Category: Newsletter

Dobies newsletter header August 2019

August Newsletter

Gardening is all about planning and August is when we truly get to reap what we sow.

After all the effort put into the garden earlier in the year, now is when we gather cut flowers for the house and enjoy feasts of homegrown fruit, veg and herbs. During August we get to sit out and enjoy what we have created – it makes those blisters all worthwhile!

August is a time of plenty and when it comes to tomatoes, beans, peppers, chillies, cucumbers and of course courgettes, it is often a time of glut. So, wash out those preserving pans and Kilner jars and start to pickle! Preserving food was once essential if you were to survive the winter months when fresh food was scarce. That pressure no longer exists but many of us still prefer to make our own preserves rather than buying ones stuffed with additives.

The phenomenal rise in the popularity of gin means that many of us will be making our own this month. By which I mean buying bottles of plain dry gin (at hopefully discounted prices!) and jazzing it up with the addition of garden produce. Cucumber gin is a great favourite and so very simple.

Cucumber Gin

  • Peel a couple of cucumbers, slice them in half horizontally and scoop out the seeds
  • Roughly chop the cucumber and pop it in a Kilner jar with the gin
  • After a week spent lurking in a cool dark cupboard your gin is ready for bottling

Oh, and don’t through away the cucumber once you’ve strained it off – freeze it in a bag and plop a couple of chunks into your gin, in place of ice cubes. Delicious.

Jobs to Do

No heavy-duty jobs this month, just some gentle pottering:

  • Pruning your wisteria in August will not only tidy it up but will also divert energy away from producing tendrils and into producing flower buds for next year
  • Order bedding plants to brighten your autumn/winter garden
  • Prune any rambling roses that have finished flowering
  • Keep an eye on the level of water in your pond and top it up when necessary. This will also help to oxygenate the water
  • Water, feed and deadhead. Water, feed and deadhead. And keep repeating
  • Some hardy annuals can be sown now, direct in their flowering positions meaning early flowers next spring/summer
  • Salad leaves can be sown this month – in fact, keep sowing and you’ll be eating homegrown salad all year round

2019 Bulb Catalogue

Our 2019 Bulb Catalogue will be available latest this month! Featuring autumn and spring-flowering bulbs, the catalogue also includes winter bedding, perennials, fruit and veg. Plus some fantastic offers of course!

Dobies Bulb Catalogue 2019

Our buyers have travelled to Holland to hand-select our exciting new bulb range for 2019 – many of which feature in our fantastic £5 Bulb Offer!

Dobies autumn bulb £5 offer 2019

Pick & Mix Bulbs – £5 Per Pack 

Create your own creative colour themes with bulbs for just £5 per pack when you buy any 6 or more bulbs packs from the offer selection. Includes new varieties such as Narcissus Polar Ice, Tulip Spring Green, Iris Germanica, Allium Pink Jewel and more! Browse and buy online.

Competition time!

Don’t miss our fantastic competition to win a trip for 2 to see the Dutch bulb fields in Keukenhof! See page 2 of our catalogue for details.

Catalogue delivery

If you’ve bought bulbs from us in the past, then a catalogue will be sent to you automatically. Otherwise please take a look at the online version or order your free print copy online.

Sweet Peas

August means sweet peas, both in the garden adorning fences and obelisks and in the home, filling vases, jugs and jars. A member of the Leguminosae family, the sweet pea is indeed a pea. The Greek name is Lathyrus odoratus meaning literally fragrant pea. Yet whereas peas are of course edible the sweet pea is poisonous and can cause convulsions, paralysis of the legs and unconsciousness.

Dobies sweet pea flowers and seeds

Discovered in Sicily in the 1690s by a Franciscan monk, Brother Franciscus Cupani, the original sweet pea was a small fairly insignificant flower but with a beautiful strong perfume. Keen to share his find, Brother Cupani sent seeds to various breeders across the world. Some reached Dr Robert Uvedale in the UK who went on to develop several different forms including the well-known Cupani and Painted Lady.

Over the years, the number of species increased with perhaps one of the most famous being the Spencer type, which was a mutation discovered naturally growing in the gardens of the Earl of Spencer.

The popularity of sweet peas continued to grow and by the early 20th century reached almost fever pitch with shows being dedicated to this single cultivar and large sums of money being won as prizes.

