the chance of seeing everything at its peak of summer growth before your eyes. We’ve been looking to bring the open days back in a format that works for us, our customers – and the local road network!”
Hanging basket trials 2014
Jimmy’s Farm, likewise based on the outskirts of Ipswich, is the perfect partner venue for reviving this popular event. Already established as a favourite Suffolk visitor attraction, it is able to cope with traffic, parking, coach parties and thousands of visitors. What’s more, it is open daily to the public, so what once had to be crammed into a single weekend on a working site can now be explored at leisure from 1st July right though to September.
A brand new Thompson & Morgan Garden has been built at the well-known attraction to showcase a snap shot of the company’s technical growing trials. Over 1,000 containers (including the company’s own Tower Pots™, Easy Fill Baskets and Flower Pouches™) will be put on display to showcase its seed and plant offering. Existing customer favourites will be set alongside soon-to-launch exclusives from its 2016 seed and plant range. Thompson & Morgan fruit and vegetables will be given special focus in a series of square metre growing beds. Expect to see particular emphasis given to fuchsias, sweet peas, cosmos and tomatoes. Visitors will also get an opportunity to see how the company’s new incredicompost® and incredirange® of fertilisers work in combination to bring the best ever results to all parts of the garden, especially patio containers and baskets.
Farm owner Jimmy Doherty said: “I’m so excited that Thompson & Morgan are bringing their show gardens to the farm. Growing is a big part of what we do here and we hope it’ll inspire many gardeners to get green fingered.”
The garden joins a host of free attractions at the farm including rare breed animals, top class restaurant and butchery, as well as craft and gift stores. The gardens will be closed to the public during Jimmy’s Sausage & Beer Festival weekend (25-26 July).
For opening times and directions see www.jimmysfarm.com
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