Events, Flowers, Gardens, Tyler

Gardens abroad can be the greatest thing that you and your family can witness while on your travels. There are hundreds and hundreds of beautiful gardens out there awaiting your arrival but it’ll take a lifetime to see them all… So here’s our 5 best gardens to visit abroad that you should consider.

Keukenhof in Amsterdam

Keukenhof, Amsterdam

Tip toe through the tulips at Keukenhof in Amsterdam! This particular garden is known for it’s tulips and there are A LOT of them (7 million approximately). There are 800 different varieties of spring bulbs and it is described as ’a sea of colour’. Keukenhof is located between Amsterdam and The Hague so transport will be needed to get there. If you don’t have a car, no fear as there are plenty of tourist coaches that are available. This wonderful garden of tulips is open between March and mid May so don’t miss out your chance to go visit and tick it off your garden bucket list!

Botanical Garden, Rome

While away at Rome, why don’t you go and enjoy the peaceful vibes at Botanical Garden. The Italian garden is full of blooming flowers that I’m sure die-hard gardeners will appreciate! The garden includes areas of all different types of plants such as a rose garden, a bamboo garden, a Japanese zen garden and many more. Explore the hills to witness an amazing view of the centre of Rome in all its glory! There is a entrance fee of 8 euros to enter the 30 acre garden but it is worth every penny.

wild orchids

Bali Botanic Garden, Bali

Next stop we have landed in Bali to visit Indonesia’s largest botanic garden. Bali Botanic Garden is located in the heart of Bali and 90 minutes away from Denpasar. Explore the peaceful garden and what it has to offer such as Bali’s largest display of wild orchids, the world’s biggest begonia collection or the cactus greenhouse. The rose garden will also be worth a visit to appreciate their beauty. Not only that, why not be adventurous and journey through the rainforest trail and if you’re a thrill seeker, try out Bali’s Treetop adventure park and zipline from on top of the park!

Jardin des Plantes, Paris

Here’s a local favourite, Jardin des Plantes in Paris. It has been described as, ‘one of the best parks in Paris’. Being home to four museums and a botanical school, you’re sure to have an educational yet fun experience in this fascinating garden. The garden was originally made for a medicinal herb garden for the French Royalty, but sooner or later it changed into the botanical garden that it is today. There are tons of different plant species to see such as the Japanese Cherry tree, sweet almond and plenty more to discover.

Long Wood Garden, Pennsylvania

Ranging up to 1,077 acres, Longwood Garden is a perfect garden for the whole family to visit. It has everything that a formal garden has as well as beautiful towering fountains and a children friendly area with indoor displays. You and your family can go for a three mile hike down a trail in the Meadow Garden where there are plenty of native species such as Wildflowers, vines, Sedges and plenty more to witness. Or you could experience an open air theatre at the Italian Water Garden. The best time to get the best experience will be during the winter for a whiter and snowy setting.

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.

Alex Briggs, Flowers, How To

Sure to bring a smile to just about any face, fresh flowers remain one of nature’s most beautiful gifts. Whether someone you know needs a day-brightener or you just want to add life, color and beauty to your home, a few tips for creating fresh flower arrangements can help you enhance your own little corner of the world.

Flower Arranging

1. Choose an Appropriate Vessel

Vessel is a good word because just thinking about the typical floral shop vase can be limiting. Simple glasses, bowls, urns and jars can do a beautiful and unique job of holding your arrangement. A good tip is to choose a vessel with a smaller opening and a wider base so that the stems have room to spread out, resulting in a fuller arrangement above. For example, if using a quart mason jar, choose a small-mouth version over a wide-mouth version.

If your vessel is not transparent, loosely ball up some chicken wire in the bottom before adding water and flowers. This allows for a more loosely gathered and natural look for your arrangement.

If your arrangement will be a table centerpiece, consider making it somewhat tall so that conversation can happen around it or short so that conversation can happen above it.

2. Select Flowers that Make You Smile

Picking up a bunch of flowers from a grocery store is fine, but picking something that you personally enjoy and find beautiful will make your arrangement extra special. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Fresh Market tend to have high quality and interesting floral options. You can select a mixed bunch or choose several smaller bunches that strike your fancy. Keep in mind the size of your vessel as you buy as well as variety of size and style of flower. A little really goes a long way, especially when you follow tip number three below.

Flower Arrangement

3. Search for Additional Flowers and Greenery

Why purchase greenery when you probably have some beautiful things in your own backyard? Of course, the time of year and location will play a factor, but magnolia, evergreen and many other varieties are beautiful all year round. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a yard with flowers and greenery, ask friends, neighbors or relatives if you can come and clip a few things from their yard for your arrangement. Most people will gladly allow you to do so. Be sure to clip a little more than you think you’ll need and to keep the stems fairly long. You can always cut them down if needed.

