Urban Jungle Blogs, News and Press Releases


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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Father's Day at Urban Jungle

13 June 2018 - Posted by Rachel Bannon

Father's Day at Urban Jungle

It's not every day you get to make a fuss of dad, and Urban Jungle is the perfect place to do just that. Here's 3 ways in which we can help you, and your family celebrate...

Big impact plants... 

Hosta big daddy 

Hosta 'Big Daddy'



Tetrapanax Rex 

Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Rex' (Chinese rice-paper plant)


Ficus ice crystal 

Ficus carica 'Ice Crystal' (Fig)


Miscanthus gigantus 

Miscanthus × giganteus



Astilboides tabularis

Astilboides tabularis

For more information about our range of indoor and outdoor plants, take a look at our online shop, or contact us here. 

Lunch with BEER

Book a table for lunch (or brunch) at amongst the leaves at the The Cafe at Urban Jungle Suffolk and enjoy a beer or two, with fabulous sharing dishes including low & slow lamb hummus, and shakshuka. Contact us here to book. The Cafe at Urban Jungle Norfolk serves coffee, cake and lunch between 10 and 4, however we don't take bookings. 

Adnams Fathers Day Lunch Suffolk

Gift Vouchers

We have gift vouchers available to use at the Urban Jungle Norfolk and Suffolk Nurseries and Cafes, in any denomination of your choice. You may have missed the boat to order online now, however these are available in store. 

Gift voucher Fathers Day



 
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Who needs flowers? Five of the fanciest indoor leaves at the Jungle...

07 June 2018 - Posted by Rachel Bannon, in Cafe Jungle, Nursery, NewsLetter, Suffolk, Norfolk


We're all about the leaves right now, and there's no need for flowers when they look this good.

Although it would be nice to think these leaves evolved to simply become more and more beautiful, they didn't. Its all about survival. Variegated leaves, and leaves with colour are actually camouflaging themselves. Although surprising, for their particular habitat this far outweighs the disadvantage of reduced photosynthesis. Against the sun-dappled floor of a forest or woodland, animals without colour vision, including insects and herbivores are not able to spot patterned or mottled leaves. The outline of leaves will be disrupted, making them much more difficult to find.

Thank goodness for nature, hey? Here's some of our favourites....


Aeschynanthus marmoratus

(Zebra Basket Vine)

Aeschynanthus marmoratus  Zebra Basket Vine

The Aeschynanthus marmoratus is an epiphyte, which means it uses other plants and trees to grow and spread, extracting moisture and nutrients from the air and rain. The leathery, pointed oval leaves grow in opposite pairs on the stems. The upper leaf surfaces are light green and speckled with swirls of lights green and the undersides are much lighter with deep burgundy spots. In the wild, in Thailand and Malaysia, some of the branch tips bear a cluster of tubular flowers that are pollinated by hummingbirds.

  • A perfect hanging houseplant

  • Likes bright, indirect light

  • Can tolerate some direct sunlight

  • Likes high humidity

  • Water regularly but do not allow the plant to sit in water


Alocasia amazonica (Alocasia polly)

(Elephant's Ear)

Alocasia polly elephants ear

Alocasia polly and Alocasia amazonica are both largely the same, except the ‘Polly’ variety stays a bit smaller. The leaves are completely unique and look particularly striking against a white, minimalist backdrop adding a magnificent jungle touch to a space, all on its own.

Although the name suggests otherwise, neither of these Alocasia varieties naturally originate from the Amazon rainforest. They were artificially created, though their ‘ancestors’ are naturally found in rainforests in Asia, which gives us a helpful guide to caring for this plant at home.

  • Bright but indirect sunlight

  • Well draining soil

  • Keep warm minimum of 16C / 60F (above 70 in summer will promote faster growth)

  • These plants don’t mind a slightly cramped environment - it’s usually not necessary to re-pot every year

  • Use a potting soil and add some perlite to ensure proper drainage


Maranta leuconeura erythrophylla

(Maranta fascinator, Prayer plant, herringbone plant, Tricolor)

Maranta leuconeura erythrophylla Maranta fascinator, Prayer plant, herringbone plant, Tricolor

One of the most intricately patterned leaves in nature, giving this houseplant its well earned place on the nations favourites. The Prayer Plant earned its name because of the way its leaves fold together at night, like hands closed in prayer, revealing beautiful deep-purple under-sides. The leaves unfold again in the morning light, sometimes making a rustling sound.

Prayer plants rarely bloom indoors, but sometimes grow tiny, white tubular flowers on long stems. We're not here to talk about flowers though, it's the magnificent leaves that are the real attraction.

  • Direct sun can dun the colour of the leaves and be fatal

  • Keep warm – minimum 16 degrees C

  • The love humidity, brown tips are a sign of not enough

  • Don't re-pot too often

  • Your plant will benefit from occasional pruning in autumn, which helps to give it a nice shape and promote new growth.


