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The Primrose team attended this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show to catch up with and discuss the latest gardening trends as well as engage with some of the nation’s favourite horticultural festivities. We endured the sweltering heat and odd glass of champagne to hopefully bring you the inspiration for your perfect garden.

Tropical

On display at this year were a vibrant showcase of exotic landscapes seemingly plucked from some far-off jungle and dropped onto the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. However, tropical gardening is something which is growing in popularity in the UK and not just the odd palm tree.

Tropical plants are, in fact, surprisingly hardy and many of them can tough it out through a British winter. Creating a tropical aesthetic in your very own garden provides a sense of exotic escape in what can be an otherwise cold and stressful routine. More and more urban dwellers are looking to bamboos, ferns, sarracenias and zantedeschias to create these backyard get-aways.

Many of these tropical varieties are used to battling it out below the canopy for little light and nutrients and so can thrive even in the heart of the concrete jungle. For gardens everywhere tropical planting offers height, depth and an abundance of life. Water-features and lighting perfect the ambience offering various tones and sounds.

Prairie Planting

A major trend at this year’s show was Prairie Planting; the combination of wild flowers and grasses in a seemingly loose planting scheme. Pockets of meadow teeming with wildlife were a persistent feature offering a wholesome, wild but almost gentle beauty.

There are an abundance of prairie plants which are native to the UK all of which are hardy enough to thrive in poor soils in times of drought and frost. Therefore, they make a perfect low-maintenance garden with a more natural aesthetic. Eryngiums, Echinaceas, Achilleas and Salvias among others offer a rich pallet of colours while various grasses deliver height and texture.

The prairie garden is also a fantastic way for you to join the noble crusade of saving our native bee and butterfly populations. Already an incentive which is sweeping  the country, prairie patches are being planted in local initiatives to save our ecosystems. With some bordering and creative features thrown in prairie planting also helps make an award-winning garden too.

Reclaimed

Here is a trend which certainly taps into the prevalent vintage culture of today. Adding a certain character to outdoor spaces it creates a more relaxing atmosphere allowing the mind to wonder amongst the assortment of bizarre objects strewn across the flower beds.  Big concrete planters, weedy patios, even bits of recycled car parts and vintage furniture make an appearance.

Once the hardware is in the garden is certainly easier to manage than a pristine and strictly coordinated garden while keeping a sense of style and purpose. Ground covering and climbing plants are encouraged to grow over. One may find a bike wheel or an old Coca-Cola sign amongst the wild grasses. There is certainly space to let your imagination roam.

Rust was a consistently strong contender throughout the show along with prairie planting and the reclaimed aesthetic is a natural ally to both these features.

Jorge at PrimroseLiam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pass-time is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

See all of Liam’s posts.

Flowers, Gardening, How To, Liam, Planting, Plants

With such an abundant variety of colour and fragrance there is a rose suited to any and everyone. Climbing roses allow you to use the boundaries and structures of your garden which in today’s modern, smaller, gardens actually can hold the greatest amount of space. A well-trained climbing rose can add height and elegance to any outdoor space making it the most timeless and perfect way to cover up a weathered wall or a colourless pergola.

If looked after correctly climbing roses can achieve heavy blooms throughout the summer season and into the autumn for several years. Therefore with this guide we’ll show you how to ensure your roses become a stylish staple feature of your garden for years to come.

Picking the Perfect Rose and Place

One of the great things I find about climbing Roses is their ability to flower year after year and respond well to heavy maintenance making them a strong investment for the future. However, dependent on the variety they can be somewhat needy, especially in their first years and so ensuring their basic needs are met is essential.

First of all, check the specific requirements of that Rose, mainly;

  • How much sunlight they need.
  • The kind of soil they require.
  • How much space it will need once it’s reached its eventual height.

Pick a spot in the garden which would suit the rose, considering these prerequisites.  

Planting Perfection

Step 1:

Ensure that all stones and weeds along with any other competition have been removed. This will help the roots to establish themselves in the first couple of years.

Step 2:

If you are training against a wall or fence leave 50cm between it and the base of the plant. This will give the roots more space to grow out.

Step 3:

If you are using a space where you previously used to grow roses then it is important to replace at least the first 6 inches of topsoil. Roses are susceptible to replant disease which can, in some cases, kill the plant. Simply use soil from elsewhere in your garden and for best results mix in manure or compost and leave to settle for 2 weeks.

Step 4:

Soak your rose before planting into the ground. You can either give the plant a generous watering if it is potted or leave to soak in a bucket of water for around 2 hours if it is bareroot.

Step 5:

When digging you want a hole roughly twice the width of the plant and also give an additional 5 inches of depth. With a fork break up the soil at the bottom giving the roots a chance to spread out. Here, fill in the extra depth with manure or quality compost.

