Veg in the Park

We ran an allotment completion this year so that we could see what you make of your allotments and why they mean so much to you. Our winning entry was from Caroline Lawson from Veg in the Park, who told us all about their community growing up;

veg in the park

V.I.P ( Veg In the Park ) is a community growing hub for all residents across East Oldham, we don’t say allotments as this indicates it’s their own, and everything we grow we share, sell and all money will be reinvested back into V.I.P

veg in the park

We are a very new growing hub as we only opened in July of this year, our age range is from 3 to 95, and we all benefit from each other.

veg in the park

The growing hub was an idea that me and a friend came up with as we realised not all kids knew where veg came from and had never even touched or tasted some vegetables. The hub site was funded by public health and our local councillors, but we opened with no money in the bank and limited tool. With friends, we grew some of the veg in our own gardens throughout the year so when the hub was opened we could transplant what we had grown. We have 3 local primary schools wanting to have their garden clubs with us now, and we have given each school a flat bed that they can grow and produce whatever they want , they will be taking over their beds soon.

veg in the park

We also want to help the older folk as well as most are in bad health and even though they have gardening skills, they can no longer manage their allotments, but can come and help us. We have 18 raised beds of various heights so no bending down to ground levels, and we get expert advice from people who have gardening skills.

veg in the park

We also have a 50 foot polytunnel, so we are not lacking in space! Our site is all about growing from seed to plate, and we tell everyone the one rule we have is to have fun, It also helps with health & well being.

A very worthy winner!

Terri Overett
Terri works in the e-commerce marketing department assisting the busy web team. Terri manages our blog and social media pages here at Thompson & Morgan and is dedicated to providing useful advice to our gardeners. Terri is new to gardening and keen to develop her horticultural knowledge.

Must-have Christmas gift plants revealed

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.

christmas gift plants

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.”

christmas gift plants

Christmas Cactus

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




Thompson & Morgan Christmas Top 10

Thompson & Morgan
Since the first seed catalogue was published in 1855, Thompson & Morgan has grown to become one of the UK’s largest Mail Order Seed and Plant companies. Through the publication of our catalogues and the operation of our award-winning website, Thompson & Morgan is able to provide home gardeners with the very best quality products money can buy.

Update from the Greenhouse

Hello Everyone,

Despite it being the mildest November since records began, winter has arrived in Pembrokeshire, with 50mph winds, continuous rain and short dreary days. In fact over the last week we have had enough rain to fill the forty gallon water butt from the gutters of the greenhouses. The glass was rattling so loudly in the greenhouses on Sunday 15th that I felt a teeny bit scared to be in them. However, I had to go in and try to salvage my plants.

I am still getting amazing spinach leaves, and aubergines but the pepper is now producing bitter green fruits. I am not sure if I should dig it up or allow it to overwinter. Next year a pepper plant will go to the more sunnier side of the greenhouse.

In the little greenhouse a slug managed to get in and eat a good lot of my new salad leaves, as well as destroying the Pansy, Laurentia and most of the Yarrow seedling. The slug did leave the broccoli, cauliflower and radishes alone, so I was pretty lucky there. I found the critter in the Californian Poppy plugs looking very fat and satisfied. I put him on the bird table; I have no idea if it escaped the house sparrows at feeding time.

