Website for the over 60s  February 2017
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Sixtyplusurfers Competition

Win an Electric Propagator from Stewart Garden

Win an Essentials Electric Propagator from Stewart Garden

Sixtyplusurfers has teamed up with Stewart Garden to offer one lucky reader the chance to win an Essentials Electric Propagator to help you raise your own plants whatever the weather.

The
38cm Essentials Electric Propagator comes with a long life economical 8-watt heater. This simple to use propagator makes raising your own plants easy. It gives your seedlings the light, protection and heat that they need for perfect growing conditions and comes in two sizes, ideal for a variety of pots and trays.

Essentials Electric Propagator from Stewart Garden

Stewart Garden loves gardens. It’s a leading grow-your-own and contemporary garden lifestyle brand, the market leader in premium plastic flower planters, including self-watering plant containers, and the voice of authority in premium consumer propagation.

Stewart Garden is a proud UK manufacturer. Its products are available in over 1,600 outlets across the country, including DIY retailers such as B&Q, Homebase and Wilko. They’re also widely stocked at garden centres such as Dobbies, Notcutts and Wyevale and in over 1,000 independent garden centres.

For more information about Stewart Garden visit www.stewart-garden.co.uk


Follow Stewart Garden on Twitter @StewartGarden

Like Stewart Garden’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/StewartCompany

For Your Chance to Win

     Tell us what size
    heater is included
     with the Stewart
  Electric Propagator?


   a) 2-watt heater
   b) 4-watt heater
   c) 6-watt heater
   d) 8-watt heater


  To Enter the Competition

     Tell us what size heater is
included with the Stewart Electric
 Propagator? Then send in your 
   answer, together with your full 
    name, address and telephone
       number by clicking on the 
       Sixtyplusurfers link below:

  sixtypluscomp@hotmail.co.uk

   * Please label your entry Stewart 
          Propagator Competition


     * This competition is open to
             our UK readers only
 

How to Declutter Your Home

Declutter your home

Setting goals, using the three-box method and understanding the 80/20 rule are just some of the ways to get rid of your junk and declutter this winter.

That’s according to the experts at
London Junk, who offer tips and advice on how you can clear the rubbish in your own home.

They recommend you should commit to getting rid of rubbish by prioritising items to throw away, keeping all surfaces clutter-free and tossing two items after receiving one similar as a gift.

They also want to make sure people are being savvy with their decisions by knowing what can be recycled, what can be donated and what does need to be thrown away.

Harsha Rathnayake, CEO of
London Junk says, “Winter comes with many resolutions and some people will make it a priority to have a more minimalistic home in 2017.

“With our top tips they can learn to prioritise which areas of the home need to be de-cluttered, the things they need to think about when you are doing it and the most time efficient way to approach it.”

These are the best tips on how to declutter your home

Set goals

If you have a lot of clutter in your home, begin by setting specific goals and make a plan that you can work your way through.

Map the ‘clutter spots’ you want to tackle and work your way systematically through them. Set completion dates so you have something to work towards.

Get one, toss two

Quite simply, throw away two items for every gifts you received over the Christmas period.

If you received a new book, look at your bookshelf and lose two. Do the same with DVD’s, kids clothes and toys as well. Choose between throwing away, donating or selling on the items.

Use three boxes

Use the three-box method to help you decide what items to keep, get rid of or put into storage. For any items in the keep box, work out where you are going to put them. These should be stored neatly in a draw or container.

For storage, categorise and label all containers as you fill them. Then neatly place them in your storage area.

When getting rid of your items, sort through the box and work out what you can donate, sell or throw away to the junk collectors.

Commit to getting rid of your junk

Committing to getting rid of all your junk can actually end up being the hardest part about de-cluttering. Mentally prepare yourself and be realistic when you’re debating whether to part with something you haven’t used in a long time.

Prioritise items to sort through

Even if you are a minimalism pro, there are still plenty of items that you can be decluttering when entering 2017. Think about clothes that you never wear, and old books, towels, bedding and cosmetics.

Think of the last time you used it

If you can’t recall the last time you used something, you should probably get rid of it. If you are a natural hoarder and struggle to get rid of things, ask yourself whether you really love it. If you don’t love it and haven’t used it in six months, add it to the ‘get rid of it’ bin.

