Thompson & Morgan Gardening Blog

Our gardening blog covers a wide variety of topics, including fruit, vegetable and tree stories. Read some of the top gardening stories right here.

Propagation, planting out and cultivation posts from writers that know their subjects well.

Rhubarb masterclass: best expert content

Red stems of rhubarb on a wooden table

Rhubarb stems are delicious in crumbles, jams and tarts
Image: Rhubarb ‘Fulton’s Strawberry Surprise’ (Spring/Autumn Planting) from T&M

Rhubarb is a delicious, perennial crop that’s easy to grow in gardens and allotments. Planted in autumn or spring, the brightly-coloured and tart-flavoured stems quickly grow to produce fantastic crumbles, jams and seasonal drinks! Here we’ve pulled together some of the best advice from independent bloggers, YouTubers and Instagram gardeners to help you plant, divide, force and harvest your crop for optimum results.

Ready to get planting? Browse our full range of rhubarb crowns and plants to find the best variety for your garden.

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Daffodils masterclass: best expert content

Group of narcissus in glass vase

Daffodils make delightful cut flowers in spring
Image: Narcissus ‘Value Mixed’ from T&M

If you want to pack your garden with bursts of spring colour, look no further than daffodils! These popular flowering spring bulbs offer a fabulous assortment of scent, double blooms and multi-headed stems. Here we’ve gathered the best online advice from top independent bloggers to help you choose and care for your daffodils.

When you’re ready to plant, take a look at our quality daffodil and narcissus bulbs and order online for quick delivery.

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Planting roses in autumn

Light yellow rose with closed rosebuds

Get your roses off the best start by planting bare root roses
Image: Rose ‘Belle du Jour’ (hardy shrub) from T&M

Late autumn and early spring are the traditional times of year for planting roses, but to get them off to the best possible start, thorough ground preparation and careful planting are key. Available as containerised plants, container-grown plants and bare root roses, we take a look at the main differences between each type and explain how to plant them correctly. 

Keen to add more of these classic beauties to your planting scheme? Browse our full range of roses including floribunda, hybrid tea roses, climbing varieties and hedging roses.

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Winter shrubs masterclass: best expert content

Red leaves of Hamamelis × intermedia 'Böhlje's Feuerzauber' from T&M

Winter shrubs like Hamamelis flower happily in cold temperatures
Image: Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Böhlje’s Feuerzauber’ from Thompson & Morgan

Is your garden short of winter colour? Take inspiration from these expert independent gardeners and find out how to enjoy heady floral scent, garlands of berries, colourful stems and interesting foliage throughout the coldest and darkest months of the year. 

If you’re planning a new scheme with wildlife in mind, browse our online collection of shrubs with winter berries. Our winter flowering shrubs brighten the gloomiest of days, and for a powerful, structural statement, take a look at our fiery range of cornus shrubs.

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Ten top organic gardening blogs

Organic Lettuce 'Red & Green Salad Bowl Mixed' (Loose-Leaf)

Learn how to grow delicious organic fruit & veg in your garden
Image: Organic Lettuce ‘Red & Green Salad Bowl Mixed’ (Loose-Leaf) from Thompson & Morgan

If you’d like to grow organic fruit and vegetables but need a little help to get you started, here are ten of the best organic and permaculture gardening blogs to bookmark. These experienced growers regularly share their knowhow, expertly easing you through the transition to chemical-free gardening. Read on for a wealth of top tips to help you change the way you grow.

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Courgette and parmesan soup

Courgette and Parmesan Soup

Aimee Clark
This creamy soup is perfect for using up a glut of courgettes and a great way to make use of those extra-large courgettes! You can add extra parmesan to the soup when you serve, some fresh chilli and even a swirl of cream depending on your taste.
Course Main Course, Soup

Ingredients
  

  • Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic - chopped
  • Handful mixed herbs - fresh basil works really well, as does oregano, chives and parsley
  • salt and pepper - to taste
  • 1 kg courgettes - chopped into small chunks
  • 1 fresh chilli - optional
  • 750 ml stock
  • 50 g freshly grated parmesan  - plus extra to serve
  • Swirl of single cream - to serve

