What to do when your plugs arrive

We’re so pleased to see so many photos on social media of the plug plants that you’re receiving in the post. Some customers – perhaps those of you who are turning to your gardens during this time of social distancing and self isolation – are asking us about what to do with their plug plants when they arrive. We’re aware that many of you may be new to gardening and might need some help and advice, so here’s a quick guide to what to do when your plants are delivered.

What to do when your plugs arrive

  • Unpack your plants as soon as they arrive – even if you haven’t got time to plant them up straight away – they’ll need some air after being enclosed in their packaging.
  • Give them a drink! The plants may well be thirsty after their journey, so moisten the plugs of soil at the roots of the plants if they are dry.
  • Don’t worry if the plants look a little sad on arrival; they should perk up once you give them a drink.
  • When you’re ready, gently tweak each plug plant out of its packaging and plant each one into a 7-9cm pot, filled with a good quality, multi purpose compost. This is what is known as ‘potting on’.
  • Gently press the plug plant into the compost, adding more to top up the pot if necessary. Don’t fill the pot to the very top with the compost – you need to allow for watering.
  • Place your pots somewhere where they will stay fairly warm and get lots of light – a windowsill, or a table near a window is fine if you don’t have a greenhouse or conservatory.
  • Keep the compost moist, but try not to overwater.
  • Your plants will start to grow; getting bigger and stronger by the day.

Once your plants have developed more leaves and are looking more robust – usually in late April to mid May (depending on the weather/climate in your area) – you can toughen them up ready for planting out in the garden by popping them outdoors during the daytime and bringing them in at night. You should do this for 7 – 10 days prior to planting out. This is known as ‘hardening off’. It’s important to protect your growing plants from any possible spring frosts, so do keep an eye on the weather forecast!

After you’ve ‘hardened off’ your plants, they’re ready to be planted out into the garden where you can watch them continue to grow and flourish – just remember to water them!

NOTE: If your plants are destined for baskets or containers which can be easily moved indoors and out again, then you can plant your plants into their final containers a little earlier if they have made good growth. You can then harden them off as explained.

December News Update

New Spring Catalogues are on their way!

Thompson & Morgan’s new spring catalogues are in and will soon be winging their way to gardeners up and down the UK. The full spring range is now available online at www.thompson-morgan.com and offers the horticultural mail order company’s customers a huge choice of plants and gardening equipment.

Vicky Ager, T&M’s head of direct sales said:

“We’re really pleased with the fabulous range of plants that we’re offering gardeners for 2020. Our horticultural team have excelled themselves in searching out the very best plant varieties for our customers to grow next year.”

Catalogues will be coming through customers’ letterboxes in the New Year. Anyone who does not receive our catalogues can request them via our website.

Website Refresh – Take a look!

We’ve been refreshing our website with an updated colour scheme and improved functionality to create a seamless customer experience across the brand.

Holly Taylor, T&M’s online manager commented:

“With over 17 million recorded customer visits this year, our website plays a huge part in our business. We think the new look website will appeal to our customers – and we’ll be adding some more features in the new year.”

Chempak Rebrand

The website isn’t the only area that has had a makeover. Well-known stalwart of the potting shed and gardeners’ favourite, Chempak, has been rebranded.

“The Chempak plant food range is highly respected by many gardeners and has a long-standing reputation for quality and successful results; we thought it only good and proper to bring its branding up to date.”

said Joseph Cordy, Thompson & Morgan’s head of B2B.

Look out for the new packs in garden centres and here on our website. Gardeners can find out which Chempak product is best for their plants’ needs in this article https://www.thompson-morgan.com/chempak-fertiliser-guide

News update from Thompson & Morgan

Alstromeria ‘Holiday Valley, Alstromeria ‘Spring Valley’ and Alstromeria ‘Times Valley’

Further ‘reveals’ from our new Spring Range
We’ve just released details and images of a number of new products that will feature in our Spring 2020 range.

All three of the striking varieties in the new Summer Paradise series of alstroemeria – ‘Holiday Valley’, ‘Spring Valley’ and ‘Times Valley’ – have a neat, compact habit and boast wonderful, exotic-looking blooms. Tougher than they might look, the delicate blooms are in fact able to cope with temperatures of down to -15 °C! They are perfect for the front of borders and will also work well in patio pots. And, as many gardeners will know and appreciate, alstroemeria make fabulous, long-lasting cut flowers.

