July Newsletter

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” –  Lewis Grizzard

July is when we reap the rewards of all the hard work in the garden! We get to eat the edibles that we’ve grown and fill our vases with the ornamentals. It’s the month when we enjoy our home-grown crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, strawberries and more.

True satisfaction and pleasure can be gained from a delicious meal of homegrown fruit and veg enjoyed in a well looked after garden with a vase of sweet smelling, freshly picked annuals adorning the table.

Hopefully July will be a lovely warm month meaning that regular watering will be necessary… In fact, “water/feed/weed/repeat” is the July gardening mantra.

Jobs To Do This Month

  • Remove duck weed from ponds and keep the water level topped up. It’s surprising how much water will evaporate during a sunny spell.
  • Tie in climbers and stake dahlias and other tall plants to prevent them flopping
  • Maintain a consistent watering and feeding regime, remembering that different varieties of plants will have different needs and that plants growing in pots will need a little extra
  • Keep up the fight against slugs, snails and other pests. Encourage birds and other wildlife into the garden and they’ll lend their support. Take advantage of our Seaweed Feed & Protect 3 In 1 Kit offer – Now only £24 (worth £34.97) if you need a helping hand.
  • Remove side shoots from cordon tomatoes and water and feed regularly.
  • It can get very hot in the greenhouse so leave the door and vents open and consider applying shading paint or similar. Damping down the floor with a hose will help to reduce the temperature and increase humidity
  • Pick cucumbers as soon as they’ve reached the right size for the variety and are still nice and firm. A slice of cucumber in a G&T makes a lovely change to the traditional lemon.
  • Keep picking courgettes to encourage the plant to keep producing. Share with friends and neighbours until they beg you to stop.
  • Early potatoes will be ready for lifting but dig under just the one plant first to check they are the size you want.
  • Prune shrubs that flowered in early summer. Take a look at our Spear & Jackson range of cutting tools that have been developed with The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew!
  • One of the least strenuous of gardening jobs must be deadheading. With a careful snip snip here and a pinch pinch there your plants will be revived and freshened. The Gardeners Deadheader Bundle is the perfect piece of kit for gardeners everywhere!

Tomato Tips

Now is a good time to apply some fresh compost to any pots containing tomato plants. This will add much-needed nutrients and encourage new roots. To get the most from your plants, do keep your watering consistent and feed weekly with high potash fertiliser. Keep removing side-shoots from cordon tomatoes. Most importantly, pick and enjoy! Our Seaweed Feed & Protect 3 In 1 Kit is now only £24 (worth £34.97) and perfect for tomatoes.

Competition Time!

We’re all too aware by this point that 2020 has been a strange year so far. Many of us find ourselves spending more time at home, and our gardening community has adapted very well and remains strong.

We know that with growing your own fruit and veg comes much pride and satisfaction and what better way to showcase the fruits of your labour than recognising your hard work and the wonderful produce you have grown through lockdown .

We have 4 categories for you to enter your amazing photos: Growing with Family, Small Spaces Growing, Rustic & Repurposed Gardens, Growing for the first time. We’ll choose one winning image from each category and its owner will receive a £50 Dobies Gift Voucher to spend online.

Summer Furniture Event

The Dobies Summer Furniture Event is what you need to be able to sit outside, enjoy the sun and relax in your garden. We’ve compiled an extensive range of quality garden furniture, from beautiful zero maintenance love seats, lighting and RHS approved furniture, to bistro sets, benches and BBQ accessories. So, with everything you need to make the most of the long summer days, the only question is hammock or day bed?!

This week we’ve added some fantastic decorative garden accessories that make a lovely gift for anyone that loves spending their time in the garden… and with these prices you’ll be able to order one for yourself too.

Bees’ Needs Week

Are you keen to help pollinators? Whether you have a window box or a large garden, there are some simple things you can do to help. Bees’ Needs Week is an annual event coordinated by Defra, working alongside charities, businesses, conservation groups and academic institutions to raise awareness of bees and other pollinators.

