With news that the wholesale price of onions is set to rise by 60% in the coming weeks (Daily Mail 14 March), Thompson & Morgan is advising gardeners that there has never been a better time to grow your own onions from spring-planting sets.
The Thompson & Morgan onion range not only offers an economical solution to rising prices; better flavours, better bulb size and better storage life can be had too.
The wholesale price hike has been blamed on a poor 2015 harvest, brought about by a hot summer in Europe’s main production areas, which led to bulbs ‘bolting’ (running to seed) in the field before a late harvest due to a wet autumn. Onions that do make it to supermarket shelves will be smaller in size, with larger bulbs fetching a premium price.
Thompson & Morgan’s spring planting onion sets have been specially heat treated for 20 weeks to help prevent summer bolting and extend their growth period, leading to bigger yields and bigger bulbs at the end of the season.
Crops harvested in late summer can be prepared for storage and used right through winter, or until stocks last. Thompson & Morgan has 13 product options for spring planting onion sets, including brown, white and red options as well as mixed collections for a varied harvest.
Thompson & Morgan onion set prices remain unchanged, starting at £3.99 for 75 sets – already a vast saving on supermarket prices. ASDA currently sells 3 Grower’s Selection Organic Brown Onions for 97p. 75 onions would cost £14.55 in store – and that’s before any knock-on retail price hikes come into effect.
If small, expensive supermarket onions won’t cut it for you this season, make sure to try a large variety such as Setton, Hercules or Golden Ball, all selected for their large uniform bulb shape, full flavour and long storage qualities.
For the full range visit www.thompson-morgan.com
At Thompson & Morgan we know our customers demand high quality with exceptional value, which is why we have worked hard to produce a range of products which exceeds the high standards our customers have come to expect from us.
We have awarded our ‘Grow the Best’ rosette to some of our highest performing plants.
Our horticulturalists and customer trial panel carried out extensive field tests and put the plants through their paces in a variety of environments. Once the testing is completed we are given a considerable amount of feedback from our customer trial panel which without, we could not guarantee our ‘Grow the Best’ varieties with such confidence.
Potato ‘Jazzy’ & Begonia ‘Inferno’™
With this confidence we are able to offer a DOUBLE your money back guarantee if you are unhappy with any of our ‘Grow the Best’ products.
In this range of ‘Grow the Best’ we have both flowers and vegetables, with our Potato ‘Jazzy’ providing enormous yields both in the ground and in potato bags. These really exceptional second early potatoes are full of flavour and have been awarded the RHS AGM for their fantastic garden performance.
Customer favourite Petunia ‘Frills and Spills’™ Mixed’, is grown in the British climate for the British climate which means these delightful fragrant double bloomed petunias are completely weather tolerant and resilient to whatever the British weather can throw at them. The blooms are larger than normal petunia blooms, so when they cascade over the side of window boxes or hanging baskets they will provide a stunning summer display.
Fuchsia Giant Collection & Fuchsia ‘Bella Collection’
We have three varieties of fuchsias in our ‘Grow the Best’ range, the Fuchsia ‘Giant Collection’ which is our best value fuchsia. With giant frilled blooms which can flower up to 10cm (4”) across these eye-catching fuchsias will fill baskets and containers and last right through summer. Fuchsia ‘Bella Collection’ includes a range of five different varieties with some upright and bushy and others ideal for cascading; making these beautiful fuchsias perfect for almost any type of container. Our final fuchsia in this exceptional range is Fuchsia ‘Pink Fizz’ which produces in excess of 2,000 blooms from the beginning of summer right through until November. Outlasting almost everything else in the summer garden, this hardy shrub can tolerate temperatures down to -10C (14F), which means it can be planted to cover unsightly walls or frames and will perform better and better year after year.
Fuchsia ‘Pink Fizz’
Out of all the begonias we produce, Begonia ‘Inferno’™ is one of our customer favourites. Bred to perform whatever the weather it offers colour, vigour and unstoppable flower power! Perfect for low maintenance gardens and fast growing, this is one for those who don’t have much time but still want to enjoy an awesome display.
Why not peruse the ‘Grow the Best’ range as we are sure you will find plenty of the varieties are already your favourites.
We supply petunias in several plug plant sizes, but there’s a real sense of satisfaction in growing a show stopping summer display of petunias from seed.