Instructions
 

  • Gently cook the chopped courgettes, garlic and herbs in a heavy based saucepan until the courgette has begun to soften.
  • Season generously with salt and black pepper. You can also some chopped fresh chilli at this stage if you wish!
  • Add the stock and simmer until the courgette is completely softened - about 10 minutes.
  • Blend the soup until smooth - if you wish you can keep back some of the cooked courgette and add into the rest of the blended soup to give some texture.
  • Now add in your parmesan cheese and stir until it has melted into the soup. You can now add more salt and pepper to taste and then add in the cream at this point if you wish, although I find that when using a large courgette it is already quite creamy!
  • Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan on top and some extra black pepper, if you wish!
  • Enjoy!
Keyword courgette, seasonal vegetables, soup, vegetables
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Crocus masterclass: best expert content

Crocus 'Botanical Mix' from Thompson & Morgan

Crocus flowers take centre stage in the late winter garden
Image: Crocus ‘Botanical Mixed’ from Thompson & Morgan

If you’re looking for advice on crocus care along with some nifty planting tips, check out this helpful collection of independent articles, Instagram posts and video tutorials. Crocus bulbs bring bright bursts of jewel-like colours at a time of year when not much else is growing. These versatile blooms brighten gardens and lawns long before other popular spring favourites like narcissi and tulips appear. 

Inspired by this colourful content? Browse our high quality range of online crocus bulbs including delicate saffron crocuses, autumn flowering Colchicum and classic spring varieties.

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Big Butterfly Count and Best Plants for Butterflies

Marbled White butterfly on knapweed. Image: Canva

The Big Butterfly Count 2022 is upon us! Running until 7th August, this nationwide citizen science project is a fantastic way to help our native butterflies whilst having a bit of fun in the process. With numbers of many of our native species dwindling, it’s more important than ever to keep tabs on their populations. Using the data from your sightings, conservationists can gain a clearer picture of how species are faring in different areas and habitats, which in turn helps to inform their conservation.

All you need to do is pick a spot in your garden or out and about where you’re likely to see some butterflies. Sit for 15 minutes and jot down how many of each species you see using Butterfly Conservation’s handy ID chart. It’s a great excuse to relax for 15 minutes, a fun project to do with the kids, and an easy way to do your bit to help out our butterflies in their hour of need. If you want to do more to help butterflies, we’ve compiled our top recommendations for the best plants for butterflies below too. Let’s make this year’s Big Butterfly Count as big as the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch!

Maybe you’d like to see some more butterflies in your garden? Here are a few of our top recommendations for the best plants to attract butterflies to your garden.

Best plants for attracting butterflies

Painted Lady butterfly on buddleja. Image: Canva

  • Buddleja – known as butterfly bush, buddleja will be a magnet for any butterflies in the area. Our famous dwarf Buddleja Buzz® packs the same punch whilst fitting in even the smallest garden or patio!
  • Verbena bonariensis – a hardworking herbaceous perennial that’s a staple of borders and naturalistic planting. Butterflies love drawing nectar from the tiny tubular flowers.
  • Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) – a fantastic addition to any wildflower meadow that’s a magnet for butterflies and bees alike, and is particularly attractive to the beautiful marbled white butterfly.
  • Scabious (Knautia) – there are many varieties in a range of sizes and colours to suit any border, container or wildflower meadow. Field scabious is a UK native wildflower that’s great for incorporating into any meadow and is loved by butterflies.
  • Lavender – it’s evergreen, it’s fragrant, it’s drought resistant and butterflies love it – what more reason do you need to plant lavender? Cultivars of Lavandula x intermedia are the best of all for pollinators.
  • Marjoram – as well as being a valuable culinary herb, marjoram is a great all-rounder that’s loved by a whole range of pollinators.

Gatekeeper butterfly on marjoram. Image: Canva

See our guide to how to encourage butterflies into your garden and our top 10 plants for butterflies for more ideas.

