Christmas, Gardening, Gardens, Grow Your Own, Megan, mental health, Wildlife

tree branches in snow

Christmas is officially almost here. Although it is an enjoyable time of year for most, for some it can be a struggle. It is a challenging time for our stress levels with changes of routine and lots of pressure. This can be made even worse by an existing mental health problem. 1 in 4 people in the UK experience some kind of mental health problem in their lives. That’s a massive 16.41 million people. Venture into garden therapy and you’ll hopefully see lots of benefits.

Spending time outdoors can relieve stress and improve your mental health. If you’re feeling down, anxious, or struggling with something else, getting out into your garden might help. I myself suffer from depression.  From experience, spending time in nature improves my mental outlook, helps me relax and boosts my mood, even on the downest of days. We’ve compiled a list of things you can do in your garden at this time of year. Try one or more of them out if you want to see what garden therapy can do for you.

Meditate

garden therapy zen stones

Yes it may be chilly, but wrap up warm and find a nice quiet corner of your garden to sit down and meditate. Mindfulness is now a recommended treatment for people who struggle with their mental health. It it also used by people who want to improve their overall mental wellbeing. To get started with meditation, download an app such as Stop, Breathe & Think or HeadSpace. Both have simple, easy to follow meditations for beginners.

Feed The Birds

garden bird on feeding dish

Research has shown that watching garden birds is good for your mental health. Invest in some wild bird care and enjoy the wonders of the many species of bird it’ll attract to your garden. The most common garden birds in the UK are house sparrows, starlings, blackbirds and blue tits so keep an eye out for those. A good place to start is by buying a ready-to-use bird feeder and hanging it on a tree branch in your garden. Alternatively, there are a wide range of bird seed mixes, from general mixes to mixes that will attract certain species such as robins.

Grow Something

hands planting a cactus

Although this may seem daunting to someone who has never gardened before, growing something from seed doesn’t have to be stress central. In fact, you’ll be sure to feel a sense of achievement, nurturing something that started in your hand as a packet of seeds and is now something you can serve on your plate, or admire the beauty of. Invest in a grow kit and see where the world of growing plants will take you. You never know – this time next year you might be harvesting your own veg patch!

Mental wellbeing is boosted by being outdoors so don’t neglect your garden because it’s cold! Using garden therapy can reap great benefits. So get outside, get relaxed, and get happy.

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.

Celebrations And Holidays, Christmas, Decoration, Gardening, Gardens, How To, Lighting, Tyler

As Christmas is edging closer and closer by the day, it’s that time to start decorating your home with colourful, festive decorations and lights! Remember our 20 DIY Outdoor Christmas Decorations blog? Well here at Primrose, we have decided to go further and try it out for ourselves and this is how we did it…

Terracotta Snowman

First off to get your living room looking more Christmassy, make your own Terracotta Snowman! To make this snowman without the hassle of waiting for it to snow, all you need is 3 painted terracotta pots. Start by placing the 3 cups on top of each other, add a hat and scarf and then glue together. Paint on the face and you’re done! Sit your new homemade terracotta snowman outside to add the festive feeling to your garden.

Pine Cone Christmas Tree

The Pine Cone Tree is a great alternative to your traditional christmas tree. All that is needed to create one is a terracotta pot and a suitable sized pine cone. We recommend that you talk a nice walk with family and friends and find a pine cone along your travels! Now paint it with Christmas colours and make a star to place on top of it. The pine cone tree will be perfect on your outdoor table or around the house.

Lighted Hanging Basket

Hanging Basket aren’t quite the same if there isn’t any lights added onto it… This is why our hanging basket stands out more. You can make your own hanging basket a Christmas alternative decoration this year by filling it with spare ornaments and nature. You should then proceed to wrap coloured or white lights around the basket. Hang it outside your front door to embrace the Christmas spirit.