Today there are approximately 150 species of sweet pea in a wide spectrum of colour, some with amazing perfume, some with large flowers and some with long straight stems designed specifically for cutting. There is even a sweet pee that will happily cascade down from hanging baskets.

Sweet peas are easy to grow and, providing the soil is rich, will need little maintenance. During dry spells water regularly and feed fortnightly from mid-summer onwards as this will help them to flower for longer.

The key thing with sweet peas is to stop them from forming seed pods and the best way to do this is to keep picking the blooms! Remove any seed pods that you miss and pick the blooms every other day. This way your plants will just keep on flowering and your house will smell absolutely gorgeous!

From Plot to Pot

I still remember the first time I ate sweetcorn straight from the garden. Super sweet and juicy, having had no time for the sugars to turn into starch, it was like nothing I’d ever bought from the market. Thankfully, modern super sweet varieties, such as Sweetie Pie F1 and Vanilla Sweet, have been developed to retain their sweetness for longer, but why wait?

Planted in blocks, rather than rows, sweetcorn is a fairly space-efficient crop. When the tassels have gone brown and a kernel pierced with a fingernail produces a creamy liquid, then the time has come to harvest and enjoy your sweetcorn.

Dobies sweetcorn

The simplest, and possibly the best way to enjoy your homegrown sweetcorn is to place the cobs directly on the BBQ, having first soaked them in water for a few minutes. The kernels inside will gently steam and when ready you can peel back the husks (careful you don’t burn your fingers!) and tuck in, using them as a handle.

Other methods of cooking will require you to remove the husks first and some will ask that you also cut the kernels off the cob or to cut the cob in half. Any leftover cobs will be gratefully finished off by yours or your neighbour’s chickens!

Sweetcorn can be boiled, steamed, roasted, braised or grilled. Just remember to be generous with the butter.

Sweetcorn’s friends are:

Butter – lots          Chilli                    Chilli sauce          Lemon                  Lime

Tomato                   Onion                  Courgette             Runner beans      French beans

Celery                     Peppers               Mushrooms         Basil                      Parsley

Thyme                    Chives                  Bacon                    Ham                     Chicken

Seeds to Sow in August

Sow under cover:

  • Spring cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Pak Choi
  • Turnips
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Coriander

Sow outside:

  • Salad leaves
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Rocket
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Pak Choi

Many a vegetable comes into its own at this time of year when the weather can be a little cooler. If you plan carefully, the veg you sow this month will grow into delicious autumn dinner ingredients for the family. Buy your seeds to sow in August here.

Plants of the Month

Our Plants of the Month for August are these three cracking cruciferous vegetables, which are available in packs of value plugs from £6.99-£8.99!

Cauliflower Plants – Sapporo

Plant Sapporo in autumn for a late spring crop and look forward to a harvest of tasty cauliflower in April/May. This variety is extremely productive with excellent disease resistance. Its leaves will wrap around the cauliflower to protect it from sunlight in the summer and frost in the winter, keeping the cauliflower with a uniform pure white colour.

Cabbage Plants – F1 Winterjewel
Who says you can’t keep growing in your garden during winter?

Winterjewel displays exceptional winter hardiness and resistance to bolting, so you can look forward to delicious spring greens and compact 8oz heads. Lovely veg to grow during the winter and harvest in the spring.

Broccoli Plants - F1 Stromboli

Broccoli Plants – F1 Stromboli

There’s nothing more satisfying than serving up a plate of winter wellness from your own garden. Stromboli is extremely productive broccoli, so you can look forward to long, tasty florets harvested March-April next year.

Order your plugs today and you’ll be harvesting creamy cauliflowers, brilliant broccoli and sensational spring greens next March-May!

Dobies July 2019 newsletter

July Newsletter

Welcome to our July Newsletter

Well, what happened to flaming June? Despite the past few days, it’s been a dreadful June for many of us although it did make a bit more effort towards the end. Not just wet but also chilly and our poor plants have been sitting with damp cold bottoms and no motivation to grow. The one positive being that we haven’t needed to spend much time watering. We can only hope for better things in July, so keep those fingers and toes tightly crossed.

July is when we (hopefully) get to eat the edibles that we’ve grown and to fill our vases with colourful blooms. True satisfaction and pleasure can be gained from a delicious meal of homegrown fruit and veg eaten outside in a well looked after garden with a vase of sweet smelling, freshly picked annuals adorning the table.