Sleep on it

If you’ve gone on a rampage and sorted out a lot if items to get rid of, sleep on it before throwing it all away. If you wake up thinking that you probably shouldn’t have thrown an item away then take it out of the rubbish pile.

Keep flat surfaces clean

Overly cluttered surfaces are a sign you have too much junk, or you need to put some stuff in storage.

Use the 80/20 rule

We typically wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. So when sorting through your wardrobe ask yourself – does it fit? Has it been worn in the past year? If your item is any of the above then the best option is to donate it to charity. If it’s damaged, then throw it away. And if it has sentimental value, put it in storage.

For more information about London Junk visit www.london-junk.co.uk
 

 Cut Your Heating Bill by up to 40%

Milano Aruba Radiator from ManoMano

Winter is here, and with a cold front coming in, we are all looking at ways to keep warm without the heating bill going through the roof. During winter months, heating is usually the biggest household bill, with up to 50% of household energy consumption being heating related.

By being savvy and following ManoMano's simple and effective top 10 tips, it is possible to reduce heating costs by up to 40%. ManoMano is the UK's only DIY and gardening specialist online marketplace becoming more and more renowned for their handy home and garden tips:

Bleed the radiators

The air bubbles in the radiators prevent the hot water circulating properly therefore reducing the efficiency of the heat being emitted.

The Milano Aruba Radiator above is available for £149.99 from www.manomano.co.uk
 
Maintain the heating temperature at 20°C

For every degree of temperature above this, heating costs typically increases by 6-7%. The ideal temperature for a warmth to cost ratio is to keep the room heated to around 18°C.

Don't cover radiators

Where possible, do not cover radiators with curtains or cabinets. Allowing the air to move freely over and around the radiator means the heat is moving around properly.

Covering a radiator can increase fuel consumption by 40%. Independent boilers with a thermostat increases the consumption of gas to heat the house too.

Ensure regular boiler maintenance and cleaning

This is essential to ensure the proper functioning of the boiler and therefore, heating in general. The cost of servicing will be covered in the long term through the savings made by an efficient boiler.

Make sure your boiler, pipes and radiators are well insulated

PLATRALFA Strips from ManoMano

Lagging water tanks and pipes, and insulating behind radiators reduces the amount of heat lost so you spend less money heating water up and therefore hot water stays hotter for longer.

Pipe Protection - PLATRALFA Strips (120mm x 5m) x 4 pieces are available for £16.36 from www.manomano.co.uk

Lower the blinds as soon as it gets dark

As soon as it starts getting dark, lower the blinds and close the curtains to conserve heat by preventing heat escaping through the windows.

Do not open the windows when the heating system is on

This is a simple case of hot air being wasted, so if you want to air a room – do so before the heating is turned on.

Use thermostatic radiator valves (TRV)

Antique Copper Radiator TRV Valves Set from ManoMano

These sound complicated but are really pretty simple – a knob on your radiator that allows you to control the room's temperature. A thermostatic radiator valve is a self-regulating valve fitted to hot water heating system radiators, to control the temperature of a room by changing the flow of hot water to the radiator.

Installing them on radiators prevents the heating being on at certain times of the day and are a simple device that allows you to adjust the consumption of hot water for heating.

Antique Copper Radiator TRV Valves Set is £6.99 from www.manomano.co.uk

Heat Pumps

Another product that can save a considerable amount of energy, up to 40-60% in the winter months compared to traditional systems. Using a hot water heater with a high efficiency heat pump – instead of old electric water or gas heaters - can save up to 75% compared to traditional systems.

Add a Layer

Does the heating really need to be switched on? When it starts getting chilly, why not try putting on a jumper or wrapping up in a blanket? It is so easy to save the pounds by putting the heating on only when you really need to!

For more information on ManoMano, the UK's only DIY specialist online marketplace, please visit www.manomano.co.uk
 

Bring Romance to Your Home with Sophie Allport

Heart Homeware range from Sophie Allport

Sophie Allport offers a beautiful range of crockery and tableware, decorated with delicate romantic hearts.

The Hearts range features pale pink hearts which cover a neutral grey background in this delightful collection.

Choose from mugs, jugs, tea cosy, tea towels, oven gloves, apron, lampshade, notice board, cushions and handbags.

Perfect for Valentine's day, Mother's Day, wedding anniversaries, birthdays or simply brightening up your home.

