Thompson & Morgan Gardening Blog

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Ten top YouTube gardening channels

Young male gardening vlogger filming in a greenhouse

Learn from these informative gardening YouTube channels
Image: silverkblackstock

With so many sources of online gardening help, advice and information to turn to, it can be difficult to know where to start. To help you sort the good from the not so good, we’ve checked out a plethora of gardening YouTube channels for the quality of their content. Here’s a selection of some of the best. Enjoy.

Kelly’s Kitchen Garden

Kelly from Kelly's Kitchen Garden sitting by a raised bed

Kelly keeps her kitchen garden flourishing with a simple sowing system
Image: Kelly’s Kitchen Garden

Do you struggle to manage your sowing and successional sowing schedules? Let Kelly show you how she keeps her busy kitchen garden planting organised – her simple system is easy to replicate, helping you make the most of your garden or allotment.

A brilliant channel with heaps of handy gardening tips, green-fingered Kelly is a friendly and informative host who shows your her mistakes as well as her triumphs. She’s also a passionate baker, loves to cook over a live fire, and because she gardens in Scotland, her channel is also a must for cool climate growers.

Garden Organic

Head of Garden Organic sowing seeds

Tune into Garden Organic for green fingered tutorials from a community of gardeners
Image: Garden Organic

If you’re sick of slugs and snails devouring your seedlings and garden plants, Garden Organic has some simple fixes you can try without resorting to nasty chemicals. Like leaving an upside down empty grapefruit half, baited with lettuce in a strategic location; slugs will congregate underneath ready for you to eliminate them.

Garden Organic is the UK’s biggest organic gardening charity with over 20,000 members and 60 plus years experience of promoting green growing practices. Looking for some quick tips on siting a garden pond? Look no further – stay away from hedges and tree roots and don’t forget that slope to ensure amphibians have easy access.

Gardening at 58 North

plant pots sitting on the balcony from Gardening at 58 North

Gardening at 58 North specialises in small space and balcony gardening
Image: Gardening at 58 North

Have you ever wondered what’s going on beneath the surface when your seeds germinate? You need to take a look at Gardening at 58 North’s awesome 10 day time-lapse video of a runner bean taking root and growing shoots; you’ll be amazed.

Focusing on small space and balcony growing, this channel is a must for anyone who likes to maximise their plot’s performance. Find out just how easy it is to turn one anaemic-looking supermarket basil into multiple lush, bushy plants with nothing more than a pair of scissors, a mug or two of water and some potting compost.

Allotment Gardener

Man standing over freshly dug earth on an allotment

Follow Matt’s journey as he transforms a disused wasteland into a bustling allotment
Image: Allotment Gardener

Don’t forget to keep checking your onions for flowering heads – an important job around planting-out time in May, says Allotment Gardener, Matt. These second year plants won’t get any bigger but if you leave them, they’ll throw all their energy into flowering.

Matt is informative and has that wry sense of humour all good gardeners possess – the ability to laugh at the vagaries of nature. Since taking over his plot in 2016, Matt has turned a wasteland into a working allotment. An inspiration as well as an excellent source of handy gardening hints and tips, Allotment Gardener is highly recommended viewing.

Garden Ninja

Garden Ninja Lee with a plastic-free greenhouse

Lee gives plastic-free gardening a try with great results!
Image: Garden Ninja

When the Garden Ninja – professional garden designer, Lee Burkhill set himself the challenge of eliminating single use plastic from his garden, a steep learning curve ensued. Join him as he repurposes cardboard egg boxes, loo rolls and more, to prove that with just a little bit of willpower and imagination, going plastic-free is easily doable.

Winner of the BBC and RHS Feel Good Gardens Competition, Lee’s video guides help you create awesome garden designs of your own. Check out his Family Garden Design Transformation for a wealth of fun, creative ideas.

Nick’s Allotment Diary

sunflower seeds sown in plastic growing tubs

Take on Nick’s sunflower growing challenge today!
Image: Nick’s Allotment Diary

Try and get as much of the root as you can when you’re pricking out seedlings, says YouTuber, Nick; that way the plant has the best chance to establish itself. Potting on brassicas? Make sure you firm around the roots to make it harder for the wind to push the plants over.

Share in Nick’s journey as he grows fruit and veg on his North Wales plot. Fancy joining Nick’s 2019 sunflower challenge? He has three categories this year: tallest, largest head, and most unusual variety – check out the video for info.

Diary of a UK Gardener

Sean from Diary of a UK Gardener on his allotment

Follow avid gardening vlogger Sean in his endeavours down the allotment
Image: Diary of a UK Gardener

Think you can remember everything you’ve sown so far this season? Organic allotmenteer and avid Vlogger, Sean thought so, but it turns out he sowed Evening Primrose twice in one month. That’s why he says it’s so vital to take an inventory of what you’ve already sown and what seeds have yet to go in the ground.

Sean has been filming his gardening adventures since 2012. Last year he walked away from his allotment of 11 years to a much bigger plot of land. Follow his YouTube adventures as he develops this new allotment to a productive vegetable and fruit garden. Later this year Sean plans to take on another allotment and run it using information supplied by the 1940’s Dig for Victory campaign. Sean James Cameron’s Diary of a UK Gardener is: “The Good Life meets urban London living.

UK Here We Grow

For seasoned growing advice, make sure to bookmark Tony’s channel
Image: UK Here We Grow

Problems with creeping cinquefoil? This troublesome weed looks a little like a strawberry plant, only with five-bladed leaves rather than three. Just like strawberries, cinquefoil spreads by sending out runners, but each node sends down a deep taproot. The bad news, vlogger Tony says, is that if you leave even the tiniest piece of root in the ground, it will regrow. Check out his tips to get rid of it for good.

