Planting bare root tree peonies

Dark pink peony with yellow centre from Thompson & Morgan

Few plants can compete with a mature tree peony smothered by more than a hundred exotic blooms
Image: Tree Peony ‘Luoyang Hong’ from T&M

Bare root peonies can be ordered from late autumn and should be planted as soon as they arrive between October and March. Whether you choose herbaceous peonies (Paeonia lactiflora) or tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa), the planting time for all bare root varieties remains the same. We asked professional gardener and trained horticulturist Sue Russell how she plants her favourite bare root peonies. Here’s what she said…

In the meantime, see our full range of bare root plants and trees for more winter-planting ideas.


Capel St Mary Allotments Association – Flower and Produce Show

Last weekend I volunteered to help out at my local Allotment Show, they were a bit short on numbers, so I helped out on the refreshment stall, we all need a cup of tea and piece of cake from time to time.

It was a perfect way to have a behind the scenes look at the show.

It has given me more ideas of what to grow and the different classes in the show to enter.

My children entered the children’s classes and even won a first and second place. So, next year it’s game on. My children even fancy growing some flowers, especially the Dahlias and Begonias.

Capel St Mary is a village on the outskirts of Ipswich in Suffolk. They hold a two-day Flower and Produce Show the first weekend of September annually and this was their 41st year.

They have over 360 members and 90 members who rent a plot.

It is a hugely popular village event and is attended well from the wider community. Entries are also welcome from non-members too, it features over 120 classes including produce, fruit, handicraft, cookery, photography and the children’s classes.

The hard work from the committee was evident, setting up the event, receiving the exhibits, judging, and of course taking pleasure in viewing other people’s hard work growing, baking stitching, painting etc. A slick rota was drawn up by the Show Secretary, Wendy Russell, to ensure that the event ran smoothly. There were refreshments, teas, coffees and homemade cakes on offer, guess the name of the teddy and the Grand Draw and many more.

What a lovely collection of classic vegetables, those leeks look delicious! We are thinking about which flower to grow from a bulb, corm or tuber next year. The plates of fruit were lovely, perfectly shaped. The varieties were lovely to see, showing visitors that there are other types out there, instead of the basic tasteless supermarket ones.

These baskets makes me think of my childhood at school, collecting vegetables from the garden for the Harvest Festival at the local church.

We are going to have a Pumpkin growing competition next year, what is your favourite?

This produce show in Capel St Mary is a lovely show to visit and I was lucky enough to be invited to help out.

It certainly gives you plenty of ideas with what to try next year and enter yourself.

Visitors come from far and wide to exhibit and visit. It speaks for its self as it is in its 41st year.

For more information about Capel St Mary Allotments Association please visit, or visit their new Facebook Page by searching for Capel Allotments.

Family visit to Hyde Hall

Last weekend we headed down to Hyde Hall to visit Thompson and Morgan’s Floral Fantasia.

My children were very keen to see all the plants that I had planted, they had seen the pictures I had taken for the previous blog.

We love visiting Hyde Hall, taking a picnic and spending the day together. The children’s plant knowledge is growing, both common names and Latin. I love being able to share this with them.

The lawns were impeccable, green and lush. We all walked bare footed over them as did a lot of other visitors.

Walking through the entrance into Floral Fantasia, certainly had that ‘wow factor’. The bright, glorious colours, bees buzzing and the varying heights across the site sent your eyes on a journey. My daughter stood with her mouth open!



The beds were in full bloom, the planting had settled down and had grown on well. The different sections of bedding had blended well. All the gaps had filled in.

The SunBelieveable looked amazing, a huge bank of beautiful sunflowers. They definitely drew the crowds.




The pots were all full and colourful, you often heard people discussing the different plants and wanting to ‘try those next year’. The pouch pyramid, was breath taking. Huge and unmissable. Some new seeds I have decided to grow next year have to be, Nicotiana sylvestris for height in the borders and Cosmos Cupcakes as the children loved them. Also need many more Rudbeckias too!!

