Urban Jungle Blogs, News and Press Releases

Edible Jungle - Get out there and get growing!

27 October 2017 - Posted by Niamh Mullally, in Cafe Jungle, Nursery, Propagation, Suffolk, NewsLetter, Norfolk

This month I am thrilled to be addressing a subject that I have become very passionate about in the last few years: all year-round harvests.

Here's the proof; it's not too late!
The Edible Jungle is progressing well with rapid growth in just a few weeks and Café Jungle will soon be harvesting regularly from the onsite polytunnel.
Most of these seedlings were sown late summer and into September. We are lucky enough to have a large indoor growing space and have made the most of every inch. Radicchios, salads, spring onions, turnip tops, chard, spinach, oriental greens, Chinese cabbages, radishes, and kale are loving their new Suffolk home.

Where do you start?
It’s definitely not too late for you to have a go at growing your own food. Fresh homegrown salad and nutritious greens can still be sown now, ready to harvest throughout the dark winter months.
Cleared and tidied borders are in fact new growing opportunities. Don’t accept bare soil, a little effort now will result in winter and spring colour and low maintenance food. It is really that simple.

Some varieties of hardy mustards are visually stunning, these seeds can be sown direct and will provide months of fully hardy, edible bursts of rich colour all winter long. Two of my favourites are the delicate beauties ‘Red Frills’ and ‘Red Lace’ which will germinate rapidly and can be snipped and added to salads daily.

Mustard ‘Red Lace’

If you have a tropical jungle style garden (and we sincerely hope you do) with some large leaved evergreen plants, then the meaty monsters Mustard ‘Red Giant’, ‘’Green in Snow’ and ‘Dragons Tongue’ are the varieties you should try.

Mustard ‘Red Giant’

They are simply astonishing, some growing to three feet high. By March your borders will be filled with sumptuous edible colour. The young peppery leaves can be added to salads and the more mature leaves can be lightly wilted as a winter green, great with pork dishes. The plants can then be cleared and added to compost piles to make way for spring growth.


‘Mizuna’ a tangy oriental green can also be mixed in with these mustard seeds, the resulting leaves have a rich green tone contrasting nicely with the rich red mustard tones. These leaves are equally good in salads or stir fries.

Where's best to sow them?
Containers with tired summer bedding can be cleared and the compost reused for winter crops. A liquid feed of left over tomato food or a seaweed based fertilizer mixed in before sowing the seeds or planting the seedlings will give enough nutrition to the soil until late spring/early summer.

Greenhouses and polytunnels don’t have to have empty spaces, planting direct into soil is obviously the ideal, but a concrete base still is a potential growing space. Purchasing a growbag or converting a bag of multi-purpose compost to one is an instant mini kitchen garden.

Some lettuce varieties can still be sown now, I recommend ‘Marvel of Four Seasons’, ‘Corn Salad’ and Endive ‘Pancalieri’. ‘Radichetta’ is an Italian variety with a bit more bite, cutting the stem will result in regrowth and the mature heads can also be pan fried like radicchio. ‘New Red Fire’ is a glossy red tinged large loose-leaf variety. Its exceptionally pretty.

Lettuce ‘New Red Fire’

These are all fully hardy and will happily grow outside without protection, however a windowsill will give rapid germination.

Scattering turnip seeds directly in a large container in a greenhouse will result in delicious highly nutritious greens that can be steamed or sautéed with bacon. I have successfully grown these all winter long, with successive sowings. Yum indeed.
Turnip Greens.

Next year Urban Jungle will be launching its own seed range including some of the best rare vegetables varieties I have had the pleasure of growing. Watch this space.

I hope I have inspired you to try to grow your own food this winter. Get outside and get growing!

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Norfolk Nursery's Trail of Terror

20 October 2017 - Posted by Uhi Millington, in NewsLetter, Nursery, Norfolk, Cafe Jungle

Norfolk Nursery of Nightmares...

This Halloween from Sunday 22nd to Tuesday 31st October we have some wonderfully weird and truly terrifying plants and creatures just waiting to be discovered. Walk the Trail of Terror in Costessey and keep one eye open for the scariest suspects and the most gruesome things growing around our Norfolk Nursery of Nightmares.

