California Dreaming!

At the time of writing this blog I am visiting Palm Desert in California for a few days with my Husband Alan and my Sister who lives in Huntington Beach Ca.  Today`s temperature has been 104`F, how do they keep their plants alive in such hot weather?  Gradually over a few days the temperature dropped to 100`F.  Unfortunately brush fires have broken out in many areas, so sad to see people lose their homes, belongings and gardens.  We have a lot to be thankful for in the UK even when we get the storms.   We shall be visiting the Palm Desert Visitor Centre which has hundreds of different cactus growing – you do have to keep your eyes open as there are notices about rattle snakes hiding near the rocks.  You also have to be careful when taking photos as my Sister discovered a couple of years ago when she backed up to a large cactus bush with unpleasant affects.

While we were at our overnight hotel at Heathrow Airport I had a text and photos from my Daughter in Law to say I had won a Gold Award for my hanging baskets and a Gold Award for my container Garden.  I was thrilled as we have had a rough few months when my Husband was to and fro from hospital following a serious eye operation.  I am sure concentrating on the garden really helped me.

Now down to work:

What a funny month August was – not funny ha ha – In the South we have had several really bad storms and gales with torrential rain and on one occasion hail which shattered a lot of the flowers.  The plants did not recover so quickly as they did earlier in the season.  As all  my plants were in containers on the front decking some of them looked really sorry for themselves so emptied them out and cut some back with the hope that they might recover.  A few did but became very untidy.  The Apricot Shade Begonias have lasted right through the summer until mid October, also the Non Stop Begonias Citrus variety.

I had four dahlias for trial from Thompson & Morgan which turned out to be very prolific.  I grew them in containers and were around 18 inches high although one variety were a little taller.  The flowers were stunning with a slight perfume.  I was also given two Hibiscus for trial, these have proved very successful growing to around 12 – 14 inches high and continuously flowered.  They were still flowing when bought indoors for the winter before the cold nights.   They are to be treated as indoors plants until next Spring when they can go back outside.

As I finish the blog we are back in Huntington Beach where we have had some heavy rain and still looks stormy – just to remind me of home.

As we look forward to Christmas have fun everyone and enjoy your gardening…………………..til the next time


Jean Willis

I started gardening 65 years ago on my Dad’s allotment and now live in Bournemouth, where spend a lot of time gardening since retiring. In 2012 I won the Gold Award for Bournemouth in Bloom Container Garden. I am a member of Thompson & Morgan’s customer trial panel.

Thompson & Morgan trials team member wins gold!

Jean Willis' Container Garden

Jean Willis’ Container Garden

Jean Willis, a dedicated and valued member of Thompson & Morgan’s trials team, recently won Gold Award First in the Best Container Garden category of Bournemouth in Bloom 2012.

It all started in 2006, when the Bournemouth in Bloom committee was judging gardens in Jean’s road and knocked on her door to ask why she hadn’t entered the competition! At that time, Jean didn’t even know that the competition existed, but the committee entered her garden there and then… and she won Best Container Garden and was highly commended in the Best Hanging Basket category. Jean has won awards in the competition every year since, culminating in this year’s fantastic achievement.

Jean Willis - Gold Award First for Best Container Garden, Bournemouth in Bloom 2012

Jean Willis wins Gold Award First for Best Container Garden, Bournemouth in Bloom 2012

Jean started trialling plants for Thompson & Morgan in 2008 and said “I thoroughly enjoyed the experience – and still do.” She first started gardening on her father’s allotment in Norfolk, when she was about 10 years old. Even though it was mainly used for growing veg, the flowers really caught her attention and her favourite plants now include fuchsias, clematis and roses. Jean said ‘As far as I can remember I have always loved gardening, although when the children were small I didn’t have a lot of time, but am probably making up for it now.”

Congratulations on your achievements  – long may they continue!

Rebecca Tute

Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

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