Urban Jungle Blogs, News and Press Releases

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...

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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. 

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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. 

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Create Your Japanese Garden, with Urban Jungle

16 April 2019 - Posted by Rachel Bannon

Create Your Japanese Garden 

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).

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. This month, Urban Jungle has also focused on a few of our favourite Japanese plants and cultural influences to celebrate in more detail with workshops, talks and dining experiences. 

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. In short, a Japanese garden focuses on the opposite - a minimalist, simple and natural setting, designed to inspire reflection and meditation. So, perhaps this provides the perfect opportunity for us all to take some time to appreciate the simpler things in life… 

“Throughout history, the Japanese have tried to emphasize in their gardens the charm of restraint; beauty is so concealed that it may be discovered individually, thus providing a thrill of joy to the soul like that which comes from doing a good deed in stealth.” www.britannica.com/art/Japanese-garden

Create Your Japanese Garden

The History

The Japanese style of gardening was probably imported from China or Korea in the 5th Century, featuring a pond and islet connected by bridges to the shore. Japanese gardens have evolved over time to include symmetry, and religion in the form of rocks and boulders with Buddhist names. Shibui is also very important, and refers to a simple, subtle and unobtrusive aesthetic - again, not our usual Jungle style, but for these beautiful gardens we’ll make an exception!

An interesting development is that of Utilitarianism in the Japanese gardens. Duck ponds, the cultivation of reeds, and plum trees for military supplies were all introduced, along with public parks. During the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1923 public parks provided refuge, taking the health and wellbeing of the greater good into account. Various other philosophical influences have also been added to rationalise the aesthetics. 

japanese public parks
The importance of Japanese public parks...

Choose your style of Japanese Garden…

Tsuki-yama - Hills and ponds using streams and real water, or kare-sansui - the representation of a dried up landscape using rocks to suggest a waterfall. At its basin could be a winding stream or a pond where gravel or sand is used to symbolise water, or to suggest seasonally dried-up terrain.

Hira-niwa - Level ground symbolising a valley or more. 

sentai water garden
Sen-tei - Water garden 

Rin-sen - Forest and water 

Bunjin (“literary scholar”), a simple and small style typically integrating bonsai in level gardens. 

roji tea garden
Roji - The tea garden (dewy ground or lane), is another distinct garden style evolved to meet the requirements of the tea ceremony.

Genkansaki (Front entrance) incorporates a simple curve in the path to conceal the door to the house, or an unsightly entrance and give character too. 

Gardens may of course include different elements of all of these types of landscape and are also designed with the three degrees of elaboration; Shin - elaborate, Gyo - intermediate, and So - abbreviated. 

Japanese Garden Essentials...

Japanese garden essentials

  • Less is more: the space around the plants creates the feeling of space and is just as important as the plants themselves. 
  • Use the existing landscape - frame vistas with maples and add intrigue with paths to natural landscape scenes. 
  • Showcase all the greens - Encourage moss to spread in nooks and crannies, include leaves and architectural plants. 
  • Use simplicity, restraint and consistency to showcase natural beauty

Choose 1, a few or all of the below to get add that beautiful Japanese touch to your indoor and outdoor space…

Indoor and outdoor plants
There is so much choice when it comes to Japanese planting, here we’ve just a picked a few of our favourites… 

Kokedama workshop

Translates as ‘Moss-ball’ and originates from bonsai planting techniques. They encapsulate the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-sabi - the appreciation of the imperfections of nature, and the transience of natural beauty. Characteristics of wabi-sabi include simplicity, warmth, earthiness, and irregularity with acceptance. Available to buy in the Nursery or attend a workshop HERE

Bonsai talk and display

Originating from China and Korea, the art of Bonsai is designed to bring the outdoors inside the temples of the Buddhist monks. Bonsai literally means ‘tree in a tray’, and the tree and container must form a single entity. It’s also believed that miniature objects have mystical and magical powers concentrated within them, adding to the intriguing nature of Bonsai. The Japanese version of the trees are for the most part more refined and better groomed than that of their Chinese and Korean counterparts, however, both types have their own individualistic charm.
Available to buy in the Nursery, or attend our Bonsai feature days HERE. 

