Helping Businesses Grow

2017 was a very successful year for Paskett Public Relations and our clients. Between all of the brands that we look after, the coverage we achieved reached more than 230 million people. That’s 3.5 times the population of the UK!

It isn’t just coverage that we generate for our clients. We also provided social media services, event support, new product launch ideas, press days and secured product reviews, competitions and giveaways in national newspapers and leading consumer magazines.

To read more about our successes, view our case studies here:

…and we know we’re tooting our own horn, but we aren’t the only ones who love the work we do. Click here to read what journalists and our clients have to say about us.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help your business grow, please send us an email to hello@paskett.co.uk or call the team on 01332 258335.

Five Summer-Flowering Bulbs for Vibrant Garden Colour

The garden is still largely dormant in January and February as cold weather and the risk of frosts persist. Hopefully you have noticed a few daffodils or snowdrops making an appearance – a welcome reminder that spring is almost here.

Planning for the garden now is a great way, whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, to ensure you’ll have lots of colourful flower displays throughout the summer months.

There is plenty of choice when it comes to summer-flowering plants. Bulbs are one of the easiest ways to start planting, because they require little care one they are in the ground and are suitable for a variety of outside spaces, whether it’s a patio, border, window box, hanging basket, container, or allowing to naturalise beneath a tree canopy.

To get you started, we’ve created a list of our five favourite bulbs to plant in spring:

Alliums

Great for flower borders and containers. These purple or white, spherical flowers stand tall above the rest, with some varieties such as allium ‘Ambassador’ reaching up to 40cm in height. They will add a striking statement to your garden between May and July, and attract lots of bees too (who can’t resist purple!).

Gladioli

Previously considered a little old-fashioned, new modern varieties mean that these blooms are back in style and fit right at home in our gardens. Gladiolus murielae is a particularly fragrant variety with delicate white flowers and a striking purple centre.

Camassia

For a late spring, early summer treat, camassia produce dozens of small, delicate flowers. Camassia cusickii is a wonderful pastel shade of violet-blue and grows tall, looking splendid when planted in clusters of other flowers. They prefer to be planted into the ground rather than containers into moist but well-drained soil.

Crocosmia

Crocosmia typically flowers from July onwards, depending on the variety, with some types producing flowers well into October. Varieties include beautiful orange, yellow and red shades, and our favourite is crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ – fiery, rich red flowers that bloom in August and September.

Scadoxus

Like the allium for its wow factor, scadoxus has large, spherical flowers that appear almost perfectly symmetrical. Scadoxus multiflorus is sometimes called the ‘Fireball Lily’ because of its ball of red, tiny star-shaped flowers. It flowers between July and September so you could plant it next to alliums. There will be a brief period where both scadoxus and alliums are in flower and the combination will look stunning!

A Guide to the Gardening Trends of 2018

The new year is already upon us, and we’ve looked at the latest industry research, talked to our clients, and collated a list of some of the gardening trends we think are going to be big in 2018.

One of the overriding themes is all about making gardening more accessible to all, regardless of the outside space they have. Recent data suggests that the average British garden is getting smaller as demand for new housing grows. It is estimated that two million homes in Britain don’t have a garden – by 2020, 10.5% of all homes will not have a garden at all.

Increasing levels of noise pollution are also affecting our time spent in the garden – a report found that 48% of people said noise spoiled their home life to some extent.

Urban Gardening

Gardeners will be looking for innovative products that allow them to plant more in a confined area.

Containers, planters and vertical gardening will continue to be popular. The Compact Cascade Planter from Forest Garden offers three levels of planting space, without taking up too much room.

Re-Wilding the Environment

More emphasis is now being put on the impact gardeners can have on their environment and the wildlife within it. The key to this trend of ‘imperfect gardening’ is to let your garden become less manicured and err on the wild side.

To achieve this, you can choose an area of the garden, or just a border, and allow it to become overgrown. Alternatively, the odd weeds left alone, piles of debris or small ponds provide safe havens and food for garden wildlife. The decline of animals such as bees, hedgehogs and butterflies was a hot topic in the news last year, and as gardeners we are keen to do our bit in whatever way we can.

