Blooms are a long-established plant nursery making their debut on the web. Father and son Alan and Adrian Bloom will be well known to gardeners in the UK as champions of perennial gardening, and the site attempts to maintain this thread. Entry to the site begins as if you've just sat down to watch a gardening programme: there's a great fanfare of colour and excitement, courtesy of Flash multimedia. Once the song and dance is over, the homepage appears, which is clear and creatively designed. Something of interest from the main menu is flagged up each week, perhaps a recipe or DIY project. There are also mini-ads for Blooms of Bressingham products, but the left-hand menu contains the main content, such as it is.
Shop Online Blooms make big promises on price, delivery, and no-quibble guarantees. They stock a fairly good choice of products ranging from books (in association with Amazon, with whom they have created The Gardener's Bookshop), to watering equipment, and including of course, plants. Th current range available online is not as extensive as some of its rivals, and mostly comprises pre-selected collections, though the full range of products currently available from their eight bricks and mortar shops is scheduled to be online by late Autumn. Although prices are trumpeted as low, delivery is fairly steep as with any mail order plant service, so it's not practical for small orders.
Gardens to Go This section divides into three: DIY projects, which are being built up week by week, and for which you can buy the equipment online, although you must trace it within the site yourself - there are no direct links - and a border planning and planting service. These last two are available around the soft soil of the home counties south-west of London. Wonder how much they'd charge to get their spades into some well-packed Welsh slate?
Community is again sub-divided. Plant Discovery shows how you can team up with Blooms and achieve world recognition should a previously undiscovered seedling pop up in your patch. Ask the Experts offers free 24-hour email advice on choosing and caring for plants, garden design, and personal shopping ideas. Join our Club is a link to www.gardensupply.co.uk, who ask a barrage of questions including your telephone number and address, without which you cannot proceed. Blooms have recently bought the Garden Supply Company, and the aim is to integrate the services more fully.
Seasonal Ideas comprises a gardening diary from Adrian Bloom, and a feature called Tips and Trends which gives brief ideas on a given theme and offers suggestions on what to do in the garden this month, which during July seemed a little too active for those not planning a pond overhaul or a series of evenings creating colour co-ordinated seat covers.
Planting ideas, information about the history and heritage of Blooms, directions to the stores and information about appearances at summer shows.