This year they will be running the Bees’ Needs Week online from the 13th-19th, sharing online positive examples and ways in which everyone can continue to help bees and other pollinators close to home.

There are five simple actions you can take to help pollinators and make sure their populations are sustained:

  • Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees
  • Let your garden grow wild
  • Cut your grass less often
  • Don’t disturb insect nest and hibernation spots
  • Think carefully about whether to use pesticides

Watch this handy video that talks about these 5 actions: https://youtu.be/2wtktAjeLB4

Turn Your Garden Into A Bee Haven!

Bees are dependent on the nectar and pollen of flowers. To supply a continuous food source for the bees, plant a variety of species that will bloom from spring to autumn. Most bees prefer perennial flowers, so herbs and traditional cottage garden plants are great.

If you want to grow from seed try our British Native Wildflower ranges that capture the look of the beautiful English countryside, in particular our Honey Bee Mix which has been developed in conjunction with Gales Honey and can be sown from late August.

If you’re looking for a real bee magnet that’s ready to plant out, the Sedum Atlantis is a plant for our times…drought tolerant, suitable for small spaces and attractive to bees. The vibrantly coloured serrated leaves & the yellow flowers will make a wonderful haven for our friendly pollinators.

9cm Potted Plant only £7.99 or Buy 3 for £15

2 Litre Potted Plant only £9.99 or Pick & Mix across our range of 2 Litre Perennials – Buy any 3 for £24 or 6 for just £33!

Summer Colour In An Instant!

If you have left it late or haven’t been able to find any Summer Bedding we’ve got the perfect solution for you! Give your neighbours garden envy with our selection of 9cm bedding plants – fully established and flowering to add instant colour and interest to beds, baskets and containers. Our skilled nursery workers will pick out a selection that are looking at their best at the time of despatch.

18 x 9cm Bedding Plants – Our Selection only £30! That’s only £1.67 a plant!

Autumn Flowering Bulbs

While we may be enjoying some fantastic weather in our stunning summer gardens, let’s start to look ahead to the autumn and some fantastic autumn flowering bulbs. In particular, the amazing Saffron Crocus!

The beautiful autumn-blooming Saffron Crocus sativus is, as its name suggests, the flower from which we gather saffron. Renowned for being the most expensive spice in the world, Saffron provides the quintessential seasoning for paella as well as other Mediterranean dishes and is a staple for creating the perfect yellow rice to accompany your favourite curry. Not only can the stigmas be used for flavouring and colouring dishes, the vibrant lilac-purple blooms will also bring a dash of colour to your autumn garden. Truly a win win.

Give them a try and you too can look forward to the magical experience of picking your very own “red gold”. Look out for them each morning, dangling from the throats of the flowers: bright, alluring and full of promise. Once cut and dried, they can be stored in an airtight jar for several years!

The Saffron Crocus will thrive in a well drained border and can be grown in containers on your patio. They are also super hardy and multiply rapidly to give stunning blooms and a steady supply of Saffron year after year.

Offer Of The Month

VegTrug With Mystery Parcel Worth Up To £50!

the 1-metre VegTrug

The VegTrug offers a stylish way to grow delicious, nutritious fresh vegetables on your patio!

It provides a veg patch at an easy and comfortable working height (ideal for the elderly or wheelchair users), and is V-shaped so takes less filling while still allowing you to grow crops that need deep soil (like carrots).

Free Gift!

The Mystery Parcel includes practical gardening products – it may contain such items as gloves, tools, cane toppers, feeds and grow tunnels etc.. as we said it’s a bit of a mystery … but you can be sure it will be useful and practical items for your gardening.

Choose From

VegTrug Classic 1.8m Greywash Now Only £199.99 With Mystery Parcel Worth £50

VegTrug Classic 1m Greywash Or Natural Now Only £129.99 With Mystery Parcel Worth £20

Grow With Dobies Competition

We’re all too aware by this point that 2020 has been a strange year so far. Many of us find ourselves spending more time at home, and our gardening community has adapted very well and remains strong.

