Whichever way you look at it, our new vegetable plant creations make sense! Space-saving, double-cropping, fun for kids, easy for beginners, and not to mention tasty and flavoursome…
Let’s look at the story of the dual cropping vegetables!
First we launched the TomTato®. Known for many years as a phenomenon within the horticultural world, this novelty has now gone mainstream! In days gone by, allotmenteers actually spent time sellotaping tomato plants onto potato stems in order to create the fabled ‘TomTato®’.
It wasn’t until a few years back that we finally found a way to produce plants on a commercial basis. But, we didn’t do this with just any tomato and potato. On the top, we grafted a super sweet variety, with a Brix content so high it makes it taste as sweet as a strawberry. The fruits are also deliciously thin-skinned, so much so that you’d never find them in supermarkets (as they would not transport as successfully!) The variety is also a bumper cropper! Plants can produce in excess of 300 fruits per plant.
However, don’t forget that below the ground your plants will be creating that surprise harvest; 2-3kg of delicious white potatoes!! A further year’s development has also meant we’ve been able to select an even heavier cropping potato for the base, now giving 50% more ‘tatties’ than the first incarnation of the TomTato®!
When we released the TomTato® to the public, it took the world by storm – more than 1million plants have sold worldwide since 2013. The plant resonated with such a wide range of people too, and not all of them were necessarily gardeners or plant-lovers! Even teenagers were tweeting about this exciting plant, which some nicknamed ‘frankenfood’. Of course, this was inaccurate, as it’s just 2 plants fixed, pegged, grafted together, so everything is 100% natural!
With our grafting projects, the next obvious step seemed to be to choose another compatible duo, and we’ve been playing with a few ideas over the last few years. And we are now ready to reveal Egg & Chips® to the world…! If this sounds utterly crazy, don’t worry we’re not talking chicken eggs! Our latest dual cropping plant pairs an aubergine (better known in the US and Europe as the Egg Plant) and potatoes. The potato base grafting actually gives the Aubergine an extra vigour boost, meaning Egg & CHIPS will produce better aubergines in the UK than a traditional aubergine plant can.
So, as well as ketchup and chips or Patatas Bravas from our Tomtato plants, you now have the components to make a really tasty aubergine and potato gratin all from one plant!
Grow your TomTato® and Egg & Chips® in patio containers, growbags (turned up on end!), on the allotment or on the veg patch. Be part of the dual cropping revolution, order your plants today, we expect them to sell out quickly!
Thompson & Morgan’s mail order plants and gardening sundries are to be brought to life on TV screens from January as the horticultural specialist teams up with QVC UK, the leading video and e-commerce retailer, to offer viewers a range of quality garden products through 2016.
Resident QVC gardening specialist Richard Jackson will be joined on screen by Thompson & Morgan plant expert Michael Perry across the year, offering a wide range of exclusive deals on the plant specialist’s best-selling plants and gardening goods.
Begonia ‘Majestic Mixed’
The new partnership starts on 2nd January with Michael joining Richard to offer viewers the first chance to buy new and exclusive Thompson & Morgan products ready for the 2016 gardening season. Expect to see amazing deals on products such as new giant-flowered Begonia ‘Majestic Mixed’ – 6inch (5cm) blooms sit above rich, luxurious foliage to provide five months of floral colour, right up to the first frosts of autumn. Later in the month Michael will introduce viewers to Fuchsia ‘Mr Blue Sky’, a world exclusive for the seed and plant specialist. This fantastic new form carries true blue flowers that drip from cascading stems. It’s set to be a big talking point in hanging baskets and patio container displays in summer 2016.
Fuchsia ‘Mr Blue Sky’
Thompson & Morgan Horticultural Director Paul Hansord said: “We’ve worked closely with QVC in the past and it’s great to be teaming up with them again in 2016, it’s a perfect brand fit. We pride ourselves on our catalogue and online offering but to be able to show live product to viewers on screen allows us to really show their quality and performance while providing some excellent offers for gardeners. We are a multi-platform gardening retailer and working with QVC provides a further outlet for gardeners to shop at their convenience.”
Where to find Thompson & Morgan on QVC Gardening?
To take advantage of the first Thompson & Morgan offering of the year, tune into QVC at 9am, 2nd January. QVC UK is available on Sky Digital channel 650, Virgin TV channel 740, Freesat channel 800, Freeview channel 16, and online at www.qvcuk.com
Exotic hibiscus overtake traditional poinsettia in battle for Christmas number one, but scented hyacinths still can’t be beaten.
The UK’s biggest online plant retailer has announced its top plant predictions for Christmas following early sales analysis of its seasonal gift catalogue. No surprises that old favourites like amaryllis and Christmas cactus are on the list, but with house plants in general seeing a resurgence in popularity with the British buying public, some brand-new exotic additions have made it into the Thompson & Morgan Christmas Top 10 Sellers for 2015.