Jobs for July

  • Give sweetcorn a gentle shake to help spread the pollen
  • Remove duckweed 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
  • 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!
  • Carefully lift and then dry and store your garlic. If you fancy plaiting them, leave the stalks until they are dry but not brittle
  • Sorry, but early this month you will need to stop harvesting rhubarb. Apply a layer of mulch or compost and leave the crowns to recover ready for next year

Print off this month's garden job list

Keep Sowing!

As you harvest your new potatoes, peas, garlic and beans you will be creating space for new crops. Seeds to sow in July include:

Dobies Swiss Chard seeds

From Plot to Plate

Babies are apparently left under gooseberry bushes, so watch out for one when you go to pick your crop this month. Also remember to wear gloves, as they can be pretty spikey – the gooseberry plants, not the babies.

Low maintenance and long-lived, it is strange that gooseberries aren’t more popular. They are hardy, fairly disease resistant and will grow happily in any soil. And of course, the real joy is gained from the gorgeously sweet/sour fruits that you will be picking and eating this month. Providing that the blackbirds don’t get there first!

Dobies gooseberry plant bush Hinnonmaki Green

To keep your gooseberry plants happy, plant them in a sunny, well-drained spot. They will welcome a feed in spring and an application of mulch. Apart from that, they will just need a drink in dry weather, a tidy up in late July/early August and a prune when dormant.

Traditional gooseberry plants were fairly sprawling and space hungry, which may account for their lapse in popularity, but modern varieties can be trained as standards or cordons. These space-saving growing methods mean that gooseberry plants can have a place in most gardens.

Gooseberry fool, gooseberry crumble and gooseberry pie are oldies but goodies. However, gooseberries can also be enjoyed in many other ways. Focaccia bread studded with gooseberries prior to baking makes a wonderful sweetish partner to strong cheese. The sweet red desert varieties are lovely eaten raw, as you would grapes.

The flavours of elderflower and gooseberry work amazingly well together. So, when you are cooking with gooseberries, splash some of that fabulous homemade elderflower cordial in and it will make the dish even tastier.

Gooseberries work well with:

Lemon             Blueberry        Cream             Yoghurt           Cinnamon        Ginger

Saffron            Honey              Mackerel         Almonds          Hazelnuts        Elderflower

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!

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

Dobies F1 Summerlast tomato plants

Offer of the Month

F1 Summerlast: 3 x 2-litre potted plants for £15!
Or 1 x 2-litre potted plant for £7.99

A new blight-resistant tomato that everyone can grow!

  • Perfectly sized for patios
  • Crops throughout the summer and into autumn
  • Produces a good crop of large cherry-sized fruit
  • Sweet fruits – great to snack on or for salads
  • Stay green trait, so their leaves won’t turn yellow

Buy your F1 Summerlast plants while stocks last!

Wonderful Worms

Understandably, there is a great interest in bees and other insects right now, with huge concern about the drastic reduction in insect life. Who remembers having to regularly clear the car windscreen of splattered insects? An unpleasant task that is now rarely (if ever) required.

Whilst doing what we can to encourage and help insects in our gardens, let’s not forget the other wildlife. Birds, frogs, toads and hedgehogs are all the gardener’s friend, as is the much over-looked worm.

earthworm on soil

There are several thousand different kinds of worm but those we see most often in our gardens are segmented earthworms. The richer your soil is in organic matter, the more worms you will have and they will tunnel hard, mixing and improving the soil whilst munching on live and decaying vegetation and turning it into hummus.

Earthworm Facts:

  • There are many different species of earthworms and they range in size from 10mm to 3m!
  • Worms create their tunnels by taking some of the soil into their bodies, pushing  through and then secreting that soil as worm casts on the surface
  • To help them move easily through their soil tunnels, worms secrete a slime and this slime contains and releases useful nitrogen
  • Being an underground creature, worms like the dark. And although they don’t have eyes, worms are sensitive to light – if they cannot escape it, bright light will paralyse them
  • If their skin dries out, worms will die, so they prefer damp soil. However, if the soil becomes waterlogged worms will drown. This is why, when it rains heavily, they push up to the surface. This is also why birds peck and stamp at the soil surface, to simulate rain – the worms pop up and are promptly eaten!
  • Worms’ constant tunnelling not only mixes the soil but also increases the amount of air and water in the soil, thus improving it
  • Most earthworms in our gardens live for 2 to 4 years but, under controlled conditions, they can live as long as 8 years
  • Earthworms exist on every continent apart from Antarctica

How About a Wormery?