Inspiration from Arundel Castle’s Tulip Festival

Display of tulips at Arundel Castle composed of a large planting with a central square of purple and white tulips surrounded by an outer square of bright pink tulips

The shimmering ‘Wedding Cake’ of tulips at Arundel Castle
Image: Annelise Brilli

In the middle of this scorching summer, it’s easy to forget the dark days of late winter, the desperate wait for spring colour and the immense joy when tulips emerge, studding bare borders like jewels. Gardening is all about planning ahead, and although spring seems very far away, you need to start thinking about which spring bulbs you’d like to grow now.  

Months of careful planning at Arundel Castle in West Sussex creates one of the largest spring bulb displays in the UK – an explosion of over 120,000 tulips and more than 150 varieties, all carefully orchestrated to create a stunning succession of colour throughout April. The festival showcases the versatility of tulips and other spring bulbs, with plantings in turf, borders and pots. I’ve been rifling through my photos of last April’s event, gleaning inspiration for my tulip orders this month.

Naturalised tulips

Entering the grounds through a portico, you are immediately met with swathes of naturalised bulbs sweeping between blossoming cherries. Flowering bulbs clothe the dry castle moat, creating a stunning contrast between the austere grey castle walls and their jewelled banks.

The display includes thousands of white Narcissus ‘Thalia’,  blue Camassia and even naturalised tulips. Tulips from previous years are recycled by transplanting them into the grass once they are past their best. Although hybrid tulips don’t naturalise as well as species tulips, flowering for about three years before fading, they make a rewarding display. Many of the naturalised tulips are Darwin hybrids. These are especially large-flowered, tall tulips which are renowned for being the most robust and long-lived of hybrid tulips.

close up of orange and yellow Darwin tulips

Darwin tulips are naturalised in grass
Image: Annelise Brilli

The landscape is punctuated with specimen trees, and at this point I was distracted by two stunning examples of Paulownia tomentosa in full bloom. This broadly spreading tree is a spring sensation, with upright panicles of soft purple, foxglove-like flowers appearing before the handsome, heart-shaped leaves emerge.

Paulownia tomentosa tree in full flower with Arundel castle in the background

Paulownia tomentosa
Image: Annelise Brilli

 

Erect panicle of pale purple flowers against a bright blue sky

The foxglove-like flowers of Paulownia tomentosa appear on bare branches before the leaves
Image: Annelise Brilli

Tulips in pots

Pots abound – in fact, there are over 500 of them – and it’s a stunning demonstration of the advantages of displaying spring bulbs in containers. Most of the pots are terracotta-coloured plastic, making them lightweight, portable and requiring less frequent watering. They’re easily shifted about to refresh earlier spent blooms, enliven bare or shady spots with colour and artfully placed to highlight and frame architectural features. The pots are rammed – remember that in containers you can get away with much denser planting, leaving only a few centimetres between each bulb – creating concentrated blocks of colour which are high impact.

A collage of 4 images showing containerised tulips at Arundel in a wide range of colours

There are over 500 pots of tulips providing plenty of inspiration for the home gardener
Image: Annelise Brilli

Designing with tulips

The crescendo of colour reaches its climax in The Collector’s Garden. What was once an abandoned kitchen garden and car park was transformed in 2008 into a Jacobean fantastical extravaganza. The area is divided into a series of rooms each with its own theatrical set piece carved out of green oak including a giant classical gateway, a temple crowned with antlers. shell-studded grottos and gilded fountains.

The tulip displays are carefully designed to vary in tone and intensity, enhancing the character of each garden room. Tulips offer an enormous range of colours to suit all tastes – from shimmering pastels to luxurious purples and maroons – and an unrivalled opportunity to indulge yourself with colour and paint the garden with flowers. Here’s a taste of some of Arundel’s tulip colours and suggestions of how to recreate the look at home.

Jewel tones

Mass planting of red, purple and deep maroon tulips

Image: Annelise Brilli

 

Box parterres with each triangular section planted up with tulips

‘Bow Tie Bed’ with massed plantings of tulips
Image: Annelise Brilli

A sumptuous colour scheme of red, purple and maroon-black was used to great effect in the organic kitchen garden, where it was planted into the ‘Bow-Tie Beds’ of neatly trimmed box.

