Urban Jungle Blogs, News and Press Releases

Eucalyptus; treat 'em mean...

30 July 2018 - Posted by Liz Browne, in Norfolk, Trade, Propagation, Nursery, Suffolk


Fast growing, evergreen, interesting/often beautiful bark, scented foliage…..these amazing trees create an all year round, sub-tropical feel in our gardens. What's not to love about them? Well recently we've noticed that Eucalyptus have been getting a bad press. Many gardeners are often afraid to plant trees, especially of a genus which includes many extremely fast-growing large species. But it's the fast-growing nature of Eucalyptus that makes them so valuable, especially for impatient gardeners who don't want to wait decades for a mature tree to grace their garden. Not all reach monster proportions in a decade though, and there are some lovely, smaller-growing species available. 

It's all about choosing the right species, planting in a suitable location, and planting when very small. This is because tall potted specimens have too high a top-growth to root-ball ratio and never seem to establish very well. They flop around in the wind and need to be staked for far too long. We once heard a saying about Eucalyptus - 'The bigger they are when you plant them, the bigger they are when they blow over'. And there is truth in this. Eucalyptus are Australian natives and they have evolved to grow in poor, nutrient deficient soil. The roots of the seedlings quickly dive deep to find water and nutrients, and in the process give the tree firm anchorage. But if planted in rich moist soil they don't need to bother putting the effort into making deep roots - why would they when they can simply produce shallow roots to find all their needs? And this is key - if your soil is poor and dry, a Eucalyptus could well be a beautiful and safe addition to your garden, without the risk of strong winds toppling it. If your soil is very fertile you might want a re-think.

When we moved into our sister site at Beccles last year we had several large specimens which had been planted as a windbreak. Growing next to a ditch they were getting ample water and we were concerned that they may have been lazy with their rooting system. This coupled with the fact that they were precariously leaning towards our polytunnels made the chop inevitable. Shame because they were looking good and adding much needed height and shade to the nursery. We topped them at approx 1.5 metres and they all survived and are re-shooting. They will now make bushy specimens and we'll restrict their height to about 4m in future.

The hardier specimens are usually problem free, although like all evergreens, the foliage can be damaged by icy easterly winds in winter. The 'Beast from the East' caused some leaf damage this year, but fortunately this was cosmetic only. By mid-summer, these leaves had been shed and replaced by lush new growth. 

The scent of Eucalyptus leaves is produced by a chemical in its leaves called Cineole. This chemical is the Eucalyptus' weapon against predators, and only a few creatures have adapted to be able to eat it, including Koalas, and a few insects. It's this chemical that bestows antiseptic properties to Eucalyptus oil, which is why it's been used for centuries for cleansing and medicine. And last but not least, did you know that the wood of Eucalyptus makes for the very finest didgeridoos? Toodle-oo.

Some of our favourites include...

Eucalyptus gregsoniana

This gorgeous little tree is an excellent choice for a smaller garden. Growing to 6m or so it has a pretty, airy canopy and silver grey bark. We had a specimen at our Costessey nursery which survived the 'Beast from the East' this year and temperatures of -8 degrees. 

There is a super specimen outside the Princess of Wales conservatory at Kew Gardens that survived the dreadful winter of 2010, where temperatures plummeted to -14 degrees for a prolonged period. Unfortunately the little tree at our Costessey branch had to go as it was in the way of our new kitchen building, but we'll be planting more of our favourite Eucalyptus at our Beccles site very soon.

Eucalyptus coccifera 

Moderately fast growing and can reach a height of approx. 18m. During the first few years you can expect it to grow between 1 and 1.5m a year, slowing down when it reaches 10-12m. The adult foliage is willow-like and the bark is very striking, shredding to reveal shades of pink, silver, grey, brown and white. Very hardy and wind tolerant.