Hibiscus ‘Festive Flair’
Poinsettia, a time-honoured Christmas favourite and last year’s no.2, has fallen out of the Top 10 for the first time. Taking its place is the exotic-looking Hibiscus ‘Festive Flair’, which brings a tropical touch to festivities without the fussiness of poinsettia. The large festive blooms stand up to the ravages of central heating and cold draughts much better than the coloured foliage of poinsettia, and will keep on going through January and beyond, bringing weeks of colour in the drabbest part of the year.
Thompson & Morgan Gifts Manager Alice Speedie said: “Poinsettia are a great option for Christmas display but they can be a little tricky to keep in perfect condition, particularly the cheap supermarket imports – set close to heat sources or a draughty window, the foliage can quickly crisp or wilt. They also need a bit of specialist care and exact daylight hours to get them to flower again. Hibiscus however are much easier to care for and will bloom through the year in most households.”
The hibiscus still has some work to do in reaching no.1. The top slot has been held by scented hyacinth ‘Pink Pearl’ ever since the mail order specialist, best known for its offering of vibrant garden plants, started its Christmas gift lines back in 1999. Alice adds: “While we’re seeing increased interest in new exotics like hibiscus and Dendrobium orchids for Christmas display, it seems you can’t beat a bit of yuletide tradition. We supply our hyacinths in timeless bespoke containers, and give them the VIP treatment in order to guarantee quick colour and scent soon after delivery.”
While the traditional pink-flowered Christmas cactus remains a strong contender in 2015, it has a new multicoloured rival snapping close at its heels. Christmas Cactus ‘Tricolour’ offers red, pink and white blooms in one pot, seemingly from the same plant. To create the effect, Thompson & Morgan sets three plants into one large pot creating a most striking display.
All items from the Thompson & Morgan Christmas Gift Catalogue are delivered direct to friends and family if preferred, and are all presented in gift wrapping or decorative pots with a personalised gift message, providing stress-free Christmas shopping from the comfort of home with no need to hit the high street. If you are a last minute shopper you can place orders right up until 6pm on 20th December for guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas.
For a catalogue call 0844 573 1818 or view the range online at www.thompson-morgan.com/christmas-gifts
Thompson & Morgan Christmas Top 10
Thompson & Morgan awards record-breaking prize money to gardener with 24ft sunflower. A gardener with a lifelong passion for sunflowers has won £1,000 following a nationwide hunt for the UK’s tallest specimen. Seed and plant specialist Thompson & Morgan announced the biggest ever cash prize for a tallest sunflower competition back in spring, in a bid to see the world record brought to UK shores.
Richard Hope with his 24ft sunflowers growing in his Wigan garden. Photo: Wigan Evening Post
Richard Hope with his 24ft sunflowers growing in his Wigan garden.
The bumper prize attracted entrants from around the UK, from gardeners young and old. There were some stand out specimens sitting between 12-14ft (3.7-4.3m), but the clear winner – at a staggering 24ft (7.2m) – was grown by Richard Hope. The Wigan gardener is well-known on the giant veg growing circuit, having held previous world records for the biggest swede, heaviest leek and longest parsnip. Grown against a sunny wall of his house, his giant plants reach the apex of the roof three storeys up!
Sadly, his giant entry was shy of the world record by 4ft 8in (1.4m), but Mr Hope still has his sights on beating the 8.75m (28ft 8in) sunflower grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer of Kaarst-Vorst, Germany in 2013. For the past 35 years Mr Hope has been hand pollinating his plants, saving seeds from the tallest and sowing them the following year, over time building a superior sunflower strain.Most impressive is that he grows his plants in make shift containers rather than in the soil, with no specialist feeding formula. “I use salmon boxes with large bottomless pots set over them, similar to tomato ring culture method. It gives the plants about two and half feet of compost to grow in,” he says. “There are no real tricks to feeding my plants either, I use whatever I happen have in the shed.”
You might assume Richard starts his plants off early indoors under heat and lights to get such results, but there is no such trickery. “I sow my seeds in the first week of April every year. Along with height, my seed strain has evolved a really long season of growth, so the plants keep on climbing right through to October.” In fact, due to mild autumn weather, Mr Hope’s plants piled on a further 1ft (30cm) in between entering in early October and verification at the end of the month.
Despite there being no world record breaker, the gardening experts at Thompson & Morgan were more than impressed with the winning entry, and the runners up. Horticultural Director Paul Hansord said: “We’ve not had much sunshine this year, but sunflowers have certainly done well in UK gardens. We were excited to see entries of 12,13, 14ft coming in – impressive heights by any means. When Mr Hope’s entry hit our inbox we couldn’t believe it. We sent our closest area sales manager to verify things, who quickly called to say we should get the company cheque book ready!”