If you are keen to compost your kitchen waste, how about investing in a wormery? They are environmentally friendly and a great way to produce your own fertiliser and liquid feed. For your wormery, you’ll need brandling or red worms (not earthworms). These little chaps are brilliant at quickly turning green matter into compost and so are perfect for a worm city.

June Newsletter

“A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.”

~James Dent

After a seemingly endless winter and disappointingly cold spring, summer has finally arrived! Cold nights and cheeky late frosts have ended, and we can throw open doors and windows, bringing the outside in. Hopefully.

Now is the time to plant out summer bedding, to keep lawns looking tidy and to deadhead bedding and perennial plants, thus keeping them flowering. And the really good news is that, if you haven’t done so already, you can now cut back those straggly and yellowing daffodil leaves without doing any harm to next year’s display!


Sedum Atlantis – Crowned by Chelsea

We are delighted to announce that Sedum Atlantis has been crowned as the RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year 2019 Winner!

David and Suttons' award-winning Sedum Atlantis at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Sedum Atlantis is a plant for our times…drought tolerant, suitable for small spaces and attractive to bees. Its striking foliage forms rosettes of serrated green leaves with thick, creamy margins and tips that turn a pink blush in the autumn. The pink-tinged flower buds open to bee magnet yellow flowers.

The new leaves emerge in a beautiful creamy white, before developing into an attractive green with striking white borders and gradually forming a half metre wide cushion of drought-resistant leaves. To top it off, this plant then covers itself with a foam of bee and butterfly magnet yellow flowers from July through to September. Sedum Atlantis is a dramatic and versatile garden plant.

Versatile and happy in a hanging basket, window box, pot, rockery or border, this winning plant is available to order now.


dobies gardening jobs to do for april
  • 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
  • I know, I know, we haven’t had summer yet however it really is time to order your Dobies Autumn and Winter Veg Plants


What To Sow Now

Seeds to sow June 2019 Dobies Newsletter










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:


The first beetroot will be ready to harvest this month. When small and young the globes are so much tastier than the big old woody ones that are only good for pickling.

Dating back to the Romans, beetroot has contributed much to culinary history, not least of which is the fact that it brought us sugar. Today we tend to link beetroot to pink-stained fingers and an earthy flavour, but it can also help us to run faster! Back in 2016, Exeter University conducted research which proved that drinking a glass of beetroot juice before running 20 metres improved an athlete’s time by 2 per cent! Just hope they didn’t spill any on their nice clean running vests.

Only eating beetroot in its pickled form is almost a crime, as it’s delicious flavour can be enjoyed in so many other ways:

  • Grate raw beetroot and combine it with grated raw carrot and top with a citrus dressing for a zingy salad
  • Peel, brush with olive oil and roast either whole or in chunks to serve with puy lentils and halloumi for a gutsy dish
  • Boil and mix with chocolate, flour, eggs, sugar, etc to make a deliciously moist chocolate cake
  • Even the leaves are tasty when picked small and young, and added to a mixed leaf salad

Beetroot works well with:

Carrot                   Apple                    Ginger                  Chocolate                  Olive oil

Lentils                   Feta                       Halloumi               Walnut                      Yoghurt


Hoe, Hoe, Hoe

On a recent edition of Radio 4’s Gardener’s Question Time, the panel was asked which of their garden tools they would save from a shed fire. The hoe came out a clear winner which really is no surprise. A sharp hoe, wielded with care, can rapidly smarten up any vegetable garden whilst saving knees and backs. Choose a dry, sunny day and leave the weed casualties to dry out before raking them up and adding them to the compost heap.


Greenhouse Growing

At this time of year your greenhouse will live up to its “hot house” name and doors and windows need to be kept open to encourage whatever airflow exists. Shade can be created by applying white shade paint direct to the glass (it easily washes off come autumn) or by fixing newspaper, fleece or similar to the glass with clips. If any plants do show signs of heat stress, then drape some fleece over them until they recover.

Hosing down the greenhouse path will help to raise humidity levels.

The temptation is to cram in as many heat-loving veggie plants as possible but remember, tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, chillies, etc. all need room to breathe and to expand, so no touching!