1. Nepenthes, otherwise known as Pitcher plants or Monkey cups

Watch out! These plants feast on flesh. Nepenthes are usually climbing and scrambling vines from the steamy jungles of Southeast Asia. They form pitchers at the end of tendrils which are designed to trap and digest any insects or small mammals that are unlucky enough to fall in, one genus has even been known to digest a whole rat.

But don't touch; they don't like it!


2. The Old Man in the Tree.

Legend has it that on a hot afternoon, after a morning of hard work in the Jungle, an old man leaned on the willow tree and took an afternoon nap. While he was sleeping the tree grew around him and he became trapped in its trunk, leaving only his face. If you listen carefully you can sometimes hear him snoring. You may even see him blink. All those who work at Urban Jungle now know not to fall asleep in the afternoon for fear that they'll be absorbed by the trees.

3. Spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum

A really easy to grow houseplant that will thrive even in your darkest and creepiest corners. It produces an abundance of baby spiders or 'spiderettes' on long dangling shoots. Don't worry if you forget to water, as these plants can cope with being treated mean. In fact they like to dry out from time to time and prefer to be tightly squeezed in their pots.


4. Agaves

Most Agaves live in hot and arid parts of the world, where they get hardly any water. To survive they have developed thick fleshy leaves which are able to store enough water to enable the plant to survive in the harshest of conditions.

But – how do they stop animals and insects from stealing their precious water supply? They have teeth! Some look like saw blades, others are like sharks teeth and some are needle sharp with hooks and long points. Look out! Don't let them spike you.


5. Cacti

Some look cute and fluffy but under that long silky fluff are mean little spikes. Some are warty and gnarly, and just plain ugly. Others have tiny needles which stick in your skin when you touch them. And some - well see for yourselves, are just covered in the biggest stiffest prickles you have ever seen! Like Agaves they come from hot and dry places and have developed a range of ways to protect themselves form being eaten. They're easy to grow and easy to care for, just give them plenty of light and not to much water and they can live longer than you.


6. Homolacladium platycladum – the 'Centipede' plant or 'Tape worm' plant.

Well, just yuk! This evergreen leafless plant comes from the Solomon Islands and New Guinea, and as you may have guessed by now it looks a little bit weird. Its leaves are made of segments, forming long ribbons, and just like the tape worm these ribbons can snap off and develop into new living organisms. If you are taken with this oddity you can grow it in full or part sun, outdoors during summer but it will need to be kept warm in a conservatory, or in in the house over winter.

7. Corokia cotoneaster– Wire netting plant.

These bizarre-looking shrubs have dark and twisted stems resembling wire wool, or the skeletal remains of plants that once lived. If you look closely you will see they are alive, they have downy metallic leaves in the shape of tiny arrowheads. They come from New Zealand where they grow in rugged terrain. Their felty leaves and tangled stems protect them from drying winds and from being eaten alive by passing birds and animals.


8. Imperata cylidrica rubra – Japanese Bloodgrass

This clump forming grass from Japan has creeping underground rhizomes which mass to form clumps. Its sword-shaped blades of grass pierce their way out of the ground to produce tips that look like they have been painted with the freshest reddest blood. The perfect plant for Halloween.


9. Pseudopanax ferox – Savage lancewood

This bizarre, horticultural oddity comes from New Zealand. We call it the 'Marmite plant' as our customers either love it or hate it. It spends the first few years of its life pretending to be an unappetising dead twig, to avoid being consumed alive by those pesky Antipodean herbivores. Once it grows up, and its head is above the reach of browsing animals, it produces a crown of lush leaves, and sends a metaphorical thumbed nose to the animals below.


10. Aeonium 'Voodoo'

What devilry is this? Prepare for this succulent creature to cast its spell on you. During the long dark winter, its fleshy leaves are a dull brown/green, but once the temperature rises, by some dark magic, its leaves transform to a bewitching dark purple/black. The forces of light and dark fight each other - the more the sun shines, the blacker the leaves become.

