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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 NewsLetter, Norfolk, Cafe Jungle, Nursery, Propagation, Suffolk

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 Norfolk, Nursery, Suffolk

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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Plants with extremely bad behaviour

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

It's big, it's bad and it is beautiful. Puya chilensis is a ground dwelling bromeliad originating from arid Chilean hillsides. It is a rosette forming evergreen perennial bearing very impressive flowers on stems up to 3m long.

Picture By Megan Hansen [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr
But this plant has a very grisly habit and is commonly known as the sheep eating plant (its not exclusive, it will feed on other animals too).

It gets its meals by trapping unsuspecting animals in its multiple curved spines; the animals slowly starve to death and the plant absorbs the nutrients released by the rotting carcass.

We don't currently stock this plant at Urban Jungle, just as well as I don't think the nursery dogs and cats would be safe, however we do have some smaller cousins such as Puya ferruginea which reaches up to 1m and Puya mirabilis which spreads to 75cm.

If you are taken with this Puya but not keen its rather unpleasant habit, we have an impressive collection of Kniphofias this year for all the drama without the danger!!

Kniphofia 'Jenny Bloom'
Kniphofia northiae

Kniphofia 'Shining Sceptre' Bloom

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Christmas Trees

30 November 2015 - Posted by Uhi Millington, in Norfolk, Nursery, Suffolk

A potted history of the origin of the Christmas tree
Did you know that evergreens symbolised the return of the sun, the triumph of life over death and everlasting life, and it was widely believed evergreens would keep away illness, evil spirits, ghosts and witches?
Throughout history trees that remained green all winter have had a special meaning. The ancient Egyptians filled their homes with palm leaves and rushes to symbolise the return of the Sun God Ra, Celts decorated their temples with evergreen boughs to symbolise everlasting life, and the Romans decorated their homes with evergreens during the Solstice to celebrate the return of Saturn, the God of Agriculture.
The tradition of bringing evergreens into the home is long and far reaching but the Christmas tree tradition we are familiar with today began in Germany during the 16th century, and was made popular in England during the reign of Queen Victoria. Today in the UK around 8 million Christmas trees are sold each year, in America this figure raises to a staggering 35 - 40 million trees!

Christmas Tree selection at Urban jungle
We have 3 varieties of Christmas trees for sale at the Urban Jungle all between 5 and 7 feet. They have been selected for their own special attributes, and each variety is quite different to the next, but all the trees have been chosen because they are not prickly and will retain their needles until, and maybe long after you have finished with them.

Nordman fir (Abies nordmanniana)
The Nordman fir is a very traditional cone shaped tree with a mild pine fragrance. It is full and fat with very densely packed branches. The needles are thick, dark green, very soft, long and super glossy with a very slightly cascading effect.
It is the smallest tree we have in stock at 5ft and ideal for either standing on the floor or raised on a stand.

Fraser  fir (Abies Fraseri)
If you don't want to compromise on height but space is a bit limited the Fraser fir is the tree for you. It is narrow and columnar, the tiers of branches are very close together and it has a strong pine fragrance. The branches slope upwards which makes it perfect for decorating.  What makes this tree really special is the two tone colours, the needles are plentiful, short, soft, slightly curled and a soft glossy green on the upper sides - but the undersides are a very festive silver!!

Noble fir (Abies procera)
If you are looking for something a bit different, then the noble fir is truly noble.  It is stately, elegant and regal. The branches are formed around the trunk in very distinct tiers of very tactile, dense, soft glaucous blue green up-curved needles, and it has a very pleasant scent.

Choosing the perfect tree
At Urban Jungle you can inspect every single tree (if you really want to)! Every tree is on display and un-netted, we will even get them out and hold them for you so you can have a good look round. With our trees you know exactly what you are getting.
When you have chosen your tree we will do the heavy work while you relax with a coffee in our warm, snug little café. We will net your tree and put it in your car for you - sorry, decorating service not included!

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