Glass Bottle Lantern

Similar to our glass jar lantern, the glass bottle lantern is another beautiful ornament to have as christmas decorations on your desk or on the dinner table at home. As you may have guessed already, the supplies you’ll need for this particular Christmas decoration is an empty glass bottle and lights, pretty simple right? Wire in the lights into the bottle and then you’re set to have a magical looking lantern wherever you please!

Clothes Peg Star

clothes peg star

If you’re left stuck without a star to add on your Christmas tree this year, no fear! You can create your very own star by using your spare clothes pegs. On ours, we decided to paint it red to go with the rest of our decorations around the office so we advise you paint it to your preference.

 

 

Be sure to send us over the decorations you’ve created this year on our Facebook and Twitter; we’d love to see them!

homemade christmas decorations

Tyler at PrimroseTyler works in the Primrose Marketing team, mainly working on Social Media and Online Marketing.

Tyler is a big fan on everything sports and supports Arsenal Football Club. When not writing Primrose blogs and tweets, you can find Tyler playing for his local Sunday football team or in the gym.

See all of Tyler’s posts.

Dakota Murphey, Decoration, Garden Design, How To, Make over

mum cave

It’s well-documented that men “need” their own sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of a busy family home… but what, women don’t?! The modern gal is somehow expected to be all things at once: income earner, household manager, mother, wife, lover and friend – and yet we don’t “need” our own space to unwind after a long week of relentless life? Rubbish.

I’m sure plenty of people will argue that the entire house is a woman’s kingdom, and that most homes are decorated and run to the specifications of Mum. While this may be true, the fact remains that a household is still a place of constant demands, whether that be from chores, partners, children or pets. It’s simply not the same as having our own, private space to unwind, recuperate and regain our sense of self.

Forget a man-cave, you need a mum-cave, or she-shed. Sound good? Here’s how you make it happen.

Step 1: Claim your domain

In a busy family home, it’s highly likely that all of the spots which used to be “yours”, now belong to someone else. The second bedroom became a nursery; your favourite reading nook now houses the dog bed; even the kitchen and bathroom have been overrun with toys, washing and mess.

While it’s not mandatory for you to move out to the garden shed, it’s essential that your mum-cave is in a part of your home that isn’t frequently used by other people. Converting a garage or loft is a popular choice, but may need a little more planning than taking over the shed.

she shed

Step 2: Purge it

It doesn’t get much more satisfying than emptying out junk that has accumulated over the years. Take an afternoon to clear out gardening tools, old paint tins, broken patio chairs… absolutely everything. You don’t need this stuff infringing on your mum-cave, so sell, donate or bin anything that doesn’t even get used anymore, and relocate everything else to your garage, or a garden storage chest.

Once it’s empty, bust out the rubber gloves and give your shed a thorough clean. Show no mercy to dust, mud or spiders.

Step 3: Make it cosy

To use your she-shed all year round, you’re going to need ways to keep it a comfortable temperature. The simplest way to do this is to lay insulation boards in the roof and walls, before sealing them behind MDF. If you’re feeling fancy, put an insulating underlay down on the floor too, and top it with linoleum or carpet.

Next, you’re probably going to want a power supply. If your shed already has an outlet then make sure it can handle everything you might want to plug into it (sound system, heater, TV etc.). If there isn’t an existing plug, or if it isn’t powerful enough, you’ll need to spend a day connecting one from the main house. Don’t forget to check the strength of your Wi-Fi connection, and purchase a booster if it’s sluggish.

interior design

Step 4: Live your interior design dreams

Remember that cream living room you used to dream about? Or the fantastic shade of turquoise paint that your hubby refused to use in the bedroom? Now’s your chance to make it happen, in a space that nobody else can have an opinion about. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t panic. There is heaps of inspiration available on the web, you just need to know where to look!

If you don’t have much spare furniture at home, try looking in local charity shops and flea markets for second-hand desks, unique storage units and squashy armchairs to help you realise your vision at bargain prices.