incredibloom fertiliserUnfortunately, the slug problem was not the only disaster to hit my crops, the higher than expected temperatures (it was 16 degrees Celsius one night) and strong winds have meant that I cannot vent the little greenhouse as well as I wanted too as it’s just too dangerous – which in turn has meant that I have now got a good case of what appears to be green slimy damp-off in some of the pots. I am not altogether convinced it’s down to the weather though, when I checked the ( Garden Centre ) compost ingredients I noticed that its moss based, so it appears to want to go back to its original form. The compost appears to hold the water in the top half inch whilst the lower pot seems to be bone dry. This happened in the summer also. I always sieve my compost before planting small seeds, and have done so for many years, as I find the seeds germinate better in a fine tilth. If I water from the top of the pots the water runs straight through the soil, if I water from the bottom it seems to help, but I can’t have the plants sitting in trays of cold water in the winter as it may freeze the roots if the temperatures drop. As a result I have lost my radish, the kniphofias some tomatoes and some broccoli and cabbage. The frustration is immense. Especially as we had just dug the fertiliser into the bigger greenhouse to grow our winter & spring veg. I will definitely be buying some Incredibloom® next year, and will dig the rest of the old bought compost into the flower borders. I am looking forward to the 2016 sunflower competition, and if you fancy winning a big cash prize click on the T&M community link and read all about it on the website. Also think about pre-ordering Cosmos at its going to be flower of the year next year. I have my seeds already, courtesy of a magazine last summer that I forgot to grow.


christmas cactus However, it’s not all doom and gloom, I am on week thirteen of carrot growing, I don’t seem to have any slugs in the borders. The shoulders of the carrots seem to be raising themselves out of the soil, so I am thinking I can harvest them next weekend. The Begonias are still in leaf and the spiky cacti are a lovely shade of green. The pots of Tulips and other spring bulbs that I planted at the start of the month had to be moved outside as the bulbs shot up and if left in there they would probably be in flower by December. The Christmas cactus inside the house is starting to flower; I will bring the two in from the greenhouse in the week so they can start to bud. In the large greenhouse I have the Aloe Vera’s and the money plant which appear to be thriving.


At this point in the season I really have to weigh up what to do now, as it’s impossible for me to get in the greenhouses after work as its too dark. I don’t want to say, I should just cut my losses dig everything up and wait until the spring, as I would have nothing to write about and there may be some plant survivors that can be transplanted on early next year. However, I don’t want to waste time, money or seeds trying to persevere with plants that probably won’t survive the winter in an unheated greenhouse. What this month has taught me though, is that no two gardening years are ever the same. I have noted in my diary that the best plants for me to grow in the greenhouses from September onwards will be lots of lovely carrots onions and spinach. I will be trying parsnips next year, and possibly buy in some late veg plug plants that I can grow own. I think I left it too late into the season to attempt overwintering vegetable seedlings.

 Johnston in Bloom Small Front Garden competition

I haven’t included many photos in my blog from the greenhouse this month as I didn’t think you wanted to see photos of aubergines and beet again, and I didn’t think you wanted a photo of a fat slug on slimy green compost.  If you want to look at some amazing pictures, I would say take a look at the T&M competition winners snaps, they are amazing. However, I have included a photo of my proud mum (Anna) who won the Johnston in Bloom Small Front Garden competition.

 Johnston in Bloom Small Front Garden competition

Next month will be the last update for this year in my Year in the Greenhouse story. I really can’t believe how quick this year has gone. I hope you will join me in December.

Until then,

Happy Gardening, Love


My name is Amanda and I live in Pembrokeshire with my fiancé and our garden is approximately 116 meters square. I want to share with you my love for gardening and the reasons behind it, from the good to the bad and ugly. I want to do this for my own personal pleasure. If you would like to take the journey with me then please read my blogs and share with me your gardening stories.

Growing Bulbs Indoors

I have a friend who asked me what bulbs are suitable to grow in glass bowls. I was ready to tell her that it was craziness and of course bulbs need soil to grow in… until I did a bit of research and saw that it was true! Certain bulbs can be grown in a glass bowl or carafe with water in.

Excited by the idea of growing bulbs indoors, rather than having to wait impatiently until spring, I got to work chatting to more experienced gardeners and reading a heap of forums. So my attempt began…

The best bulbs to try this with I’ve found are Hyacinths. T&M do a few different mixtures which are ideal for this type of cultivation. I personally prefer a mixture of colours so would recommend the ‘T&M Mix’ variety.

growing bulbs indoors

Whereas others might prefer the rarer, more gothic vibes of the ‘Midnight Mystic’

growing bulbs indoors

Either way, perfect for my trial. It’s a brilliant way to conquer not having a large garden, or a garden at all! You just need 3 things; a bulb, glass bowl or carafe and water.