It was a very hot day in the garden and my son found Crocosmia ‘Scorchio’

We finished our trip with a family picture in the Thompson and Morgan deckchair. Will be visiting again before the children go back to school.

A dream come true with Floral Fantasia

So, I heard we (Thompson & Morgan) were having a floral fantasia trial garden this year at RHS Hyde Hall in Chelmsford and I was very pleased, and couldn’t wait to visit.

Then I got an email asking me to help plant it up, I was over the moon!!!

Since starting my new career in Horticulture many years ago now, I wanted to work at Hyde Hall. I did apply for an apprenticeship there, but travelling would have been too much, so I studied at Otley College as it was closer.

An early start at T & M HQ and off we went to Hyde Hall down the A12 into Essex.


When we arrived the beds were marked out with marker spray and labelled and all we had to do was crack on with the planting.

floral fantasia areas marked out

There were 26 trolleys heaving with excellent, strong plants all ready waiting for planting.

getting underway

We also had a team of six Gardeners from the RHS to help us plant out.

the RHS team at the floral fantasia

The weather was kind to us, but the day before when the chaps were unloading the plants, they got a tad wet, apparently!

peter and lance getting wet at the floral fantasia

I planted some of my favourites including Cosmos Cupcakes and Nicotiana Marshmallow. Can’t wait to have some in my garden!

cosmos cupcakes and nicotiana

We think we planted about two thirds the first day, I went back for a second day of fun. It started of misty and cloudy, but to be honest, to me that’s perfect planting weather. It broke out warmer from lunchtime, so on went the hat and all important sun cream.

I loved day two, we got to plant the wonderful Sunflower, SunBelievable ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, what a truly stunning plant it is! In the centre of the garden, there is a large old trough packed with these beauts, I definitely want these in my garden. They are perfect for weddings, as my cousin’s wedding has a Sunflower theme so may have to grow some for her.

sunbelievable at floral fantasia

Pots and pouches complete the trial garden.

floral fantasia in progess

The garden is packed with summer favourites and also new introductions for 2018.

floral fantasia nearly finished

I am looking forward to visiting the garden with my children and showing them the riot of garden. Its open from the 9th June to the 30th September.

You will find the Floral Fantasia next to the Global Growth Vegetable Garden.

April –  Rain or Shine? Either way, I love April Showers!

April is here, British Summer Time has kicked in, lighter mornings, longer days to spend in the garden and greenhouse after work. Hooray! More time with my gardening gloves on!

So at my “Office” job at T&M, (when I’m not doing my dirty job!) I speak to customers and help with any Horticultural queries. I love talking and sharing knowledge, every day there is something new! I also take orders for our lovely products.


A few weeks ago, a gentleman called and we were talking about different Tomatoes we have both grown, the classics, like Shirley and Gardeners Delight were of course mentioned. I’d tried, successfully, with Mountain Magic and Terenzo last year, which he hadn’t and he suggested I tried the heart shaped Tomatoberry. I ordered a packet and as you can see from the photos, when I planted them and today, they are towering out of their pot, begging to be transplanted into 9cm pots to grow on a little more, creating a better root structure.

I’m also trying another cucumber this year called Bella, i’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out as I try not to buy shop bought cucumbers during the summer months.

My greenhouse at home is filling up nicely, along with the one at work.


I ordered the Perennial ‘Best Value’ Collection a little while ago and 72 little healthy plug plants arrived on my door mat. I love receiving plug plugs, potting them on, watching them develop and then planting them in their final place. I am also waiting for the Summer Bedding Collection which is another pack of 72, think I have 2 packs coming actually! Yippee!

I have built another mini greenhouse frame to go inside the greenhouse as more shelving for the tender plugs and seedlings.

The fruit trees are also starting to show their wonderful blooms, Apricot, Plum and Peach. These are fan trained against the red brick walls on the Estate where I work.

Hope the warm weather continues and the insects pollinate those fruit trees for delicious treats later in the year!

Finally, the wellies were planted last weekend, some thyme plants found a new home in my split wellies!


Anyway, enjoy April and all it has to offer!

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