Urban Jungle Blogs, News and Press Releases

Creating a woodland garden

04 June 2019 - Posted by Lily Butcher

Creating a woodland garden

Summer has finally arrived and we couldn’t be more excited to get out in our gardens during the warm weather. We have a wide selection of plants at Urban Jungle that are just perfect for creating an enchanting woodland retreat for your outdoor space. Whether it’s dry-shade or damp-shade, we’ve got you covered.

woodland garden

Once planted you'll be amazed at how many appreciative species of wildlife will move in, and you can encourage them with plenty of bird feeders, and a wildlife friendly water feature. It’s also a great way to get kids involved in the magic of gardening, and thinking about the environment.

Top Tips for adding that woodland touch...

  • Wooden benches in hidden shady areas will be a perfect place to sit and soak up nature, with the birds singing, the hum of insects, the rustle of leaves, earthy smells and the lush forest fronds, and most importantly to admire all of your handiwork!
  • Natural wood accents- whether it’s wooden borders, a log wall or a fire pit surrounded by log seating. 
  • Add bursts of colour like periwinkle blues and vibrant yellows to break up the sea of green.
  • Create a living wall, just like the one we have at UJ Norfolk, they’re perfect for small gardens and areas where space is limited, and for covering unsightly walls and buildings with a layer of nature. 
  • Most importantly - Let it grow wild - don't be too tidy!

living wall urban jungle

The living wall at Urban Jungle Norfolk. 

Plants for Damp, Shady Areas

Zantedeschia ‘White giant’

Zantedeschia ‘White giant’

Giant by name and giant by nature this impressive beauty will definitely make the perfect centrepiece for a bed. Zantedeschia is semi evergreen and will flower during summer producing funnel shaped white flowers, emerging on long stems out of speckled foliage. They like a sunny aspect and are fine with poor draining soil like clay as they prefer to be on the moist side. White giants can grow up to an impressive 7 feet tall.

Ligularia ‘Leopard plant’ 

Ligularia ‘leopard plant’
Lingularia dentata

This herbaceous perennial is the perfect choice to add a pop of colour to your beds with bright flowers that make the perfect contrast to its black stems. Ligularias like a sunny aspect but also are happy in the moist, shady undergrowth. They will show their vibrant flowers in the summer months, then cut them back in the winter and mulch around the base to keep in that much-needed moisture. 



Rheums (Chinese Rhubarb) make for a spectacular feature in shady beds with their large spiky-lobed leaves, and brilliant pink flowers during the growing season. Once mature, it will take up quite a bit of room and make a big impact. These hardy perennials require full sun or partial shade and like a fertile soil moist soil. So choose an area with plenty of room to let them flourish.

Schefflera rhododendrifolia 'umbrella plant'

Schefflera rhododendrifolia ‘umbrella plant’

What more could you ask for when creating shade than adding in an umbrella plant, and a himalayan native may not sound like a typical woodland garden feature but it’s actually perfect! They love company so will be happy amongst lots of shrubs and smaller trees which will help keep in humidity. Schefflera rhododendrifolia can thrive in a full sun or partial shade position with moist well drained soil. They will require a sheltered position to protect them from frosty winds in the winter.  In late summer through to autumn umbrella plants will produce white flowers and black fruit and can reach a maximum height of 10 metres! 

Plants for Dry, Shady Areas

Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilafee' (barrenwort)

Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilafee'

Perfect for ground covering and filling in empty patches with glossy, green leaves which change to a shade of red come spring with distinctive and unusually-shaped purple flowers. Although these evergreen perennials like moisture they will do well in most types of soil, including ones on the sandier side. 

Dryopteris affinis ‘Pinderi’ 

Dryopteris affinis 'Pinderi'

Another fern which makes a classic accompaniment to any shady bed is a Dryopteris affinis fern, also known as the golden barrel fern, native to Britain. They have eye-catching shiny green fronds with a thicker density than most making them quite robust. Best to start growing in damper shade but once established will happily grow in dry, shady positions. They like fertile and well-draining soil with plenty of mulch to get all the nutrients they desire from the soil.



