Getting hanging baskets right doesn’t have to be a great effort. All too often I see such poor, forgotten hanging baskets outside people’s homes, which probably started off looking good, but then quickly went downhill, as people found them too much effort to care for. It doesn’t have to be this way. Start your baskets in the right way, and they’ll be easier to maintain and will dazzle passers-by!
Firstly, choose a basket large enough for the purpose. Small baskets dry out quicker, so need watering numerous times a day. GO LARGE, and you will cut down on watering, as the moisture stays in the compost for longer. Easy Fill baskets are ideal, they have a diameter of 14 inches, and as the name suggests, they’re ‘easy to fill’. The flat bottom means you don’t have to do a balancing act when you plant them up. And, as you plant around the sides too, your trail can get a head-start! The innovative gates around the side of the basket mean that you can now plant up larger specimens into your hanging baskets. This will give you more confidence, and speed up your summer displays. You’ll also have fresher, healthier plants from the moment you plant up, as you aren’t pushing chunky plants through small holes!
It’s important to use high quality compost; this will make all the difference, and help water retention. So, buy as good a quality soil as you can afford. At the very beginning, mix in Thompson & Morgan’s new fertiliser ‘Incredibloom®’; this controlled fertilizer only activates when the compost is warmed, so is only given to your plants when they need it, reducing scorch. What’s even better is, you only use it twice in the season, not every week like some brands. Mix in 1 scoop per 2 litres of compost.
Next, plant up your hanging basket, either with all one variety, or a mixture of your favourites! Water your basket well, and ensure it’s placed into a frost-free position until the last of the frosts. You can pinch out the tips of some plants after a few weeks, to make them more bushy and flower-covered too! Once you hang your basket out, sit and enjoy, but remember to water every day, and remove any dead flowers, as this means more will come!
The Suffolk Show 2014 will be taking place on May 28th and 29th at Trinity Park, Ipswich. The Suffolk Show has become the county’s largest 2 day pop-up family event and the organisers, Suffolk Agricultural Association, like to ensure that it is one of the best family events in the UK.
For the last 5 years, Thompson & Morgan have joined forces with Easton Otley College to create the 16 foot high ‘Flower Tower’! This year, the tower will be clothed with 200 Flower Pouches®, that each contains 10 plants of Begonia ‘Lotto’. Since the downy mildew demise of the UK’s favourite plant, the Busy Lizzie, customers have been trying to find a suitable alternative. Thompson & Morgan seem to have hit the jackpot with Begonia ‘Lotto’, with giant, weather-proof flowers and foliage. The displays by Easton Otley College feature a range of other Thompson & Morgan plants too. Look out for some superb colour co-ordinated patio containers, as well as the ‘edible wall’, an innovative vertical planting which features herbs, lettuce, salads and edible flowers.
Thompson & Morgan are also supporting Lucas Hatch at the show. Lucas was crowned RHS Young School Gardener of the Year in 2012, and is building his very first show garden at the Suffolk Show.
Lucas is the Suffolk Show’s youngest garden designer at the age of 12! Thompson & Morgan have donated petunias, geraniums and a very special lucky dip of seeds for this stand! Lucas has planted the petunias quite close together as he wanted full impact with the colour, this should not be missed!
Lucas has designed a small family garden to inspire and encourage children to grow, have fun, and eat healthily. The garden comprises of 2 main borders, one is an insect friendly border encouraging wildlife and also contains T&M trailing petunias. The other border is an edible border with fruit trees. Other features include: a lawn, paving, low hazel fencing and a children’s greenhouse. Judging commences at 8.30am on Wednesday 28th May so an early start for us all. If you are heading to the Suffolk Show this year please share your highlights, or dislikes below.
After all the buzz of setting up, last minute polishing and- for some- the clinking of champagne glasses, Chelsea Flower Show exhibitors can now sit back and rest… well almost! Let’s hope the plants can last another day; the unprecedented hot weather this week has given many exhibitors sleepless nights, as they struggle to keep their displays in dazzling form! So here is The Chelsea Roundup.