Get the look

A snowy carpet with pops of red

Concentric swirls of white Narcissus and red Tulips planted in a lawn with an ornate pergola and pool in the background

Tulips and daffodils in the ‘Labyrinth Garden’
Image: Annelise Brilli

 

Close up of white narcissus and red tulips planted in the grass

The massed planting shimmers in the sunlight
Image: Annelise Brilli

In the stunning Labyrinth Garden, a large lawn is planted up with concentric swirls of more than 20,000 red Darwin tulips in a sea of pure white, scented  Narcissus ‘Thalia’, all surrounded by exotic windmill palms Trachycarpus fortunei.

Get the look

Shocking Pink

Foreground of bright pink tulips with gilded oak urns, decorated with gilded details spouting water in the background

Image: Annelise Brilli

 

Close up of Jacobean inspired cascade

Image: Annelise Brilli

Pots of large-headed, shocking pink tulips really made a splash beside the pool and cascade.

Get the look

 

Fruity shades of pink and yellow

Foreground planting of peachy pink and yellow tulips with exotic planting of windmill palms and chapel buildings in background

Image: Annelise Brilli

They often tell you not to mix pink and yellow, but this fruity cocktail defies the rule with elegance.

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Fire & ice

A bold arrangement of yellow, orange, red and cream tulips

Image: Annelise Brilli

These fiery tulips were tastefully toned down with dashes of cream.

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Orange glow

Close up of pot of orange, peony-flowered tulips

Image: Annelise Brilli

Pots of these layered, peony-flowered tulips were strategically placed to radiate a glow of warming tangerine in shadier corners of the garden.

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Lilac and lime

A pot of purple, double-flowered tulips with an orange Fritillaria imperialis, alongside Euphorbia wulfenii

Image: Annelise Brilli

These pale purple tulips pair beautifully with the zingy lime green of the euphorbia, the display given a lift by the addition of orange crown imperial fritillaries.

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A passion for purple

Pot planting of plain purple tulips alongside white tulips with purple streaks

Image: Annelise Brilli

This harmonising blend of purples created a relaxed ambience, framing some seating.

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Sweetening up the veg patch

Close up of orange tulips, flushed with darker pink, in walled kitchen garden with old lean-to greenhouse in the background

Image: Annelise Brilli

Tulips are a great way to inject some early colour into your veg plot whilst you are waiting for crops to bulk up. These tulips added a sugary sweet flavour interplanted amongst beets in the organic kitchen garden.

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Pretty pastels

Container planting of tulips in cream, lilac, pink, and purple with forget-me-nots

Image: Annelise Brilli

These grouped containers were a perfectly toned display of pastel creams and pinks balanced with deeper purple.

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Sunset hues

A planting of tulips in pale apricot and peachy pink

Image: Annelise Brilli

Garden plants which offer sunset colours are precious as there are few examples. Hybrid tulips offer some lovely choices – be sure to seek them out.

Get the look

 

Inspired by Arundel’s magnificent display, I’m busy compiling my spring bulb order.  Daffodils should be planted by the end of September, whilst tulips go in later from the end of October onwards – but be sure to order early in order to obtain the very best selections and have fun inventing your own creative colour combinations!

Tulips masterclass: best expert content

Tulip 'Florist's Treat Mixed' from T&M

Tulips come in a huge array of varieties and make excellent cut flowers
Copyright: Visions BV, Netherlads

Planting tulip bulbs is a fantastic way to introduce colour to your spring garden. Ideal for filling pots and containers, they can also be planted in the ground or added to borders where they’re a real post-winter mood lifter. To help you create a spectacular display, we’ve found a wealth of experienced gardeners who’ve shared their tried-and-tested knowledge. If you want to grow magnificent tulips, here are some of the best articles, Instagram posts and videos to bookmark for reference. 

When you’re ready to pre-order your tulip bulbs, visit our online store for inspiration. We have blooms to suit every taste, from blousy and luminous hybrids to more delicate species tulips that are perfect for naturalising.

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The T&M blog has a wealth of knowledgeable contributors. Find out more about them on our "Meet the experts" page.

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