These distinctive perennials are a great way to add leafy colour to beds and once growing will spread nicely to help ward off those pesky weeds. Hostas come in many different shades from icy blue to variegated green/ yellow types and have differing leaf shapes too. Although dry shade isn’t the ideal spot for them they will happily grow there just make sure they have well-draining soil and some sun. We have many different types of Hostas in stock at both Nurseries, so many in fact we couldn’t pick just one as they are all so incredible! 

If you have any questions at all or require any more information or assistance in creating your woodland garden, please dont hesitate to get in touch with the Urban Jungle team HERE.

View Comments 0 Comments
Share Post   

Ikigai - The Japanese, foolproof formula for happiness..

15 May 2019 - Posted by Lily Butcher

Finding your bliss with Ikigai - The Japanese, foolproof formula for happiness.
During the month of May here at Urban Jungle, we’re celebrating all thing Japanese in our Nurseries and Cafes. There’re so many elements of this incredible culture that we admire, with one of the most intriguing customs being ‘Ikigai’, simply translated as ‘finding your purpose in life’.

What is Ikigai?
Pronounced ‘ik-ee-guy’ and originating on the Japanese island of Okinawa, Ikigai is an ancient practice that promises to help you find happiness and in-turn, live longer.

Per-capita, more people live to be 100 years or older on Okinawa, than anywhere else in the world. This may be a coincidence, but to us, there’s definitely a connection between Ikigai and a happier, longer life. 
The premise of the practice is to find the perfect balance between your passions, your needs,
your talents and financial stability, to be truly blissful.

Japanese ikigai

Japanese Ikigai
The word derives from ‘iki’ meaning life and ‘kai’ meaning purpose, or the realisation of hopes and expectations. In a nutshell, Ikigai is all about finding your reason to wake up in the morning.
Can you imagine a whole island full of people who have lived over a century and don’t even have a word for retirement, let alone believe in it? Well it’s true! Instead they depend on their ‘Ikigai’ to keep them working as long as they're physically able.

okinawa ikigai
The island of Okinawa. Home to breathtaking beaches, limestone caves and mangrove forests. 
You can see why a peaceful life is attainable here.

How to find your Ikigai
Here at Urban Jungle, our Ikigai is obvious. Plants, plants and more wonderful plants! We use these to inspire others to create their own jungle at home, which we know is proven to help improve mental health and well-being, feeling relaxed and reducing anxiety and stress. Plants really do make people happy.

lily ikigai
Lily, finding her Ikigai amongst the plants at Urban Jungle

For you, Ikigai could be taking time to work on a passion outside of work and your everyday tasks. This could be meditation, art, volunteering or growing your own food. The ultimate Ikigai? Try and find yourself a job that ticks all of the boxes below!

ikigai formula
The formula for a long and happy life

Remember that your Ikigai doesn’t have to be a talent that you spend years perfecting. As long as whatever it is makes you happy, makes the world a better place, and relieves other potentially stressful areas of your life,  whether it's contributing financially, or improving your home life, then it can be your Ikigai.

Here at Urban Jungle, we believe growing plants perfectly ticks all the boxes (or circles) for Ikigai. 

Most adults in the UK love gardening - it is the nations favourite hobby. There is a trend with younger people for growing houseplants, and this will undoubtedly develop into a deep connection with plants and nature as they mature. The world need plants! 

Concrete jungles are harmful to our spirit. By growing plants in our gardens we are providing food and habitat for wildlife, and providing beauty, and air quality for our neighbours and communities. 

You don't have to be good at growing plants to get started. We can guarantee you that you'll have plenty of losses in the early days, but this is how we learn. Over time you'll improve your observation of a plant's needs, and your knowledge of how to respond, just like caring for a child. Your love of plants and gardens will continue to grow throughout your life - we've never even heard of anyone who's 'gone off' gardening - it just doesn't happen.

And finally, will it make you money? Well there aren't many professional gardeners who become millionaires, but you could make a living from your passion. Developing your own beautiful garden, and filling your house with beautiful houseplants, will undoubtedly increase the value of your property, and make it more saleable.

Behold, the bliss!
As modern life gets more and more hectic, finding time for your passions seems like hard work, but it’s vital in living a long and happy life.