Step 5: Add the necessities

Once you’ve decided what role your den is going to play (craft station, yoga studio, reading nook etc.), and have put the main bits of furniture in their place, it’s time to accessorise. Anything that has taken a backseat in the main home can find a haven in your she-cave, whether that’s strings of fairy lights, a zillion scatter cushions or your prized collection of tchotchkes.

transforming shed

Step 6: Protect your kingdom

The final step is to make sure that your mum-cave is safe from unwelcome visitors – yes, that can include your family, but we also mean opportunist thieves who might spot that your shed is no longer simply a shed.

Firstly, avoid drawing unnecessary curiosity by closing curtains, turning off standby lights and removing any valuables overnight. Secondly, visit a security hardware specialist like Signet Locks for tips about improving the locks and latches on your shed and garden gates, to make accessing your garden more difficult.

Once your she-shed is safely under lock and key, you’re done! All that’s left is to grab yourself a glass of wine and some cosy slippers, then slink off to finally enjoy an hour of peace.

Dakota Murphey

Dakota Murphey is an independent content writer who regularly contributes to the horticulture industry. She enjoys nothing more than pottering around her gardening in the sunshine. Find out what else Dakota has been up to on Twitter, @Dakota_Murphey.

Heated Clothing, Outdoor Heating, Ross

garden astronomy

Astronomy is a brilliant, fascinating science that uncovers the mysteries of our solar system and the limitless universe beyond. If the concept inspires you as much as it does me, then maybe it’s time to get in your garden and start exploring the skies.

For a complete novice, it can sometimes feel difficult knowing how to get started. You cast your eyes to the heavens, and you’re presented with a blanket of tiny specks, all seemingly indistinguishable from one another. Who knows where Orion is or why he’s of significance. You heard the other day that some of those dots are actually planets, but how are you meant to know which ones? And what’s all this about nebulas?

Well, let’s start out by saying you’ve passed the first test. Looking up and wanting to know more is the entryway for amateur astronomy. There’s an incredible universe out there that many of us don’t pay attention to, but we really, really should. If you’ve a curious mind and you’re serious about finding out what you can see from your back garden, then you’re already half-way there.

Three keys to victory

There are three main areas you need to consider when it comes to amateur astronomy – you, the sky and your equipment. So let’s start with you, because it’s incredibly easy to neglect yourself when you start getting giddy about exploring the skies.

It gets cold at night. Remember this. I know it sounds obvious, but if you’re intending on a lengthy stop-up exploring the skies, you need to be prepared for the cold. Whether you decide to settle by a heater, invest in some heated clothing or you just simply wear a couple extra layers, remember to keep yourself in good shape. Thermos flasks full of tea – or perhaps coffee if you’re trying to avoid the Sandman – are useful too. Scanning the skies can be a test of patience, so don’t undercut yourself by under-preparing for the weather.

The second thing to consider is the sky. Predicting cloud density far in advance is of course a very difficult thing, so check your weather forecast and, y’know, look up, before you decide to set yourself up for the night. The skies are pretty incredible, but they don’t always work in your favour. What also doesn’t help, of course, is light pollution. If you live in a densely populated area with a number of lights blaring, you’ll have to be prepared to see less than you might like, even in the dead of night. There are plenty of cool things to see from your garden, but if light pollution is too severe, you may need to look for other local spaces where the pollution isn’t as bad. Parks, hills, fields, out on the open ocean if that’s at all feasible – stay safe and make sure you’re allowed wherever you’re setting up shop, but there are alternatives out there if the area around your garden is too exposed.

Finally, it’s time to consider what you’re looking with. Your eyes will do if you want to just get acquainted with the broader skies, but if you’re looking for certain objects, a telescope will naturally be invaluable. There is a middle option, too; a decent pair of binoculars can help you get a better look at certain objects in our universe without blowing your budget. Honestly, this can be the best place to start for newcomers to garden astronomy. It’s not easy getting accustomed to the vastness of the night’s sky and the technical details of a telescope at the same time. There are plenty of helpful websites, books and guides out there to help you find the perfect telescope if that’s a route you want to go down.