Diffenbachia

(Dumb Cane, Leopard Lily)

Diffenbachia  Dumb Cane, Leopard Lily

Dieffenbachias have the most beautiful mix of green, white, and yellow foliage. It's also quite versatile and will take some neglect and poor treatment. Though, not as hardy as the mother-in-law's tongue, but certainly not as difficult as the Alocasia or Calathea. The last big plus point is that it's also fantastic at regenerating.

The truth is though, that Dumb Canes are actually poisonous. If ingested it can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, swelling the tongue, and paralysing the vocal cords, silencing the victim – hence the name. So, avoid coming into contact with the sap and if you do, wash it off before you accidentally rub your eye, or somewhere equally unfortunate!

If you can see past this weakness, you're in for a real treat.

  • Overwatering is a common problem with many houseplants and the dieffenbachia houseplant is no exception.

  • Most varieties do best in a filtered light situation, where bright to moderate light shines through a sheer curtain or other filtering window cover.

  • Rotate the dieffenbachia houseplant regularly to provide adequate light to all sides of the plant

  • Most cultivars do fine with a low light environment; however, growth is slower, but the plant will remain healthy and attractive.

  • Browning bottom leaves on the Dieffenbachia is normal for the plant; Snip them off to keep the plant tidy.

Sansevieria trifasciata

(mother-in-law's tongue)

Sansevieria trifasciata  mother-in-law's tongue

Sanseviera are stemless, erect, rhizomatous, succulent perennials with evergreen, ovate or strap-shaped, leathery leaves often attractively marbled. While you’re enjoying this fantastic decorative plant, it’s working very hard. Mother-in-law’s tongue does everything it can to sort out the humidity in your home, so that your skin, eyes and airways can also enjoy the plant. It converts poisonous substances into oxygen. And it’s also incredibly strong and easy to care for.

It's simply perfect as a starter plant for beginners too, as it doesn't require much maintenance and grows quite quickly.

  • Grow under glass in bright, filtered light, avoiding full summer sun.

  • If you’d like the plant to be a bit darker, place it further from the window; Or, lighter in colour? Place it closer.

  • Do not water too frequently

  • The best way to look after this plant is to ignore it most of the time. It thrives on neglect.


Visit the Cafes at both Urban Jungle Norfolk and Suffolk to see our full range of houseplants. Our team of experts will happily guide you in choosing the most appropriate for you home, what ever the surroundings. Contact us to find out more.


 
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Tepache

06 June 2018 - Posted by Joe Enhari, in Suffolk, Cafe Jungle, NewsLetter

Tepache

Here at Urban Jungle, we are committed to delivering a great product, be it a plant, lunch, a beverage or two or a combination of all three. We're also incredibly conscious of waste, pioneering a ‘War on Plastic Pots’ in the Nursery and committing to good practice in any way we can. Tepache is a way for the Café to deliver on both fronts, providing a delicious and gut-healthy beverage, whilst using every piece of the raw product.

Pineapple Tepache

Tepache is a wonderful example of the age-old process of fermentation. Pre-Colombian indigenous Mexicans would have been enjoying this, albeit in a higher concentration of alcohol, hundreds of years ago. It’s comforting to think that we can uphold these ancient traditions in a practical and delicious way. I am currently plucking up the courage to ask our owner Liz if I can harvest some sap from the huge agaves we have, and see about some Pulque, but that’s a different story.

Tepache (Tay-paw-chay) starts life as a pineapple. The inner fruity goodness has been set aside for Chef Chloe and is destined for a special project; more on that another time. The rest I have chopped up a bit and put in a clip-top jar. The top will be used in an attempt to grow more…

Pineapple Tepache

I think it’s always nice to pop in little extras to our pickles and ferments. Things that marry together in ‘conventional cooking’, will often blend and combine in incredibly interesting ways when slowly fermenting together. In this case, ginger and cinnamon will add depth and a gentle spice to the finished brew.

Ginger and Cinamon

Now, all that's left is to make up a sweetened water to cover the pineapple, ginger and cinnamon. If you can use a raw cane sugar then do. In Mexico you would of course use piloncillo sugar cones; for a pinch used here, granulated will do just fine. Use a 1 cup measurement per 2 litres of water. Use a little hot water first to dissolve the sugars. Top up your jar and seal. ¡ahí está!

If you can bear to take your eyes off the beauty that will be your jar of almost Tepache, leave it for 4-7 days. The longer you leave it, the more of the sugar will be fermented and the fizzier, but tarter, it will be. Then bottle and enjoy over ice with sparkling water, or even with a nice cerveza. I’ve never had any long enough to test a use by date.

Tepache

Visit the Suffolk Cafe to find out more about our ferments and pickles, we're always experimenting and have some wonderful things on the shelf for you to try!


