How to grow Hyacinth bulbs in water

Hyacinth 'Berries and Cream Mixture' from T&M

Hyacinths such as ‘Berries and Cream Mixture‘ can be grown in water to enjoy throughout the depths of winter
Copyright: Dutch Gardens

Growing hyacinths in water gives you the chance to enjoy vibrant and beautifully scented spring bulbs in the depths of winter. In fact, with a little bit of planning, you’ll have a windowsill full of colourful bulbs just in time for Christmas. Here’s how to grow hyacinth bulbs in water at home.


Acer Starfish

I’ve got a medium sized garden and have spent the past year trying to transform it from a concrete mess, to something I can sit and relax in. I’ll paint a picture of what I’m dealing with; there are two rectangular borders with good quality soil in and a large square area in the middle too. They’re surrounded by uneven patio areas and a concrete monster at the back. Unfortunately it’s not an easy task to just remove the mess at the back of the garden, so I’m working my way from the front until I can sort out the back.

The middle square patch of garden has been tormenting me for months! I really couldn’t decide what would suit this area, what I wanted and how to make it look good. However, I couldn’t help but pick up random plants and shrubs in every garden centre I visited. It also doesn’t help being signed up to T&M’s newsletters with their tempting deals every week. I’ve potted up the smaller plants and am growing them on a little bit more before deciding their final positions, and have planted out the rest in a very sporadic manner. You can clearly tell I’m an amateur gardener- but I am loving the adventure I’m on with it all!

After visiting Beth Chatto Gardens earlier in spring (highly recommend a visit – so beautiful), I came across a beautiful Acer in a large terracotta pot and fell in love. Light bulbs were going off in my head and I knew exactly how I wanted that square patch to look all of a sudden. I wanted a stunning Acer tree in the middle as a feature, and shrubs that would slowly take over the patch around it. Maybe a few stepping stones through the area would look good too.


I already had a stunning Hosta ‘Guacamole’, a selection of Heuchera ‘Patchwork Mixed’ and ‘Purple Palace’, a Dicentra Bleeding Heart and a Hydrangea ‘Love’ which I placed close to the borders and spread out to allow room for growth. Now was my mission to find my dream pot for the main feature; my beautiful Acer. Thompson & Morgan were kind enough to suggest the Starfish Acer for me. Quirky foliage and not too large for what I had in mind. I loved the illustration of the basket container, but didn’t think it would suit my garden vision. So I went off on my mission. Unfortunately the search took much longer than I expected, and my poor Acer was left in the pot it arrived in for much longer than I wanted it to. It was starting to look a little sorry for itself – after research I think it’s due to over watering and being in a non sheltered position. I’ve quickly moved it to a semi-sunny spot where it’s protected from winds. It turns out Acers suffer from scorching and doesn’t like sunny positions where it’s hit by blazing midday sun, or windy spots. I think the middle of my patch is ideal – gets the morning sun, and is sheltered from roaring winds by the nearby wall.

So, back to pot shopping, I have to discuss my ultimate bargain with you. Everyone knows large Teracotta pots are quite expensive; maybe £50-£70 in a local garden centre or chain garden shop. Well, I found one for £25 reduced in Katie’s Garden (in Suffolk) which was pretty much exactly what I had in mind. However, it had a large chunk taken out of it, so I managed to haggle it down to £15! So chuffed with myself.

Thompson & Morgan do a great selection of pots now too which I have only just discovered. These would have been a close second choice; the bee hive planters.


I got the pot back home and moved it, very slowly as I have tiny muscles, around the area to see where looked best before potting up my Acer in it. (Please ignore the back of the garden in the photographs! It really is hideous but by next year should have some pukka decking put in). I decided on the middle to make it the ultimate feature. I’ll see how the Acer gets on with the sunlight in that particular area, and will be happy to move it across towards the wall if needs be.


I’ve given some more thought to what other perennial plants would look good around the Acer, rather than just buying more on a whim like I have been doing, but if you have any suggestions at all please feel free to drop a comment below. I’d love some advice from less amateur gardeners!

With some stones in the bottom for extra drainage and some John Innes compost I’ve potted up the Acer successfully. I’ve also added, temporarily, some slate stepping stones around the pot to give myself a clearer idea of how the area will look once fully finished. I’ll see how my Acer gets on over the next month or two, and I’ll come back and let you know how it’s coming along in my garden and what other changes have been made!

Christmas at Hyde Hall

After scrolling through Royal Horticultural Society’s website for information on different plant varieties and how to grow this and that in more detail, I came across the ‘gardens to visit’ section and thought it was about time I actually checked it out in real life, rather than staring at pretty pictures through a screen.