Peter Freeman, our product development manager, said:

‘We were so impressed with these alstroemeria in trials – we think our customers are going to love the way they grow so neatly. And, of course, the fact that they are so hardy is a great bonus!’

Exclusive to our Spring 2020 range is a spectacular new variety of ornamental sage, Salvia ‘Strawberry Lake’. It’s a very versatile perennial which makes a superb patio plant, flowering from late summer into autumn on attractive, mounding foliage. Bees and butterflies absolutely love the ruby-red, ‘open-mouthed’ flowers!

Also new to the range for next season is the amazing Dahlia ‘Tropical Breeze’. With its eye-catching colouring, it is already sparking interest amongst the new generation of dahlia lovers. The stunning blooms are particularly large and uniform for a bedding variety and they flower freely from late May to October! Vigorous plants are neat, bushy and well-branched and show good tolerance to mildew. Like all dahlias, ‘Tropical Breeze’ makes a truly striking cut flower.

T&M Exclusive – Savlia ‘Strawberry Lake’ and Dahlia ‘Tropical Breeze’

Vicky Ager, T&M’s head of direct sales and GMG awards compère, James Alexander Sinclair

Garden Media Guild awards lunch

We proudly sponsored the Practical Journalist of the Year award at the annual Garden Media Guild awards lunch at The Savoy in London on Thursday 21st November. Vicky Ager, our head of direct sales, announced the winner, Alan Titchmarsh, who was unfortunately not in attendance. Vicky said:

‘We were so pleased to be involved in this great event again this year. It was such a pleasure to see so many of the gardening industry’s press, writers, broadcasters and bloggers!’

The Great British Growing Awards
In Grow Your Own magazine’s Great British Growing Awards, we were recently named the winner in two categories – Best Plug Plant Range and Best Online Retailer. Miles Turner, our direct sales manager, commented:

‘We’re very honoured to win these two awards, particularly as they are voted on by Grow Your Own readers who we know have so many brands and products to choose from. We’re so proud at T&M to be part of such a great industry and very happy to be recognised for our contribution.’

New additions to retail gift range
A number of new gardening gift items have recently been added to our retail range, namely a Gardeners’ Hamper and two herb kits. Joseph Cordy, our head of B2B, commented:
‘We’re pleased to be expanding our retail offering to include these premium gardening gifts. Whether customers are buying presents for the festive period or at other times of the year and for other occasions, we think that these gifts can provide an attractive alternative to plants.’

These gardening gifts are available in garden centres in the New Year.

Gardeners’ Hamper, Herb Garden Trio Kit and Chalk Pot Herb Kit

Alstroemeria ‘Holiday Valley’, ‘Spring Valley’ & ‘Times Valley’ (Summer Paradise Series)
| Long-flowering, exotic blooms | Ideal for patio pots and front of borders | Long-lasting cut flowers| Sun or part shade | Height & Spread: 45cm | Available as jumbo plug plants
| Available separately or as a collection of all three varieties | Despatching Spring 2020 |

Salvia ‘Strawberry Lake’ | Exclusive to Thompson & Morgan | Free-flowering from late summer into autumn | Ideal for cottage gardens or exotic borders | Great for patio pots | Half hardy perennial | Full sun | Height: 45cm | Spread: 30cm | Available as jumbo plug plants | Despatching Spring 2020 |

Dahlia ‘Tropical Breeze’ | Superb bedding dahlia | Large uniform blooms | Great for patio pots, beds and borders | Stunning cut flower | Half hardy perennial | Full sun | Height: 45cm | Spread: 30cm | Available as jumbo plug plants | Despatching Spring 2020 |

Introducing a Low Calorie/ Low Carb/ High Fibre Alternative to Potato

Winter Squash 'Mashed Potato'We are launching two intriguing new winter squash varieties. Intriguing because when cooked, they taste just like mashed and baked potatoes whilst offering fewer calories, along with lower carbohydrate and higher fibre content. With today’s trends towards healthy eating, plant-based diets and home-grown vegetables, we think the new squash varieties will go down a treat with home gardeners, allotment growers and plot-to-plate foodies alike.

The cooked flesh of both squash is lower in carbohydrates and calories, and higher in fibre than that of potato. Per 148g portion, ‘Mashed Potato’ has 23 calories against potato with 110; 2.25% carbohydrate against 9%; 9% dietary fibre against 7%.