There has been a major shift towards biological pest control in recent years, too, as gardeners become increasingly wary of chemical-based products. Nemasys and Nemaslug contain millions of beneficial nematodes, which are a natural way to control a variety of common pests, including the gardener’s number one pet-hate: slugs!

GLEE 2017 saw the launch of a new range of ecofective garden care products that are pet, child and bee friendly. The products include Pour & Feed, Slug Defence and Lawn Feed – all of which use natural and organic ingredients to ensure they are safe for wildlife and are kind to the environment.

Quiet, Please

The increase in noise pollution, as mentioned above, has seen gardeners wanting a garden that is enclosed, quiet and private.

Last year, Forest Garden launched its new Decibel Noise Reduction Fence Panel – the first DIY panel of its kind on the market, designed to reduce nuisance noise levels such as road traffic and noisy neighbours by as much as eight times.

Battery powered tools continue to soar in popularity because they are quiet, powerful and easy to handle, as well as being more environmentally friendly than alternative equipment.

Cobra Garden has a range of battery products, from lawnmowers to hedgecutters, with new tools launching this year.

Alfresco Living

Despite the unpredictable weather, Brits remain keen to enjoy their garden as much as possible by transforming it into a functional extension of the home and embracing a Mediterranean-inspired lifestyle. Demand for luxury garden products that can be used for leisure, entertaining and dining will continue, with sales of outdoor furniture, barbecues and accessories set to increase 3-4% annually over the next three years.

Forest Garden is launching new ranges of Gazebos and Pergolas for the new gardening season.

Small Storage

The popularity of the British shed remains high, but the rise of small garden storage will see gardeners looking for compact storage units that are just the right size for a patio, next to the back door, or by the side of the house. In response to this, Forest Garden is launching its new range of small storage for 2018 (pictured above).

The Posh Shed Company’s Patio Store, Half Sheds and the Allotment Store are all beautifully crafted and are designed with maximising space in mind.

Multi Tools for Multi Tasking

As gardeners look for innovative products to allow them to grow plants and store equipment in small spaces, they are also looking for tools that take up as little room as possible. Enter the multi-functional, multi-change® tools from WOLF-Garten! With a choice of 14 handles, over 60 tool heads (and new ones launching this year), this is one gardening tool that has dozens of functions, from weeding, sweeping, edging, pruning, raking and more.

Lightweight tools are also on the rise, as both beginner and amateur gardeners seek tools that are easy to handle and store away. Wilkinson Sword offers loppers and shears that weigh just 450 grams, but still have the excellent cutting ability that you would expect from this trusted gardening brand.

Floratourism

Visiting public gardens is becoming increasingly popular as people search for inspiration and planting ideas to take away and use in their own garden. Between 2014 and 2016, gardens and country parks saw a 7% and 4% increase in visitor numbers respectively.

The National Garden Scheme includes over 3,700 privately-owned gardens in England and Wales that are open to the public, and the proceeds raised are used to support nursing charities throughout the country. In 2017 nearly 700,000 members of the public visited gardens that range from stately homes to allotments to schools. An increasing trend is for entire villages to open up their gardens on a specified day.

Colour of the Year

Colour trend-setters Pantone recently announced its Colour of the Year: Ultra Violet. Think ‘deep purple’ and very appropriate for the garden! Likewise, Dulux announced Heart Wood as its Colour of the Year; a dusky, soft pink which is found in plants throughout nature.

As for plants, Hillier unveiled new plants at last year’s gold medal-winning RHS Chelsea show garden, including Malus × purpurea ‘Crimson Cascade’ (pictured below centre), which was shortlisted for the RHS’s Plant of the Year award. Hillier, although famed for its trees, included plenty of small shrubs and stunning flower displays, ideal for smaller gardens. Planning is already underway for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018, where the company is going for its 73rd consecutive gold medal.

Take a look behind the scenes at Hillier’s nursery here.