It was probably the worst day I could have visited on. The wind was crazy! It was so windy that they had to restrict the areas you could walk around. The New Zealand and Australian Gardens and the Woodland Walk were both out of bounds. Two areas I actually wanted to snoop around, although, it’s probably the perfect excuse to re-visit next year.

It wasn’t all bad though, as we were able to save some money on entry with a 2 for 1 offer this particular weekend. It’s always worth checking out deals and events that are happening before you go. In the past they have had some great events, such as an official tour of the gardens, fun kid’s events and arts and crafts workshops to take part in. Pretty much something to cater for everyone!

The weekend we went there was a Christmas fair; perfect to get into the festive mood and even better for looking for homemade and unique Christmas gifts.

Christmas at Hyde Hall

Trying to keep my hat on!

We were greeted by about 5 different members of staff within 5 minutes of walking through the door. I always appreciate friendly customer service (after all, I am in customer service myself!) and we got exactly that. We were handed a map and we were off on our way! We explored for a good hour and a half before being defeated by the wind and returning to the marquee to browse the gift fair.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from the gardens in the winter. I guess as a new gardener’s outlook I was half expecting dead looking plants and trees from every angle I looked. I’ve quickly learnt that winter is not a time to ignore your garden. There’s still plenty of colour around and beautiful evergreens in every bed.

Christmas at Hyde Hall

I particularly loved the shrubs and trees with the various coloured berries. They’re perfect for attracting wildlife too; I can imagine such a Christmas image, a robin on a beautiful red berries hedge. These Firethorn shrubs we sell here at Thompson and Morgan and I’m definitely buying one of these for my garden next year! They’re quite quick growing and easy to maintain. That is ideal for me as a new young gardener who is still learning what to grow and how to look after.

A lot of plants were dormant or past their best as we walked around, however Rosa plants were still in bloom and looking sweet and delicate, Nerines were bobbing around in the wind (or viciously being thrown around on this particular day) and colourful autumnal leaves clinging on several trees. It was really lovely to stroll from place to place and take inspiration from the largest RHS garden in the UK.

Christmas at Hyde Hall

Hyde Hall also hosts some of The Chelsea Flower Show on its over 300 acre patch, and I’d love to return at that time of year and see the entire buzz surrounding it. Working for Thompson and Morgan allows an insight into the event and the company has won several awards for plants such as the Foxglove Illumination Pink. It would be nice to see it up close and in person.

After walking around and checking out the various nooks and crannies of the gardens, and the beautiful restaurant area, we headed to the Christmas fair. I didn’t buy any presents, although did spend some pennies on a mulled wine. Well, it is the festive season after all!

Christmas at Hyde Hall

I’d definitely recommend a visit to one of the 5 RHS gardens in the UK. Hyde Hall was really enjoyable; however I’d probably have preferred a warmer day in spring or summer to visit. It did give me some great ideas for my own garden over winter though, and has left me with plenty of designs I could use in my own little patch of land.

Have you visited Hyde Hall before and what were your thoughts? Feel free to drop a comment and let me know your favourite gardens in the UK – I’m always looking for new gardens to visit!

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I was feeling a little Christmassy this week, after all it’s only a week until December, so decided to do something to suit the occasion. I cannot take full credit for this idea, as the lovely Natalie who works with me here in the Customer Care Department suggested home-made Christmas decorations. I was super excited by the idea of making my own decorations that I immediately got to work with my arts ‘n’ crafts box. I decided to make gold and silver glitter pine cones.

They’re super easy to make. Why not try it yourself? And definitely send us some photos of yours or any other ideas you have had!

The first part of the task is definitely my favourite. Warning: it does involve exercise!
I managed to pick a perfect Thursday afternoon for a stroll around the local park. I sometimes take for granted living so close to nature.

christmas decorations

I went foraging and found some fairly large pine cones. So I gathered them up in my bag and took them back home to re-vamp, and turn into glitter Christmas decs.

christmas decorations

The next step is easy (less exercise too). Find yourself some cheap gold and silver metallic spray. Try and do this next step outside to avoid fumigating the entire house. Lay down some newspaper and spray each cone carefully; avoiding hands and face. Leave to dry for an hour or so.

christmas decorations

Next, find some glitter glue and a paintbrush. Squirt the glitter and brush so it covers the entire pine cone surface using the paintbrush. And again, leave to dry for a few hours. I love anything glittery and sparkly, so was chuffed with the outcome of these.

christmas decorations

They’re perfect to add to a wreath. These two lovely ones below we sell here at Thompson & Morgan. Why not add your homemade pine cones to them as well?

christmas decorations

If not there are plenty of choices – spruce up on the Christmas tree, or in a bowl with some scented pot pouri for Christmas day.

If only I could make all my Christmas presents too!


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