And now you’re ready to explore. Wrapped in four layers and an army of thermos flasks at the ready, you’ve found a nice clear night unobscured by light pollution and you’re ready to study the skies. Now the fun part – what can you expect to see, and what should you be looking out for?

Moon

The Moon

Let’s start with the obvious one – the moon. We’ve all seen it before and we all know the basics, but the moon is still a pretty cool place for us amateur astronomers. It’s a nice place to start because it’s easy to find and it can also demonstrate the sort of unseen detail that you can observe on a clear night. Even through a decent pair of binoculars, you’ll be able to observe a desolate, crater-ridden wasteland and the varying hues of grey that make up the surface of our largest celestial satellite.

Pleiades

The Pleiades

The Pleiades are a small cluster of stars known on Earth as the Seven Sisters. These stars are mentioned three times in the Bible and have become a point of inspiration for nearly all of our ancient cultures, including the Celts, the Aztecs and the Cherokee. When you get a proper look at them, you can understand why. The Pleiades are a dazzling array of gigantic stars blazing their energy into the universe. It’s another easy target in the night sky, given their luminosity and their proximity to the Orion constellation, and one you certainly won’t forget seeing for the first time.

Orion nebula

The Orion Nebula

Speaking of Orion, the constellation holds a number of fascinating celestial bodies and phenomena just begging to be explored. On a clear night, you might just be able to observe a sort of reddish smudge on Orion’s sword (just south of Orion’s belt) with your naked eye, but it comes alive through a powerful enough telescope or pair of binoculars. This is the Orion nebula – nebulas are giant clouds of dust that contain some of the building blocks of creation, like hydrogen and helium. Given that neither Ptolemy nor Galileo – both famous and pioneering astronomers – managed to spot this nebula despite observing nebulosity elsewhere in the night’s sky, scientists theorise that the surrounding stars may have intensified the brightness of the Orion nebula relatively recently.

Jupiter

Jupiter

It’s difficult to imagine what it must have felt like to be have been Galileo when he originally turned his telescope on Jupiter. When he first observed the position and luminosity of the moons, he assumed them fixed-position stars. When he looked the night after, however, they had all moved from east to west. He documented the movement for a number of nights until he reached the conclusion that these celestial bodies must be moons (now known as Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) orbiting Jupiter as our moon does Earth, bringing an end to the geocentric theory of the universe.

The thought of observing Jupiter usually makes astronomers giddy at the thought of the dense, swirling clouds that rage across the planet’s surface. You’ll need a particularly strong telescope to get details of that clarity, but binoculars will be able to reveal at least a couple of the four moons that circle the gas giant. It’s a beautiful thing to witness first hand.

andromeda

Andromeda Galaxy

Yup – you can even see a whole different galaxy from the comfort of your back garden. The Andromeda galaxy is the most distant celestial body you can observe with your naked eye, and even through binoculars, you’ll be able to observe the elliptical shape of our nearest galactic neighbour. Andromeda sits just to the south-east of the constellation of Cassiopeia, and looks like a white oval smudge on a clear night. The light from the Andromeda galaxy has taken two million years to reach us here on Earth. Our own fair Milky Way galaxy is on a collision course with Andromeda and is expected to clash in about four billion years’ time, so get outside and take a look before it’s too late.

Famed Roman astronomer Ptolemy once said: “As I trace at my pleasure the windings to and fro of the heavenly bodies, I no longer touch Earth with my feet. I stand in the presence of Zeus himself, and take my fill of ambrosia.” The universe is an incredible, beautiful place, and you don’t need to know what makes a star or what dark matter is to be able to appreciate its majesty. There’s only one thing you truly need to do; look up.

Ross at PrimroseRoss works in the Product Loading department and gets to see all the weird and wonderful products that pass through Primrose. Ross is a life-long Southampton fan and favours jazz music, reading and a quiet place to enjoy them.

See all of Ross’s posts.