Eucalyptus nicholii 

A wide spreading tree with a dense, weeping crown of slender blue-green leaves. Rough, fissured, cinnamon coloured bark. This is a fast-growing species, achieving 2.5m growth in its first year, eventually forming a tree some 12m high. This specimen loves the heat and is well versed in drought tolerance, so it'll be thriving in this hot, dry summer.

Eucalyptus dalrympleana

Smooth pink/brown bark, peeling to reveal a patchwork of creamy white beneath. Mature trees have pure white bark. Although round and glaucous in their juvenile form, the adult leaves are green, often copper tinted, and sickle-shaped. Very hardy, mature specimens survived the very worst winters in the UK, and although suffered leaf damage, they quickly recovered. Beautiful mature specimens can be seen at Kew Gardens.

This specimen has fascinating foliage. The leaves are round and completely circle the stem. As they die they dry, becoming bright red and separate from the stem, but remain encircling it. As the wind blows them they spin, giving this tree the name of 'Spinning gum'. This tree is suitable for coppicing to form a shrub or hedge. The added advantage of coppicing is that it  encourages it to continue to produce juvenile foliage - much sought after incidentally, for flower arranging. Left to its own devices it can reach 6m but can be maintained at 3m or so if desired.

Select any of the sub-headers to find out more about each Eucalyptus tree including the prices, care guidelines and how you can order this online for home delivery. Contact us here if you have any further questions at all. Talk to us about trade sales too!

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Drought Resistant Plants

30 July 2018 - Posted by Uhi Millington, in Norfolk, Trade, Propagation, Nursery, Suffolk

Great plants for hot weather and drought conditions

The weather has certainly brought us some challenges this year. Back in March when spring should have been on the way we were knee-deep in snow, desperate for the sun to come out and warm things up a bit. 

What can we say – we got what we wished for and so much more. It's been beginning to look like the Savannah out there, and although we have may have had a few showers now, we've learnt our lesson! So, don't despair - your gardens can still look great despite the heat. 

There are plenty of plants out there that can tolerate drought, offer late-season colour, and food and shelter for wildlife. We have a huge selection of drought tolerant and arid plants at the nurseries - too many to list them all, so here are five of our favourites which are looking great at the Nurseries now.

Festuca Glauca 'Elijah Blue'

Festuca Glauca 'Elijah Blue' is a good all rounder. It's small and neat, its needle like blue foliage makes it extremely drought tolerant, and best of all it's evergreen so you can enjoy it all year round. It is a great contrast to a succulent garden.

Perovskia 'Blue Spire' is a great companion to grasses. It smells of  Lavender and Sage, it has silver stems and  foliage to reflect the heat, and big panicles of violet blue flowers which last well into autumn and are a great late food source for pollinating insects.

Eucalyptus gregsoniana

Eucalyptus gregsoniana is a small specimen and grows to only 6m. It's very hardy – there is a beautiful specimen at Kew Gardens. Eucalyptus grow on poor, dry soils in Australia, and with this in mind it is best to plant young specimens and make them race to find water and nutrients. This way they'll make good deep roots. Don't lavish them with water or a rich soil as they'll produce shallow roots and are liable to blow over. You can read more about this and other Eucalyptus grown on site in Co-owner Liz's new blog here. 

Euphorbia characias 'Silver Swan'

Euphorbia characias 'Silver Swan' with dazzling variegated silver foliage, this shrubby perennial is a real winner on dry soil and is still looking cool despite the heat. 


Sempervivum means 'always alive' these winter hardy succulents are exotic and drought tolerant, they thrive in well drained poor soils, cracks and crevices, they multiply to form mats, and best of all they are really easy to look after.

If you're looking for more advice on the best plants for your indoor or outdoor space why not take a look at our Plant Finder, Shop Online or Contact Us today. 

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Press Release – Urban Jungle Suffolk's first anniversary.