 

Don’t hesitate to get in contact if you require any further information on any of the products or companies mentioned in this newsletter; press releases, photography and specification details are available upon request. Additionally, we are always opens to providing products for trials, competitions or offers.

Get in touch by emailing georginamackintosh@paskett.co.uk.

5 Top Priority Jobs for my Garden in 2018

Most of the Christmas gifts have been bought and, in my case, await wrapping so in my free time I’ve noted down the key tasks for my garden in 2018.   It’s a challenging garden, just a tad under four acres, with lots of grass and trees, some very mature.

Despite the fact that it was unanimously rejected by the town and borough council planning departments, we lost a planning objection 18-months ago and 140 houses are currently being built either side of my drive.

So of my five key gardening tasks for 2017 number one is continuing to plant a screen to keep our new neighbours from peering into our garden and house.

Against one agricultural fence I’ve put in a combination of Leylandii, Portugese Laurel and Blackthorn.   They were planted in February 2017 and, with the aid of some rabbit-proof fencing, are doing well.  We are putting down good mulch and, in the spring, will top dress with pelleted chicken manure.   The Leylandii are currently supported by six foot stakes and I don’t want them to become too dependent and lazy.  I’ll keep checking but think they stakes will be out by autumn 2018.

Number Two is a lot more horticultural, or to be more accurate, arboreal.   There are 32 native British trees.  I want to try to have an example of each one and already have more than a third growing in the garden.  My good friends at Hillier have found me another dozen so I’m on the search for the others.

The third priority is to grow better Brussel Sprouts!  For years I have had excellent sprouts but 2016 and 2017 were absolute disasters.  I know there is club root disease in my veg cage and I do always but disease resistant plans and treat them but, to not avail.  Christmas dinner 2018 will be piled high with delicious, tender sprouts.

For number four I am after better ground cover in the herbaceous borders.  The main border is in front of a high brick wall and the prevailing wind is sheltered from it by a 10 foot yew hedge that is some 30 yards away.   It faces due south and has excellent, good draining soil.   All suggestions will be appreciated.

My fifth and final priority job is perhaps the most challenging.  Our children are now married and they all live in the south.  The hard surface tennis court was attacked by rabbits some ten years ago and is now festooned with all sorts of weeds.   The wire netting surround remains in good order.    My wife’s and my tennis playing days are well and truly over but I want the old court to look a cared for area of the garden.  My plan is to seriously weed kill in the spring, then burn it off.   I shall cover the entire area with a combination of well-rotted grass and leaf cuttings to about 4 inches deep and then It will be turfed.  OK, so it won’t be centre court quality but  lot better than at present.

I’ll write another blog this time next year and let you know how many of the five have been ticked off.   I fear number five may well by on my 2019 ‘to do’ list.

Happy Christmas and New Year and Happy Gardening.

Graham

Sloe Whisky McCubbin Style – A Christmas Tale

I was recently rummaging through some old family papers and came across a recipe for Christmas Sloe Whisky from my grandfather, Andrew McCubbin, who died more than 50 years ago.   The recipe was in his own, bold hand-writing.  As you may have detected from his surname, he was a Scot and his family came from the tiny lowland village of Penpont in Dumfries and Galloway.

Apparently, according to the papers, Sloe Whisky was a favourite tipple of the McCubbins at Christmas and Hogmanay, so I thought I should share it with you.   It is a rather messy task so, rather than attempt to write it down, I decided to record it on my iPhone and here is an approximate transcript of that evening.

Sloe berries

The trick to a good sloe whisky is to use the fruits that have been steeped in gin and sugar for many months – 12 in my grandfather’s case –  to make sloe gin and then and give them a fresh lease of life.  It just so happened that I had made sloe gin the previous year and it was now ready for bottling.  The timing was perfection.

I bought a couple of bottles of Aberlour 10-Year Old single malt whisky to use as the basis of my grandfather’s drink.   The sloe gin had been fermenting in our cellar for more than a year and was in an old glass sweet jar, the sort of thing that used to be on shelves at the back of traditional confectioners shops.  The plastic screw top lid was sealed in place with black electrical tape.   I was working on the kitchen table that, happily, was covered in a wipeable plastic cloth.