In summary, you're simply looking to make time for, and give proper attention to the things in life that make you happy and improve your general well-being. Simple!

The best thing about all of this is you don’t need any preparation to find your Ikigai, you can start right now! Good luck.

What's your Ikigai? Comment below...

View Comments 0 Comments
Share Post   

Operation: The Med comes to Suffolk

09 May 2019 - Posted by Liz Browne, in Trade, Norfolk, NewsLetter, Suffolk, Propagation, Nursery, Cafe Jungle

Operation: The Med comes to Urban Jungle Suffolk

After 2 years here at our Beccles site in Suffolk it really is quite evident how different the Suffolk climate is. The light is more intense, the sky is bluer, the winter is milder, and it's definitely windier! We wanted to create a different feel to the Suffolk site, and the difference in micro-climate, subtle but important, gives us that opportunity. For those of you with zone envy, we're zone 7b in Beccles, whereas it's zone 7a at our Costessey branch. We're hoping that our Mediterranean-style gardens will provide a beautiful backdrop for our Cafe customers, and inspire our gardening customers to effectively use some of these plants in their own gardens.

The Brief...

To create a Mediterranean style garden to inspire our customers, showcase our range of plants and improve the experience for our outdoor diners. We believe our customers should be able to see and enjoy plants growing together in communities at our Nurseries - we don't just set out plants as rows of Nursery stock in pots. We want our cafe customers to feel embraced by a profusion of plants outside, just as they do inside the cafe. 

The Problems...

Here at the Beccles Nursery we have thick heavy clay. The drainage is terrible, and after rain, water often sits on the surface, especially in winter. In summer it becomes like concrete. There are few windows of opportunity in the year to actually get plants in the ground. Mediterranean plants tend to require really good drainage, especially in winter, and most would fail miserably here in a cold wet winter. 

Gardeners are used to shopping in nurseries and garden centres with rows and rows of neatly positioned plants that often provide little to no real inspiration or guidance on planting schemes.

The gardening public have very few opportunities to see Mediterranean-style planting in the UK, with plants that are carefully selected to withstand the UK winters.

The Solution...

To solve these problems at our Suffolk branch, we've created 5 large raised beds with Derbyshire stone, planted with architectural and colourful Mediterranean-style plants, with adjacent Cafe seating. The beds stretch 70m - the whole length of the nursery, and each bed can be viewed from all 4 sides.

But whilst the climate in Beccles and the surrounding area is conducive to growing many Mediterranean plants, the soil here unfortunately isn't - it's heavy clay that's cold and wet all winter and quickly turns to concrete in summer! So to address the soil problem we started with the boring sensible stuff by digging a drainage ditch the whole length of the nursery that will carry away excess water. Next we built the raised rockery beds, filled with well-draining soil mixed with plenty of grit.

We hope that the composition of plants within the borders provides enjoyment and inspiration to our customers. We've planted a range of species including many readily available, best-performing plants for a Suffolk garden, but also choice rarities that we hope to propagate and produce ourselves over the coming years. With Suffolk being one of the driest and sunniest counties in the UK, and the proximity to the coast of our Beccles Nursery,  it's not difficult to achieve a Mediterranean style garden - something that feels a little more exciting and exotic than a typical English garden.  

quarry stone 

The Derbyshire Quarry where we sourced the stone

quarry stone 

Once quarrying has finished the walls are left to nature and become home to a bounty of wildlife 

The Med comes to Suffolk 

Before the borders...

Beccles Landscaping  

Full landscaping plan - see the '5 display beds' just in front of the Cafe

The Med comes to Suffolk

Front Elevation and planting plan of the 5 Mediterranean Beds

Work Begins... 

        Beccles Landscaping 

Owner Liz on-site 'helping' our landscapers

The Med comes to Suffolk 

The stone begins to arrive - 50 tonnes in all

The Med comes to Suffolk 

Hard at it, placing the first stones. Brute strength and ingenuity required.


Taking shape...

The Med comes to Suffolk 

Planting getting underway. Trying to stick to the planting plans as much as possible but allowing ourselves a little bit of artistic license.