05 July 2018 - Posted by Rachel Bannon, in Cafe Jungle, Trade, Propagation, Nursery, NewsLetter, Suffolk

This summer, Urban Jungle at London Road, Beccles, will be hosting their first anniversary party, and there's plenty to celebrate. The independent Nursery and Cafe has overcome major setbacks and enjoyed great success all in the first 12 months. August 5th will mark the first of many, very special years at the site for the team and their customers.

“We've fallen in love with Suffolk - the charm of Beccles town, the cute villages, the beautiful coastline, the bountiful produce...we could go on. And we've still so much more to explore.”
Co-owner Liz Browne

After taking over the site last June, the team had just 6 weeks until opening, and since the launch, the changes and growth in the Nursery and Cafe have been non-stop. In late summer 2017, the plant propagation and Edible Jungle were set up in the adjoining field, supplying the Cafes at both Norfolk and Suffolk with fresh salad and vegetables throughout the winter. During this time, the Cafe saw a demand for something a little different from lunch menus in Suffolk, and continued to develop their ethos using the home-grown produce.

The Cafe at Urban Jungle's mission.
'To deliver a casual dining experience in a unique setting, serving beautiful, globally inspired dishes, connecting people, plants and food.'

Following the success of the new look menu, utilising home-grown produce, and the opening of the Cafe on Saturday nights, Urban Jungle was proud to be awarded 'Best Newcomer' at the Suffolk Food and Drink Awards in April.

Suffolk Best Newcommer

“We've come so far in the last year - the 2 acre field adjoining the Nursery is producing 80% of the plants for both nurseries. And not only ornamentals - the Kitchen Garden produces organically grown salads and vegetables in abundance for both Cafes. We're already pickling and preserving in earnest to see us through the winter.” Liz Browne

Liz and Niamh

Propagation Manager Niamh and Co-owner Liz

It hasn't been plain sailing. The 'Beast from the East' and the never-ending winter caused devastation in both the Costessey and Beccles Nurseries, resulting in their closure for the best part of a week in March. The weather meant that the gardening season was never really able to begin as it should. March and April are usually the busiest months for nurseries, but the terrible weather saw all but the most hardened gardeners staying warm indoors. The first half of the year has certainly been a worrying time for small independent nurseries such as Urban Jungle.

“The weather and the roadworks outside the Nursery have tested us to the limit but we thrive on challenges - they make us even more determined, and our customers' reactions to our Suffolk Nursery and Cafe have exceeded our expectations in their first year!” Liz Browne

Jungle Team

The propagation team

Although the major roadworks are continuing on London Road, the weather has improved for June and July, and co-owners Liz and Mal Browne are determined to push forward. There are big plans for the Nursery, many of which they hope to launch at the Summer Party, including the building of what will become a secluded 'Jungle Garden', perfect for private parties.

“Where has the year gone?! Can it really be just over a year ago that we picked up a jingly bunch of unfathomable keys, looked around the site, scratched our heads and thought 'right, where do we start?' It was a daunting prospect and we had just a couple of months to put our unique stamp on the premises. We were still frantically building, cleaning, placing stock, and gathering our brilliant new team right up to the minutes before opening the gates for the first time.

There have been quite literally blood, sweat and tears. We've suffered setbacks - mainly caused by the crazy weather, and major roadworks right outside our gate, but lots of love and laughter along the way too. It's been a triumph over adversity.” Liz Browne

The Summer Party will be held on Sunday 5th August. Between 12 and 7 we'll be serving up summer cocktails amongst the plants and cooking delicious food on fire, all to the sound of DJ Chilli's lush, Latin beats. From 10am, there'll be VIP Party Bags for the first 50 customers, craft stalls, Festival Glitter, new areas of the Nursery open and of course plants, plants and yet more beautiful plants.

Urban Jungle Summer Party

Register interest on the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/167665274087506

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Hanging Baskets with a serious Jungle Twist...

05 July 2018 - Posted by Rachel Bannon

Hanging baskets have been around for a long time. We've all grown up with them, and they're more often than not filled with bedding plants such as petunias and geraniums. However, we're raising an important question for those considering this outdoor feature in 2018 - are hanging baskets old hat?