As soon as the lid was removed to room was filled with the scent of gin, sloes and vanilla.  It was so delicious that I just had to sample a glass.  It was scrumptious.

The next step was to filter the old port coloured liquid into a large sterilised glass jug.  My wife had organised this for me.   The liquid slowly dripped though the muslin cover over the jug.  The bits and pieces of sloe began to collect on the surface of the muslin, restricting the flow of gin, so I carefully scraped this away with a silver soup spoon.  I’m quite sure another metal would be perfectly acceptable, but this was a tribute to my grandfather.    That liquid coming from the sweet jar looked so tempting that a second glass was quickly poured.  Thick, sweet and sticky, like eating liquid jam but with a strong after kick.  Fantastic.

As soon as the sloe gin had stopped flowing I quickly turned the sweet jar back onto its base and they fell back to the bottom.   The outside of the jar and the plastic lid were both very sticky so I gave then a quick wipe with a kitchen cloth taken from some hot water in the kitchen sink.  And it was hot!

I had to run the cold tap to cool the water and that seemed the perfect opportunity to sample that Aberlour 10-Year Old Single Malt.  I fetched a fresh glass from the cupboard and poured myself an ample tasting sample.  This was topped up with the cold water from the tap.

The sharpness of the whisky quickly cut through the stickiness of the gin and gave a warming glow as it slipped down.   Unfortunately, I accidentally knocked the sweet jar over on the kitchen table, spilling some of the gin soaked sloes onto the plastic surface.  I quickly scooped them up with my hand and popped them back into the jar.

While all this was going on, my wife was reading the business pages of The Times in the corner of the kitchen by the AGA.  She looked disapprovingly over the top of her paper at the sticky mess I was making on the plastic cloth.  That’s precisely what plastic cloths are for, isn’t it?

My hands were now quite disgustingly messy so I dipped them immediately into that hot water.  My goodness I had for gotten just how hot it was.  I immediately ran them under the cold tap and quickly took the opportunity to refresh my whisky glass.

Although my grandfather had very bold and clear handwriting it was not too easy to decipher some of it in our rather poor kitchen lighting.  Anyway, I worked out that I needed 2lbs of ordinary sugar.  I knew that my wife kept the sugar in an air-tight container by the AGA but, sadly, as I walked over to retrieve it, I accidentally stepped on the cat who was sleeping in front of the cooker.  It gave a terrifying scream that made my wife jump up from her chair, knocking the sugar container onto the floor.

It smashed to smithereens leaving a crunchy trail of sugar and glass all over the kitchen floor.  The battery powered floor sweeper, in her capable hands, made short work of the cleaning operation and I went into the larder for some more sugar.  I found a replica glass container full to the brim and was about to empty it onto the sloes when my wife, rather coldly I thought, pointed out that I was about to pour 2lbs of table salt onto the little darlings.   An easy mistake to make in such poor lighting.

She snatched it off me and came back with a 2lb bag of sugar which she then carefully poured into the sweet jar, covering the sloes.

Don’t despair, almost there.

The next job was to pour the two bottles, well actually one and a half bottles of Aberlour 10-Year Old Single Malt onto the sugar and sloes.  As luck would have it, there was just not quite enough room for all that lovely whisky.  While my wife was putting the floor cleaner away, I took the opportunity to refresh my glass.  I replaced the plastic top and screwed it tightly into position.  Or at least I thought I had.

I was giving the sweet jar a hearty shake to mix up to gin soaked sloes, sugar and whisky when, after a particularly fierce movement, the top came off and deposited most of the contents over my wife who had just walked back into the kitchen.  Her normal humour deserted her almost as quickly as the contents of the jar had left their home.

Sorry grandad but I’ll just have to make some more sloe gin so that I can return to your recipe this time next year. I still have to bottle all that sloe gin but I think I’ll leave it until tomorrow.  In the meantime I’ll just slope off to the dog house to put my head down for the night.

Slainte.

