Becky H, Grow Your Own, How To, Infographics

If you’ve found yourself with an abundance of apples this autumn, we suggest you make your very own apple cider this year to enjoy with friends and family. Because when life gives you apples, you should definitely use them to make cider!

We’ve made an infographic just for you that lists all the steps involved in making your very own apple cider, but of course this could be adapted to include pears. Let us know if you have tried making your own cider, we’d love to see how you got on in the comments section below or on Facebook!

How to make apple cider

Author

Becky Hughes is a designer at Primrose, and currently in her final year of Digital Media Design at Bournemouth University. When she’s not studying Becky enjoys keeping fit and gardening in her family home.

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.

Gardening, Jorge, Planting, Trees

Before we continue, it should be stated that while bare root and containerised trees each have their own advantages and disadvantages, they will not significantly affect a tree’s health, so you can be happy knowing your tree will one day achieve its potential. Rather, it is your own preferences regarding price and time of planting that will make an option worthwhile.

What’s the difference?

Containerised trees are supplied in containers, while bare root trees are supplied without soil with their roots carefully wrapped in plastic. Trees can only be extracted from soil when they are dormant; dormancy occurs from late-Autumn to early-Spring when the tree sheds its leaves. Depriving a tree of nutrients during Spring and Summer is highly detrimental to its health as the tree will try to grow, but be unable.

So this is where the first difference is. Bare roots can be supplied only when the tree is dormant, while containerised can be supplied and planted anytime during the year. (Although, it is worthwhile to first research the time of year a particular species best establishes itself. And, in general, it is not recommended to plant trees in summer when they grow at their fastest rate as without established roots, it may fail to establish.)

As bare roots are supplied without soil, they are lighter and cheaper to transport, which makes them significantly cheaper (30-50%) than potted varieties. Hence, bare roots can be great value for money.

Next, as bare roots grow in the ground, their roots spread out in a natural fashion, which allows them to establish themselves effectively, giving them adequate access to soil from which they acquire their nutrients. Sometimes a containerised plant’s roots have inadequate room to grow, resulting in spiralisation, whereby their roots grow in spiral at the bottom of the pot, which puts it in a poor position come planting. Although, this usually only occurs in garden centres, rather than nurseries that will upgrade a tree’s pot as it ages.

It has been argued that containerised trees are better at establishing themselves when planted as they are supplied with nutrients throughout the transplanting process. Bare roots, on the other hand, often lose a chunk of their roots when transplanted, which can lead to water stress. However, this argument doesn’t really hold up, because the tree’s roots are wrapped with compost or hydrogel. Furthermore they are usually supplied as one or two year old trees, which ensures the roots are adequate for the above-ground matter. Altogether, providing the tree is well wrapped and planted promptly, it will be fine. If you can’t plant immediately, it is recommend to leave the tree in water, possibly with the addition of liquid fertiliser.

Planting trees is not recommended in Summer, nor when the ground is frozen, so containerised can’t be planted anytime and it is recommended to buy bare roots when they are first available in November.

This leads to another advantage of containerised trees: they do not have to be planted immediately. This can be useful if you wish to gift a tree. And as containerised can be purchased whenever, you can purchase a deciduous in summer when it looks best. Furthermore, containerised are pruned so will have a nice shape on arrival. Bare roots on the other hand aren’t, which on-the-flipside can be useful if you wish to train a tree, as in the case of many fruits. Lastly, there are many options of containerised trees. One can purchase, for example, a 9 year old ornamental in 55L pot that can provide an immediate uplift to a garden.

Overall, all trees will flourish, providing they are looked after. Bare roots are cheaper and can be trained into a fan, espalier or cordon, but they are only available as one or two year old trees and can only be planted in the Winter. Containerised trees can be planted whenever, look better on arrival and come in a range of sizes, but they are more expensive and can be harder to train.

Have you decided on a bare root or containerised tree? If so, Primrose has a huge range of fruit and ornamental trees, both bare root and containerised, so please have a browse.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.

Gardening Year, How To, Liam, Planting, Plants, Trees

How to plant bare root tree

Planting a tree is a decision made with many, many years in mind. With that being said it is essential to give your young tree the best possible start so it can grow to its full potential. With this guide we will show you you how to plant a bare root tree, which, like most plants, requires some initial TLC.

 

Bare root trees are uprooted and sent out around November to March, while the tree is dormant. Therefore it is around this time you’ll be planting them, however, avoid days when the soil is frozen or waterlogged.  

On receiving your bare root tree you will want to plant immediately. If this is not possible then it is essential to check the roots to see whether or not they have dried out. If they have then dunk in a bucket of water for 5 minutes and then return it to the plastic packaging, making sure it retains its moisture.

Giving the Roots a Soak Before Planting

The tree’s nutrients are critical to the survival of the tree and its ability to establish itself are stored in the roots. When the roots dry out the tree will suffer severe damage and may even die. For this reason it is a good idea to soak the roots in a bucket for up to 30 minutes before planting. Equally the tree needs to breath and so leaving it in the bucket for much longer will suffocate it.

When picking a site for your tree, ideally you will want somewhere which is going to receive full sunlight and will be sheltered from harsh, drying winds. Make sure you pick a spot where the roots will have a chance to grow and spread out. If training against a wall then leave at least 1ft of space from the base of the plant.

Dig a hole with a diameter roughly 3x the size of the roots and with the same depth. If planted too deep, the lower trunk of the tree may become susceptible to disease. The graft-point of the tree should be above the soil. 

A square hole allows for the greatest root penetration and growth. Loosen up the soil at the bottom of the hole with a fork and also the sides if they appear compact.

The Correct Size and Depth of the Hole Relative to the Roots

You can plant a stake by the side of the rootball to give the tree some additional support if required. For a bare root tree we only recommend using one stake as their roots are more spread out. If planted in a sheltered site it may not be required and we advise not using a stake to improve the tree’s strength and flexibility. See our guide to staking a tree.

Take the soil you have dug and mix in compost so that it is three parts original soil, one part compost. You can add some further compost to the bottom of the hole and then fill in with your soil. There is no need at this point to apply a fertiliser, you can however sprinkle around the roots with mycorrhizal fungi (Rootgrow) to stimulate root-growth.

The Hole Filled in with Stake in Place

Place your tree in the hole and then fill in with your soil. Every now and then gently heel in so that the soil is touching the roots. Air circulation is essential so don’t compact the soil too much.

After this form a bowl with the soil around the tree and fill with water. This will ensure the water doesn’t spill off and go directly to the roots. In the first few years it is important to look after and regularly water your young tree, especially through periods of extended heat. Once the roots have grown out and the tree has established itself it will require less maintenance.

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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