Maintain a consistent watering and feeding regime, taking into account that some plants will need more than others. And always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding dilution.


Offer of the Month

To celebrate another wonderful year at the Chelsea Flower show, we are delighted to offer our Chelsea Favourites Collection at a very special price.

Add a touch of Chelsea to your outside space with our selection of classic perennials inspired by the show. This selection of 6 perennial varieties (3 of each) will bring colour and height to your borders and containers, not only this year but next year as well.

Varieties include Coreopsis Sunkiss, Rudbeckia Goldsturm, Geum Mrs Bradshaw, Lupin Russell Hybrid, Verbena Bonariensis and Heuchera Palace Purple, which are all familiar sights in the gardens of Chelsea, making them key to creating a look inspired by the show.

Chelsea Favourites Collection | WAS £51 – NOW £36!

dobies may newsletter national gardening week

May Newsletter

A recent “what’s your favourite month” poll amongst a few colleagues confirmed May as the clear winner. Increased sunshine, trees greening up, flowers blooming, birds singing, bees buzzing, etc were all given as reasons. Hedgerows will be covered in clouds of snowy hawthorn and elderflower blossom meaning that now is the time for making elderflower cordial and champagne. Perfect for those long sunny afternoons of the now not too distant summer.

As if all that isn’t enough, we’re currently in the grip of National Gardening Week! Run annually by the RHS, this year’s theme is ‘Edible Britain’, and we’re celebrating with some fantastic offers on veg, flowers, equipment and more. There’s never been a better time to roll your sleeves up and get growing, and if you’re already a seasoned grower you can mark the event with savings on everything from grafted veg to fabulous foliage!

The “hungry gap” has now ended and May sees food once again being available, fresh from the garden. Asparagus, broad beans, radish, salad leaves and herbs will all be ready for harvest. These goodies will create space for runner beans, cauliflowers, peas, spinach, etc.

And when you need a rest from all that gardening, you can reach for the new 92-page bumper Dobies Summer Catalogue 2019, offering:

  • New and exclusive perennial flower plants
  • A taste of the Med on your summer patio
  • Super-sized flower plants for as little as £5 a plant
  • Summer bedding, including Pick & Mix
  • Grafted potted veg plants
  • Windowsill veg
  • Kitchen herbs and growing ideas
  • Fruit trees and plants
  • Plus loads more, including an Outdoor Living 30-page pull-out special

Order a free copy here or browse & buy directly from our new-look online catalogue.

National Gardening Week Offers

It’s officially National Gardening Week, and we’ll be celebrating over the next four 

days with some fantastic special offers. You’ll find deals on everything from flower plants to equipment, which provide the inspiration to get you back in the garden this May.

Tomato Success Kit 3 FREE Plants – These planter/frames are a great way of maximising your tomato harvest, enabling you to grow up to four plants for every metre – perfect for gardens or greenhouses with little space. With a built-in support frame and a 2 litre water reservoir, watering and training is simple and gives your plants the best possible chance to produce lots of tasty fruit!

18 Fabulous Foliage plants for £60 – beautiful foliage plants are right on trend because they’re great for adding texture to your borders and filling in those pesky gaps in your displays. This collection will include some of our popular foliage varieties, mixing shapes, colours and varieties for that standout look. 

dobies gardening jobs to do for april
  • Many veg seeds can be sown direct, with supports having been put in place first for climbing varieties such as beans
  • Veg plants raised indoors can be gradually hardened off, ready for planting out.
  • Keep earthing up those potatoes. As the shoots show just gently hoe some soil over them to act as a dark blanket, protecting the tubers from frost.
  • Remember that your plants need bees and try to include as many pollinating plants as possible
  • Weed, weed, weed. The weed again! Getting on top of the weeds now will be a great help come summer.
  • Vine weevil is your major enemy this month so consider using Nemasys Vine Weevil Killer or prepare to spend your evenings outside, picking them off by hand.
  • Onions and garlic planted last autumn will start to swell now so keep them weed free and well-watered
  • Deadhead tulips and give both them and any daffodils a feed.
  • New lawns can be sown or turfed this month but do remember to frequently water.
  • Those tender plants that you’ve kept under glass over-winter can now be hardened off and then moved outside but do take it slowly! Citrus trees, olives, fuchsias, etc will all need to be gradually acclimatised and toughened up.
  • Once they’ve finished flowering prune your spring flowering shrubs, such as Forsythia, Ribes and Spiraea. This will help maintain a nice shape and will encourage flowering for next year.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dobies-header-plot.jpg

Many of us like the idea of eating seasonally but I wonder how many actually do. Of course, if you grow your own fruit and veg then you will be eating what you grow but chances are you still buy some extras. Yet the one food that many people only tend to eat when it is in season is asparagus. And some, like me, gorge on it!