We know that with growing your own fruit and veg comes much pride and satisfaction and what better way to showcase the fruits of your labour than recognising your hard work and the wonderful produce you have grown through lockdown .

We have 4 categories for you to enter your amazing photos: Growing with Family, Small Spaces Growing, Rustic & Repurposed Gardens, Growing for the first time. We’ll choose one winning image from each category and its owner will receive a £50 Dobies Gift Voucher to spend online.

Click the links below to submit your image using our handy form, or tag us on social media using #GrowwithDobies

Growing with Family

One of the ways we have been spending our time during lockdown is in the garden with our loved ones. We want to see how your family has used outdoor spaces to grow fruit, veg and flowers this season.

We want to celebrate all those budding new gardeners, proud of their first strawberry or runner bean!

Small Spaces Growing

Often a large area to grow isn’t always available but we know how innovative you all are. We want to see what you have managed to grow in smaller areas.

We want to see what you’ve grown in smaller spaces such as patios, balconies or even smaller areas of your garden.

Show us how you’ve grown crops vertically or used hanging baskets to free up space. Get creative with your space and your pictures!

Rustic & Repurposed Gardens

We want to see all the creative and innovative ways you have grown things. This could be re- using household rubbish for planters or a pair of old boots as a plant pot! We want to see how you have transformed everyday items to become useful in your garden.

We want to see more than just your DIY gardening projects. Has your garden had a complete make over during lockdown? Show us! We want to see how you’ve spent your time transforming your garden.

Have you finally got round to clearing that one area in the garden we’re not proud of and turned it into a lovely vegetable patch? Or transformed an area of our lawn into beautiful flower beds? We want to know what inspired you to do it now.

Growing For The First Time

Is this your first time growing anything in your garden? Show us! Whether it was successful or not we want to know what inspired you to get out in your garden and have a go. whether it was more time on your hands or becoming more self- sustaining during lockdown, share your experiences and you photos with us.

Use the icons below if you’d like to submit your image via social media, and don’t forget to use the hashtag


Closing date for the competition is 11.59pm 10/08/2020

Get your photos and stories in to us before then for a chance to win!

June Newsletter

“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.” –  L. M. Montgomery

June is here, heralding the true start of summer and allowing us to bridge the divide between home and garden. All danger of lingering frosts (& dare we say spring showers?!) has now passed. In fact, records are showing that this has been the driest May since 1986 and you’ll be happy to know that this wonderful weather is predicted to continue into June. It’s a great time to get your hands dirty and your plants will be especially grateful for a regular water & feed during this time. We know that many of you are currently growing edibles for self-sufficiency and a good feed is vital for the production of bountiful crops.

Whether you’re at home or at the allotment, your crops will be drawing increased attention from all forms of wildlife – it’s the perfect time to harness all those helpful critters and put controls in place for the not-so-friendly. Tadpoles will be hopping into their final froggy form, and birds will be feeding their young with all the pesky caterpillars and aphids they can find, so spare a thought for these unpaid workers and consider adding a bird feeder or insect hotel to improve your garden’s ecosystem. We’ve put together a Feed & Protect Kit, which protects your plot from many different insects and pests, provides organically certified feed for your plants and, most importantly, is people, pets and planet friendly.

Read on for your monthly jobs to do around the garden, exciting veg varieties to sow now, and, of course, some super summery offers for you too!

Jobs To Do This Month

  • The longer days and warmer soil will be encouraging all things to grow, including weeds! Keep your hoe, kneeler pad and fork handy.
  • Continue to remove the side shoots from cordon tomato plants
  • Harden off any indoor grown plants ready for planting out in prepared soil. Those that have already been sitting in a cold frame will be ready to go
  • Give broad bean plants support and check for signs of black-fly. Remove any growing tips where you find evidence of this pesky pest
  • Grass cuttings can be spread thickly on veg beds after watering to act as a mulch
  • New potatoes will be ready for lifting. They don’t store as well as main-crop varieties, so lift just enough for a meal at a time. Now, where did I plant that mint?
  • Summer bedding can be planted out, pots can be filled and hanging baskets placed in position
  • Cut back yellowed foliage from spring bulbs but mark where they are so you don’t dig them up by mistake

What To Sow Now

Sowing little and often is the key to ensuring a continual supply of veg and of avoiding a glut. So instead of sowing a whole packet spread it out over a few weeks. The following seeds can all be sown this month:

  • French Beans
  • Carrots
  • Salad Leaves
  • Beetroot
  • Lettuce
  • Herbs
  • Pak Choi
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Kohl Rabi

A Big Thanks To The RHS!