Want to grow nutrient dense organic food? Tony’s channel is the perfect place to start. Covering everything greenfingered, including beekeeping and poultry, you’ll find just the helpful advice you need to get the most from your plot. Check out Tony’s 12 tips to grow better tomatoes – give the roots plenty of room…

Yorkshire Kris

Visit Kris’ channel for advice on growing exotic plants in a colder climate
Image: Yorkshire Kris

Think you can’t grow a tropical garden in Yorkshire? Kris can – check out his video of his plot in the coldest temperature he’s ever experienced in his garden. The mercury read -5.8C, but plenty of fleece, good positioning, and the plants’ own defenses save most from the worst of the frost.

The UK isn’t perhaps the best place to grow tender plants, but as Kris demonstrates, it is possible. If you’d like to give it a go, this is the YouTube channel for you. That said, there are some tropical species best avoided. Check out Yorkshire Kris TV for the top 10 – sasa bamboo for one – once you plant it, it’ll spread like crazy and you’ll never get rid of it.

Tony C. Smith

On his channel,Tony shows off both the good and the bad days at the allotment
Image: Tony C. Smith

Bad day at the allotment? Pigeons ate Tony’s brassicas, other birds feasted on his banana shallots. The red onions? Scythed. And when he went to buy replacements, he bought the wrong ones – not to worry – planting chard is just the thing to cheer Tony up.

Informative and entertaining, Tony’s YouTube channel is full of handy hints and good ideas, and he also makes a witty, warm, and energetic presenter. Thinking of growing your own? Check out what a good day in the allotment looks like – remember, a bad day in the garden beats a good day in the office.

Did we miss one of your favourite YouTube gardening channels? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what gardening vlogs you love to watch. Alternatively, you might be interested to know we have our own YouTube channel – Thompson & Morgan TV. It’s packed full of useful info, hints and tips to help you get the most from your gardening.

 

Drought tolerant plants

Red Hot Poker flowers in the garden with sunlight

Drought tolerant plants look good and are low maintenance
Image: Peter Betts

There are lots of good reasons to grow drought tolerant plants. During hot summers the need for frequent watering is time consuming. Not to mention costly to the environment and your pocket too, should rainfall in your area fail to keep up with demand.

We asked The Sunday Gardener, Carol Bartlett, her advice on drought tolerant plants. Here are some of her all time favourites, some of which positively thrive on neglect…

Why choose drought tolerant plants?

Lavender 'Hidcote' from Thompson & Morgan

Aromatic and easy to grow, lavender is loved by pollinators
Image: Lavender ‘Hidcote’ from Thompson & Morgan

Some areas of the country are significantly drier than others. Parts of the south-east like Essex, Kent and Cambridgeshire receive as little as as 513mm of rainfall per annum. Last year, Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk recorded 49 consecutive days without rain.

London is another area of very low rainfall. The capital gets around 557mm per annum – less than Miami and Florida. In these drier parts of the UK, successful gardening is very much a case of “right plant, right place.”

Water is a precious resource, and going forward we need to continue to find ways to conserve it. Incorporating drought tolerant plants into our gardens is an important step towards helping the environment.

The good news? There are some fantastic drought tolerant plants which rarely get thirsty, require very little time and attention, and bring show-stopping structure, scent and colour to your beds and borders. Here are some of the easiest to grow.

Silver and grey leaved plants

silver/green leaves of Artemisia 'Valerie Finnis' against Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'

Artemisia ‘Valerie Finnis’ looks beautiful against Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’
Image: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

This group includes many of my garden favourites and these plants look great when planted together. Lavender is particularly suitable for dry ground, and there are many stylish varieties that work well as a low hedge along a path, releasing their scent as you brush past.

The shrub Artemisia has finely divided silver leaves which are also aromatic. Illustrated is Artemisia ‘valerie finnis’ whose pale silver foliage makes a fantastic combination alongside the blue flowers of Nepeta.

Perovskia, commonly known as Russian sage, has grey/green leaves and masses of spires of soft blue flowers, which the bees love. It’s a small aromatic shrub that’s easy to grow in dry conditions. Perovskia requires pruning in late April/early May. This is to keep the growth compact, cutting back to a small framework of just a few inches. It’s important not to cut the woody parts which don’t have buds, which is why pruning is often delayed until the buds appear as a guide.

Stachys Byzantina, also known as lambs ears, probably has the softest, most downy, silver leaves of any plant and is totally irresistible to the touch! Spires of grey leaves produce small mauve flowers from late June onwards. These insignificant flowers are a bee magnet – attracting bumble bees and female wool carder bees who harvest hairs from the plant’s leaves to make a nest.

The Salvia family is easy to grow in dry areas and this includes common sage, an attractive, small evergreen shrub useful for culinary purposes. Amongst the more colourful flowering varieties are Salvia x sylvestris ‘Viola Klose’ a strong violet blue; and the popular two-toned Salvia ‘lips collection’ – ‘Amethyst Lips’, ‘Hot Lips’ and ‘Cherry Lips’.

Drought resistant shrubs are a good way to provide structure and all year round interest in your planting scheme. Mediterranean shrubs like Rosemary and Santolina are ideal, as is the sun-loving Cistus which grows wild in many areas of the Med where it bakes happily in the sun. Buddleia is ideal in a dry sunny spot with the added benefit of being attractive to pollinators and butterflies. If you don’t have space for a large shrub, there are now more compact buddleia varieties too.

Drought resistant garden favourites

Colourful drought tolerant border photographed in Oxford by The Sunday Gardener

A striking drought tolerant border in Oxford
Image: The Sunday Gardener

Creating a drought resistant border doesn’t mean settling for something dull. Amongst the group of drought tolerant plants there are some real show stoppers, such as Agapanthus. The striking blue flowers of agapanthus are always eye catching and combine beautifully with the terracotta shades of Achillea, which are also drought tolerant.

Many of my favourite perennials also happen to prefer dry soil:

Even taller, growing up to around 60cms, and a definite garden favourite is Verbena bonariensis with clusters of tiny purple flowers which are attractive to bees and butterflies. It’s not fully hardy all over the UK, but helpfully self-seeds to create new plants for next year. A mulch will help it through the winter.

This perfect drought tolerant planting combination was spotted in Oxford: Verbena bonariensis, sedum, mauve flowering asters and the grass Pennisetum, all of which will tolerate a prolonged dry spell.