Asparagus tips make a healthy alternative to toasted soldiers for dipping in soft boiled eggs and poached eggs but are also delicious roasted. Simply snap off the tough end of the stalk and place the tip on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and chopped thyme or mint. Then roast in a hot oven for about 5 minutes until lightly charred. Gorgeous.

Asparagus and wild garlic are a good match and make a fine risotto. Or simply eat your asparagus spears raw in a green salad dressed with olive oil, lemon or orange zest and juice and chilli.

Instead of discarding the tough bottom end of the spear use them to make a rich stock. Perfect for that asparagus and wild garlic or pea risotto and for soup.

If there is one negative about asparagus it is the resulting smelly urine. So why does asparagus make some people’s pee smelly but not others. Such important information clearly needs to be shared widely so, here it is, courtesy of Modern Farmer.

“Scientific study has confirmed why some individuals don’t notice the uniquely pungent urine experienced by others after eating asparagus: The sulfurous compounds in asparagus pee are highly correlated with a condition called “specific anosmia,” the genetic inability to smell certain odors. In an infamous blind smell test, 328 individuals were subjected to the odor of a man’s urine after he had eaten asparagus. The majority of those who had experienced asparagus pee themselves were able to correctly identify the substance, while those that claimed their urine did not smell strangely after consuming asparagus were not.”

British asparagus is only around for a few weeks as it needs to be left to build its reserves ready for next year’s crop. So, enjoy it whilst it’s available. And don’t worry about your pee.

Asparagus works well with:

Lemon             Mint                Peas                 New Potatoes           Butter

Eggs                 Bacon          Mushrooms     Parmesan            Pine Nuts

Broad beans    Garlic              Chorizo                 Pesto                 White wine

Super Petunias

Petunias of old gave a wonderful splash of colour to the garden but suffered with summer rain and looked less than wonderful when they succumbed to mildew. But things have moved on and new to 2019 we have “Super Petunias”, a new generation of petunia/calibrachoa hybrids to give stunning weather-resistant displays throughout the summer.

An intergeneric hybrid between petunias and calibrachoas, Dobies Super Petunias combine the best features of both, with a superb compact-medium mounded habit and large flowers, making them the ideal choice for pots and patio containers. The flowers are textured and strong, and the large, weather-resistant plants recover from rain much faster than standard petunias. Being non-sticky, another benefit is that they are more pleasant to deadhead than normal petunias!

Available in 5 individual colours or as a collection, these plants will look fabulous as a single colour in a container or as a striking colour combination in a pot or in the garden. Click here to view our full range of Super Petunias.

Photo Competition

Customers often send in photos of the fabulous summer displays they have created with Dobies plants and so we thought we’d make a competition of it. For a chance to win £100 worth of Dobies vouchers simply take a photo of your display and enter it into one of the following categories:

  • Floriferous Blooms. In this category, we’re looking for the most colourful, vibrant flowers packed with beautiful blooms
  • Unusual & Quirky. We all love to see something a little bit different so please share, share, share.
  • Clever use of space. Here we’d love to see ways in which you make the best use of those tricky outside spaces.

Click here for more details and terms & conditions.

dobies april newsletter header

April Newsletter

Spring is finally here. The time for us to really start putting plans into action so that the wonderful summer garden we hold in our heads can become a reality. The clocks have sprung forward, the days are lengthening, and the soil is warming.

By now most of us will have lined our windowsills with trays full of seedlings. But if you haven’t started sowing yet then it’s not too late. Better to start late than too early and seeds sown now will quickly catch up. Read below for guidance on sowing hardy annuals direct in your garden.

The big news from Dobies this month is the launch of our 2019 Summer Garden Planner catalogue. This bumper edition is four catalogues in one and includes everything you need to make your 2019 garden/allotment both beautiful and bountiful. Rob Smith’s Heritage Veg range includes some fantastic varieties to choose from, including the Beetroot Rouge Crapaudine that caused such a stir last year on MasterChef. In addition to new and old veg plant varieties the catalogue has a fabulous range of flower plants, fruit and garden equipment. Click here to order your catalogue!