Winter Squash ‘Mashed Potato’ is a white-skinned acorn-type with almost white flesh that when baked, scooped out, mashed and seasoned has the look and taste of mashed potato.

Winter Squash ‘Baked Potato’ is an acorn-type with a pale butternut-coloured skin and off-white flesh that when cooked has the appearance, texture and taste of baked potato.

Winter Squash 'Baked Potato'
Peter Freeman, our new product development manager, said:

“We’re very excited to be offering these two new squash varieties for next season. Jumbo plugs and seeds will be available, enabling gardeners and allotmenteers to grow these highly productive plants. In staff taste tests, we’ve been amazed at how similar to potato the winter squash flesh is!”

Both varieties typically produce 3 to 4 fruits of approximately 450-700g each. Squash plants are vine-like and will trail on the ground. Click here to find out more and to order seeds and plants. A 10% discount is being offered when the hashtag #squashpotato is used when ordering from our website until November 6th 2019.

Cooking suggestion:
Both squash should be cooked in the oven, with the cut side lightly oiled and placed cut side down on a baking tray, at 200 °C for approx 30 mins. The flesh can then be scooped out and in the case of Squash Mashed Potato, mashed with butter, salt and pepper according to taste and enjoyed as you would regular mashed potato. In the case of Squash Baked Potato, the flesh can be eaten as you would that of a baked potato, with butter and cheese or any other filling of your choice.

News update from Thompson & Morgan

Begonia 'MacaRouge', Busy Lizzie 'Wild Romance White' and Busy Lizzie 'Wild Romance Red'

Begonia ‘MacaRouge’, Busy Lizzie ‘Wild Romance White’ and Busy Lizzie ‘Wild Romance Red’

New Spring Range Preview

Plant selection for our 2020 spring range is well under way. As always, full details are kept secret until the launch, but we can give you a sneak preview of a couple of plants that promise to be amongst the stars of the new range. Namely, Begonia ‘MacaRouge’, a fabulous bright red variety with striking golden yellow stamens, and to add to the hugely popular Busy Lizzie ‘Wild Romance’ range, a double-bloomed, red and a white version of this popular impatiens. The first in the range, Busy Lizzie ‘Wild Romance Blush Pink’ will be available again for the 2020 season; all three will be sold separately and as a trio collection.

Begonia ‘MacaRouge’ | Very floriferous from June to frosts | Fleuroselect Award Winner | Great for pots and borders | Sun or part shade | Height: 35cm | Spread: 25cm | Available as jumbo plug plants |

Busy Lizzie (Impatiens) ‘Wild Romance Red’ and ‘Wild Romance White’ | Long-flowering, impressive double rosebud blooms | Ideal for patio pots | Sun or part shade | Height & Spread: 40-50cm | Available as jumbo plug plants |

All three of the ‘Wild Romance’ Busy Lizzies and Begonia ‘MacaRouge’ are available for pre-order on Thompson & Morgan’s website now. Further new and exciting products will be revealed over the coming weeks.

Flower and Vegetable of the Year 2020

We’re pleased to announce our pretty Cosmos ‘Apricot Lemonade’ as Flower of the Year for 2020 and colourful Kale ‘Jardin Mixed’ as Vegetable of the Year. Both varieties are available from our 2020 seed catalogue, our retail seed stockists and online at https://www.thompson-morgan.com/ A full list of our 2020 seed range is available here

Comos 'Apricot Lemonade' and Kale 'Jardin Mixed'

Cosmos ‘Apricot Lemonade’ and Kale ‘Jardin Mixed’

T&M’s Lance Russell – a ‘poster boy’ for post-GCSE practical training

T&M’s Lance Russell was interviewed at the end of the summer by both BBC Radio Suffolk and BBC One Look East as a successful example of someone who went on to practical training and qualifications after GCSEs.

Lance Russell

Thompson & Morgan’s Lance Russell

Following publicity surrounding Lance’s involvement in two gold medal-winning gardens at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, BBC producers were keen to use his story as an up-and-coming horticulturalist to illustrate post-GCSE options for students not wishing to take the university route. At just 24 years old, Lance has worked in the gardening industry since graduating from Sparsholt College in Hampshire with a National Diploma in Horticulture and now works here at Thompson & Morgan. Employed as a trainee manager, Lance has worked in various areas of our business, and has recently been promoted to senior account manager. Lance can also be seen fronting some of our gardening ‘Clips with Tips’ videos.

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