Best drought resistant bedding plants

Vinca Major 'Maculata' from Thompson & Morgan

Hardy periwinkle can thrive in almost any soil, even dry shade
Image: Vinca Major ‘Maculata’ from Thompson & Morgan

Late spring is the best time to fill gaps in your borders with bedding plants and brighten up summer containers. Some bedding plants are better suited to drier areas than others, although container plants will always require watering, simply because of the growing environment.

Pelargoniums, also known as geraniums, tolerate a great deal of heat and dust. Think of holidays abroad when you see geraniums tumbling from balconies in the hot Mediterranean sun – they love it! Similarly, Gazania and Mesembryanthemum (Ice Plants) like it hot, dry and sunny, not least because they belong to a group of plants whose flowers close when the sun sets, or on cloudy days. Closing their blooms helps to conserve moisture.

Additional bedding plants for dry containers are Argyranthemum (Marguerite) and Osteospermum, both of which have daisy-like flowers. Nicotiana, dahlia, and the lovely muted tones of salvia ‘seascape’ also make good container plants.

Is it a shrub, or is it ground cover? Vinca major, (also known as periwinkle) with its attractive mauve flowers, is drought tolerant. In this combination periwinkle has been planted with ivy, which is very resistant to drought, to make a container display which will thrive on neglect. Alternatively, the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show’s ‘Plant of the Year’ first prize winner, Sedum ‘Atlantis’ is happy as ground cover and in containers. It’s also very popular with pollinators.

How to look after plants in a drought

Even drought-resistant plants will sometimes show signs of stress, and watering may become necessary.

For more efficient watering, check plants individually by testing the surrounding soil to see how dry it is. Some plants will need more water than others. Always apply water to the roots, and in the evening, when less will evaporate. Finally, applying a mulch also works wonders: it conserves water, reduces weeding and improves the look of borders.

 

Perfect for pollinators

Image of a butterfly pollinating purple flowers

Give your garden a pollinator friendly makeover
Image: Dogwooddays

Planting for pollinating insects has never been more important. As insect populations decline across the world, we need to find ways to help these essential invertebrates, for our future as well as theirs.

Gardeners can play a vital part in this recovery. With over 400,000 hectares of garden habitat across the UK, filling our gardens with plants that provide food sources for butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects can have a significant effect.

We asked garden designer, Nic Wilson of dogwooddays, for her thoughts. Here are eight simple suggestions to help make your outside space perfect for pollinators:

1. Add pollinator-friendly trees

closeup of apple blossom from Dogwooddays Nic Wilson

Beautiful blossom on Nic’s espaliered apple tree is a great source of pollen
Image: Dogwooddays

Trees provide important sources of pollen and nectar for insects, especially bees, as they have many flowers close together. Flowering cherries like Prunus ‘The Bride’ and Prunus ‘Little Pink Perfection’ are ideal small garden trees, reaching two metres at maturity.

Fruit trees also offer masses of spring flowers and have the advantage of a delicious harvest. My family love the honeyed fruits from our greengage tree and we also grow several apples as cordons and espaliers. With a dwarfing rootstock and a trained form, fruit can be grown in even the smallest of spaces.

2. Consider flower shape

Campanula medium (Mixed) from Thompson & Morgan

Pollinators love Campanula bells planted en masse in blues, whites and pinks.
Image: Campanula medium (Mixed) from Thompson & Morgan

Choose cultivars with single blooms as the pollen and nectar producing organs in double flowers have often been transformed into extra petals. With single-flowered perennials like Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’, Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and Echinacea purpurea, you can fill your garden with food for native insects.

Growing different flower shapes such as bell-shaped (campanula, bluebells), tubular (heather, verbena), and flag (pea family) will attract a range of pollinators.

3. Plant in swathes or drifts

Salvia 'Hot Lips' collection from Thompson & Morgan

Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ looks stunning when planted in swathes
Image: Salvia Hot Lips collection from Thompson & Morgan

Insects use less energy if their food sources are close together, so planting in swathes not only creates a sophisticated effect, it also makes feeding more efficient. For a late summer combination, fill containers with a collection of salvias like Salvia ‘Hot Lips’, ‘Cherry Lips’ and ‘Amethyst Lips’.

Alternatively, plant intertwining drifts of Eryngium planum ‘Blue Hobbit’, Echinacea ‘Rainbow Marcella’ and Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’. The contrasting blue and orange tones will create energy in the border and the pollinators will love this late food source.

4. Fill gaps with pollinator-friendly annuals

Stock image of red and yellow rudbeckia

Pollinator-friendly annuals like rudbeckia are a striking way to fill gaps in borders
Image: Del Boy

Sowing annuals is a flexible way to provide a food source for pollinators as you can vary the mix each year based on which flowers are most popular with the insects. A few of my favourite pollinator-friendly annuals include: borage, calendula, Cerinthe major, snapdragon and rudbeckia.

5. Avoid chemicals

Defenders slug trap from Thompson & Morgan

A re-useable slug trap can be used again and again
Image: Defenders slug trap from Thompson & Morgan

With increasing evidence about the effects of chemicals on wildlife, especially insects, we now know how important it is to avoid chemical control in the garden.

Use physical methods to control unwanted pests like squashing or dislodging aphids with jets of water, or using copper tape and wool pellets to discourage slugs. Try biological solutions like nematodes for slugs, vine weevils and thrips. Encourage ladybirds into your garden to eat aphids rather than reaching for chemical sprays. As Alys Fowler recently wrote in The Guardian: “these are chemicals that silence the soil.”

6. Think seasonally

Aster novi-belgii 'Dandy' from Thompson & Morgan

Michaelmas daisies provide a stunning food source right through until late October
Image: Aster novi-belgii ‘Dandy’ from Thompson & Morgan

Pollinators need food sources from early spring into late autumn, so plant with the seasons in mind. Spring flowering perennials such as lungwort, cowslips, honesty and flowering currant are ideal early nectar sources and autumn stalwarts like Michaelmas daisies, dahlias and sedum offer food when many other flowers have faded.