Somewhere along the line, petunias have gained a wrongful reputation of being difficult to grow from seed. This has more than likely come about by poor sowing techniques or bad compost rather than poor seed performance. Every seed ‘wants’ to grow, some just need a few more specific requirements. It’s wrong to assume that all seeds can be sown the same way.
If you want the earliest summer colour and nice sized, bushy petunia plants to place in the garden after the last frosts in May/June, it’s a good idea to sow petunia seeds 12 weeks ahead of your expected last frost. The first week of June is a safe bet for planting in most of the UK, therefore petunia seeds are best sown in March.
Peat-based composts are still the best option for sowing petunia seeds. Our new incredicompost®
has recently been verified as the best compost for sowing seeds and raising young plants.
The temperature for germination should be between 18-24C (64-75F) at seed level and this can usually be provided in a heated propagator, if this is not available, seal sowing trays in a clear polythene bag in a warm room of the house. A room which becomes cool at night should not be chosen.
It is important to sow thinly and not to cover the seed, even a thin covering of compost can severely reduce germination. The lack of a compost covering necessitates very careful monitoring of the moisture in the compost, for if the surface of the compost dries out the young seedlings will quickly die. This is best achieved by covering the seed pots with polythene or glass and a sheet of newspaper to reflect strong light, so the surface of the compost does not heat up too much, but some light still penetrates.
Transplant seedlings once they have produced two true leaves. After potting on the temperature is important. Temperatures below 10C (50F) discourage growth of the main central shoot and encourage the development of side shoots from low down on the plant. Unfortunately this also delays the appearance of the first flowers. At temperatures above 15C (59F) basal branching is restricted, the main stem grows more quickly and flowering is hastened. By sowing in early spring and keeping the temperature cool after pricking out, well branched plants should be produced which will flower more effectively when planted out in the garden.
When the rosettes of foliage cover the compost the trays can be moved from the greenhouse to frames and grown cool. As long as the plants are frost free they are happy. Although they are not as hardy as their relatives the nicotianas, they are tougher than many people think. They can be planted out as soon as the last frost has passed.
As a Royal Academy exhibition examines the role gardens have played in art history, with Monet masterpieces as the starting point, Thompson & Morgan reveals its historic link with the world famous artist, his gardens and paintings.
Claude Monet Summer Garden
Best known by the general public for his Impressionist paintings, it is less well known that Claude Monet first designed, planted and tended his iconic garden scenes before setting them to canvas. Monet’s natural flair for garden design and his artist’s eye led to harmonious colour planting and distinct design principles in his garden at Giverny, Normandy, that have inspired gardeners around the world ever since.
But where did Monet get his inspiration? Something of a ‘seedaholic’, Monet was famed for poring over the latest seed catalogues of the day, seeking out the latest introductions to try out in his flower and vegetable gardens before immortalising them in paint.
In their book ‘Monet’s Palate Cookbook’ Aileen Bordman & Derek Fell note that: “Monet always delighted at the arrival of the new season’s seed catalogs. He would study the new varieties and decide what to order…… from foreign sources, such as Thompson & Morgan in England (a company that sold seeds to Charles Darwin). He would often order new varieties to evaluate against his traditional selections and invite comments from his family and friends.”
Thompson & Morgan trial ground
But his inspiration didn’t just come from catalogues – in his day, gardeners relied on text alone – there was no glossy plant photography in the Thompson & Morgan catalogues of the time, and it is well documented that he travelled to Suffolk to view the Thompson & Morgan trial fields. This ‘living catalogue’ inspired many of the planting combinations still seen today at Giverny.
Flowers with fluttery petals were a Monet favourite, and he used them widely in the gardens to re-create the iconic ‘Impressionist shimmer’ present in his paintings. Thompson & Morgan poppies (annual, perennial and Californian), nasturtiums, pansies, dahlias, cosmos and pelargoniums, among many others, made their way into his planting schemes, cultivars of which are still used today in the gardens at Giverny.
Tree Lily® ‘Monet’
It wasn’t a one way relationship either. Thompson & Morgan took on an oriental poppy hybridised by Monet’s son. Named Papaver orientale ‘Claude Monet’, it was a popular variety in the early 20th Century, sadly it has since been lost to cultivation.
Links to this relationship still exist in today’s modern offering from Thompson & Morgan. The seed and young plant specialist has carved a niche in recent years with towering Tree Lilies® – the star performer in the collection is Tree Lily® ‘Monet’ (3 bulbs £11.99).
