Gardening, Gardens, Megan

garden organisation - garden

It’s the start of a new year, and the perfect time to get outside and get organised in your garden. People tend to neglect their garden in January as on the surface there may not be a lot to be done. However it’s the perfect time to have a tidy up and make sure you’re ready for the year of gardening ahead! Kick start your garden organisation today!

Tidy Up Your Garden Shed

garden organisation - garden shed

We’re all guilty of it – shoving stuff into the shed, shutting the door and leaving tidying it up to another day. Well today is that day! Start by sorting through your tools, trinkets and whatever else has found its way into your shed. Make two piles: one for essentials to keep, and another to donate or recycle. Donate your unwanted tools to the Conservation Foundation with Tools Shed, who will  give your tools a new lease of life before donating them to community projects. Alternatively, drop them off at your local recycling centre.  

Once you’re sorted, trial some storage solutions. Here are some ideas:

  • Install shelving higher up for things you don’t use as much
  • Hang things up – knock hooks into your shed wall
  • Use knife magnets for smaller tools such as paintbrushes
  • Upcycle things from your kitchen – old jars and tins can be great storage solutions for smaller instruments

Sort Out Your Seeds

garden organisation - jars of seeds

As there’s less going on in your garden during January, considering sorting through your seed collection. Consider throwing old seeds – 3 to 5 years old – into the compost because even though they may grow you will get a very low germination rate.

Now it’s time to organise the seeds that have survived your compost purge! If you prefer to keep seeds in their original packaging, grab an old shoe box. Use old cardboard to create dividers and write categories on each one. Alternatively, fill old glass jars or glass food storage containers with seeds and add labels to them. This provides a more visual storage solution.

Plan For The Year Ahead

Step outside into your garden and have a good look around. Is there corner empty for a potential raised bed? A space for a tree to be planted? Whatever you’re hoping for this year, write it down and start planning! January is the perfect time to come up with ideas, however crazy, to transform and improve your garden. Have a look at our post on redesigning your garden for some more inspiration.

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.

Flowers, Gardening, Liam, Plants, Trees

Rowan TreeThe Rowan tree, sometimes commonly referred to as the ‘Mountain Ash’ has become an incredibly popular tree in the UK; especially in urban spaces as they are known to thrive in harsh conditions with compact growing habits. You may have very well spotted a few, especially as during this time of year as they display attractive bunches of red, orange, or even white berries. Rowan trees are typically distinguishable by their pinnate green leaves,  white flowers in spring and brightly coloured berries in autumn and winter.

 

The similarities between the Rowan and the Ash, and given that Rowan’s are found at much higher altitudes is what gave it the name ‘Mountain Ash’. However, the Rowan is in the genus Sorbus of the rose family Rosaceae and completely unrelated to the Ash which is a part of the Oleaceae family.

 

Rowan is typically the name associated with the European variety Sorbus aucuparia which derives from the Latin word sorbus for ‘service tree’ and aucuparia which is formed from the words avis for ‘bird’ and capere for ‘catching’. Rowan trees were traditionally used in game hunting as many birds were attracted to the tree’s berries.

 

There are other varieties however as the Sorbus genus can be found throughout much of the Western hemisphere including Asia. Sorbus commixta or ‘Japanese Rowan’ is the species native to Japan and Korea where it is known as nana-kamado, literally translates to ‘seven (times in the) stove’ as the wood is robust and can be used several times in fires. Additionally there is the Sorbus aria, or ‘Whitebeam’ which hails its name from the lightly coloured timber it produces.

Rowan Tree FlowersDespite being popular in more modern urban spaces the Rowan Tree has held a special place in our collective imaginations for centuries. The European Rowan is richly documented in folklore as protecting people from evil and demonic spirits and would be commonly referred to as the ‘Wicken Tree’ or ‘Witch Wood’. It is for this reason that Victorian writers commented on people, especially in Scotland, having Rowan trees planted outside of their homes. S. aucuparia has also been known as the ‘wayfarer’s tree’ and the ‘traveller’s tree’ as it protected travellers on treacherous journeys and prevented them from getting lost.