7. Create a herb garden

Herbs in a plant pot in a garden

Plant herbs in pots on a patio or balcony if you don’t have a large garden
Image: pixfix

Planting herbs in a sunny spot is sure to bring in the pollinating insects. My lavender is covered with bees and butterflies in the summer months, while the chives, marjoram and thyme all attract pollinating insects and provide me with harvests for salads, soups and pizza.

8. Make a mini-meadow

Mini meadow in raised beds along a border

Contain your mini meadow in a raised bed if you prefer a bowling green style lawn
Image: Dave Head

One of the most exciting projects we’ve undertaken in the garden this year is to leave a small strip of lawn long and plant wildflower plugs to create a mini-meadow. Bare patches of ground can be sown with a meadow seed mix, but areas of long grass should be planted with wildflower plugs or container-grown plants. We can’t wait to see what pollinating insects are attracted to our mini-meadow later in the year.

By putting nature at the heart of gardening, we can enjoy the beauty of plants and animals working together in healthy ecosystems, knowing that our gardens are contributing to the wellbeing of the living planet that we all inhabit.

 

Best In Class – Another Award for Chelsea Garden

Best In Category Award

Thompson & Morgan is incredibly proud to have won another award for its Behind the Genes garden. Designed and created in partnership with Sparsholt College Hampshire, the garden was also awarded a gold medal this morning.

Chris Bird, Sparsholt College’s senior lecturer in horticulture received the Best in Class award this morning from Sir Nicholas Bacon, the President of the Royal Horticultural Society.

The award is for the garden in the Discovery area of the Great Pavilion which received the highest point score – 15 out of a possible maximum of 16.

Thompson & Morgan’s Lance Russell, himself an alumni of Sparsholt College said:

“I’m just so thrilled that the garden has been so well received by the RHS judges. All our hard work has paid off!”

Find out more about our Journey to Chelsea including the full list of plants displayed in the garden.

Gold Medal for Behind the Genes Chelsea Garden

Thompson & Morgan and Sparsholt College Hampshire have just announced a gold medal win at RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The Sparsholt College and Thompson & Morgan teams

Their joint creation, the Behind the Genes garden, was this morning awarded a gold medal in the Discovery area of the Great Pavilion.

Yesterday, Thompson & Morgan’s Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’ took third place in the prestigious Plant of the Year competition.

Peter Freeman, T&M’s new product development manager said:

“We’re completely over the moon! To have been so highly recognised by the RHS is a huge achievement”.

Sparsholt College’s Chris Bird, senior lecturer in horticulture, commented:

“It’s such an honour to have won gold in the Great Pavilion. The students who have worked tirelessly on this garden over the months are totally deserving of this award. I’m thrilled to say that this is the ninth gold that we’ve won for the college”.

Find out more about our Journey to Chelsea including the full list of plants displayed in the garden.

Thompson & Morgan Takes Third With Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’

Agapanthus Fireworks

We’re so pleased to announce that its Plant of the Year entry Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’ has been placed third today at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It was one of six plants that we heard this morning were on the final shortlist of 20 entrants.

Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’ is a world first in pendulous bicolour agapanthus. Developed by Quinton Bean and Andrew de Wet of De Wet plant breeders, not only does ‘Fireworks’ offer better colour, it has bigger blooms and more stems per plant than previous bicolour cultivars.

This striking agapanthus flowers for longer too – most agapanthus are finished in August, but ‘Fireworks’ carries on flowering through September, giving gardeners 3 months of colour!

The large umbels carry generous clusters of upright white buds that open into fluted flowers which show off clearly-defined rich blue bases and white flaring petal tips. Plants are tougher than other evergreen varieties – staying in green leaf through winter in temperatures down to -10℃.

Peter Freeman, our new product development manager commented:

“We’re over the moon to have our Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’ placed in the top three of this year’s Plant of the Year. It’s a really great plant! We think gardeners will love its contemporary elegance and the fact that it can be used in so many ways in the garden. It grows to about 90cm so it looks really dramatic planted in drifts in the border, and just as good in patio container displays.”

All the plants that we entered into the Plant of the Year competition are featured on the Behind the Genes garden that was created in partnership with Sparsholt College in Hampshire. The garden, which is in the Discovery area of the Great Pavilion (Stand GPA154), offers a visually inspiring insight into the processes of plant breeding and explains techniques used to bring about improvements in plant species.

Also on the garden are our winning plants from last year’s Plant of the Year – Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’ which was placed first in 2018, and Sunflower SunBelievable Brown Eyed Girl’, which took third place.

Six Thompson & Morgan Entries Make Shortlist for RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year

We’re thrilled to announce that the shortlist announced on Sunday afternoon for RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s Plant of the Year, includes six of our entrants. This beats last year’s tally of five plants, two of which went on to be placed first and third places in this hugely prestigious horticultural competition.

The shortlist of 20 plants will now be considered by a panel of Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) judges and the top three winning plants will be announced later today.

The six plants on the shortlist of twenty are:

Osteospermum ‘Purple Sun’ – Previously unseen colour combination of orange and pink. The pink-purple centre spreads outwards on the fade-resistant petals as the season progresses.
Nepeta ‘Neptune’ – Abundant flowers ‘rebloom’ on a compact, bushy habit; firm foliage is perfect for making tea.
Clematis ‘Kokonoe’ – Uniquely changing flower shape; flowers open as single blooms and develop into flamboyant doubles.

Osteospermum 'Purple Sun', Nepeta 'Neptune' and Clematis 'Kokonoe'

Osteospermum ‘Purple Sun’, Nepeta ‘Neptune’ and Clematis ‘Kokonoe’

Ajuga ‘Princess Nadia’ – Brings together the best evergreen, variegated foliage and flower spikes of the genus. Year-round interest.
Chlorophytum ‘Starlight’ – Hardy Spider Plant with the architectural appeal of an ornamental grass and the flowering performance of a bedding plant. Attractive variegated foliage and pretty white flowers.
Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’ – The best bicolour agapanthus, offering bigger blooms, better colour and more stems per plant than previous bicolour cultivars.