To view the full range visit the website at www.sophieallport.com
 

Homes & Gardens

Jazz up your Home with Sue Ryder

Children's Red Star Armchair from Sue Ryder

Jazz up your home with the gorgeous range of furniture and accessories from Sue Ryder.

This colourful, Children's Red Star Armchair is the perfect ideal addition to any nursery or playroom. This traditional style armchair is available in 3 stylish designs and features a soft cushioned seat that provides the ultimate in comfort. Perfect for crafts, drawing and puzzles or simply relaxing on after a hard day’s play!

The rounded arms offer additional safety, while the rubber stoppers on the bottom of the seat offer your child increased stability. The chair size is best suited for children 18 months or over. It comes boxed making it a great gift idea. Price is £39.99.

Pair of Wicker Bedside Units from Sue Ryder

Create some style in your bedroom or bathroom with this beautiful Pair of Wicker Bedside Units.

This delightful pair of compact and elegant storage solutions have a crisp, fresh look and feel. Suitable for use in a variety of settings, each storage cabinet features one drawer and one wicker basket and comes fully assembled. Great value, price is £37.99 for the set of two.

Traditional Blue Check Wing Back Chair With Natural Legs from Sue Ryder

This smart Traditional Blue Check Wing Back Chair With Natural Legs has a cosy, homely feel and will look great in any living room or bedroom.

 

Made from a lovely checked fabric, this chair is extremely durable and very comfortable. Exclusive to Sue Ryder, minimal assembly is required, although legs will need to be attached. Price is £125.99.

White Wooden Bench With Cushion and Wicker Baskets from Sue Ryder

This elegant, crisp White Wooden Bench With Cushion and Wicker Baskets will look beautiful in your hallway or bedroom.

The bench includes four drawers and two fully lined wicker baskets and is great for keeping your house clutter free and organised. Price is £64.99.

Shabby Chic Coffee Table from Sue Ryder

Finished in a beautiful white, grey wash paint with elegant metal handles, this Shabby Chic Coffee Table will sit perfectly in any house.

Ideal for storing clutter, this coffee table will make the perfect centrepiece in any living room. Price is £64.99.

Help Sue Ryder when you buy


100% of the sale of these items will benefit the Sue Ryder hospice and neurological care programme.

All of the products shown above are available to buy from Sue Ryder at http://shop.sueryder.org

 

Stunning Electric Stoves from Dimplex


Sunningdale electric stove from Dimplex


Dimplex introduces the stylish Sunningdale, an electric stove with an outstanding flame effect courtesy of its award-winning Opti-V technology. The Sunningdale cleverly uses the latest in High Definition TV technology to create ultra-realistic flickering flames in a 3D bed of logs.

The Opti-V technology creates a virtual fireplace experience like no other. With ultra-realistic flames and sparks jumping and flickering amongst the LED logs that sporadically spark! With the sound of crackling logs emanating from the Sunningdale the illusion of a real fire is complete.


Sunningdale electric stove from Dimplex

Jonathan Smith, product marketing manager for Dimplex says, “Sunningdale is spot on trend for homeowners who want an incredibly realistic and luxurious stove as a focal point in their room, but want to avoid the complexity, mess and maintenance of a solid fuel fire.”

Quick and easy to install, the Sunningdale simply needs to be plugged in to deliver its realistic flame effect. Available in a graphite cast-iron effect, with metallic detailing, the Sunningdale stove’s fan heater offers a 2kW heat output.

Homeowners can control the stove from the comfort of their chair with the remote control unit, with the option to turn off the heat but retain the ambience of a burning fire all year round.

Sunningdale Opti-V Stove Key features include:

· Cast-iron style stove

· Opti-V 3D effect electric fire

· Flame effect is shown via HD TV screen

· LED fuel bed and lighting

· 2kW fan heater with a choice of 2 heat settings

· Electronic controls

· Crackling logs sound effects with adjustable volume

· Thermostat and remote control

Stove dimensions are height 660mm x  width 630mm x depth 440mm

Sunningdale is available from £1400 RRP.

For more details about Opti-V fires visit the Dimplex website at www.dimplex.co.uk/optiv

 

Avoid a DIY Disaster With Bosch Tools


Avoid a DIY Disaster with Bosch Tools

When it comes to DIY disasters everyone has a story. From uneven shelving to drilling through a water pipe, the simplest tasks can lead to disaster if they are not planned correctly.