The Med comes to Suffolk 

Nick and Dick finishing planting one of the gnarly olives.

A bit more background to the concept...

Visitors to our Costessey Nursery will probably have noticed that we've had an aversion to straight lines in the past. The Nursery has evolved over 2 decades, growing organically, with winding pathways, overhanging trees and shady areas, lots of planted areas of course, and an altogether jungly feel. In Beccles, we're ready to try something a little out of our comfort zone!

Costessey Nursery 

'The Labyrinth' at Urban Jungle Norfolk. With winding paths, cool shady areas it feels completely different to the med-style planting at Beccles.

June's Progress! The Med is taking shape...

We're at last planting out our treasures. This beauty in the foreground (below) is Grevillea 'Bronze Rambler'. Now, we're just left to be patient and watch the drama unfold. 


Grevillea 'Bronze Rambler' lapping up the sunshine and enjoying it's new home

Beds 3 and 4. Cupressus (pencil trees) frame the pathway, and baskets of Euphorbia myrsinites

waiting to be planted.

The Med comes to Suffolk

This lovely multi-trunked Chamaerops needed to be moved from another part of the nursery but it's settling well into the new bed. We removed lots of the lower leaves to give it a better chance of re-establishing.The Med comes to Suffolk

The Med comes to Suffolk

One of our new treasures - Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset'. One of the hardiest members of the Proteaceae family and infuriatingly difficult to get hold of.

At last we have a permanent home for all the treasures we've been collecting over the years, and will be propagating and producing over the coming years. Plants like Genista aetnensis (Mount Etna broom), 

The beds will take time to establish, but after only a couple of weeks we can see the growth on some of the plants. We're already getting a feel for the amazing impact in years to come. Why not visit the Nursery and see the progress, or join our Mediterranean dining experience on the 26th July - tickets and more information are available HERE. 

Tune into our social media for regular features on some of the plants we've used in our new borders. Next month we'll let you know about another of our current projects - The Jungle Garden.

View Comments 0 Comments
Share Post   

Dwarf Pines in the Jungle...

08 May 2019 - Posted by Rachel Bannon

Dwarf Pines in the Jungle...

Conifers, and their largest family 'Pines' are cone bearing plants, some are trees and some are shrubs. Pines are trees in the genus Pinus (meaning 'resin' in Latin) in the family Pinaceae and are the only genus in the order Pinales. In Japan they represent 'permanence and longevity', and we know that the Japanese way is to promote a 'less-is-more' look. So, although slow growing, larger pines will become a BIG part of the landscape over time...

Enter Dwarf Pines. With all the benefits of larger pines, they're evergreen and very attractive, and will add texture and colour all year round where your deciduous trees and plants will loose their leaves, and they're easy to manage. Larger pines could eventually take over and become towering giants in your gardens, however these will perfectly suit a smaller area where space is limited such as near patios, borders, building and entrances.  

Care? They like cool, moist (but well-draining) soil - you can achieve this by placing bark/mulch around the base. Be sure to water throughout dry spells. Depending on the variety, many conifers prefer shady areas, but some speciality conifers require full sun.

Here are some of the varieties available at UJ Suffolk now...  

1. Pinus densiflora 'Haybud'. Dwarf Japanese Red Pine. 

pinus densiflora

pinus densiflora

This is one of the “classic” old-world, 2-needled, hard pines and has been one of the most important species used in Japanese architecture as well as being one of the more popular ornamental pines, used as such in Japan since ancient times and now widely planted in Europe and North America.

Japanese Red pine is an evergreen coniferous tree which grows straight to contorted (particularly in coastal settings) with an umbrella-shaped crown. 

2. Pinus mugo 'Ophir'. Dwarf Mountain Pine. 

pinus mugo

Dwarf Mountain Pines will attract Songbirds and capture a pleasant visual attraction. They are resistant to Deer, can tolerate drought, are not prone to many diseases, and are very low maintenance.  They do, however, respond nicely to some degree of shaping. 

This dwarf rounded conifer with short, dense, light-green, needle like leaves that turn golden-yellow in winter. Max height 60cm. Full sun, frost hardy, back-fill with soil mixed with a peat substitute and suitable fertiliser. 