Ajuga 'Princess Nadia', Chlorophytum 'Starlight' and Agapanthus 'Fireworks'

Ajuga ‘Princess Nadia’, Chlorophytum ‘Starlight’ and Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’

Our new product development manager, Peter Freeman said:

“We couldn’t be more pleased to hear the news that six of our plants are on the shortlist. To have placed six out of the twenty on the list is an amazing feat. We thought we’d done well last year to have five on the list, so to improve on that is incredible! Everyone at Thompson & Morgan is keeping everything crossed while we await the judges’ decision later on today.”

For updates and images from the Great Pavilion on the first day of the Chelsea Flower Show, please follow Thompson & Morgan on Twitter and Instagram.

All of Thompson & Morgan’s plant entries are featured on the Behind the Genes garden which has been devised and built in partnership with Sparsholt College in Hampshire. The garden, in the Discovery area of the Great Pavilion (Stand GPA154), offers a visually inspiring insight into the processes of plant breeding and explains techniques used to bring about improvements in plant species. To read more about our journey to Chelsea, click here.

Plot to plate recipes for National Vegetarian Week

assorted raw vegetables on a wooden board

Celebrate National Vegetarian Week with delicious recipes from gardening bloggers around the UK
Image: monticello

At Thompson & Morgan, we’re passionate about growing our own food. But sowing, growing and nurturing delicious produce is only half of the story. Harvesting, preparing and eating these vitamin-packed wonder foods is just as important, right?

This year, 13 – 19 May is National Vegetarian Week. To celebrate, we asked our favourite green fingered bloggers to share their best vegetarian plot-to-plate recipes. Here are some of their ideas and delicious serving suggestions to help you make the most of your fresh fruit and veg.

 

Main courses

 

Richard’s tomato and coconut curry

tomato and veg curry from Richard at veggrowerpodcast

Packed with antioxidants, fresh tomatoes make a healthy and flavour-packed curry
Image: theveggrowerpodcast

Richard, from The Veg Grower Podcast, loves a good curry, and this is one of his favourites. A great way of using a tower of homegrown tomatoes, it’s so tasty that people don’t miss the meat!

Ingredients:

  • A splash of olive oil
  • 1 onion peeled and chopped.
  • A thumb sized piece of ginger peeled and chopped.
  • 3 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped.
  • 1 chilli chopped. (I used a scotch bonnet from my greenhouse which is fairly hot. However use any chilli that you would like)
  • 1 tin of coconut milk.
  • 1 vegetable stock cube.
  • 1kg of tomatoes.
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder.

Method:

  • Gently sweat the chopped onion in the olive oil.
  • After a minute or so, add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Gently stir for a couple of minutes until softened.
  • Add the coconut milk and crumble in the stock cube. Stir to blend.
  • Add the tomatoes and curry powder.
  • Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Serve with cooked rice.

Richard’s top tip: “I’ve also served this curry with cauliflower rice. Simply take a cauliflower and blitz it up in a blender. Boil the cauliflower ‘rice’ for a few minutes, drain and serve.”

Jane’s fried halloumi with lentils and sweet chilli

Jane’s fried halloumi with lentils and sweet chilli

This tasty recipe is a firm favourite with Jane’s friends and family
Image: Onions and Paper

Jane, who blogs about food and craft at Onions and Paper may not even know that her famous fried halloumi recipe is being featured here, as it was sent to us by her lovely husband Mark! Let’s call it a team effort though, as Marks Veg Plot provides the homegrown produce for Jane’s gourmet prowess!

Ingredients:

  • 100g small green or brown lentils (e.g Puy lentils)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 150g Halloumi cheese, cut into 4 slices
  • Generous dash of chilli oil
  • 2 x tbsp Sweet Chilli sauce
  • 2 x tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

Method:

  • Cook the lentils, onion and carrot in plain, unsalted water until tender.
  • Drain the lentils, and while still warm, add the chilli oil, and season to taste.
  • Meanwhile, fry the sliced halloumi in the sunflower oil, turning at least once, until nicely soft, brown and bubbly. (This only takes about 5 minutes.)
  • Arrange the lentils on plates and top with the halloumi.
  • Drizzle the sweet chilli sauce over the cheese.
  • Serve with a nice salad – we had a Tabbouleh made with herbs from the garden (mostly mint and parsley), and a (deliberately!) burnt shallot and tomato salad with watercress.

Jane’s top tip: “Don’t use commercial stock to cook your lentils. It often contains a lot of salt and this prevents the lentils softening.”

Belinda’s smoked ‘salmon’ carrot lox

For an impressive amuse bouche or a simple brunch, this is a carrot, but not as you know it!
Image: Plot 7 Marsh Lane

As Belinda of Plot 7 Marsh Lane blog hasn’t eaten meat for about 30 years, she can’t be sure if this tastes more like smoked salmon or bacon, but it’s a tasty and unusual way to transform a humble carrot! She first came across this recipe back in 2017 via Shaheen’s Allotment2Kitchen blog.

Ingredients:

  • 360g sea salt
  • 3 large washed carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke
  • ½ teaspoon white wine vinegar

Method:

  • Line a 1lb loaf tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • Tip half of the sea salt into the loaf tin, lay the carrots on top and sprinkle with the remaining salt.
  • Cover the loaf tin with foil and place in the oven for about an hour.
  • Remove, and allow the carrots to cool on a chopping board.
  • When cool enough to handle, brush away any excess salt, using it to help peel off any loose skin.
  • Finely slice the carrots into long, thin strips using a mandolin, and transfer to a glass container with a lid.
  • In a small bowl, make the marinade by whisking together the oil, liquid smoke and vinegar.
  • Pour over the carrots, pop on the lid, and leave in the fridge for 2-3 days for the flavours to develop.
  • Serve on warm bagels with vegetarian cream cheese.

Belinda’s top tip: “I’d probably add a little more smoke to the marinade and use a little less salt next time.”