For a lot of homeowners, the fear of these disasters is enough to put the job off all together. For instance, recent research by Bosch DIY, which questioned over 1,000 British men, revealed that one in six have delayed a DIY task for more than a year, with five per cent avoiding DIY tasks for more than six years!

However, the beauty of Bosch DIY tools is that they are designed to be intuitive, safe and easy to use for all levels of experience, so there's no reason to delay. There's also a range of measuring, levelling and detecting tools available so that your job can be planned precisely in advance and be completed right first time without any mishaps.

Measuring

The job most likely to be put on hold according to the Bosch survey was found to be re-tiling a room. Apparently on average this is likely to be on the 'things to do' list for 115 days. However this needn't be the case! This is a job where perfect planning is a necessity. The first thing you must do is work out the size of your tiles and how many you will need to cover the desired space.

The Bosch Zamo (RRP £52.50) laser measure is a quick and simple tool for this as it gives precise digital results, allowing you to quickly work out the length and width of areas. This is perfect for tasks where accuracy is crucial such as measuring a window for new fitted curtains of blinds.

Levelling

Keep pictures level with the Bosch Quigo Plus

Decorative shelving and picture walls can be an eye catching and on trend addition to a plain wall. However, if they are not level, they can catch your eye for all the wrong reasons and you may end up having multiple holes in the wall to get it right.

To ensure they are perfectly level the Bosch Quigo Plus (RRP £61.19) is the tool you need. It comes with a tripod which allows you to project a crossline laser almost anywhere to use as a guide for creative projects. The laser also features interval spaced makers for increased accuracy.

Detecting

One of the biggest potential DIY disasters is drilling through pipes or power cables which can cause serious injuries. Truvo (RRP £41.99) digital detector easily resolves this uncertainty by recognising where these obstacles are and highlighting where to and where not to drill, saving you time and helping to avoid disasters.

With a bit of planning and preparation, there's no need to put off those DIY jobs. With the help of measuring, levelling and detecting tools, you can ensure that you do a job to be proud of, first time, every time.

Make it your Home, with a little help from Bosch – the DIY home and garden experts. Your home is your castle and should be your pride and joy, which is why Bosch develops high performance and incredibly useful lawn and garden products, power tools and measuring tools designed and made to the highest of standards for complete peace of mind.

Lawn and garden

Bringing together everything you need to create and enjoy your very own great outdoors, Bosch makes gardening tasks effortless. Whether you want to simply sit back and enjoy your beautiful garden, or have green-fingers and like to potter around at every opportunity, Bosch understands what you need from your garden tools and make gardening simple. From market leading lawn mowers and edging tools, to shrub and hedge care, chainsaws, shredders, leaf blowers and high-pressure washers, Bosch Lawn and Garden provide tools that will help you enjoy your outside space.

Power tools

Being the number one brand for DIY, Bosch has an extensive range of tools suitable for every DIYer from beginners to experts. With Bosch you know you've got the right tool for the job, whether you need to tackle some serious drill work or require a great multitask tool to help you with odd jobs, Bosch will help you make it your home.

Bosch offers a range of measuring tools

Measuring tools

Never be off the mark again and ensure a perfect finish every time with Bosch's collection of measuring, levelling and detecting tools. For perfectionists and lovers of straight lines everywhere, a Bosch measuring tool in your pocket can give you the most precise reading so you're sure you make your mark or drill your hole exactly where you need to – without any surprises or disasters along the way. Bosch puts precision and trust into the palm of your hand.

With full after sales support available, a five day service commitment and excellent product guarantees, including a comprehensive two years on all products, you know you can trust Bosch to help you get the job done. You see with Bosch DIY, you can make it your home, your way. Always at the forefront of innovation, Bosch offers you more features, benefits, value, solutions - and more time.

For further product information about Bosch Lawn and Garden visit www.bosch-garden.com
 or for Bosch Power Tools and Measuring Tools click on www.bosch-do-it.com
 

Use Your Conservatory All Year Round


Enjoy your conservatory all year round with Duette blinds


Conservatories are often the most light filled and uplifting of rooms in a home, yet the sheer expanse of windows makes it difficult to maintain a consistent and comfortable temperature all year round. Often feeling cold and chilly in the winter and insufferably hot and stuffy in the summer, conservatories can be left unused for the majority of the year until climate systems align for just a few weeks of optimal weather conditions.