We hope you'll be brave enough to come and see these little terrors for yourselves. Can you find all 10?! 

Lots of these frightening residents are for sale and available to take home with you too. If you dare...

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Meet Kerri; Jack-of-all-trades and Jungle Queen

22 September 2017 - Posted by Urban Jungle Suffolk, in Nursery, Suffolk, NewsLetter

Suffolk Nursery and Site Manager Kerri Notman reveals all about her exotic new job in the Jungle, the highs and lows, Instagram inspirations and what's next for the Suffolk Jungle...

How did you end up in the Jungle?!

My passion for plants and all things that grow started at an early age, I loved to help my Granddad on his allotment and ever since then I haven't been able to let go. When I was old enough, I began my career and worked within a garden centre for around 7 years. This enabled me to train in management and horticulture and has put me in good stead for my role here at Urban Jungle.

From experience working in nurseries and garden centres I also discovered a love for retail and effective merchandising. This passion was nurtured through Pinterest and designing shop displays as a hobby.

What's the best thing about your job?

The plants of course. My enjoyment of design and merchandising combined with a love for plants makes it so easy to have an incredible shop floor! The plants do the talking on every level, they bring displays and the retail experience to life. The look is extremely 'shareable' and makes for some incredible photography too (another hobby of mine!).

I also love that exotics are so accessible now. We sell indoor and outdoor plants, all unusual and exotic types but all are very capable of surviving in the everyday UK home and garden.

What's is your favourite plant?

It has to be a Cactus. I've been growing Cacti since I was 5 years old and I love how unique they are. Some varieties are incredibly unusual and they will always become the talking point of any room or garden.

Probably one of the most surprising things about joining the Jungle is how popular these plants have become. It's no secret that they're ruthlessly spiky but the UK loves exotics and I'm positive it's grown into a trend that's here to stay. Who wouldn't want to bring the look and feel of their favourite holiday destinations to their home and garden?!

What's you first month been like? Full of highs and lows... we imagine?!

Well it's been a real challenge setting up. We've had to do most things from scratch but anyone that knows me will know that I love to get my hands dirty. Some of the bigger DIY jobs such as creating the Café floor have been pretty nerve racking with lots of firsts for me.

I know it sounds cheesy, but if I'm honest its been one big high!

I've been able to set everything up from scratch which has been fantastic, we've managed to recruit the most amazing team and I feel really lucky to have been able to have put all of the processes into practice from the very beginning. We're all learning together every day, and I cant wait to continue to grow with my Jungle family.

Who do you love to follow on Instagram?

I love The Jungalow, they set up some incredible shots with exotics and it's great to see the style of plants we sell in fabulous surroundings. Its great inspiration for merchandising and displaying our gifts and plants in an attractive way for our customers.

What's next at Urban Jungle Suffolk...

We'll be redesigning our central border this winter which we've got some very exciting plans for - we'll be able to make a fabulous centrepiece from it; keep your eyes peeled for the big reveal!

Next year we'll also be focusing heavily on the health benefits of plants and the well being opportunities inside and outside homes and offices. This mindset is going to create a fabulous environment to work in, and as our customers are becoming more and more health conscious we want to use our expertise to make a real difference to their lives too.

Before that, we're getting ready for autumn. I just love this season. There are some incredible colours and textures on-site and the Nursery and Café are going to look breathtaking once I've finished with it! Urban Jungle is going big with Halloween as always, and we're all looking forward to 'Jazz up Your Jungle Pumpkin' craft days and special additions to the menus and afternoon teas.

Dare I say it but Christmas is also just around the corner; I'll be providing wreath making classes with an Urban Jungle tropical twist. We'll also be opening late nights on Thursdays from the 23rd November, launching with an exclusive customer evening.

Final word?

Pop in and say hi, we're really looking forward to meeting you!

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The Edible Jungle; Food For Thought

15 September 2017 - Posted by Niamh Mullally, in Cafe Jungle, Nursery, Propagation, Suffolk, NewsLetter, Norfolk

Meet Niamh Mullally, bringing Grow Your Own to the Cafe Jungle kitchen door.