 
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The Kitchen Garden Diaries 2: One Man's Rubbish...

17 May 2018 - Posted by Niamh Mullally

The Kitchen Garden Diaries 2: One man's rubbish, is Urban Jungle's treasure...

Here's Propagation Manager Niamh's second instalment of the Kitchen Garden Diaries. This entry is about working with the elements, including the weather, and up-cycled and recycled materials in creating a beautiful, environmentally friendly space to grow salad and vegetables . Read on to find out what, where and how Niamh sourced incredibly useful, interesting and unique features for the Kitchen Garden...


Kitchen Garden Team
The Kitchen Garden Team - Tracy, Niamh and Carl 

It wasn’t the smooth, planned organised start I wanted. The severe cold snaps delayed the start of the new Edible Jungle by many weeks. Finally, when construction began, further complications ensued when the foundations of the Costessey car park were discovered to be mostly concrete rather than rich Norfolk topsoil. A frantic ring round of all the soil suppliers for replacement compost proved equally tricky as the cold spell had delayed their production also.

The flip side of all this kerfuffle was unexpected time to sow more vegetable seedlings. I gladly obliged and continued to sow chard, spinach, leeks, spring onions, salad, herbs, edible flowers, kale, radicchio, kohl rabi, spigarello and broad beans. 500 square meters is a big space to fill.

seeds ready to be planted

Ready to be planted...

Eventually the right amount of compost was sourced. The first step to prepare the heavy clay was a generous, even sprinkling of calcified seaweed. This would in-time help to break down the clay. The next step was to construct the south boundary fence so that critters would not be able to enter. Chicken wire was sunk below ground for the on-site rabbits, and a simple two metre fence was constructed. The March snow had allowed us to identify many, many small footprints tracked around the poly tunnels at night. Evidence that there were indeed deer in the area.

So, at this point in construction the only costs involved were soil, some new wood and some chicken wire.

Scrap metal was donated and collected all winter from our neighbour, and local metal sculptor Paul Richardson. We've made unique trellises and climbing structures, gates and fencing with Paul's discarded sheets of steel, originally used for punching out sculptures.


Scrap metal

Scrap metal used to make gates and trellises

The very talented Tracie was able to put her considerable skills to use and within hours a gate was made.

The chicken wire whilst necessary is an eyesore. With all year round colour, interest and winged creatures in mind the climbers Akebia quinata ( chocolate vine), Lonicera tellmanniana, Clematis armandii and Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine) were planted.

climbers for wildlife

Climbers

We rarely throw anything away here at Urban Jungle so lots of cardboard collected from Cafe and Nursery deliveries was laid before the soil was evenly distributed. An effective weed suppressant.


Cardboard base

Creating the beds was straight forward. A template was cut, and an agreed width of paths decided. Wood-chip donated from local tree surgeons was laid on the paths and the beds emerged.

The beds are taking shape

The beds are taking shape

Like a rat up a drainpipe, I was in there with a seed tray and a dibber. Granted it was more a personal psychological need rather than real urgency to plant broad beans, but it felt very satisfying whatever the reason.

Scrap metal gates

Scrap metal gates

The entrance to the garden also needed a boundary. Pallets were used to make a giant raised beds connected by another up cycled gate. The width of the beds will provide a secure entrance whilst allowing extra planting space, because obviously 500 square metres isn’t enough! These pallets will be filled with the contents of our winter Cafe composting bins and topped with fertilised new compost. Artichokes, climbers, and nasturtiums have already been planted, these with time will cover the free, (but let’s be honest) unsightly pallet beds.

Abandoned barrels weren’t safe either. Ben is a talented young sculptor and using his skills they were transformed into giant planters with extra planting pockets for herbs.

While all this was going on, progress was being made in other areas too. The heritage potatoes are in the process of being planted. Up-cycled compost bags are ideal for this, luckily, we have an endless supply.

Potatoes

Heritage potatoes

Chillies and peppers are all growing well in the heated propagators. seaweed fertiliser was added at the pricking out stage to give the seedlings a taste of things to come. This week I pinched out the tips, to encourage bushy growth and larger yields.

Chilli tips

Chilli tips

The tomatoes are very happy. It won’t be long now before they are planted into containers in the poly-tunnel. Hanging baskets are planned of ‘Tumbler’, along with nasturtiums to make the most of the poly-tunnel space.

Honestly, construction is nowhere complete yet, but progress is steadily being made and so far, up-cycling is at maximum and costs are at a minimum. Once the weather improves, growth should be rapid and the first harvests from our new garden will begin.

Happy growing.

Niamh


The Kitchen Garden will be open to the public mid-summer, keep an eye on our newsletters for more information. The Cafe is open everyday serving fresh produce harvested from the Edible Jungle. Book a table at beccles@urbanjunglecafe.uk.com.




 
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