Claire’s summer pasta sauce

Claire’s summer pasta sauce

This simple summer sauce is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds
Image: Daria Vinek

According to Claire over at Sowing at the Stoop, this delicious pasta sauce is a firm family favourite that uses up any gluts of precious produce whilst completely capturing the taste of summer. What’s more – it’s super simple too!

Ingredients:

  • Tomatoes
  • Courgettes
  • Aubergines
  • Garlic
  • Fresh basil

Method:

  • Roughly chop all of the veg and pop it into a roasting tin with some chopped garlic. Spray with a little oil and add a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
  • Put the tray into the oven at 180°C and roast for 30 minutes.
  • When cooked, use a hand blender to blitz the roasted veg and add some freshly picked basil.
  • Add to cooked pasta. We love it with penne.

Claire’s top tip: “This is ideal on a meat-free night but it also tastes great over oven roasted cod. It freezes really well too, so even after summer is long gone, you can still get that fresh flavour of home grown veg!”

Hazel’s crowd-pleasing cauliflower cheese

stock image of cauliflower cheese with two wooden spoons

This is comfort food at its best!
Image: AS Food studio

Mother of four, Hazel from The Newhouse Family blog, knows how to cook up a tasty storm to please a large family. This green-living bunch don’t like to waste a thing, so the tip for adding homemade breadcrumbs is about more than just texture.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
  • 4 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 500 mls of milk
  • 100g cheddar cheese (you can add more if you like a really cheesy sauce!)

Method:

  • Take your cauliflower and break it up into pieces. You’ll want a nice mix of large chunks and some smaller pieces.
  • Boil the cauliflower for 5-10 minutes until cooked, but still firm. Drain and leave to one side.
  • Grate the cheese into a bowl.
  • To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan, stirring continuously. Sprinkle in the flour and mix into the melted butter to form a paste.
  • Slowly add the milk, stirring rapidly continuously with a whisk.
  • Add ¾ of the grated cheese to the sauce, whilst stirring quickly with the whisk to eliminate any lumps.
  • Tip the cauliflower into a large dish. Pour over the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top.
  • Place into a hot oven for around 20 minutes, until the cauliflower cheese is bubbling and the grated cheese on top has browned a little.

Hazel’s top tip: “We like to use homegrown cauliflowers as they have the best flavour. When you sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top, just before popping the dish in the oven, try adding breadcrumbs and a little salt and pepper as well.”

Kev’s beetroot tart

image from An English Homestead of chopped beetroot

A clever way to show off a variety of unusual homegrown beets
Image: An English Homestead

Is there a better match for gloriously sweet beets than salty white feta? Kev from An English Homestead says his beetroot tart is even more impressive when made with a variety of different coloured beetroots that you’ve obviously grown yourself!

Ingredients:

  • Various fresh beets
  • Puff pastry (ready made is fine!)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Feta cheese

Method:

  • Boil the beets in a pan of salted water until they just start to soften.
  • Remove from the water, roughly slice and lay in a roasting dish.
  • Drizzle the beets with a little olive oil, a good slug of balsamic vinegar, and some sea salt.
  • Lay a sheet of puff pastry over the top and pop in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden and puffed up.
  • Remove from the oven, place a large platter or chopping board on the roasting dish and turn it over, so that the tart is removed and the right way up.
  • Crumble good quality feta over the top and bring to the table while still warm.

Kev’s top tip: “The tart is also nice cold, so perfect for a lunch box the next day if you have any left over!”

 

Sides and small plates

 

Michelle’s zingy tzatziki

Michelle's tzatziki recipe from Veg Plotting

Fresh and light, this is a real taste of the Mediterranean
Image: Veg Plotting

Low fat doesn’t necessarily mean boring, as Michelle over at Veg Plotting found when she came up with this delicious way to use up her glut of cucumbers. Her recipe makes a cool and refreshing lunch for one, or a perfect side dish for two alongside a main meal or BBQ.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small cucumber, diced (include the seeds if desired)
  • 4-5 large teaspoons of Skyr Icelandic yogurt
  • Black pepper
  • Za’atar to taste (an Arabic spice blend combining toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, dried marjoram, and sumac)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 wholemeal pitta bread, toasted

Method:

  • Place the cucumber in a small bowl, add some freshly ground black pepper, and a generous sprinkling of za’atar.
  • Add the Skyr and mix well.
  • Garnish with the thyme leaves and serve with the freshly toasted pitta.

Michelle’s top tip: “If you’re growing outdoor cucumbers like me, don’t forget to rub off the outside bristly bits first.”

Adam’s potato pancakes

Adam’s potato pancakes from Carrot Top Allotments

Homegrown potatoes take this recipe to a whole new level
Image: Carrot Tops Allotment

Hash browns, rosti, platzki: call these what you will, says Adam of Carrot Tops Allotment. His grated potato cake recipe originates from Poland and is super easy to make. Cold, wet, tired? This is comfort food personified.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium sized potatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil

Method:

  1. Grate the potatoes and onion into a bowl and season to taste.
  2. Remove some of the excess water by pressing the potato mixture into a sieve.
  3. Return to the bowl and add the beaten egg, stirring well.
  4. Set a frying pan over a medium heat and add a generous amount of oil. It needs to be hot enough to sizzle when you start to fry your potato.
  5. Drop a tablespoon of the potato mixture into the pan, flattening it down so it cooks evenly. If your pan is large enough, you should be able to fry 3 or 4 platzki at once.
  6. Cook each side of the platzki for about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Place the platzki onto a piece of kitchen roll before serving, to soak up any excess oil.

Adam’s top tip: “Delicious served with sour cream, or (vegetarian) goulash!”

Alexandra’s corn on the cob ‘cookout’

stock image of corn grilling on a BBQ

Roast fresh corn on the bbq and you’ll never want to eat it any other way again!
Image: Anan Chincho

Freshly picked home grown produce often needs very little messing with to deliver a powerful flavour punch. Just to prove it, this BBQ ‘cheat’ from Alexandra over at The Middle Sized Garden is pure genius in its simplicity. With a smear of butter and a sprinkle of salt, it doesn’t get much better than this for a taste of summer!

