There is nothing we love more than hearing customer success stories and seeing your delightful gardening photos via our Facebook and Twitter pages. So, when we got this letter from a very loyal customer we were overwhelmed and had to share it with you.
‘Over the past 20 years we have been a customer of Thompson & Morgan, we would like to show you the success of your business are achievements we have had as man and wife to prove your plants and seeds have been phenomenal and consistent’
Alma and her husband, who is 78 years young, have shared their love of gardening through growing T&M plants and entering numerous competitions. Here are just some of the prizes they have won;
1984 – 1st Place for best allotment (out of 31 sites)
2008 – National 1st place for best allotment in England run by Garden News
2008 – Kitchen Garden award for first Community Garden.
2008 – First in Black Country (Toby Inn competition for Healthy Foods)
2009 – Wolverhampton Gold Award at Britain in Bloom
2011-2012, 2014 – First in city and second in city 8 times.
Other shield and cups are won in local shows around the West Midlands.
It is wonderful to see that their love for gardening never dwindled, and at 78 years old they are still going strong. Thank you Alma for sharing your story with us.
If you have any gardening success stories we would love to hear them, email@example.com.
The world is your oyster when it comes to choosing companion plants to go alongside your fuchsias. The seasonal tender types blend so well with other summer bedding plants that you really are spoilt for choice. The same applies to the hardy types, which work well in combination with other shrubs and perennials in mixed borders and shrub plantings.
It is perhaps more important to think about other flower colours rather than the types of plant that you set with your fuchsias in container displays. While there is no right or wrong when it comes to using colour in the garden, the majority of fuchsias bloom in shades of pink, purple and white, and it pays to think of those colours when you choose your companion plants, particularly in the confines of a patio pot or hanging basket.
While petunias and geraniums are perfect basket partners for fuchsias, the wrong colour combination could detract from the display. The trick is to decide whether you want a contrasting or complimentary colour mix, or whether you want to go all out with a riot of mixed colours.
For kaleidoscopic colour, simply go for a different flower colour on each plant in your display. For contrasting and complimentary mixes, familiarise yourself with the colour wheel – contrasting pairings (like purple and yellow) are found on opposite sides of the wheel, while complimentary colours (like purple and blue) sit next to each other.
Top 5 container companions for fuchsia:
Busy Lizzie (New Guinea)
Established border fuchsias can display hundreds of flowers at any one time, so setting them with other flowering shrubs can lead to over-fussy displays. Companion selection in the border comes down to setting the right balance between foliage and flowers. There are two ways to go about this. If flowers are your thing, go for two thirds flowers and one third foliage (one foliage shrub for every two flowering shrubs). For a more natural look, reverse this ratio, opting for two thirds foliage and one third flowers (two foliage shrubs for every flowering shrubs).
Top 5 border companions for fuchsia:
Fatsia japonica (for foliage)
Choiysa ternate (for foliage)
Nandina domestica (for foliage and flowers)
Weigelia (for flowers)
Phygelius (for flowers)
This week’s been a real challenge on the allotment. Not only have we had some lovely sunny afternoons up here in Sheffield, but we’ve also had frost, rain and wind. LOTS of wind. Luckily, my greenhouse and shed are still standing. I can’t say the same for some of my fellow plot holders, in fact there is a pile of metal and plastic on one plot, it used to be a poly tunnel!
I love this time of year when the postman knocks on the door, it means I have plants arriving, and this week didn’t disappoint me!
I ordered a few plants and seeds, all from Thompson & Morgan, and I must say, everything arrived in top notch condition and the plants look really healthy. I had a selection on parcels arrive, including plug plants, potted plants and seed packets. All bar the pot plants are packaged so that they fit through the letter box, this really helps as I’m rarely in the house when the postman gets to my house.