Graham

Can you imagine what one million plants looks like?

Here at Paskett PR we are fortunate enough to have some very unique experiences! Whilst a lot of time is spent at our desks typing away, we do try to get out and about exploring as much as possible.

Last week, we were treated to something really quite special.

We visited the Hillier team and their stunning head office at Ampfield House in Romsey for the first Chelsea planning meeting. We’ve got lots of exciting things lined up for next year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show and it was great to be involved from the beginning, and to start planning things and see how it’s all going to shape up. After the meeting we were shown around the Hillier nursery, and I don’t think we were fully expecting the scale that it is!

We were blown away by the sheer volume of what Hillier produces. First, we visited a smaller site (which is by no means small, but is when compared to where we went afterwards!), where the Hillier team do a lot of their discovering and horticultural wizardry. Hillier is a leader in growing plants and an innovator in discovering new ones. It has in the past been responsible for many new plant introductions which have now become essentials in British gardens, and I’m sure there were many rare and unique plants growing around us.

We then went to the main site where it is estimated there are one million plants growing!

What impressed me was how neat it all was! I make a real mess when potting up plants and spill compost everywhere, so I can only imagine the carnage they’d be if I were responsible for one million plants and not just a handful!  However, at Hillier it was impeccably tidy and the plants all growing in straight lines on a grid. It is after all a factory.

We were joined by Sarah Eberle, Hillier’s award-winning Chelsea designer, and it was fantastic to see her going round the nursery selecting her plants for the show and watching her process and seeing her getting excited as she visualised them all in her mind.

We’ve got a busy few months ahead of us with all the RHS Chelsea Flower Show planning so we’ll be sure to keep you posted!

The Hillier story is fascinating and we strongly recommend you read this piece on the Hillier website about the history of the family and the company to find out just what makes it all so special.

Holly

Christmas Gifts From Some of the Biggest Names in Gardening

We at Paskett PR have produced a round up of some of the best Christmas gift ideas from our wide range of gardening brands. There is sure to be something for everyone, no matter the price point!

With a vast range of high quality gardening gloves and boots to choose from, it is no wonder that Town & Country is the ‘go to’ company for discerning gardeners who value functionality, quality, and style. If you know someone who enjoys taking care of their garden, and wants to look good whilst doing so, Town & Country has a Christmas gift for them. Here are just a couple of examples of some of the brand’s most popular items.

Bamboo Gloves – £5.99

Town & Country’s Bamboo Gloves are the choice for the environmentally conscious gardener. The natural bamboo fibres are luxuriously soft, naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial. The latex coating on the palms and fingers offers full dexterity and grip, whilst protecting your hands from thorns and brambles.

Available in three colours –  mint, navy, raspberry.

The Rutland – £79.99

These new Neoprene-lined boots are a cut above the rest. At 4mm thick, the neoprene lining covers the whole of the inside of the boot including the insole area, making them supremely comfortable. A concertina-style gusset on the inside gives the boots an adjustable fit.

The boots are a traditional green / brown  colour, with a contoured style and textured surface, plus a steel shank for strength in the sole.

Wilkinson Sword MultiTool Garden – £19.99

Wilkinson Sword tools are firm favourites with British gardeners of all ages and experience and there is something for every gardener within the Wilkinson Sword range of garden tools this Christmas, along with the reassuring Wilkinson Sword 10-year guarantee. A great all-rounder is the Multi-Tool Garden; It has 14 functions, including three screwdriver fittings, three spanners, a can opener, a bottle opener, a saw, a knife and an all-important pruner, so give as a gift for not just gardeners but anyone who loves the great outdoors!

WOLF-Garten Traditional Hedge Shear – £39.99

WOLF-Garten offers the total gardening solution for lawn care, soil and cultivation, tree and shrub care and general garden maintenance and are firm favourites with British gardeners.

The traditional hedge shears are a real Christmas cracker and are a must for keeping garden hedges and topiary forms in shape throughout the growing season. The curved, non-stick coated double-edged blades are powerful enough to cut through thick branches and the shock absorbing buffers ensure continued comfortable use.