Niamh is our new Propagation Manager and along with running the exciting new propagation element of our business, will also be instrumental in growing the vegetables for Cafe Jungle. Niamh's garden at home is Jungle Style, and in addition to being a customer of Urban Jungle nursery in Norfolk, she has for over twenty years been a keen propagator, growing plants from seed and cuttings for her own garden.

The land at our Suffolk branch is currently being developed into a propagation headquarters for Urban Jungle nurseries in Norfolk and Suffolk. We have ambitious plans, growing many rare species of plants that will eventually expand our vast stock list for our nurseries.

I also have years (ok three) of experience, successfully growing food destined for diners plates. Working closely with chefs I've developed a deep passion and understanding of flavours and food. Unusual and heritage varieties will be grown on-site, with the emphasis on taste and freshness. The aim is flavoursome, attractive seasonal food, grown without chemicals and with no food miles involved. We hate waste, so gluts will be preserved and served all year round, to maximise the use of the harvests.

I think Urban Jungle is pretty unique, funky and colourful, so the food will reflect this. Customers can in time expect round white cucumbers, purple potatoes, yellow beans, white flat squashes, yellow mange tout and black tomatoes. Salads will be harvested daily, with interesting textures, subtle flavours and edible flowers.

This coming season Cafe Jungle customers can also enjoy the wonderful fresh flavours of home grown chard, kale, cabbage, radicchio, spinach, mustard, radishes, turnips, fennel and pea shoots.

My new blog Edible Jungle will give details of how and what we will be growing in the Suffolk Polytunnel and Kitchen Garden, a must read for any fellow edible garden enthusiasts so watch this space.

I'm not the only new team member with a passion for good food; I'll be working closely alongside our new cook, and front of house team to make sure that Cafe Jungle diners can experience something really special when they visit.

Cafe Jungle Suffolk is open every day from 10am, call 01502 559103 to book.

Niamh Mullally
Propagation Manager

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Get Funkia down with the Hostas

02 June 2016 - Posted by Uhi Millington, in Nursery, Suffolk, Norfolk

It seems to be a brilliant year for Hostas, or Funkias, the glorious name they used to be known by. Perhaps it's the cool, dull moist weather we've been experiencing, that's made our Hostas the best they have ever looked, but it's also no doubt the care and attention that Lynn, our in-house Hosta freak, has lavished upon them, keeping them ship shape and orderly.

We have over 20 varieties in stock this year ranging from the robust little Hosta 'Mouse Ears' to the gargantuan  Hostas 'Blue Mammoth' (1m x 1.5m), 'Empress Wu' (1.3m x 2m) and 'T. Rex' (90cm x 2m)

Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears'

Hosta 'Blue Mammoth'

Hosta 'Empress Wu'

Hosta 'T. Rex'

It's no secret that Hostas are a tasty snack to slugs and snails, but don't be deterred; they add so much to a planting scheme especially in shade or near water, and the way that the rain drops collect in the leaves is just magical.

Personally, I don't protect my own Hostas at all, and they are rarely attacked, but if in doubt there are several ways to keep pests at bay without harming pets or wildlife. Organic and animal safe slug pellets, and pellets made from sheep's wool are readily available, or try baked eggs shells, sharp sand, grease bands, nematodes, copper wire, slug pubs, half a grapefruit, grit etc. etc.

As a general rule the bigger and thicker the leaves the less palatable they are, and don't forget some slugs are the good guys and will feast on your foes - so get to know your slugs and let them do the work for you.

We have added some new Hostas to our range this year: 'Sum of All' gets even bigger than 'Sum and Substance' reaching a massive 1m x 1.2m. Hosta 'Monster Ears' has glossy thick leathery rounded leaves that are reminiscent of 'Shreck', and Hosta 'June' - wow, it's practically luminous!

Hosta 'Sum of All'

Hosta 'Monster Ears'

Hosta 'June'

Did we mention the seemingly endless range of leaf variations and variegations? Shapes, sizes and colours.

Hosta 'Dream Weaver'

Hosta 'Antioch'

Hosta 'Cliffords Forest fire'

Come and see for yourselves, give a Hosta a home.

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