Acers, Japanese Maples
acer japanese maple
Red Emporer

Acers, or maple trees are a firm favourite as they add that maximalist Jungle touch to any space. They’re a wonderful exception to the rule of simplicity, restraint and consistency, and the distinctive leaf shapes with bold, vibrant foliage changes colour throughout the seasons, from purple, pink, red, orange, yellow and green. View our range of acers on display in the Nurseries, or online HERE.

Flowering Cherry trees
Prunus amanagowa
Prunus amanagowa

Also known as Cherry Blossom trees, they’re extremely popular and renowned for the magnificent flowers that cover the branches. We offer a wonderful range at Urban Jungle with flowers in many different shades and forms. Whilst most people are drawn to the photogenic blossom, some varieties also offer stunning autumn colour, purple foliage or glossy bark such as Prunus Prunus 'Amanogawa' - a small, very slender, cone-shaped flowering cherry with bronze-tinted leaves and clusters of fragrant semi-double flowers in spring. In autumn the leaves turn orange/red. A wonderful ornamental tree where space is limited.
Visit the Nurseries to view the range, or buy online HERE.

wisteria at urban jungle

This one has a hugely significant part to play in Japanese art, poetry and culture. The most famous Kabuki dance (Fuji Musume - Wisteria Maiden) is centred around wisteria blossom as a symbol of love. The purple wisteria is also greatly favoured by followers of Buddhism, as it was believed that Amida Buddha would descend on a purple cloud to guide them to the ‘Western Paradise’, also because the branches and blossoms seem to lower their head in respect, as a symbol of prayer. It's long-life also bestows the additional symbolic meaning of immortality and longevity - therefore, a kimono decorated with wisteria blossoms would be of the highest formality. 

We have a wonderful range of Wisteria floribunda on display in the Nurseries and online including white (Alba), pink (Rosea) and purple (Lawrence and Yae-kokuryu). #wisteriahisteria
View online HERE. 

azalea at Urban Jungle

What’s more ‘Japanese’ than mounds of azaleas covered in brightly coloured flowers? A range of eye-popping colours are available at Urban Jungle, from ice white through to the deepest red and fiery orange. Neatly pruned or allowed to sprawl, they are essential to an authentic Japanese garden. However, if you don’t have the acid or neutral soils they prefer, try Japanese quince (Chaenomeles) for a similar effect.


Ferns predate the dinosaurs and are vital in providing that natural feeling in Japanese gardens, perfectly complementing trees and shrubs. For the perfect look they should not be taller than 1 meter tall and have a wide range of characteristics including delicate and intricate foliage, and tough leathery leaves of other species. We have a wide range including Polystichum, Dryopteris and Asplenium. Visit the Nursery or view online HERE. 

bamboo japanese garden

Because of its sturdy root structure, it is a symbol of prosperity in Japan. For years, people were told to run into the bamboo groves in the event of an earthquake, because the bamboo's strong root structure would hold the earth together. Simple and unadorned, the bamboo is also symbolic of purity and innocence. "Take o watta youna hito" literally translates into "a man like fresh-split bamboo" and refers to a man with a frank nature.

Bamboo plants are invaluable for fast screening of unsightly views, and blending gardens and architecture, some are beautiful specimen plants too. Evergreen and problem free. Rhizome barrier available for more invasive species. Fargesia species are perfect for shade or growing in pots or containers.
View the range in the Nurseries or online HERE.

Soleirolia soleirolii
Soleirolia soleirolii
Much faster growing than moss, this mat-forming perennial will carpet damp ground, rocks, the base of tree trunks, and the edge of a pond. At Urban Jungle it softens the edges of our koi pond.

Landscape and features

Japanese garden landscapes
  • Waterfalls, Streams and springs, Lakes, Wells - decorative and useful
  • Hills and Bridges
  • Natural stone, Stone water basins, Stone lanterns and figures
  • Few flowers
  • Evergreen, although maples are allowed
  • Trees, distributed according to natural growth and habitat
  • Pagodas, arbours and summer houses
  • Gateways and fencing including sode-gake (sleeve fencing)

Now you have all the tools to create your Japanese space, indoors and outdoors. If you would like to find out more or attend any of our events, find out what’s on in May, or get in touch with the team, contact us HERE. 