The Southwold – from £2,350

Posh Bird Box – £19

Add a touch of class to the garden with a gift from The Posh Shed Company who make beautiful hand-crafted items for gardens of all shapes and sizes.

From a Posh Bird Box, for just £19, available in a range of six stylish colours, to a bespoke creation such as the beautiful Southwold beach hut style shed that recreates the British seaside in the back garden – The Posh Shed Company has it all. There is also a range of handy garden solutions that are practical yet elegant and offer the perfect way to hide unsightly wheelie bins and garden clutter.

Nemaslug Programme – from £22.95 for 12 weeks

If you are looking for an unconventional, but extremely useful, Christmas present for that keen gardener in your life, why not treat them to the gift that will keep giving, throughout the entire growing season? A Nemaslug Programme provides the ultimate in convenience when it comes to pest control, as fresh nematodes are delivered to the recipient’s doorstep every six weeks for the duration of the programme, which can last up to 36 weeks.

Nemaslug is as easy to use as watering the garden, and the programme means that gardeners need never run out of pest control, or make a last-minute dash to the garden centre, again!

Victorian Tall Wall Greenhouse – £369.99

Forest Garden, the UK’s leading manufacturer of outdoor timber products, has an extensive range of stylish planters and raised beds (including Junior Planters for kids from £15.99!) in various sizes, as well as a range of greenhouses ranging from the compact Victorian Wall Greenhouse for just £369.99 to the large, traditional Vale Greenhouse for £2,299.99 (incl. installation).

Alternatively, Forest’s collection of outdoor furniture, from benches, picnic tables and pergolas, to the stunning range of luxury Gazebos and Oakley Summerhouses, will create the perfect place to welcome friends or to steal a few moments of peace and quiet. Also available are a wide choice of sheds and handy storage units, large and small.

 

If you would like any more information on any of the products above, please contact georginamackintosh@paskett.co.uk.

Social Media for Business: 3 Must-Do Tips for Success

It’s fair to say there are A LOT of social media platforms out there, and far more than just the largest ones; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, the list goes on…

This presents a challenge for businesses: how can you use it to effectively engage with your customers, raise awareness of your brand and ultimately drive sales? It can all be quite time-consuming, which is where we can help!

For us, providing social media services for our clients is an exciting task, because there are plenty of ways to be creative, engage with people and put our clients out there in the digital arena. It is a fantastic tool that instantly puts you in front of potential and existing customers.

Know Your Audience

It is vital for businesses to have a presence on social media, but thinking that you need to be on EVERY social platform can be a mistake. Consider who your target audiences are; different platforms are used by people of varying age groups and backgrounds, and for different reasons.   The key is matching the two together.  That’s our skill.

Quality Over Quantity

Bombarding social media users with constant updates from your business can have the opposite effect to the desired impact you want.

We make sure the content we create for our clients is engaging and relevant to their audiences. Too many posts of poor quality will sound ‘salesy’ and in a world where advertising is EVERYWHERE, it can quickly turn consumers off to your brand and your message.  Part of our role is acting as the social media listening post for your business.

A Little More Conversation

We make time to go beyond the routine posting, and talk to people and influencers who matter to your brand. Even before you decide to start using social media, some of your customers may already be talking about your products or services online.  It is important to share and respond to their feedback as often as possible. This ‘social listening’ also means we can seek out people talking about topics relating to your business; they have a problem, your product could be the solution.

Social Gardening

Our key speciality, and favourite topic, is gardening. Social media is the perfect tool for this sector; it lets you be creative, visual, advisory, green and educational. Conversations around the subject of gardening are constantly ongoing on social media platforms – people share photos and ideas, and we like to put our clients content bang in the middle of all of it, offering tips, tricks and best practice advice.

There are also plenty of gardening and lifestyle bloggers and influencers out there, and we make it our role to engage with them, strengthen our relationships and seek out new connections for the benefit of our clients.

If you would like to get in touch to discuss investing in social media for your business, please contact us at hello@paskett.co.uk or 01332 258 335.