I keep saying glass, but it’s not necessary, it’s just easier when you can see the water level. Checking the water level is crucial as you don’t want the bulb to sit in the water. This can cause the bulb to rot. If you’re using a bowl it would be a good idea to place some pebbles or stones along the bottom and carefully sit the bulbs on top.

You can actually buy hyacinth glasses too which are used for this exact purpose.

growing bulbs indoors

Step 1. Fill up the glass to a level just below where the bulb would sit.
Step 2. Rest your bulb on top carefully.
Step 3. Place in a cool, dark place for around 2 weeks.
Step 4. When the roots start to reach into the water, and the shoot is around 5cm in height, transfer to a sunny windowsill to continue growth.
Step 5. Enjoy the amazing fragrance and beauty of your hyacinth indoors!

Easy peasy.

As a novice gardener I’m slowly building up my experience and trialling new ideas regularly. Not all of it goes to plan, so I’ll see how this one turns out in a month’s time. Let me know if you have tried it before and works well/ doesn’t work so well – I’d love to know!



Karen Pratt
Karen works in the Customer Care Department at Thompson and Morgan assisting customers in their orders and gardening queries. After growing up watching her dad and granddad in the garden, she is now keen to improve her own gardening knowledge and expertise. Karen likes to try out new and quirky ideas in the garden, and appreciates any tips or advice!

Garden furniture for winter interest

What would our gardens be without garden furniture? Now, I can already pre-empt your response and it would still be a truly stunning place to admire. Winter pansies flourishing in window boxes, hardy shrubs such as Viburnum ‘Winter Beauty’ will be adding winter interest to your garden borders and not forgetting rummaging hedgehogs looking for a warm and dry place to rest. Delightful!

But, (there is always a but) garden furniture adds a real focal point in any garden, big or small. And whilst you are right in thinking of summer bbqs, water feature, gazebos and lawnmowers, there are many alternative pieces that you can use in your garden to enjoy over winter too.

Garden furniture

Chimeneas – Garden chimeneas come in handy when entertaining friends and family in the cold and crisp evenings. Our online range are also easy on the eye, no one wants an eye-sore in their garden!

Garden furniture

Patio heaters – It really would be a shame if you could only enjoy your gardens in the summer months. After months of planting, sowing and pruning you should be able to enjoy your garden all year round. For when the evenings are a little cooler and frosty, a patio heater will help take the chill off so you can enjoy those evenings in your garden a little longer.

Garden furniture

Fire pits – Fire pits and braziers are not only modern and idyllic focal points, they will take the chill off winter evenings so you are able to enjoy your gardens at anytime!

Garden furniture

Bird tables – Attract birds and wildlife to your garden with one of our beautiful bird baths and bird feeder. Make sure you position your bird bath in a safe location and in sight so it can easily be found.

Garden furniture

Garden arbour seats – A stunning piece of garden furniture for withstanding the elements of British weather. Arbour seats create an idyllic place to rest in evenings, or daytime, with a good book in hand and perfectly brewed cup of tea (Now, where do I buy one!)

Garden furniture

Benches – Garden benches are a convenient and stylish way to add seating to your garden or patio. The Royal Garden Stacking Bench will be just what you need for whiling away the hours in outdoor comfort. Made from Steel, this bench will also resist the affects of winter weather.

Garden furniture

Awnings – Garden awnings are a great way to extend your home into the garden, whatever the weather. Easy to assemble and fit, they are perfect for providing shade or cover for the odd summer shower.

Terri Overett
Terri works in the e-commerce marketing department assisting the busy web team. Terri manages our blog and social media pages here at Thompson & Morgan and is dedicated to providing useful advice to our gardeners. Terri is new to gardening and keen to develop her horticultural knowledge.

Pin It on Pinterest