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Plug In Suffolk - Vehicle Charging at UJ Suffolk

25 March 2019 - Posted by EO Charging, in Suffolk

Plug In Suffolk - 'Fully open' charging

Plug In Suffolk

EO Charging, one of the UK’s leading electric vehicle (EV) charging manufacturers, has today launched ‘Plug In Suffolk’ in partnership with Suffolk County Council and renewable energy provider Bulb.

This is the country’s first ‘fully open’ public fast-charging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, meaning EV drivers simply pay by contactless payment with no need to register with networks or become members of organisations.

The first ‘Plug in Suffolk’ charging location has today been unveiled at Urban Jungle Plant Nursery and Cafe in Beccles. The company offer two 7kW EO chargers alongside the EO Pay kiosk, allowing members of the public and employees to charge their electric vehicles.

‘Plug In Suffolk’ will see the installation of electric vehicle charging stations (up to 400 individual sockets) across the county at 100 key locations and business addresses. Once completed the charging network will be available for all plug-in vehicle drivers with each charging location listed on www.pluginsuffolk.org or searchable via Zap Map and Google Maps.

  1. Plug In Suffolk
Charlie Jardine, Founder and CEO of EO Charging, said:

“Suffolk’s existing charging infrastructure is simply not fit for purpose if we are to see the mass adoption of EVs across the county. The ‘Plug In Suffolk’ network will play a vital role in increasing the density of publicly available fast EV chargers and will ensure that driving electric in Suffolk is hassle-free. Charging should be as easy as buying groceries, simply tap-and-go!

“We want to support Suffolk County Council’s ambition of Creating the Greenest County and firmly believe that implementing this network is an important piece of the puzzle. We’re also pretty excited to be launching the network on our home soil here in Suffolk!”

Businesses that install the ‘EO Pay’ unit and become part of the ‘Plug In Suffolk’ network, will be able to charge visitors to charge their electric vehicle. Host businesses have the option to pay upfront for the chargers or alternatively can spread the cost through EO Charging’s new pay per day funding model – ‘Charging-as-a-Service’.

Plug In Suffolk

Councillor Richard Rout, Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection at Suffolk County Council, said:

We’re working to reduce the barriers that drivers face when thinking about switching to EVs here in Suffolk. Installing charging infrastructure that not only covers a large rural area but is also available to all electric vehicle drivers is most certainly a challenge! We’re confident, however, that the ‘Plug In Suffolk’ network will be a solution for many plug-in drivers.

“The network is another commitment towards Creating the Greenest County for Suffolk and will drive traffic to Suffolk’s businesses and provide them with the opportunity to financially capitalise on the increasing demand for EV charging in the region. Given their technical and local expertise, it is exciting to launch this initiative alongside Stowmarket-based EO Charging.”

EO Charging has also partnered with Bulb, Britain’s biggest green energy supplier, to offer Suffolk businesses the opportunity to switch to 100% renewable electricity. Businesses that become a part of the ‘Plug In Suffolk’ network will be able to switch to Bulb, who provide affordable renewable energy at prices on average 15% lower than standard energy tariffs offered by the ‘Big Six’.

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Head of Bulb Labs, said:

"We're delighted to be partnering with EO Charging and Suffolk County Council to bring convenient EV charging to the people of Suffolk. We're on a mission to make the UK the greenest country on earth and are working to support the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the UK. ‘Plug in Suffolk’ represents a significant step on the way towards building the infrastructure we need to make that happen.”

Suffolk businesses can now apply to become part of the ‘Plug In Suffolk’ network, by completing a simple application form at www.pluginsuffolk.org

EO Charging is currently in discussion with a number of other counties and local authorities across the UK to launch similar projects to support the growing popularity for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Urban Jungle Co-Owner Liz Browne added "We're electrified! This has made us feel really plugged in to the community! It's a real buzz! Feels good to be doing our bit for the reduction in use of fossil fuels, and pollution. It's so exciting to think that we're at the forefront of providing this technology that will make for a better, cleaner, safer future. And who knows - perhaps users will become new, Nursery and Cafe customers. Everyone's a winner!

If you would like any more information please get in touch with the team 01502 219110. 

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