However, choosing the right blinds can help to create a year-round space that feels light and airy in the spring and summer months and can easily transition to a cosy environment in the winter months. Duette® blinds feature a unique honeycomb construction that offers unrivalled insulting properties, helping to reduce heat loss by up to 46%. During the summer months, when conservatories can often trap unwanted heat, Duette® blinds reduce heat intake by as much as 78% and cut the sun’s glare by up to 99% thanks to an innovative coating on the window-facing side of the blind.

Maintaining conservatories at a consistent and comfortable temperature in this way helps to eliminate the need for expensive air conditioning systems or electricity-hungry fans, further adding to the cost-saving benefits. And the benefits don’t stop at climate control; Duette® blinds also block up to 99% of UV rays, preventing colour fade and keeping furnishings and wallpaper like new for longer.

Duette® conservatory blinds are made to measure to fit any window, no matter what the size or shape to give a distinctive style and unique finish that provides privacy whilst also controlling natural light. Available in three transparencies (blackout, semi sheer and translucent) and in a kaleidoscope of colours, there is no compromise on style and any colour scheme can be accommodated.

As well as manual options, Duette® energy saving blinds can be installed with a motorised system that gives you complete climate control at the touch of a button. With so many windows to cover and many often inaccessible, motorisation is the perfect solution in any conservatory.

To find out more about Duette® blinds visit www.duette.co.uk

 

Garden Tips from
National Garden
Gift Vouchers

 

Camellias are also one of the best garden plants to use for adding a real splash of colour in the dark winter months


If your garden is in a mild location in the UK then snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils will begin to show their heads in February, but beware – the weather is changeable and can still be bring days that are extremely cold and full of frost.

It's time to give your garden a little bit of love with a quick tidy up and you could also start sowing seeds and planting – weather permitting. Growing your own plants from seeds is one of the most rewarding and economical ways of getting your garden going after the winter months.

For grow your own gardeners February is all about cultivating and prepare seed beds (if the ground isn’t frozen) and covering them with clear polythene, cloches or fleece to warm up the soil before sowing. From mid-February you can sow tomato and cucumber seeds for growing in greenhouses, and plant out garlic and shallots in light soils. This is also your last chance to winter prune apples, pears and autumn fruiting raspberries and to plant bare rooted raspberries.

A simple garden solution for February is to make a mini woodland glade in your garden. If you haven’t any dappled garden shade you are missing out on some amazing plants. Plant a couple of small trees such as weeping willow and twisted hazel - add lots of leaf mould to the ground to make these woodland natives feel at home. Then plant some hellebores, a couple of pots of dwarf daffodils and some native cyclamen into the ground and fill in the gaps with ferns. Finish the whole thing off with a covering of bark chippings.

Another woodland plant to consider, that does best when planted in a sheltered or shady position, is the Camellia. It’s also ideal for the romantics among you looking for a floral gift for your loved one as the fragrant Camellia represents desire, passion and perfection. Camellias are also one of the best garden plants to use for adding a real splash of colour in the dark winter months.

They are a wonderful plant to grow in the garden or a container. They can be grown in a more exposed position if watered carefully and thrive in a free draining spot with plenty of humus in the surrounding soil. Depending on the variety, you can have flowering from November through to April and the range of colours is vast, from light pinks to dark reds and stunning whites with single, double and other flower forms.

February’s garden checklist

· Prune large flowering clematis right back to a strong bud.

· Divide and replant snowdrops.

· If the weather is dry, keep an eye on evergreens in containers and make sure they are watered regularly.

· Once winter flowering jasmine has blossomed, cut out dead steams, trim back new shoots and tie back new growth.

· For the maximum show of flowers later in the year cut back summer flowering shrubs such as buddleia, lavateria and hardy fuchsia.

· Deadhead winter flowering pansies to keep them blooming.

· Depending on frosts prune roses, climbers and hardy evergreens.

National Garden Gift Vouchers

If you Grow Your Own then a little winter digging will save you time and energy in the New Year. It's best to dig over the soil of new planting areas and empty vegetable beds during any dry periods in winter. This will add oxygen into the soil and prevent it from becoming compact - making it easier to work with when it comes to planting.