Step 6:

Sprinkle any surface the roots will come into contact with lightly with Mycorrhizal Fungi (commonly know as Rootgrow). This will help stimulate and nurture root growth.

Step 7:

Backfill the remaining space and gently heel. Make sure your rose is well watered and is supported securely on your trellis or structure (see ‘training’) and you’ve made the perfect start towards a beautiful bloom.

Step 8:

Typically, a larger climbing rose will need two meters of space between it and any other rose. Standard roses will only need one meter.

Training

Preparation for the summer begins in the winter. For your first year the plant will require minimal pruning, simply remove anything dead or diseased. With this done the rose will be ready to train. Climbing roses once mature can be fairly heavy plants and so ensure that the support is sturdy and large enough to support the plant when mature.

The key to perfect climbing roses is training your main shoots as horizontally as possible. This will stimulate flowering shoots to grow up vertically in abundance giving you an orderly trail of beautiful rose flowers.

Rose training guide

When tying the plant to a trellis or structure I simply use old string provided it’s thick enough to hold the weight of the plant. You want to tie it tight enough so that it doesn’t get thrown around too much by the wind or rubs but also loose enough to give the stem space to grow.

If using a trellis utilise several horizontal supports for you branches or if training up a pillar simply wrap the shoot around in a spiral. 8-12 inches is a good distance to leave between ties. Tie the branches securely and you’re one step closer to a bountiful summer bloom.

Pruning

When?

Pruning should be carried out during the winter, making it easier for you and giving the plant time to grow during spring. When pruning cut at a 45° angle. This is a great way to prevent rot and fungal disease by letting the water slip off.

Why?

Climbing roses are vigorous growers and although they are great for framing a garden they can quickly become unkempt. Luckily they are not afraid of some heavy pruning if neglected for a while.

How Much?

Cut away any of the old and woody branches leaving just the new, fresh main shoots. Prune back to just above a bud which looks like its growth will be directed outward or in keeping with how you have trained the plant. You then want to prune any side-shoots by about ⅔ of their original length. Once this is done and you have a series of healthy and neat branches you can tie back into the support.  

How to make sense out of the mess

How Often?

Again what is most important to rid your rose of any dead, diseased or weak looking shoots. This only needs to be done once in the winter but also when in bloom don’t be afraid to deadhead; climbing roses repeat flower throughout summer and into autumn and it will keep the plant healthy and looking great.

Don’t Forget!

In the spring it is a good idea to feed your roses (they are an exceptionally hungry plant!) Simply sprinkle some rose fertiliser at the base and use manure or an organic mulch. Job done.  

Following spring your roses will have grown to a truly regal splendor. Rich colours and fragrance will fill your garden bringing with it all the warm delights of summer.

4 Secrets to Healthier Climbing Roses

  • Feed – With roses it is incredibly important to ensure they are well fed. This is why you want to avoid planting them in the same spot because they have consumed so much of the soils nutrients.
    Luckily there are specific fertilisers for roses. I would recommend using these over more general fertilisers because they contain more phosphorus which helps promote flower and root growth and less nitrogen which promotes more leaf growth. This directs energy into bigger blooms and can prevent disease and aphids from attacking your plant.
  • Mulch Mulching provides a whole host of benefits to a rose plant. Not only does it prevent competition from grass and weeds it also helps to regulate temperature, keeps the soil moist and provides food preventing disease. It is a good idea to add the mulch after you have fertilised the rose, so typically around April to May. A mulch is only ever complimentary and cannot be a substitute for your feed. Before mulching you should rid the soil of any stones or weeds and water if dry. A bulky organic material such as well decomposed manure, leaf mould or garden compost serves as a great mulch for rose plants.
  • Water – Due to their deep roots a rose plant may remain green and strong as other plants begin to wilt during dry periods. However, as I have experienced, without an adequate  amount of water rose plants will flower less for a shorter period of time. You will want to ensure that after a dry spell that you water the plant especially if; the plant is new, is trained against a wall, and if it is fully mature.
    Typically each climber will require 10-15l of water if the soil is clearly dry.
  • Garlic!Garlic, when planted near roses are a great way to deter aphids from attacking your plant. 