4. Remove All Leaves Below the Waterline

When you begin your arrangement, fill your vessel ¾ up with water and don’t allow any leaves to fall below that line. Doing so causes bacteria to form more quickly, shortening the life span of your arrangement. Feel free to put in the packet of cut flower food as well. Continue to add flowers and greenery to your arrangement, keeping in mind that you want different heights, types of flowers and multiple colors spread throughout the arrangement. If you don’t like the result, take everything out and start over again. Rather than getting frustrated, think of the process as a sort of therapy as you work with something beautiful that will be enjoyed by many.

5. Add a Signature Touch

Especially if you’re giving the flowers away, it’s nice to add a personal touch such as a lovely ribbon or handwritten card. Sometimes, you find a beautiful item that you would like to include in an arrangement such as a couple of sprigs of curly willow, some fall leaves or an ornamental butterfly. Even adding a brooch to the center of a ribbon or some sparkly sticks can show that you’ve contributed your own unique style to the arrangement.

Flowers are a gift of nature that have so much to offer, and learning to create more beautiful arrangements is within the reach of most people. The artistry of floral design is truly something to be enjoyed by its creator and shared with others.

Alex Briggs is a contributing writer for Park Avenue Floratique. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family and hiking.

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

You may have noticed over the last few months that we’ve been going potty over pot-growing plants. Through a series of infographics, we’ve compiled the Complete Guide to Container Gardening – simple guides to help you get the most out of planting in pots.

Here are the collected guides for you to enjoy all over again. And when you’re ready to start growing, we have all the planters you could ever need!

How to Plant in Pots

How to plant in pots

We kick off with the basics, for gardening novices or simply those who need a refresher. Planting in pots opens up a whole world of flexible gardening for decorative plants, herbs, houseplants and more.

How to Repot a Plant

Hot to repot a plant

Most potted plants will need repotting at some stage in their life. If they outgrow their current container it’s essential to give them more space. We made this 5 step guide to make the process super straight forward!

How to Water Pot Plants

How to water pot plants

Watering is one of those critical conundrums when it comes to pot plants. With potentially no natural water and limited drainage, it’s easy to over or under-water. Follow these best practices for healthy plants.

How to Choose the Right Planter for Your Garden

How to choose the right planter

Picking the right planter is a deceptively easily task. But there are so many factors aside from taste – material, portability, size and more. We address them all to make your decision simple again.

How to Plant Potatoes in Containers

How to plant potatoes in containers

Container gardening is such an adaptable form of growing and it’s perfect for raising your own crops to eat. Potatoes especially are a natural fit for pots, meaning you can have home-grown spuds without the need for an allotment.

How to Plant Strawberries in Containers

How to plant strawberries

Strawberries are perfect for growing in pots on the patio too. Fresh fruit on the doorstep – what’s not to like? We take you through how to grow the juiciest strawberries at home.

How to Grow Herbs in Pots

How to grow herbs in pots

Take your cooking to the next level with a stock of fresh herbs at your fingertips. We show you how to start growing herbs at home in a kitchen garden or right on the windowsill.

How to Grow Plants Indoors

How to grow plants indoors

Of course, many of us who love container gardening do so because it allows us to fill the house with beautiful blooms. Indoor gardening has its own challenges, so we’ve got the tips for you to master it.

How to Plant a Hanging Basket

How to plant a hanging basket

Finally we round off the series by heading back out into the garden for a classic horticultural endeavour – planting a hanging basket. By now you should be an expert in container growing and well prepared for this last task.

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, Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To, Insects, Liam, Pest Advice, Planting, Plants

Apples are the nation’s favourite fruit; we grow it more than any other kind. Unlike many other fruits the apple is at home here. Yet despite this, for those who grow apples there is always risk of having a disappointing year.

Weather plays its part and so there may be anguish across different parts of the country but even a fellow gardener down the road may be having some trouble which tells us there are things we can do to ensure a bumper crop of delicious and ripe apples.

Symptoms

The typical signs of a poor harvest may be that you only have a few, or even no apples at all.

Sometimes an apple tree can fall into a biennial harvest cycle, which means it only produces fruit every two or more years. This is typically because the tree has exhausted itself the year prior or isn’t receiving all the essentials.

Equally having a large amount of apples, but all of them being very small and poorly developed defines a thin crop. Surprisingly then, having too many apples as well as too few are signs of a failing tree. These symptoms lead to some different and some similar remedies.

Weather

Before I mention the different issues we do have some control over, it is worth mentioning the one critical factor over which we have less power; the weather.

  • Periods of extended heat and the resulting drought can be particularly catastrophic for young apple trees trying to establish themselves. With underdeveloped leaves and roots they are far more susceptible to losing water and being damaged by hot temperatures.
  • Drought aside, periods of long extended rain throughout the summer will prevent pollinating insects coming out which can be devastating. In 2012 Britain faced the worst apple harvest for several decades with orchards losing up to 70% of their entire expected crop for this very reason.
  • Frost, however, is potentially the most damaging force against fruit everywhere. With the ability to destroy blossoms and fruitlets it can severely diminish a tree’s ability to bear fruit. If the country experiences warm weather in the early spring, instigating blossom, followed by a late and harsh frost a tree may struggle to bear any fruit at all. This is something British wine growers are struggling with this year.
Apples Lost to a Late Frost

To help improve your chance of seeing fruit it is important to make sure your tree is well watered, especially if it has been planted within the last 2 years. You can also use a horticultural fleece if there are late extended cold periods. Importantly it is a good idea to have a range of trees which blossom at different times of year to maximise your chances of pollination. See the ‘Pollination’ section for more details.