Thompson & Morgan is upping the stakes for 2016 and will again be offering £1,000 for the tallest UK sunflower, but if it breaks the world record the prize money will be upped to £2,000. And if a gardener breaks the record using the mail order specialist’s incredibloom® fertiliser, the prize pot will be doubled again to a staggering £4,000. Mr Hansord added: “We’re so confident of the plant boosting abilities of our fertiliser range that we’re willing to heavily reward anyone who can grow a world record sunflower with it in 2016.”
Thompson and Morgan offers 37 different sun flower varieties from giants like ‘Tall Timbers’ F1 to multiflowering types like ‘Helios Flame’ F1, and dwarf varieties including 2ft (60cm) tall ‘Little Dorrit’ F1.
We are delighted to announce that Thrive has been chosen as our charity of the year for 2016!
Thrive is the UK’s leading charity using gardening to help bring positivity to the lives of those who have a physical or mental disability. Thrives dedicated staff and volunteers provide much needed support and respite for those that need it most. Gardening as therapy can help individuals accomplish many things that before seemed near most impossible. It can help to regain strength, confidence, and perseverance and can provide a purposeful activity for someone coping with a difficult time in their life.
Case study: Two years ago when Melanie came to Thrive just after her father died, she was, in her own words, a different person. Losing both parents (her mother had died some years before) had left her feeling upset and withdrawn and for Melanie, who has learning and mobility difficulties, it also meant leaving her childhood home in Norfolk to move in with her sister in Berkshire.
At this challenging time, Melanie’s love of gardening brought her to Thrive. She attended the charity’s Growing for Life project which became the starting point towards a new life for her.
“Speaking to people has done me the power of good. Thrive is a wonderful place. If I am ever on a downer, they will listen,” said Melanie.
We were so overwhelmed with the work that Thrive do, we wanted to give something back. We have launched Sweet Pea ‘Eleanore Udall’ for 2016, with sales going towards Thrive training programs at the charity’s four regional centres and local community venue. Thrives supporters named this Sweet Pea to commemorate the late wife of the founder of Thrive, the late Rev. Dr Geoffrey Udall and we couldn’t have thought of a name better suited.
Thrive chief executive Kathryn Rossiter said: “We would like to thank Thompson & Morgan for choosing Thrive as their Charity of the Year. What a wonderful name for this very pretty sweet pea, and such a fitting tribute. I hope our supporters will buy lots of packets of Sweet Pea ‘Eleanore Udall’ and we look forward to seeing pictures of the sweet peas in bloom. We will be selling packets of the sweet peas at Thrive via our website and through our various outlets with 100 per cent profits coming back to us. Please do buy as many packets as you can.”
We will be selling Sweet Pea ‘Eleanore Udall’ in our 2016 seed catalogue and website, with 50 per cent of proceeds from these sales going to the charity.
We would be truly grateful to see Sweet Pea ‘Eleanore Udall’ growing in your gardens, and we will even be running a competition for you to win a wonderful prize to say thank you. So watch this space!
Just 3 days left to enter the Thompson & Morgan tallest sunflower competition!
With just three days left, photo entries are coming in thick and fast from gardeners hoping to grab a grand simply for growing one of the easiest and most loved garden flowers.
Thompson & Morgan would love to see a record-breaking sunflower entered into the competition, but promises to pay out the massive sum, whether the winner sets a new standard or not!
To give gardeners the longest season to produce a winner, the competition is open until the end of Friday 23rd October. Any plant photographed and entered into the competition must be kept in situ where they are grown in order for winning entries to be verified – even if the plant has dried out and died. Finalists will be notified and a member of Thompson & Morgan staff will visit to measure and authenticate the entries.
The mail order horticultural specialist expects good uptake, having sold 15,899 packets of sunflower seed in 2015 across 30 varieties. Further widening scope, the winning entry doesn’t even have to be grown from a Thompson & Morgan seed. Any variety from any supplier can be entered, but the seed expert expects to see its latest introduction, ‘Tall Timbers’ F1, feature among the finalists. This hybrid form of ‘Russian Giant’ offers improved vigour and more chance of growing a record breaker than its parent line, reaching 4m (13ft) with no special care. ‘Russian Giant’ and the seed firm’s other towering specimen, ‘Mongolian Giant’ are also expected to make an appearance among the final shortlist.
Can anyone beat the 11ft 2in ‘Russian Giant’ sent in by Malcolm Bacon of Colchester, Essex?
To qualify, 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. Visit www.thompson-morgan.com/competitions for full terms and conditions.
Depending on location of the finalists, Thompson & Morgan expects to have a winner announced by 15th November, with the cash prize awarded in time to make Christmas really special for one lucky winner and their family.