 

One thing is almost universal about the Rowan and that is that they are adored by wildlife. Come Autumn all manner of birds will gorge themselves readying for winter. In their natural form, however, the berries are far too bitter for human consumption. They can be freezed however to break down the acids and then cooked to make jams, chutney, jelly or even a wine!

 

‘The whitebeams are members of the Rosaceae family, comprising subgenus Sorbus… They are deciduous trees with simple or lobed leaves… They are related to the rowans and are thought to derive from hybrids between S. aria and the European rowan S. aucuparia.’ Called white beam due to the white colouring on the underside of the leaf.

Rowan Tree Berry

Sorbus aucuparia ‘Apricot Queen

Blooms profusely white flowers between April and May followed by apricot coloured berries and fiery red autumn foliage. This particular variety is hardy against harsh conditions including pollution and so makes a tough attractive tree in urban settings. Initially brought into the UK for commercial growing during the 1980s it has become widely popular today.

 

Sorbus aucuparia ‘Asplenifolia’

More commonly known as the Cut Leaved Mountain Ash the leaves of this cultivar are particularly serrated. Providing rich tones of orange and red during the Autumn there is also a charming display of quite large crimson berries.

 

Rowan Tree BerrySorbus vilmorinii

Named after the 19th century French Horticulturalist Maurice de Vilmorin this variety originates from Western China including the mountainous region of Tibet. Blooming quite large white flowers in Spring it produces particularly huge pink berries during the Autumn.

 

Sorbus Commixta ‘Embley’

Often referred to as the ‘Scarlet Japanese Rowan’ this cultivar is renowned for its fiery Autumn displays. It was initially brought to the UK during the 1880s from Japan and has been a popular cultivar ever since, both for people and for the birds who love to feed on its orange berries.

 

Sorbus aria ‘Lutescens’

This Whitebeam variety was initially brought to Britain from a French Nursery and then commercially grown from 1885. When the leaves emerge in Spring both sides of the leaf are covered in miniscule downy hairs giving it them a stunning white glow. As the seasons progress it loses the hairs on top of the leaf but retains a white underside accompanied by orange fruit in the late summer and a golden Autumn display in early Autumn.

 

Sorbus aucuparia ‘Joseph Rock

This particular cultivar of Rowan is named after the Austrian Botanist Joseph Rock who explored different parts of Asia throughout the 1920s bringing back different plants and introducing them to the West. The Autumn colours are particularly striking on this attractive tree; the fiery red leaves juxtapose beautifully with the creamy-white berries.

 

Rowan TreeSorbus aucuparia ‘Sheerwater Seedling’

Horticultural journalist Noel Kingsbury lists the ‘Sheerwater Seedling’ as one of the most ideal ornamental trees for urban and tight spaces. It is easy to see why; it is one of the most compact rowan tree’s available and yet still provides the charming pinnate foliage along with profuse bunches of red berries.

 

Sorbus hupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’

The name literally means ‘Hupeh Rowan’ or ‘Hubei Rowan’ which derives from Hubei Province in China from which this sub-genus originates. It has also been commonly referred to as the Chinese Mountain Ash. The beautiful blue-green pinnate foliage acts as a fantastic backdrop for the vast bunches of pink berries which in many cases pull the branches down, hence ‘Pink Pagoda’.

 

Sorbus thuringiaca ‘Fastigiata’

The S. thuringiaca is a cross between the aira and the aucuparia grown initially at the start of the 20th century in York. ‘Fastigiata’ comes from the word ‘fastigiate’ which simply means to have a very columnar growth habit. This particular variety is noted for its spectacular Spring display of white-clustered flowers.

 

Sorbus aucuparia ‘Beissneri’

Known simply as the ‘Common Rowan’ it is identifiable by all the quintessential traits of a European Rowan. In Spring lush green leaves  appear along with clusters of snow-white flowers and then scarlet red berries during the late summer.