Parsnips taste better when frosted so make sure to mark the trench, and cover it with a protective layer of cardboard if hard frosts are forecast. Stake or earth up any Brussels sprouts stalks that look leggy and vulnerable to wind rock and you can now plant shallots and garlic in mild areas with well-drained soil.

About National Gift Vouchers



National Garden Gift Vouchers can be bought and redeemed at over 2,000 outlets in the UK, with more than 90,000 garden plants and products on offer.

Visit www.thevouchergarden.co.uk to see the outlets that sell and accept them.

You can become a fan and buy vouchers on Facebook by clicking on:
www.facebook.com/GardenGiftVouchers  

Or follow on Twitter by clicking on:
www.twitter.com/GardenGiftVouch  

Or visit the blog by clicking on:
www.vouchergardenblog.com
 

   Stay Healthy this
Winter by Preventing
      Condensation


Stay healthy this winter by preventing condensation

Most of Britain has been experiencing a particularly cold spell of weather. The cold temperature is not the only problem though besetting many homes. As the temperature falls, condensation rises, creating moisture on windows each morning which will eventually cause mould and damp, and associated health problems. Condensation is particularly noticeable in conservatories, which can be dripping with water at this time of year!

Chris Michael from
Meaco, a leading UK supplier of dehumidifiers and air purifiers, gives his top tips for preventing this annual winter nightmare.

Cut down the moisture you are producing

1. Put lids on saucepans when you boil or steam vegetables.

2. Use an extractor fan when you bath or shower or open the window for 5 minutes afterwards.

3. Don’t dry washing on radiators, use a clothes horse and put it in a room with an extractor fan.

4. If drying clothes in a tumble dryer make sure it vents to outside.

Warm up your house

1. Open curtains and blinds during the day to warm rooms up and to prevent moisture being trapped around the windows.

2. Don’t block up any air bricks

3. Don’t let furniture touch outside walls: leave a small gap.

4. Open doors on built in wardrobes on outside walls and try to avoid clothes and shoes from touching outside walls.

5. Keep gutters clear to make sure water does not spill down your walls

6. Don’t build patios above the damp course.

Consider buying a dehumidifier

Meaco DD8L Zambezi dehumidifier


This will help get rid of the excess moisture in your home, so preventing condensation, damp and mould, and will make your home drier and cheaper to heat.

The
Meaco DD8L Zambezi dehumidifier has a Which? Best Buy Award, works well at low temperatures, is cheaper than using a tumble dryer to dry clothes, and adds warmth back into a room.

“If you do have a damp house, just turning up your heating in the winter will not get rid of condensation”, comments Chris Michael.

“A damp house means damp air, and raising the heating thermostat will only heat up the wet air molecules, rather than raise the room temperature. A room will feel warmer if you are heating dry air. This is where a dehumidifier comes in. Follow the above advice and you will save on your heating bills and feel snug and healthy all winter!”

About Meaco

Established in 1991, Meaco produces award-winning dehumidifiers, humidifiers and air purifiers distributed in over twenty countries throughout Europe and South Africa. The firm is the UK’s exclusive distributor of Mitsubishi Electric’s range of dehumidifiers, spares, and repairs. A winner of two Which? Best Buy awards, Meaco’s expertise is unrivalled, and its products cater for all needs, from home and industrial dehumidification to specialist areas such as boating, caravanning and swimming pools.

Meaco began by specialising in monitoring and control equipment for museums and art galleries. In 1992 the firm developed the world's first radio based environmental monitoring system in conjunction with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and quickly established itself as one of the most important suppliers of humidity monitoring and control equipment to museums across Europe. In 2005 Meaco divested the museum side of the business to concentrate on manufacturing its own dehumidifier range.

Based in Guildford, Surrey, and an owner-managed business, Meaco is a socially aware company, sponsoring local sports including the Team GB kayaker Rachel Cawthorn who recently competed at the Rio Olympics. The firm is also heavily involved in supporting local mini and youth rugby and is a sponsor of the London Welsh club. For each unit sale of the firm’s Zambezi dehumidifier model a financial contribution is made to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation to assist its elephant conservation work in Africa.

For more information visit www.meaco.com
 

It may be the Year of
    the Zinnia, but
 Cosmos are still our
    Favourite Seeds


Cosmos Cupcakes

Thompson & Morgan has been at the forefront of cosmos breeding for 10 years since some unusual seeds arrived from California.