Newsfeeds were going crazy earlier this week; which celebs are at the show? What are the trends? Who’s going to win best in show? How expensive are those sandwiches…?? You simply can’t deny that Chelsea Flower Show is the most talked about horticultural event of the year, and I love how non-gardeners get on board with it too by being glued to the daily shows on BBC2.
Who cares if some of the gardens are outlandish, isn’t that what this show is about? It’s a showpiece to show the best skills in garden design and horticulture. I’m convinced you can always take elements of any garden and use them in your own; planting partners, styles of planting, sculptures, create your own mini Chelsea show garden! One of my favourite gardens was the Help for Heroes garden, designed by Matt Keightley. I loved the planting, interspersed by blocks- for me; it was the perfect fusion of tradition al cottage garden and modernist!
Help for Heroes garden, by Matt Keightley
I also liked the artisan garden section, mainly because it was in the shade on such a sweltering day! I loved the Virgin Roof Gardens entry, which featured red Geraniums and dwarf Marigolds from Thompson & Morgan. It was an explosion of colour, yet still cool and relaxing!
Virgin Roof Gardens
Every year at Chelsea, my main focus is the floral marquee, where I do a spot of indoor plant-hunting! Here, specialist nurseries show off their skills and variety range. You can come here to see everything from gladioli to passion flowers, bonsai to sweet peas. I must admit I can’t help but feel some of the stands have looked the same for 50 years, but there were some fresh looks. How about hanging amaryllis for example??
The Plant of the Year stand is in the floral marquee, where any nursery from the UK can enter. Those plants are whittled down to 20 finalists, but there can only be 1 winner. As soon as I walked up to the display, I knew that Hydrangea ‘Miss Saori’ had the leading edge, even over plants I had entered! Well, I should have visited a betting shop, as my prediction was right, and this picotee, two-tiered Hydrangea was named Plant of the Year 2014!
Hydrangea ‘Miss Saori’
Then, tomorrow, it’s the BIG SELL OFF! When the stands are dismantled, and the contents auctioned off. This is an absolutely crazy few hours, and it culminates in the London Underground being filled with people hugging delphiniums…! Phew! Another great show!
It’s the day after my visit to Chelsea Flower Show! My feet are still aching, and my mind is still spinning with new plants and fresh garden designs. The whole of the gardening world tends to be at Chelsea too, so it can be difficult to walk a few feet without seeing someone you know! I think I’ll need 2 days next time!
There’s always such a buzz; this is the showcase for the gardening year. When talking to some of the designers, I came to realise just how much work goes into their displays. Paul Hervey-Brookes has a garden on the main avenue, it took him and his team 19 DAYS to put together! From a bare piece of land to a fully grown garden; that’s some wizardry! Thompson & Morgan had a hand in the Virgin Roof Gardens artisan garden too; donating vivid red geraniums and citrus dwarf marigolds! Most of all, I’d say that I enjoyed the ‘Help for Heroes’ garden, but I’ve always got a weak spot for Iris!!
Inside the floral marquee, most types of bloom are well-represented, from gladioli to chrysanthemums, sweet peas to geraniums. These specialist nurseries are vital; the owners have such an in-depth knowledge and enthusiasm, which can be seen in their displays. It takes skill and dedication too; after all, daffodils don’t usually flower during late May! This marquee is a plant hunter’s dream; if you’ve got a new plant, you show it off at Chelsea! This is why they introduced the exciting Plant of the Year contest a few years ago!
Alstroemeria ‘Inca Smile’, Gerbera ‘Sweet Glow’, Petunia ‘Black Night’
Over the last few weeks, Thompson & Morgan had fluffed, pimped and preened our entries ready for the day; our hopefuls were our fragrant cascading begonias, the new hardy Gerbera series, a dwarf, large-flowered alstroemeria and the show-stopping double black petunia. But, when I arrived at the show, a certain plant caught my eye, and I got a hunch this might win. That plant was Hydrangea ‘Miss Saori’; a gorgeous hydrangea with two-tiered, picotee-edged blooms, which looked absolutely fab. And, I was right, and this was crowned Plant of the Year, with Thompson & Morgan’s Gerbera ‘Sweet Glow’ in 3rd place, so that was quite respectable!