Disease prevention

Top 3 Tips

  • Water the soil, not the leaves
  • Prune to encourage good air circulation
  • Feed and water well early in the year, to ensure your rose is strong enough to fight off disease

Common diseases and how to fight them:

  • Mildew  
    Symptoms – The most common rose disease it leaves a white, light mould on the leaves and buds of rose plants.
    Prevention – Prevent fungal diseases and their spread by watering at the ground level during the morning so the top soil moisture can evaporate off before sitting over night. Pruning away any weak looking leaves and leaving space between your shoots encourages ventilation which will prevent the fungi from taking up residence. If pruning diseased shoots clean your pruning shears in a sterilizing solution before touching other parts of your plant .
    Treat – A fungicide spray can be used on the rose to help rid it of the disease.
A contaminated Rose – Mildew
  • Blackspot
    SymptomsA common disease, Blackspot can lead to dieback of the leaf, buds and stems. Black spots and yellow fringing becomes visible on the leaves.
    PreventionThe disease is waterborne and so the key to prevention is good air circulation and keeping the leaves dry. The same pruning and water techniques provide good protection. Additionally, ensuring the rose is well fed gives the plant a better chance of avoiding contamination.
    TreatSimilarly a fungicide spray can be used to treat a diseased plant along with removing any of the affected leaves.
A contaminated Rose – Blackspot
  • Rust
    Symptoms – Not as common but can be very harmful if it contracted. Orange and black spores can be found on the undersides of leaves and stems.
    Prevention – The key to prevention is ensuring the rose is well fed and is strong coming into the summer months.
    Treat – Again a fungicide spray is required if the plant is contaminated.
A contaminated Rose – Rust

Liam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pass-time is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

Flowers, Gardening, George, Grow Your Own, How To, Infographics, Planters, Planting, Plants

Hanging baskets are a staple of garden design – both traditional and modern. They’re brilliant at brightening up walls or framing your front door with a burst of colour. So don’t delay – read our guide to learn how to plant a hanging basket and master this essential gardening art.

Head over to our shop to see our range of hanging baskets.

How to plant a hanging basket infographic

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Designed once more by our graphic designer Becky.

This is the final part of our Complete Guide to Container Gardening! Check out the previous installment, How to Grow Plants Indoors or flick through them all over again from the beginning with How to Plant in Pots.

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

Flowers, George, Planting, Plants

Laburnum

You may have heard of laburnum and some of the horror stories that surround this infamous tree. It’s been common in back gardens and schoolyards for decades, so can it really be that bad? We set out to investigate what makes laburnum so feared, how deadly it really is and whether we need to get out those chainsaws or not.

What is laburnum?

Laburnum are deciduous trees native to southern Europe. There are two kinds – common laburnum (Laburnum anagyroides) and alpine laburnum (Laburnum alpinum). The trees have beautiful hanging yellow flowers in spring, which gives rise to their nickname ‘the golden chain tree’. The fruit develops into a dangling pod and its wood has historically been used in carpentry, including bagpipes at one stage. Laburnum are often planted as ornamental trees in gardens and parks, which is a significant factor in their notoriety.

Poisonous laburnum

How is it poisonous?

All parts of the common laburnum are poisonous – the bark, roots, leaves and especially the seed pods. They contain the alkaloid toxin cytisine. Consumption of this can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, frothing at the mouth, convulsions and even death through paralysis.

The laburnum hysteria

It’s because these ornamental trees were often planted around gardens and school playgrounds that they started to cause panic. Children would play with and eat the seed pods, which look similar to regular peas. Many kids started to get sick as a result and in the 1970s, 3000 hospital admissions a year were put down to laburnum poisoning. But many of these were reactionary and the children’s stomachs were pumped before they could even be tested for poisoning or symptoms begin to show.

As recently as 2007, children were taken to hospital after a primary school playground was extended into an area with overhanging laburnum branches. Fifteen children had to be admitted after they were caught playing with the seed pods.

Laburnum hysteria

Many parents have cut down laburnums in their gardens as a result of nationwide hysteria since the 70s and there is a deep-rooted suspicion of these trees.

How to deal with laburnum

But do we need to reach for an axe at the first sign of a chain tree? Many experts say this is an overreaction (and we often leave many more poisonous plants in their wake). If you’re worried about young children around laburnum, it’s best to chop off the lower branches so the kids can’t reach any dangling seed pods. You could also erect a fence around the base of the tree to keep stray hands at bay.

Other poisonous plants to watch out for

Laburnum may not be the only potential killer lurking in your back garden. Keep an eye out for these fatal flora:

  • Yew is one of the most poisonous common garden trees. Animals get sick if they chew the bark, yet all parts of the tree are poisonous. Dead branches are supposedly even more toxic.
  • Deadly nightshade is perhaps the most infamous perennial. It was introduced by the Romans and actually used cosmetically for its toxic effect that makes the pupils dilate.
  • Hemlock is an extremely poisonous flowering plant often found near streams and unkempt areas. Eating just six fresh leaves can result in fatal paralysis. Hemlock has even been used to administer the death penalty, killing Socrates.

Hemlock

How worried should we be?

It’s easy to get caught up in the panic around toxic trees like laburnum. But the reality is this plant is very rarely fatal. Of course it’s worth taking precautions if you have young children around and are worried about them taking a fancy to the poisonous seed pods. For everyone else, these trees offer little chance of harm, but plenty of beauty. If you’d like to brighten up your garden with some golden blossom then check out the laburnums we have on offer at Primrose.

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

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