Thinning

The Problem

The main cause of an abundance of small, poorly developed apples and biennial harvest cycles is a tree which has exhausted itself in trying to produce a bulk load of apples.

Naturally the tree wants to make as many seeds as possible but this process requires incredible amounts of nitrogen. So if you want an annual supply of fully developed and ripe apples it may be necessary to thin your tree early in the fruiting period.

The tree may try to do this naturally in what is known as the ‘June Drop’ but it doesn’t hurt to give mother nature a helping hand. It may be traumatising to waste so many fruitlets but when it comes to human consumption quality certainly beats quantity.

The Solution

  • First of all rid the tree of any diseased, rotting or malformed fruitlets.
  • After this simply remove the remaining apples until you are left with one apple per 4-6in for dessert (eating) varieties and one apple per 6-9in for cooking varieties.
  • When choosing between apples it is always better to rid those on the underside of branches which may not receive as much light or air.

Pollination

The Problem

Pollination is usually the critical factor in how well your tree fruits. If your tree lacks a pollinating partner or the beneficial pollinating insects, cross pollination may not occur, resulting in a poor crop.

The Solution

  • An apple tree typically needs a pollinating partner within a proximity of around 50ft. This partner must also be an apple tree but of a different variety; very few apple trees are self-pollinating.
  • Apple trees are categorised in pollination groups (1-6) based on when they come into bloom (1 being the earliest in the year). An apple tree such as ‘Red Devil’s Dessert’ (group 3) may pollinate a ‘Gala’ (group 4) however a tree such as ‘Bountiful’ (group 2) may have finished flowering before ‘Lord Derby’ (group 5) comes into bloom.
  • In more rural settings, ensure your apple tree has the right pollinating partners nearby if you are to expect fruit. Ensure there are two different varieties with similar pollination groups. You can even plant a Crab-Apple tree, which makes a fantastic ornamental tree, to act as a pollination partner.
  • Some apple trees such as ‘Bramley’s Seedling’ are triploid trees meaning they require two different pollinating partners.
  • Make your garden attractive to pollinating insects. Lavender, Chamomile and Daffodils are all great plants for getting these welcome visitors into the garden early on in the year while also deterring the pests. See our guide to companion plants for fruit trees for fantastic tips on how to bring beneficial pollinators into your garden!

Pests and Disease

Apple ruined from Brown Rot
An Apple Lost to Brown Rot

The Problem

Unsurprisingly apples are a prime target for a whole host of pests and diseases. These biological annoyances can be the scourge of otherwise perfect fruit, causing ruin, rot and fruit drop. In particular apples suffer from ‘apple scab’, ‘codling moth’, ‘brown rot’ and ‘apple maggot’, among others.

The Solution for Disease

  • Maintaining sound horticultural practices is the best line of defence against pests and disease. Pruning, weeding and keeping your garden clean of fallen leaves and rotting fruit is a simple but effective way of eliminating all those places which harbour apple-destroying life. Equally cutting the grass around your tree and applying a mulch will further help protect it.
  • Most diseases such as Apple Scab and Brown rot are fungal and infect fruit through rotting material which may have been contaminated from last year. Burn infected leaves and fruit or bury at least 1ft under ground to prevent the spread of spores.
  • Regularly check your fruit for any sign of infection or any wounds. Be vigilant when pruning and always sterilise your pruning equipment when dealing with a diseased tree.
  • As the tree is budding in spring, certain fungicide sprays are available such as a copper based solution. This should be sprayed as the leaves emerge and then again 14 days later; this is, however, mainly preventative.

The Solution for Pests

  • For insects such as Apple Maggot and Codling Moth again you want to destroy any potential hiding spots and prune out any areas of congestion. Hiding spots may include plastic tree guards and so a metal mesh guard is recommended instead.
  • Nontoxic horticultural oils are a good way to kill dormant insects and their eggs which should be applied on the tree during spring. Sticky and pheromone traps can be used and should typically be set in early May before the insects mate.
Apple ruined by Codling Moth
A Codling Moth Caterpillar
  • There are several all-purpose bug sprays but these can deter the more beneficial pollinating insects and should only be used when there is a clear infestation.
  • Certain plants, such as chives provide a strong deterrent to pests including deer and rabbits as well as insects yet is attractive to many beneficial pollinating insects. Additionally dill, fennel and nasturtium all provide an organic solution to protect your fruit trees against pests. Again see our Companion Planting post for further details.

Hopefully I have helped to explain why your tree may be fruiting below par and you’ve found a remedy for this frustration.

Liam 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.

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