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014 runs from 20 – 24 May. You cannot deny that the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the pinnacle of any horticultural calendar. Although it can divide public opinion with some of the garden designs, the event is a fantastic showcase for new plants, undiscovered plants and old favourites!
I have loved the show since I was 18, and have visited pretty much every year. In recent years, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to get in on the Monday (not over the fence, either!) so have had the privilege to walk around with a bit more space, able to get up close to the displays and gardens!
There’s been even more of a buzz about the show since they began the “Best New Plant” contest 5 years ago, and every year Thompson & Morgan have entered their most sparkling new plants. In 2012, we won! Foxglove “Illumination Pink” was crowned “Best New Plant”, thanks to its unique heritage (Isoplexis x Digitalis), 5 month flowering, perennial status and exotic colourings!
Foxglove ‘Illumination Pink’
This year, we have a few up our sleeve. But, personally, I think Petunia “Black Night” is in with a chance. The Petunia “Black Night” is the world’s first double-flowered petunia with velvety, BLACK flowers. A lovely, mounded petunia, which is already picking up fans the world over…!!
Petunia ‘Black Night’
So, I’ll be ready, at the gates, at 8am next Monday, eager to get to the main marquee. This is where I’ll spend hours seeking out new plants, snapping with my camera, and yapping on about plants for hours. Bliss!
If you are one of the lucky ones that have a chance to visit this year, make sure you take pictures of you favourites and let us see them!
Daytime – Monday 23 – Friday 27 May 2011 12:30 – 13:00 on BBC One
Evening – Sunday 22 May 18:15 – 19:00 on BBC One
Monday 23 May 19:30 – 20:00 on BBC One and 20:00 – 21:00 on BBC Two
Tuesday 24 May 20:00 – 21:00 on BBC Two
Wednesday 25 May 20:30 – 22:00 on BBC Two
Thursday 26 May 20:00 – 21:00 on BBC Two
Friday 27 May 20:00 – 21:30 on BBC Two
Saturday 28 May 19:30 – 20:00 on BBC Two
Sunday 29 May TBC on BBC One
Here are a few highlights to keep an eye out for;
RHS Chelsea at Twilight – Friday 23 May, 2014
An evening of light opera by Opera Holland Park. Ticket includes entry to the show at 5.30pm and a glass of champagne. The concert will commence at 8.15pm
New for 2014
Discovery (in the Great Pavilion) replaces RHS Environment and showcases the best scientific and educational exhibits from the world of horticulture
In the Great Pavilion include NAFAS’s display celebrating their Emerald anniversary (55 years) titled “A Green Thought in a Green Shade”, a one-off display by Perennial marking their 175 years of support for horticulturists and a stunning display by South West in Bloom highlighting “Fifty Golden Years of Bloom”
There’s a vegetable revolution going on, one which is set to change the face of allotments, and engage a whole new audience. It’s rainbow veg!
Get on board with the rainbow veg movement and you’ll find that carrots are not only orange, but also purple, yellow, even white. You can experience a more gourmet taste, and really show off to your friends. Just think how this could change the look of your Sunday roast!
Carrot ‘Rainbow’ F1 Hybrid
A lot of these vegetables aren’t new, they’re simply being rediscovered. Another great example is with beetroot seeds, look out for our rainbow mixture, with mind-boggling yellow beetroot, and – for the complete wow factor – red and white striped beetroot.
Beetroot ‘Rainbow Beet’
It doesn’t end there though. Think golden courgettes, which will be much easier to pick and harvest at a young, tender stage than the camouflaged green ones. Some rainbow vegetables have additional goodness too, for example pea Shiraz has more antioxidants in its purple pods, so eat them raw or stir fried, to avoid diminishing that goodness!
Pea Shiraz (mangetout)
Every now and then, you might spot a unique vegetable in your local supermarket, but supply is always quite limited, and you could easily miss them. The only way to guarantee trying these tasty novelties is by growing your own!
Courgette ‘Sunstripe’ F1 Hybrid