The ‘Cupcakes’ series of the ever-popular cosmos was born out of a chance find in a California back yard in 2007. When Diane Engdahl discovered an unusual cosmos flower in her garden in Santa Rosa, she sent the ensuing seed to the plant breeding team at Thompson & Morgan. Instead of its flower being made up of individual petals, rather like a daisy, as with most cosmos, the petals of this unique bloom were fused together, creating one single ‘cup’.

For nearly 10 years, plant breeders at Thompson & Morgan have been busy ‘fixing’ this new trait across the cosmos colour mix, developing new shades and refining the habit of this new cosmos shape. This long-standing cottage garden favourite was celebrated in 2016’s Year of the Cosmos and visitors to RHS Garden Wisley were asked to vote in a poll to name their favourite garden cosmos as part of the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual People’s Choice Competition. Once votes were gathered, Cosmos bipannatus ‘Cupcakes White’ came out on top of the 84 varieties on show in the RHS garden.

It’s easy to see why cosmos are so popular. Sales of cosmos seed and plants have increased hugely over the past 10 years. This is partly due to breakthroughs in breeding which have led to new varieties such as ‘Cupcakes’ and ‘Lemonade’ (see below), but it is also down to the fabulous garden performance of this very stylish flower. Available in so many colour ways, heights and flower types; easy to grow; not prone to disease or pest attacks – cosmos really are every gardener’s dream plant!

White Cosmos Cupcakes

Initially marketed as part of Thompson & Morgan’s exclusive Cosmos ‘Cupcakes’ mix, ‘Cupcakes White’ boasts pristine white petals which are fused together to form the single ‘cup’ that is the unique trademark of the ‘Cupcakes’ series. Tall, bushy plants are free flowering; ideal for elegant border designs and container growing, and perform well in all types of weather. Cosmos make fabulous cut flowers and each plant will produce an impressive number of blooms.

During T&M’s trials, it was remarked that bees appeared to be taking shelter from wind and rain inside the flower ‘cups’, with sometimes more than one bee sharing the protection that the fused petals afford. Cosmos are always a favourite with pollinating insects, but the knowledge that bees are using this new variety to take refuge from inclement weather, makes them all the more appealing.

Top tips for growing cosmos from seed

· Sow cosmos seeds in a heated greenhouse or propagator in April.

· Good light is important to prevent ‘stretching’

· Young plants can be planted out after the very last frosts, usually in late May/early June

· Regular dead-heading will promote flowering right up to the first frosts

· When dead-heading cosmos, cut the stem right back to the first leaf rather than just pulling the flower head off

· Seed can be planted outside, where you’d like them to flower, in May or early June

Thompson & Morgan also offers a number of cosmos varieties as plants which, depending on the size of the plant at the time of delivery, can be planted straight out into the garden, or they can be potted up and grown on before transplanting.

Choose from Cosmos ‘Cupcakes White’ – 1 packet (30 seeds) £1.99, or Cosmos ‘Cupcakes Mixed’ - 1 packet (100 seeds) £1.99. Height is 120cm (48"). Spread is 60cm (24").

Also from Thompson & Morgan’s own breeding comes another stunning cosmos variety – ‘Lemonade’

Lemonade Cosmos

To create this multi-flowering subtle yellow cosmos with a striking central white eye, T&M’s plant breeding team took a very bright yellow, but late-flowering Japanese cosmos variety and crossed it with earlier-flowering cosmos with better, shorter habits. The resulting delicate, yellow blossoms of Cosmos 'Lemonade' marked a major breakthrough in cosmos breeding.

Flowers are produced en masse throughout the summer on short to medium-high, branching cosmos plants. Fantastic for patio pots or as a robust and floriferous border filler - its colouring and habit means that it combines well with most other plants in bedding or container displays. Cosmos ‘Lemonade’ also makes a great cut flower and looks stunning in a vase, either on its own or mixed in with other flowers.

Choose from Cosmos ‘Lemonade’ – 1 packet (30 seeds) £2.49, or Cosmos ‘Lemonade’ - 30 garden-ready plants £14.99. Height is 60cm (24in). Spread is 40cm (16in).

For further information on growing cosmos, go to www.thompson-morgan.com/cosmos  to read an article by Graham Rice taken from The Seed Raising Journal from Thompson & Morgan.