Even today the gardens at Giverny shout exuberance, but many of the elements in Monet’s planting schemes can be created with just a few packets of easy to sow seeds. If you’re looking to make a big impression on a small budget, Thompson & Morgan has all you need to get the Giverny look this summer.
Get the Monet look in your garden with Thompson & Morgan:
Claude Monet’s Summer Garden
Grande Allee (Arbour-covered gravel pathway): If you have a gravel path, create your own Grande Allee by planting Nasturtium ‘Crimson Emperor’ (30 seeds £2.39) along the path edges. Allow it to scramble over the stones to get the Giverny look. In autumn plant with tulips and peonies for a spring display.
Monet’s summer island beds: Create Monet’s tiered island beds by underplanting a standard pink or white rose (£11.99) with red bedding geraniums such as ‘Best Red’ F1 (30 garden Ready plants for £14.00), then edge the display with Dianthus ‘Scents of Summer Pink Peony’ (10 postiplugs (£17.99)
Monet’s Arbours: Pair Morning Glory ‘Heavenly Blue’ (50 seeds £2.69) with Nasturtium ‘Climbing Mixed’ (40 seeds £2.29) for a floral arch of blue, orange and yellow.
Pair Clematis jackmanii (3litre potted plant £14.99) with red flowering climbing rose ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ (2 bare root plants £14.99)
Monet’s late summer border :
Claude Monet late summer garden
Orange Dahlia ‘Motto’ (5 tubers 13.99), perennial sunflower – Helianthus x laetifolia (25 seeds £2.49), Aster ‘Composition’ (60 seeds £2.99), Cosmos ‘Xanthos’ (30 seeds £2.49, 25 plug plants £11.99), Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ (100 seeds £2.99), Marigold ‘Zenith Mixed’ (40 seeds £2.49), blue Salvia patens (15 seeds 99p), Ageratum ‘Blue Danube’ (100 seeds £3.39)
Dahlia Orange’ Motto’, Cosmos ‘Xanthos’ & Rudbeckia ‘Goldstrum’
Oriental pot: Yellow Gladioli ‘Limoncello’ and orange ‘Brown Sugar’ (10 corms £9.99) surrounded by Nasturtium ‘Tom Thumb’ (40 seeds £2.29)
Half barrel hydrangea: Hydrangea ‘Blue Danube’ (3.5litre potted plant £1o.99) underplanted with Gypsophila ‘Gypsy’ (50 seeds £3.29).
Seed varieties are available online and at garden centres. Plant material available from www.thompson-morgan.com
Painting the modern garden: Monet to Matisse runs until 20th April at the Royal Academy, London.
See www.royalacademy.org.uk for details
To visit Monet’s garden see www.giverny.org
UK seed firm pays record amount for single giant pumpkin seed and offers it to home gardeners for free!
- Hopes pinned on £1,250 seed that could bring world record pumpkin weight to UK shores for the first time.
A bidding war at the Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth World Conference has led to a record payout for a single pumpkin seed. British seed and young plant supplier Thompson & Morgan went head to head against the world’s pumpkin growing elite in a move to see the world record pumpkin weight brought to UK shores in 2016.
A standard packet of every-day pumpkin seed retails for as little as 99p for 10 seeds, but the chance to own potentially world record-breaking seed doesn’t come along often and attracts worldwide attention. More than 80 delegates from 11 countries attended the three day event (26-28Feb) at Pinetops Nurseries, Lymington, Hampshire – the first time the event has been held in the UK.
Giant pumpkin seed compared to normal size pumpkin seeds
The attendance list read as a who’s-who of the pumpkin world and included the five best international pumpkin growers (all record breakers) alongside the UK’s very own specialists – Ian and Stuart Paton. The Hampshire twins have consistently upped the UK record weight in 40 years of growing, and even briefly held the European Record in 2014 until the world record was smashed in Switzerland.
Thompson & Morgan has long been the sponsor for the official UK Giant Pumpkin weigh in, held each October at The Autumn Pumpkin Festival, Netley Park, Southampton. Over the years it has paid out thousands of pounds for UK and European record breakers, but has never had to hand out the top £10,000 prize for a world record breaker.