I’m sometimes a dubious about getting plants through the post. I always think the plants are going to be weedy little things that no one wants, but the company can flog on line and send out to dis-appointed customers. Don’t get me wrong, I have had this happen before with a certain company, in fact I ordered some ‘Green Envy’ zinnia plugs for The Big Allotment Challenge (BAC). When they arrived, they were the weediest, straggly plants you have ever seen, totally unfit for purpose and a waste of money, and hence why I didn’t grow them for the show. The only thing they were fit for was the compost heap.
I’m glad to say, that experience did not involve T&M, and everything I’ve received from them has been great quality. The Geranium ‘Appleblossom’ arrived a couple of days ago and they are cracking plants. They’re well wrapped ad secured in a decent box, so I had no problems with damage in the post. I took them straight out of the package, gave them a drink and stood them in the greenhouse, where they are doing great. If you are wondering what the flower on them looks like, you’ll find it on the front of the T&M catalogue you got through the post a couple of months ago.
I also received carnation and dianthus plug plants, both came in the letterbox friendly box and included a great booklet on how to care for and get the best from your plants. I’ve chosen ‘Crimson Rim’ as its go stunning pale flowers with a deep red, almost purple, rim on each petal. It’ll be a real eye catcher in the garden, and in any arrangements I make this year. Apparently, it also has that nice carnation smell, spicy cloves. I can’t wait for those beauties to bloom.
I’ve decided to have a go with some heritage seeds from big seed companies this year, and thought I’d give T&M ‘The Amateur’ tomato a go. It’s a bush variety that’s a good cropper outdoors. I really hope this is the case, I have so many tomatoes planned for in the greenhouse, I won’t have room for any more.I’m starting them off in the propagator, and then leaving them on the windowsill until the middle/end of April, when I’ll transfer them to the greenhouse staging for a couple of weeks. After they’ve hardened off, they are going to go either in pots on the patio, or in the open ground on the allotment. I’ll keep you posted on their progress.
My niece and nephew love sunflowers. We always try and grow a really big whopper, but this year we’ve also gone for some smaller, more manageable ones that are happy in pots. T&M ‘Solar Flash’ is the one that I grew on BAC last year. It’s the one that helped me win Jonathan’s massive floral arch challenge in the final. This plant is great; it produces a small bush with lots of gorgeous mini sunflowers that have that orange/red ring towards the centre of the bloom. I grew them in old chicken manure buckets, I just made drainage holes in the bottom and made sure I watered and fed them, that’s it! Then I was rewarded with loads of stunning flowers, which looked lovely on the plot, but amazing in arrangements. I even took a bunch home and they lasted over a week in the vase. A proper little performer!
Geraniums are my new guilty pleasure this year. Not only did I order the ‘Appleblossom’ ones, I also thought I’d try the ‘Spanish Wine Burgundy’. They are the typically Mediterranean flowers I always see when I visit my friend in Spain. They have those gorgeous frilly dark red petals on top of those almost lily pad leaves. I’ve potted them up in 9cm pots in the greenhouse and I’m just waiting for the weather to pick up, before I plant them in nice little terracotta pots on the patio. Just call it Casa Rob!
Here they are in the greenhouse, with some ‘Scents of Summer Pink Peony’ Dianthus. I ordered these as they are a hardy perennial and will provide me with masses of lovely pink flowers, year after year. So that’s ideal as I’ll have them in the garden and for cutting. They have a more domed and rounded flower than your average pink or carnation, so I’m hoping they will be a talking point on the plot,as everyone will want to know what variety they are.
It’s time for me to brave the weather and go and make sure the greenhouse is still standing, it’s blowing a wholly out there.
I hope some of the plants I’ve mentioned have inspired you to try ‘postage plants’, its a great way to get unusual plants, and less hassle that fighting your way around a garden centre on a Sunday afternoon. Don’t forget, give it a grow!
Thompson & Morgan April Fool a bridge too far, but Ipswich Station is set to sizzle this summer with begonia basket display.