3. Pinus strobus 'Blue Shag' 

pinus strobus blue shag

Pinus strobus, commonly called Eastern white pine, is a rapid-growing, long-lived, needled evergreen tree. It's pyramid in shape when young, and matures to a broad shape with an irregular crown. 

Eastern White Pine which has been developed to be suitable for small gardens and is fully hardy in all parts of the UK. Pinus Strobus Blue Shag will grow to a mature height and spread of just 1.5 metres in 10 years

4. Pinus sylvestris. Scots Pine. 

Pinus sylvestris. Scots Pine.

Scots pine is an evergreen conifer native to northern Europe, and is one of just three conifers native to the UK. The needle-like leaves are blue-green and slightly twisted, the bark is a scaly orange-brown, which develops plates and fissures with age. Pinus sylvestris is monoecious, which means both male and female flowers grow on the same tree. The male flowers comprise of clusters of yellow anthers at the base of shoots and the female flowers are small, red-purple and globular, and grow at the tips of new shoots.

Visit Urban Jungle Suffolk and Norfolk to view our full range of pines and conifers. 

View Comments 0 Comments
Share Post   

This May, we're celebrating all things Japanese!

18 April 2019 - Posted by Rachel Bannon, in Nursery, Cafe Jungle, Norfolk, Suffolk

This May, We're celebrating all things Japanese…

During the month of May at Urban Jungle, we're celebrating all things Japanese in our Nursery and Cafe, with plants and food carefully connected to the distinct and fascinating Japanese culture, promoting a feeling of zen and ikigai (finding your bliss).

1. Create your Japanese garden - including 7 Must-have Plants for Your Japanese Garden

Create Your Japanese Garden

At the centre of this month’s celebration is the Japanese garden and all it represents, that typically break all of the Urban Jungle rules of a big, bold, maximalist indoor and outdoor setting.

Read on to find out more about the many elements that make up a Japanese garden, why these will add something really special to your outdoor space, and the meaning behind them. 

2. A Japanese Dining Experience

Japanese Dining Experience

As part of the 2019 Beccles Food and Drink Festival's Fringe Events, on Friday 24th May, we will be hosting a Japanese banquet, celebrating this unique cuisine, enjoy 5 courses with an arrival drink.

3. Kokedama Workshops

Kokedama workshop

The beautiful Japanese garden art of Kokedama simply translates as Koke (moss) Dama (ball). Join our workshop and spend 90 minutes learning all about the history, origin and care whilst creating your very own delightful, dangling plant.

Suffolk - Thursday 2nd May, 6.30pm - Join us in the Jungle this May and create Japanese moss balls, with Sake and Sushi. 

Norfolk - Saturday 11th May, 10.30am - Join us in the Jungle this May and create Japanese moss balls, with tea and cake.

4. Bonsai Talk and Display

Bonsai talk and display

Visit the Jungle and enjoy the wonderful world of Bonsai as part of our Japanese themed month of May. The Japanese believe that miniature objects have mystical and magical powers concentrated within them, adding to the intriguing nature of Bonsai. 

Mick Hillocks from the Norfolk Bonsai Association will focus on outdoor specimens with Chinese elms, acers, cotoneaster and beech trees amongst others displayed and designed to inspire beginners and enthusiasts alike.

Norfolk - Sunday 5th May, Displays 10am-3pm, Talk 10.30am.

Suffolk - Saturday 18th May, Displays 10am-3pm, Talk 10.30am.

5. Drop in Origami Craft Workshop with Claree Fairee

origami drop in workshop

The ancient craft of Origami literally translated, means 'paper' 'folding', however we thing its more like paper magic...
Origami consists of folding a single sheet of square, coloured paper into a beautiful sculpture without using scissors, glue, tape or any markings at all!

During the May holidays, visit the Jungle and learn to create these wonderful masterpieces with Claree fairy. 

FREE for Nursery and Cafe customers, 10-midday

Now you have all the tools to create your Japanese space, indoors and outdoors. If you would like to find out more about our Japanese celebration, or attend any of our events get in touch with the team HERE. 

View Comments 0 Comments
Share Post   

Page  123...14>

Back to Top