Ingredients:

  • Freshly picked corn on the cob, one per person
  • Butter and salt

Method:

  • Pick your sweetcorn, leaving the leaves intact (don’t peel anything off)
  • Place the cobs straight onto a warm bbq, simply as they are.
  • Roast on the bbq for around 15 minutes, turning occasionally.

Alexandra’s top tip: “When ready, peel the leaves back (but don’t cut them off) to use as a ‘handle’ to hold the cob.”

Katie’s wild garlic and cheese scones

Wild garlic and cheese scones from Lavender and Leeks

Serve warm with butter or alongside a big bowl of vegetable soup for a hearty supper
Image: Lavender and Leeks

Katie from Lavender and Leeks is a little bit in love with garlic, and when she discovered a hoard of this lovely ingredient growing wild, she couldn’t resist experimenting to make one of her other favourite things of all time – scones!

Ingredients:

  • 250g self raising flour
  • 50g butter
  • 25g strong cheddar, grated
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 100ml milk
  • Small handful of wild garlic, chopped

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 220C/gas mark 7.
  • Chop the cold butter into small cubes and rub into the flour.
  • Add the grated cheese and wild garlic.
  • Beat the egg and milk together before gradually adding almost all of the liquid to the dry mixture, kneading gently until you have a soft dough. Keep a little of the milk mixture for use later.
  • On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 2 cm thick. Use a round 2 inch cutter to stamp out 10 scones.
  • Place them on a greased tin and use the remaining milk and egg mixture to brush over the tops. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the scones turn a golden colour.

Kate’s top tip: “They aren’t the type of scone you have with jam and cream but they are very delicious served fresh and hot from the oven with a spread of butter. This recipe makes 10. Be warned though… you might want to double the ingredients!”

Caro’s broad bean and mint hummus

broad bean and mint hummus from Urban Veg Patch

The ultimate snack to enjoy with a sundowner at the end of a long day in the garden
Image: The Urban Veg Patch

Caro from The Urban Veg Patch loves her snacks so much, she grows extra broad beans just for this recipe! As she says, who wouldn’t want to loaf around with a glass of wine/beer/gin (not in the same glass or even sitting) on a balmy evening, with this tasty homemade hummus and some flatbreads…?

Ingredients:

  • 400g un-podded broad beans
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (more to taste)
  • Juice of half a small lemon
  • 2 stems of mint, leaves only
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  • Pod the beans and boil lightly in salted water for about 8 minutes. Small beans will take less time.
  • Drain the beans and remove the skins.
  • Blitz in a blender with the lemon juice, olive oil and mint leaves until you have a smooth paste.
  • Add more oil if needed and season to taste.

Caro’s top tip: “Use good quality olive oil. It really does make a difference.”

 

Something sweet

 

Kate’s cucumber ice cream

cucumber ice-cream from Diary of a Country Girl

We can’t think of a better dessert on a hot summer day
Image: Diary of a Country Girl

Last year Kate from Diary of a Country Girl had a mountain of homegrown cucumbers on her hands – so she decided to try and make cucumber ice cream. Apparently, back in the day, it was really rather fashionable! This gloriously refreshing and crisp dessert is what she came up with.

Ingredients:

  • 160g diced cucumber
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 60g runny honey
  • 240ml double cream
  • 240ml whole milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Generous pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Method:

  • Peel, de-seed, and finely chop the cucumbers. Purée them in a blender with the lemon juice until very smooth.
  • Beat the eggs, sugar and honey until foamy and light with an electric mixer. Stir in the puréed cucumber, cream, milk and vanilla.
  • Strain through a sieve before whisking in the nutmeg.
  • Freeze in ice-cream maker.
  • If you don’t have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into an air-tight container, freeze for an hour, then mix in a food processor. Freeze for a further two hours and mix again. Repeat the process after another two hours and return to the freezer until ready to eat.

Kate’s top tip: “I now make cucumber ice cream all throughout the year, but it’s always miles better with homegrown cucumbers!”

Lucy’s easy apple tart

stock image of glazed apple tart

Assemble the apples in a rustic or beautifully arranged pattern, depending on time available
Image: hlphoto

If you’re looking for a recipe with minimum prep and maximum flavour, Lucy from The Smallest Smallholding is a fan of letting good quality ingredients speak for themselves. What better way to celebrate a bag full of fat, autumnal apples than this super simple tart?

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 3 large Bramley apples, peeled & cored
  • Ready-made rolled puff pastry
  • Demerara sugar for sprinkling
  • Apricot jam for glazing

Method:

  • Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5/190C/375F
  • Line a tart tin or flan dish with baking parchment.
  • Using the upside down tin as a rough guide, cut a large disc of puff pastry to size, leaving an extra 2cm or so for the crust.
  • Press into the tin, moulding gently to the sides. It doesn’t have to be too neat!
  • Thinly slice the apple and create a spiral pattern on the pastry. Start at the outside edge and working in, overlapping each slice.
  • Sprinkle demerara sugar over the top and pop the tin onto the middle shelf of the oven.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is a light golden brown. Make sure it has baked thoroughly in the middle.
  • Remove from the oven and glaze with apricot jam.

Lucy’s top tip: “Want to make this vegan? Simply buy ready made rolled vegan puff pastry. The serve it with vegan ice cream or Alpro custard. You can also make bite-sized tartlets using a greased, shallow muffin tray.”

Tanya’s honey and almond baklava

Honey and almond baklava from Lovely Greens

A sweet treat for those who grow their own honey
Image: Lovely Greens

Tanya over at Lovely Greens grows her own fruit and veg, but she also makes her own honey, hence her appreciation for this middle-eastern inspired treat. If you have a sweet tooth like Tanya, you have to try these sweet and crunchy morsels of deliciousness, oozing with rich honey and marzipan-like filling. For the full step by step instructions, make sure to head to Lovely Greens.