Covering a 1km road bridge with hanging baskets might be a little ambitious, even for one of the UK’s largest horticultural mail order suppliers, but we do want to give something back to the community as we mark 160 years of business in Ipswich. Aiming to brighten the daily commute for thousands of Ipswich locals this summer, we will instead be decorating Ipswich Train Station with 24 large hanging baskets filled with our best selling Begonia ‘Apricot Shades’.
We’ve teamed up with Activgardens to get the baskets ready for display in June, donating all the plants, baskets, compost and feed needed to get the job done. The local charity, part of ActivLives, operates in the walled garden at Chantry Park, offering work experience and vocational courses to students with severe barriers to learning.
Later this month Thompson & Morgan staff will join students at the walled garden to get the baskets planted and underway. They’ll be grown on by the students in the charity’s glasshouse until they are at the perfect stage for instant impact at the station in June.
To get your own garden set for summer visit.
Drivers, walkers and river users around Ipswich are set for a brighter journey this spring. Marking 160 years at the forefront of mail order supply to home gardeners, we have dressed the iconic Orwell Bridge with a 2.4km long display of spring hanging baskets. Counting off the years we have been trading in Ipswich, 160 hanging baskets have been set along each side of the bridge, creating two 1,237m swathes of dazzling spring colour above the River Orwell.
Our Horticultural Director, Paul Hansord, said: “We’re world renowned for our seasonal bedding and basket plants, so what better way to celebrate a landmark birthday and a long history in Ipswich than with a display of what we do best? We could have teamed up with an internationally recognised gardening venue like Kew or Chelsea, but we wanted to show our roots as well as our flowers by staging the celebrations here in Ipswich.”
Mr Hansord plans to contact Guinness to see if the project has unwittingly set a world record. He added: “It may not be the world’s biggest in terms of the number of baskets, but we may have a British record on our hands – if not for the biggest display, then certainly the longest!”
Perhaps more impressive than the stunning display of over 5,700 spring flowering violas, always a firm favourite among Thompson & Morgan customers, is the efficient and covert way in which the project was under taken.
Horticultural staff planted the baskets back in February, tending them in the warmth of the company’s heated glasshouses. To keep the project under wraps until the big April reveal, staff were sworn to secrecy – even friends and family had to be kept in the dark.
Highway contractors were drafted in to set the 320 heavy-duty hanging brackets in place before the baskets could be hung, working over night in liaison with local authorities to cause minimal disruption to traffic. As work was carried out between 12-4am over the last three nights of March to meet a 1st April deadline, the project went largely unnoticed. But for sharp-eyed locals living in the shadow of the towering concrete crossing, the stunt was hard to miss.
Alf Spirolo, 63, of Wherstead, walks his two Chihuahuas along the river every morning. He said: “The past few mornings I’ve noticed more and more baskets on both sides of the bridge. The fact this has gone up over just a few nights without any disruptions to the A14 is an amazing feat. What a sight to see them covering the full length, this really is going to brighten up my walk to get the morning papers.”
The baskets will stay in place until 1st June. Depending on public support they will be replaced with summer flowering versions to keep the display in peak condition.
Growing fuchsia standards is not as difficult as it might appear. Fuchsia standards have a clear main stem topped with a dense head of foliage created through pinch pruning and make superb specimen plants. However patience is required as they may take up to 18 months of careful training to achieve.
Here are my top tips for growing fuchsia standards;
• Allow a young fuchsia stem to grow upright, whilst removing all of the side shoots as they develop. Do not remove the leaves from the mail stem however, as these will feed the plant.
• Tie the main stem in to a cane to provide support as it grows.
• Once the fuchsia plant reaches 20cm (8″) taller than the desired height, pinch out the stem tip.
• New side shoots will be produced at the top of the plant and these will form the head of the standard. Pinch out the tips of each side shoot when it reaches 2 to 4 sets of leaves. Continue pinch pruning until a rounded head has formed.
• The leaves on the main stem will be shed naturally in time, or can be carefully removed.
To overwinter standard fuchsias, they will need to be moved to a frost free position during the winter months to protect their vulnerable stem from frost damage, regardless of how hardy the variety is.