We would like to say a big thank you to the RHS for making this year’s Virtual Chelsea Flower Show possible. Bringing one of the most prestigious shows into people’s homes and gardens meant that all that were planning to go (and many who weren’t) got to experience Chelsea at its finest.  With a week of celebration, inspiration and advice, the show brought the joy and escapism of gardening to many around the country!

Once again, thank you to the RHS, the BBC and all of the fantastic presenters that made it a truly memorable week.

Chelsea Flower Show Plant Of The Decade

Every year the RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year Competition is open to exhibitors at Chelsea to showcase their exciting new plant introductions. This year the RHS brought together the RHS Plant of the Year winners from the last decade and it was over to the public to vote for their favourite.

On Saturday May 23rd, Viburnum Kilimanjaro Sunrise was crowned as Plant of the Decade, decided by the People’s Choice Vote at the Virtual Chelsea Flower Show 2020.

The Viburnum – Kilimanjaro Sunrise is truly beautiful. This stunning Viburnum was crowned Plant of the Year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2015. The pure white and elegant lace cap flowers are produced in profusion all the way up this stunningly beautiful tiered plant.

Previous Winners

Previous winners of Plant of the Year that are also available include Mulberry Charlotte Russe which won in 2017 and became the first edible winner of the competition, the magnificent Hydrangea Runaway Bride which won in 2018 and the 2019 winner, Sedum Atlantis – a plant for our times…drought tolerant, suitable for small spaces and attractive to bees!

New for 2020 – Leycesteria Little Lanterns

Leycesteria Little Lanterns is a new introduction to the market for 2020 and would have been entered for Chelsea Plant Of The Year. If you’ve always admired the beauty of Golden Lanterns but don’t quite have the space for it, Leycesteria Little Lanterns was made for you! This handsome, compact version of its bigger sibling will light up your garden with its bright yellow-green leaves.

Perfect to purchase now and with immediate despatch, it adds more colour to the mix with an abundance of attractive white flowers with purple bracts (from July to September)- a truly beautiful sight and a great way to end the season.

A charming shrub, Little Lanterns is a versatile sun lover, working well in mass planting as well as in mixed containers or on its own in a smaller area. What’s more, it is hardy down to -15C, so it’s ideal for those colder areas.

British bred and great for adding colour and contrast! Little Lanterns has glorious yellow foliage with orange tinged new growth so really stands out in a garden. In late summer to early autumn the long red bracts appear to produce a showy flowering display before turning into berries for the autumn.  Its unique characteristic is that it is really compact and bushy so can be used further forward in a border, a smaller garden or a container as it will add really eye catching look to any display!

Instantly Transform Your Patios & Borders With 2 Litre Plants

After seeing the fabulous displays at the RHS Virtual Chelsea Flower Show we’ve got a real taste for some summer colour in our gardens. 

We’ve created a section within our site with all our available 2 Litre Flower Plants in one place to make it easier for you to find the perfect blooms to fill your beds, borders, baskets and pots!  From dazzling dahlias and tropical cannas, to show-stopping alstroemeria, pretty gerberas and more. 

Offer Of The Month

Summer Cropping Veg Collection

5x 9cm Potted Plants For Just £15

With our ‘Summer Cropping Veg Collection,’ you’ll be filling salad bowls, stuffing sandwiches and even making your own tasty soups and sauces all summer long! This fantastic collection of five potted ‘ready to plant’ varieties will include a selection of sweet tomatoes, crunchy cucumber and incredibly productive courgette.