Ingredients:

Honey syrup

  • 1½ cups honey
  • 1½ cups caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 5 whole cloves

Filling

  • 2 cups chopped almonds
  • 2 cups chopped mixed nuts of your choice – peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup of caster sugar
  • 1 cup of melted butter

Pastry

  • Filo pastry – you need 24 sheets the same size as your dish. For my 12×9” dish, I used a single 250g pack.
  • ½ cup of melted butter

Tanya’s top tip: “I used my own raw honey for the syrup and highly recommend you source local honey too – the flavour will knock your socks off! Make baklava the day before you serve it to allow the syrup to really soak into the dish.”

We hope our bloggers have inspired you to try new and exciting ways to serve up your home grown fruit and veg. Tell us which of the recipes is your favourite? We’d love to hear your comments and see photos of your own creations over on Facebook and Instagram.

Thompson & Morgan Launches New 2019/20 Retail Seed Range

Zinnia ‘Queeny Mixed’, Watermelon Mini Love F1, Cosmos ‘Apricot Lemonade’ and Tomato Gourmandia F1

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our new retail seed range for 2019/20 which will be available in garden centres from early July 2019.

With continued focus on innovation and exciting new products, we’re launching over 50 new seed varieties for the second year in a row. Amongst the flowers to be added to the range are the stunning Cosmos ‘Apricot Lemonade’ and Nasturtium ‘Baby Deep Rose’; whilst the vegetable selection includes Dwarf Bean Caledonia, Spring Onion Totem and Watermelon Mini Love F1.

At our annual retail sales conference, we decided to promote new seed varieties – stunning Zinnia ‘Queeny Mixed’ as the 2019/20 Flower of the Year – and flavoursome, heart-shaped tomato, Gourmandia F1 as Vegetable of the Year.

Alongside the continued focus on innovation, another key objective for the upcoming season is to maintain even closer partnership with our customers, offering bespoke and tailored solutions; from custom POS, to tailored ranges, to individual garden centre selling and promotional material.

Joseph Cordy, our Head of B2B Sales, said:

“Here at T&M, we don’t believe in ‘one solution fits all’ and so we plan to continue to work in close partnership with our customers to find individual solutions to maximise their sales”.

 

“We’re thrilled to be offering this fantastic range for next season – and we’ve managed to also hold our seed prices for the second year in a row which is a great bonus for all our customers”.

Thompson & Morgan is also launching a number of new seed collections, including ‘Autumn Collections’ which aims to boost sales during the autumn months, as well as new ‘hotspot’ stands featuring ‘Packet to Plate’ and ‘Bred by T&M’ seed varieties. A number of exciting new complementary products will run alongside the seed range, including incredicoir – the latest product in our successful incredi range – a coir block which makes up to the equivalent of a 10 litre bag of peat-free compost once water is added.

For further information on T&M’s new retail range, please contact Joseph Cordy.

Thompson & Morgan Announces RHS Chelsea Flower Show Entries

Following our success at RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year, we are proud to present our entries for Plant of the Year 2019.

Clematis 'Kokonoe', Nepeta 'Neptune' and Ajuga 'Princess Nadia'

Clematis ‘Kokonoe’, Nepeta ‘Neptune’ and Ajuga ‘Princess Nadia’

Clematis ‘Kokonoe’ – Uniquely changing flower shape; flowers open as single blooms and develop into flamboyant doubles.
Nepeta ‘Neptune’ – Abundant flowers ‘re-bloom’ on a compact, bushy habit; the firm foliage is perfect for making tea.
Ajuga ‘Princess Nadia’ – Brings together the best evergreen, variegated foliage and flower spikes of the genus. Year-round interest.

Agapanthus 'Fireworks', Buddleja 'Butterfly Towers' and Osteospermum 'Purple Sun'

Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’, Buddleja ‘Butterfly Towers’ and Osteospermum ‘Purple Sun’

Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’ – The best bicolour agapanthus, offering bigger blooms, better colour and more stems per plant than previous bicolour cultivars.
Buddleja ‘Butterfly Towers’ – Grows up, rather than out, so it suits even the smallest garden without taking over. Thrives in containers; long-lasting; makes a great flowering hedge.
Osteospermum ‘Purple Sun’ – Previously unseen colour combination of orange and pink. The pink-purple centre spreads outwards as the season progresses.

Chlorophytum 'Starlight' and Clematis 'Little Lemons'

Chlorophytum ‘Starlight’ and Clematis ‘Little Lemons’

Chlorophytum ‘Starlight’ – Hardy Spider Plant with the architectural appeal of an ornamental grass and the flowering performance of a bedding plant. Attractive variegated foliage and pretty white flowers. Fabulous in patio pots.
Clematis ‘Little Lemons’ – Very unusual long-flowering, dwarf clematis. Excellent in pots and hanging baskets.

We’re also pleased to formally announce our partnership with Sparsholt College Hampshire on their Behind the Genes garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show next month.

The garden, which is in the Discovery area of the Great Pavilion (Stand GPA154), offers a visually inspiring insight into the processes of plant breeding and explains techniques used to bring about improvements in plant species. Students at Sparsholt College have been involved in the design of the garden and have nurtured the plants that will be featured on the garden to illustrate various key milestones in plant breeding over the years.

T&M has long been at the forefront of plant breeding and can put its name to a number of key breeding breakthroughs over the years, such as Foxglove or Digitalis ‘Illumination Pink’ which won RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year in 2012 and which will feature on the Behind the Genes garden. Also appearing at RHS Chelsea 2019 is last year’s Plant of the Year winner, Hydrangea hybrid Runaway Bride® ‘Snow White’, and the amazing sunflower, Helianthus SunBelievable™ ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ which was placed third.

Part of the focus this year is also on our trainee manager, Lance Russell, who as an alumni of Sparsholt College, and now working at the forefront of the gardening industry, is the epitome of the new generation of inspiring and social media-savvy young gardeners. Lance is fronting our recent increase in film content on our website and YouTube channel and is set for a stellar career in horticulture. Lance can be seen in Thompson & Morgan’s video ‘Journey to Chelsea’.

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