Even a bumper catalogue cannot hold our full range, for example, online you will find we offer over 900 shrubs together with many more items that we simply couldn’t squeeze into the catalogue. Happy shopping!

dobies gardening jobs to do for april
  • Sweet peas can be sown direct this month. No garden should be without some of these perfumed beauties.
  • Many seeds can be sown direct this month, but first check that your soil has warmed up. Sowing dates shown on seed packets are for guidance only and need to be adapted to local weather conditions.
  • If your sage is looking straggly then rejuvenate it by cutting to just above ground level. This will encourage fresh new shoots that will grow into a neater looking plant.
  • Late frost will kill off fruit blossom so keep some fleece handy. But do remember to remove it to allow pollinating insects access.
  • This is the last month for ordering bare root fruit trees so if you want to benefit from our “Buy a single tree for £22, add a 2nd for just £11” offer then you’d better be quick
  • Seedlings in the greenhouse may struggle on sunny days so give them some shading. Carefully laying newspaper on them will do the trick.
  • Put supports in place for peas and beans, ready for planting out.
  • Plug plants potted on now and kept in the greenhouse will put on a glorious display this summer. Dobies’ colour themed collections are a perfect, and easy, way to fill your tubs and hanging baskets with colour.

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Most gardeners are aware of the term “the hungry gap” and many try to avoid it each year but somehow end up getting caught out. The hungry gap is that period in early spring when the veg patch is almost devoid of anything to harvest. By April many stored and over-wintered cops are running low yet it’s still far too early for summer crops.

Brassicas are one of the few veggies holding their own in the April garden. Amongst brassicas purple sprouting broccoli (PSB) is king, the asparagus of early spring. Even the pickiest of children can be persuaded to eat PSB, especially when it’s been grilled and dipped in a lovely soft-boiled or poached egg.

Only harvest as much PSB as you wish to eat although it does store well in a paper bag, popped in the fridge. When cooking you need to do it fast as that will keep the lush purple colour. So, grill, stir-fry, lightly steam, roast or griddle but please, never over boil!

Best mates to PSB include:

Garlic                     Tomatoes            Chillies                  Pasta                     Bacon                    Pancetta

Lemon                  Cheese                 Eggs                       Butter                   Anchovies           Capers

Walnuts               Almonds              Crab                       Mustard               Ginger                  Parsley

Sowing Hardy Annuals

Hardy annuals are easy to grow and to look after, are great in tubs, baskets or sown direct and will flower within just a few weeks. What’s not to like?

Annual weeds starting to appear is a good indication that conditions are right to sow your Dobies hardy annual seeds. This is usually from the end of April to mid-May but does of course depend on where you live and on what sort of spring we’re having, the timings given on seed packets are for guidance only. The soil needs to be warm enough to allow and encourage the seeds to germinate and cold frosty nights need to be a thing of the past. If you are happy to sit out in the evening with a cup of tea or glass of wine, then the chances are that the time for sowing hardy annuals has arrived.

Pick an open sunny site and give it a good hoe to remove any weeds. Tread to firm the soil and rake it over so the surface is a fine crumb. Hardy annuals do best on poor soil so resist the temptation to add fertiliser.

If you are going to sow several varieties of hardy annuals, then it’s a good idea to mark out their designated areas using sand or grit. Create drifts of semi-circles or just lovely sweeping curves. Using a hoe create shallow drifts, going in different directions within each marked area. This means that although you will in effect be growing in rows the blooms will not look at all regimented. Rather than creating drills you could just scatter the seed, but this will make both weeding and thinning that much harder. With drills you know that anything growing outside of the row is a weed and needs removing.

The depth of the drill depends on the size of the seed and advice is probably given on the seed packet. As a rule, the drill needs to be twice the depth of the seed. If the soil is dry, then water before sowing.

Sow the seed thinly and then carefully rake the soil back over the drill. Now wait for the seedlings to appear. Once they have formed their first set of true leaves thin them out to about 1 seed every 4cm, then as they grow thin them to a spacing of 9cm to 14cm. For exact spacing for each variety refer to the seed packet.