Perfect to grow anywhere sunny, from a greenhouse to a patio, in containers or even outside in the veg garden. There has never been a better time to ‘Grow your Own’ and with this collection, you’ll be cropping all summer.

Recipe idea: Grilled courgette and tomato salad. Thickly slice a couple of small courgettes, toss in a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook on a grill or griddle until they begin to char. Roughly chop the tomatoes, add a splash of balsamic and mix through, then add thinly sliced cucumber, combine with the courgette and a few fresh basil leaves and serve with BBQ or fresh buffalo mozzarella!

75 Years Later, We’re Still in This Together

Global events of 2020 have made us think about many things from a very different perspective, with many industries being compelled to innovate through difficult times. We have looked back on the long history of growing your own and have found many similarities to historical events. Our Managing Director, David Robinson, had this to say:

Although the future impact of global events in 2020 is not yet known, we are all just starting to realise that it might profoundly affect all of our lives. Was the demand for seeds driven by concerns about food availability; worries about going out to shops; or was it just something to do during lockdown? Whatever the motivation, our challenge was to try and meet the demand. This challenge became even greater when a number of our highly experienced staff had to self-isolate and the need for ‘social distancing’ in the warehouse meant that we had to do more work, with fewer people.

This isn’t the first time the company has experienced a period of increased demand at the same time as a reduction in staff.  With the 75th anniversary of VE day approaching, several of our customers have reminded us of the times when the British public were asked to ‘Dig for Victory’. Whilst, of course, there are parallels, it would not be right to draw them too closely.

During both World wars, the supply of seeds for people to grow their own vegetables was seen as a vital part of the war effort. Throughout 1915 it became increasingly clear how important the seed industry was, as the requirement for vegetable seeds increased. On 30th December 1915, the seed-growing industry was designated on the list of “reserved occupations vital to the war effort”. Indeed, some staff were disqualified from National Service because the Board of Agriculture considered “the services they are rendering to the country by remaining at work cannot be dispensed with”. Demand for seeds was such that the non-enlisted staff weren’t able to despatch orders fast enough and volunteers were asked to work all through the night (with windows painted out and lights shaded to hide from Zeppelin airship raids).

The adversity led to a delay in processing orders. In February 1917, many prominent seed companies state having thousands of outstanding orders which took almost 2 weeks to despatch. This grew exponentially over the next year. With some orders taking up to a month to dispatch. This resulted in a high number of complaints about delays in receiving orders. With many companies receiving hundreds of letters a day. With modern technology, today’s comparison means that we now receive thousands of emails daily!

Impressively, despite the inevitable disappointment at having to wait for seed deliveries, the vast majority of our customers have been remarkably understanding and polite throughout… Gardeners really are a nice bunch of people!

Throughout WWII the Ministry of Agriculture promoted a ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign with everyone being encouraged to grow their own food to supplement their diet during a time of harsh rationing. Open spaces everywhere, from domestic gardens to public parks – even the lawns outside the Tower of London, were turned into vegetable patches.

With food imports reduced as a result of the U boat blockade, the Dig for Victory campaign was essential to keep the country fed, throughout the war and indeed afterward.

The ordering of seed potatoes and vegetable seeds was started earlier than usual in anticipation of potential shortages and increased prices as the War progressed. Seed packing was also carried out early in preparation for potential labour shortages.

Once the War was over, life didn’t return to normal. The country was bankrupt, and unable to resume food imports at pre-war levels so rationing continued long after the war only finally ending in 1954. Bread rationing in fact only started in 1946, after the war. In many ways, food supply was worse on the home front after the war was won, so for many the need to continue growing food at home was a necessity.

During the global events of 2020, it has become increasingly clear that we are living through unprecedented times which will be discussed for many years to come. It’s hard to know when or how it will end and whilst there are parallels between current circumstances and wartime, there are also many differences. Staff at risk have been asked to work from home or take time off rather than being sent off to fight a war!