Possibly, however we've given ours some Jungle love and are pretty sure they're good enough to bring about a revival of the nation's much loved 'suspended display'.

Let's be honest. Whatever you choose to fill your basket with, they make good sense. They add interest at eye level, they soften corners and walls, and if you're short of space, or even without a garden at all you can still add colour and vibrancy to your windows, doors or any outdoor space.

It's a no brainier, they simply needed a revamp and we've done just that.

Exotic Hanging Baskets at Urban Jungle

“This year Urban Jungle has added a unique take on the traditional hanging basket. They're brimming with a combination of tropical Begonias, trailing Ipomeas, Lotus maculatus x berthelotii 'Fire Vine', and brand new this year, Thunbergia ‘Raspberry Smoothie’. Urban Jungle’s unique take on the hanging basket will add colour and interest for months.” Propagation Manager Niamh explained,

"They’re so easy to care for too. Just water in the morning, and again in the evening. Position them in full sun and a sheltered position. Add some liquid feed every fortnight."

They'll keep going until the first frosts, so with any luck they'll just keep on getting bigger and better right through to late October, perhaps even November. 

So, whatever your thoughts on this seemly antiquated method of displaying your blooms, the vessel is genius - it's what's in it that makes or breaks your outdoor space. And, if interesting exotics are your thing, pop down to the Jungle and pick up a ready-made hanging basket with a twist.

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The Royal Norfolk Rainforest Shower

05 July 2018 - Posted by Rachel Bannon

On the 28th and 29th June 2018, Urban Jungle unveiled a working rainforest shower at the Royal Norfolk Show.

Nursery Manager Uhi, spent 6 weeks planning and project managing the build. The materials she sourced and used were all up-cycled, borrowed, reclaimed and foraged for by the entire Jungle team. 

Read on for Uhi's explanation of the concept and ideas behind the creation. 

The Jungle Shower

The Jungle shower developed from the merging of ideas, the collection of random objects which we have collected and re-purposed and all the plants our hearts could desire. If any one is familiar with our Urban Jungle family - you will know that we are fertile ground for a crazy idea!

Firstly Urban Jungle has always sold exotic and tropical plants and more recently we have developed a keen interest in house plants. It just happens that a lot of the house plants that grow really well in our homes are the same ones or relatives of plants that can be found climbing their way up trees, or growing on the jungle floors in tropical regions and particularly in the jungles of South East Asia.

The second idea comes from the series cosy intimate room like spaces we have created using plants in our cafe so we wanted to continue the room like feel and we came up with the idea of a bathroom. Bathrooms are amazing, they create excellent growing environments, the light levels are often lower than other rooms and they got hot and steamy – perfect for your jungle plants.

Finally houseplants have immense benefits for physical and mental health, they can absorb carbon dioxide and chemical residues, they release oxygen and act as humidifiers which helps reduce viral infections, they release phytoncides which boost immunity, and the presence of plants indoors gives the perception of a richer cleaner environment.

Norfolk Show Concept Design

The concept plan and concept sketch

rainforest shower blue star fern

A blue star fern framing the shower

Full Rainforest Shower

Full vertical aspect of the rainforest shower

Rainforest shower floor

The mossy, leafy rainforest floor

Kokadama rainforest shower

Fern Kokadama keeping moist, hanging from the shower frame. Nepenthes in the background.

Rainforest shower shelves

No UJ exhibit would be complete without our signature Jungle shelves

Rainforest shower sink

Nursery Assistant Sonja kindly lent us her beautiful butler sink

foraged driftwood kokadama

Nursery Assistant Suzanne foraged for beautiful old wood every day in the forest on her way to work

gold award show garden

Our Gold Medal Award in pride of place on the stand

Let us know what you think of the stand, and if you have any ideas for next year in the comments below. 

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