The world’s most expensive pumpkin seed comes packed with inbuilt genetics from the current world record holder – a mammoth 2,323 lb (1054kg) specimen produced by Swiss grower Beni Meier in 2014. At its peak of growth the giant piled on a staggering 44lbs of weight per day – stand and look for long enough and you could see it swelling with your own eyes. To keep up with the growth rate, the plant needed 150 gallons of fertilised water every day – equivalent to five average capacity household baths.
Bidding for the giant seed remained frantic until the £700 mark, it then fell down to just two interested parties; Thompson & Morgan Horticultural Director Paul Hansord and Eddie Zaychkowski a phone bidder, calling in from Edmonton, Canada. The £1,250 selling price surpasses the previous £1,171 record price set in 2010.
Paul Hansord with giant pumpkin seeds
Paul Hansord said: “The UK is home to some of the most passionate and dedicated pumpkin growers. Sadly none have been lucky enough to break the world record. To do that you need to start out with the best quality seed. Our pay out for the Swiss seed may seem a high price to pay, but it will boost the genetics of UK plants moving forward and give us the best chance of seeing the world title brought to the UK for the first time.”
You’d think that the seed specialist would want to keep a close eye on the growing of the pumpkin, but Mr Hansord is now seeking interest from UK veg growers willing to take on the seed and attempt to break the world record in their own gardens this summer.
He said: “We’re looking for someone with the passion, dedication and time to produce a giant specimen. The main season of care falls when we are all hands on deck with our mail order plant despatches. While we don’t have the time to look after the plant ourselves, we have all the tips and specialist knowledge to pass on to the chosen grower to give them the best success with the seed”.
To register your interest write to Paul, detailing where the plant will be grown and why you should be chosen to grow the seed:
Giant Pumpkin Seed
Thompson & Morgan
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The resulting pumpkin will need to be entered for the weigh-in at the Autumn Pumpkin Festival, Netley Park, Southampton, 8th October [2016 dates not advertised online, PH to confirm]
It’s been a long while since I managed to write things down – moving house kind of got in the way and last summer was spent trying to unpack boxes and tame a rather wild garden. Now that things are slowly getting straight I have had a chance to divert my attention to playing with indoor planting.
Being a lover of gadgets and fun things, I stumbled upon a website from China and after a bit of surfing and buying some very silly things, I came across these:
Obviously these stirred my curiosity and creative bones, and I decided to take the plunge and buy them. Three of the connecting ones and one each of the others (the whole lot came to less than £15!). I had a bit of trepidation about ordering fragile glass items from the other side of the world but my philosophy tends to be “if it works, great, if it doesn’t it’s a lesson learned!”
3 weeks later and I had purchased my plants, succulents http://www.thompson-morgan.com/flowers/all-other-seeds-and-plants/cacti mainly, a colleague had also suggested I try planting in aqua beads rather than soil as it would look nicer and perhaps a bit more modern. The packages arrived, all in one piece and looks amazing! I really felt quite excited about putting everything together for my soilless indoor experiment.
Here are the ingredients…
And so to work:
First thing was to gently wash away the soil from all of the plants’ roots, this was done by soaking them first and a careful rinse which removed most of it followed by a more meticulous picking away of any leftover lumps of compost which left me with this:
I decided to start with the large jar, on the basis that it would be the easiest and less fiddly to do, so I dropped a couple of handfuls of the hydrated aqua beads in, they are extremely slippery when at their full size and behave like toy rubber balls so if you drop one it could go anywhere, several of mine did! Once they’d been levelled off I started to place my plants, taller ones at the back and smaller at the front, hopefully I’ll get the desired effect once they start to grow. It was a case of position the plants, hold them and gently slide the roots into the mass of jelly like beads. Once they were all planted however it looked slightly anaemic and needed a bit of depth. The best solution I came up with was to sprinkle some aquarium gravel around the plants (I have fish tanks so not a problem) and this looked loads better and I was pleased with the result.
The hanging glass balls were, as I suspected, slightly more tricky to assemble, but worth it, I used a dessert spoon to put enough water beads in and did the same with the plants too as my fat fingers wouldn’t fit in.
And so I had planted them all up, and considering how cheap the glassware was, I am really happy with them all!
I’ll feed them once a month with a liquid feed direct into the beads which will probably dye them a blue colour, hopefully this will make them look interesting too. I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop and really hoping that some of the plants will start to trail out of the openings for the full effect to be complete. The next project is going to be a miniature garden in an outdoor pot. Time to start collecting bits and pieces for that!