Requirements for seeds grew steadily through both World Wars. This current circumstance has seen our sales grow rapidly over just a period of weeks. Like many prominent seed companies during both wars we are coping with reduced staff numbers which, like then, has led to order delays and increases in customer communications. The ease of sending a quick email has led to a much greater increase in customer enquiries.

The longer-term implications are yet to be known. The second world war and the slow recovery afterwards created a generation of vegetable growers. Over the years, busier lifestyles; the ease of shopping; the year round availability of fruit and vegetables from all around the world and instantly available fast food at the touch of a keypad have created a generation who are largely detached from the origins of their food. We have seen many new customers buying seeds from us for the very first time. Hopefully, it proves to be more than just wishful thinking that one small silver lining from our current problems will be the creation of a new generation of gardeners who grow and enjoy their own food and pass their new found skills onto the next generation.

The 75th Anniversary of Digging for Victory – ‘Fighting on the Homefront’

“It is the bounden duty of those who have the smallest space to cultivate, to do so intensively, that the brave may be fed and that the lifeline of the Atlantic be not unduly strained”

To mark the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, Matthew Biggs looks into the origins and success of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign set up during WWII by the British Ministry of Agriculture.

At 11.15 on Sunday 3rd September 1939, British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain announced that Britain was at war with Germany. With European ports closed, Britain’s supplies now had to come from across the Atlantic. But within hours, the Battle of the Atlantic also began, with the intention of starving Britain into submission. In 1938, 55 million tons of food were imported by shipping and 90% of all onions from Europe – there was a vast chasm to fill. Now there was a war to be waged on the Home Front; the fight to feed the nation. On 12th September 1939 a ‘leader’ in the London Evening Standard, by young journalist, Michael Foot, concluded with the phrase ‘Dig For Victory’. It rapidly became a rallying cry for all.

There was an urgent need to educate the public and encourage them to ‘get gardening’. The Royal Horticultural Society began lectures and demonstrations, a plethora of pamphlets, books and booklets were produced, Mr Middleton broadcast gardening advice on BBC radio at 2.00pm on Sunday afternoons and Lord Dedham, from the Ministry of Agriculture, announced the intention to create half a million allotments, raising the number to 1,330,000.

All available land was to be used to feed the nation; stately home lawns, railway sidings, sports field’s, the moat at the Tower of London, lawns in front of the Albert Memorial, even a bomb crater in the grounds of Westminster Cathedral where all turned over to vegetables. Everyone was encouraged to grow brassicas to replace vitamin rich citrus and bananas and to make their own compost heaps; the introduction of National Growmore in 1942 increased productivity in poorer conditions. They also began to wage war against another arch enemy – pests.

One vital crop was onions. In 1943, the Horticultural Committee of the Red Cross Agricultural Fund introduced a scheme to increase production by forming onion clubs of 12-20 members, who should aim to cultivate ¼ acre between them, to be sold to the NAAFI or Admiralty contractors, with the proceeds going to the Red Cross. If every allotment holder in the country gave 7lbs, 5 000 tons of onions would be produced.

Despite the pressures, an American Professor who visited England, in 1942 was astounded by the health of the people and at the end of the war, the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign deemed a success.

Growing your own is still the only way to capture the flavour, freshness and natural goodness that kept Britain fighting fit until VE day. Let’s celebrate ‘Dig for Victory’ once again.

Growing your own fruit and veg has many benefits – from saving money, reducing food waste and your environmental impact, to improving your physical and mental health through gentle outdoor exercise.

Matthew trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has been a professional gardener for over forty years and is a regular panelist on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time. He has guested on numerous TV and Radio programs and has written books on a range of horticultural subjects from houseplants to vegetables. He also writes for several magazines including the RHS magazine – The Garden, BBC Gardeners’ World and Gardens Illustrated.

Matthew has lectured at the cookery school of Michelin Starred Chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, was Course Director of the Plants and Plantsmanship course at the English Gardening School and leads gardening tours worldwide. He grows a wide range of plants at home and is fascinated by plants and their stories.