Within just a few weeks you’ll be enjoying a blaze of colour as will visiting bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. And all for just a few pounds spent on Dobies seeds and a few hours of enjoyable gardening. Marvellous!

Saved from Extinction – Tomato “Sutton”

Managed by the wonderful charity Garden Organic, the Heritage Seed Library (HSL) exists to conserve vegetable varieties that are not widely available and currently holds about 800 varieties. These rare varieties are maintained by HSL for future generations to enjoy.

tomato sutton dobies newsletter

Working closely with the HSL Dobies provide seed on rare varieties each year and last year we produced enough Tomato Sutton seed to now be able to offer a limited number of plants to our customers. For the full, interesting story visit

Tomato Sutton produces fruits that are ivory to pale yellow in colour and fresh and fruity in taste. A beefsteak type, Tomato Sutton is best grown in the greenhouse as a cordon. The plants are very productive, bearing slightly flattened fruits, perfect for salads and sandwiches.

Primrose Day – 19th April

This year, Good Friday is also Primrose Day, a useful/useless fact to drop into the village quiz. Once recognised nationally, the 19th April is now just another date on the calendar that bears little or no significance, unless like this year it clashes with Easter.

The primrose is the prima rosa of the year and belongs to the primula family of which there are roughly 1,000 varieties. The one we see at this time of year, adorning banks, verges and hedgerows across the country is the common primrose. An insignificant name for a lovely little plant with its soft yellow flowers rising on hairy stems from tough leathery leaves.

primrose april dobies newsletter

The 19th April 1881 was the day on which Queen Victoria’s favourite prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, died. Queen Victoria sent a wreath of yellow primroses with a note referring to them being “his favourite flowers.”  Naturally it was assumed that she was referring to the primrose being Disraeli’s favourite flower, but it was later believed that she had in fact been referring to her beloved Prince Albert. Nonetheless Primrose Day was formed, and wreaths of primroses were placed on Disraeli’s monument for many years.

Not only does the common primrose have its own day it also has its own county! In 2002 the organisation Plantlife led a nationwide campaign to identify and designate a native wildflower to each county. The people of Devon voted for and elected the primrose and so it is of special significance to all of us here at Dobies. Being based in Paignton, Devon, we are lucky enough to have the lovely primrose as our county flower.

If you don’t already have primroses growing in your garden, then it’s too late for this year but perhaps make a note for next? Preferring cool semi-shaded areas of the garden these plants are ideal for woodland edges, banks and for growing under hedgerows. In a well-drained yet moist soil primroses will flower year on year and will readily self-seed and naturalise.

Why not surprise your friends and neighbours by wearing a primrose buttonhole in honour of Primrose Day? Queen Victoria would be amused.

“And all England, so they say,

Yearly blooms on Primrose Day.”

Henry Cuyler Bunner

Calling all Bee Keepers

Our sister company, National Bee Supplies, has just launched a new catalogue offering everything needed by both new and experienced bee keepers. The catalogue has a complete range of beekeeping equipment, including starter kits, replacement frames, clothing, feed and a wide range of bee friendly seeds and plants. National Bee Supplies is also proud to now offer sterilised wax foundation, free from all known pathogens and so protecting the hive and the bees.

For full details and to request a catalogue please visit National Bee Supplies.

Real Sunflower Lamps

Our team of horti experts travel the globe all year round and today, have made an exciting discovery in Germany which we’re thrilled to be sharing with the gardening nation here in the UK. It’s the finding of varieties of flowers that are so phosphorescent they give sufficient light to read by.

real sunflower lamps

Under proper conditions the flowers of the clematis glow like stars, while sunflowers, if correctly nurtured, make it quite possible to read a newspaper by their unaided light.

We can’t say too much at the moment, but it could be a combination of bio luminescent marine bacteria with a plant genus breeding programme to create varieties so phosphorescent that they appear to glow.

Click here to order your Sunflower Lamps today.

Plant of the Month

To welcome in Spring, April’s Plants of the Month give you a great excuse to get out into the garden and sunshine. For a limited period, we’re offering a range of fantastic 5 litre potted shrubs, with prices starting from just £12.99 each. That’s a 5 litre plant for the price of a 3 litre plant, which means your shrubs will be more mature when reaching your door. Stocks are limited so be quick as when they’re gone, they’re gone!

suttons april newsletter shrub offer

Click here to view our selection and order yours while stocks last.