 

Rowan Tree BerrySorbus aucuparia ‘Chinese Lace’

‘Chinese Lace’ is actually a European Rowan and not a Chinese Rowan. The name instead reflects the fine foliage which hangs of the branches in a lace-like fashion. The leaves have deep serrations and are known to turn a beautiful burgundy shade come Autumn usually accompanied with bunches of scarlet berries.

 

Sorbus cashmiriana ‘Kashmir Rowan’

A unique cultivar of Rowan hailing from Kashmir in the Himalayan mountains it is most readily distinguishable by the large white berries it produces. These berries can be as large as half an inch and they’re bound to stay on the tree for much longer as birds do not seem to enjoy them. The flowers too are larger than European and Japanese Rowans and are also slightly tinted pink making it an unusual and spectacular ornamental Rowan.

 

Awarded RHS’s Award for Garden Merit ‘Eastern Promise’ has become a popular tree here in Britain due to its tough, hardy nature and its pristine, compact growing habit. Like many other Rowans it is well suited to the urban and confined environment and is distinguishable by the pink shade of its tiny berries.

 

If you are a fan of Rowan trees head over to our website where we have many to choose from.

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 Liams posts.

Flowers, Gardening, Liam, Planting, Plants, Trees, Weeding

Cherry blossom banner

What does the cherry blossom tree symbolise?

Cherry blossom has traditionally symbolised the ephemeral nature of beauty and life itself. In Japan people have picnicked under the spectacular displays of blooming cherry tree’s since at least the 8th century in a celebration known as Hanami. Cherry blossom only lasts two weeks and so the celebration is a time of reflection on the fleeting nature of existence.

Do cherries grow on a cherry blossom tree?

Yes, and all are edible. However, cherry blossom trees have been bred over centuries specifically for their blossom and so the fruit may be very small and won’t have a good taste. Be careful of wild cherries or black cherries as these may need to be cooked and always try to identify the tree before eating them.

Do cherry blossom trees lose their leaves?

Yes, cherry blossom trees are deciduous. Their ornamental factor is richly supplemented by their autumn displays of various colours and tones.

Can you eat the cherries on a cherry blossom tree?Cherries

Yes. However, cherry blossom trees have been bred over centuries specifically for their blossom and so the fruit may be very small and won’t have a good taste. Be careful of wild cherries or black cherries as these may need to be cooked and always try to identify the tree before eating them.

Where is the best place to plant a cherry tree?

Cherry blossom trees are best planted in areas of full sunlight and protection from the wind with deep, fertile, preferably alkaline soils. To fully bloom the tree will need around 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. Dry, cold winds may also damage the flower buds leading to their premature death.

How close to house can you plant a cherry tree?

A mature blossoming cherry tree will need around 4 hours of direct sunlight and 1.5 meters between its base and any wall, such as a house, for its roots to develop. If you want to plant your tree close to your house be mindful of petal and leaf full and if this will cause any unwanted mess.

What is the best time to plant a cherry blossom tree?

A cherry blossom tree if it is pot-grown can be planted at any time of year and only in the dormant months if it is bare-root but it is always important to ensure the ground is not frozen or waterlogged.

Are cherry blossom trees fast growing?

Cherry blossom trees have a moderate of medium growth rate and usually take between 10 and 20 years to reach their mature height. The eventual height of the tree however is dictated by the rootstock on which it is grown but the rate of growth remains the same.

How tall does a cherry blossom tree get?Cherry Tree

Cherry blossom trees on a dwarfing rootstock will reach an eventual height of around 2-3 meters but those on a vigorous rootstock will grow up to around 8-10m tall. Despite the differences in height the rootstocks do not affect the growth rate of the tree which will remain moderate. The exact cultivar of tree will also define the eventual size and shape with some trees being more naturally dwarfing than others.

How do you prune a weeping cherry tree?

To prune a weeping cherry tree you should cut two thirds of the branches to the nearest outside bud directing the growth outwards to form a neat umbrella shape. Additionally it is always important to remember to prune out any dead, dying or diseased branches along with any cross branches to allow sunlight and air to reach the leaves. The best time to prune a cherry tree is in late summer and this is to prevent the spread of disease such as silver leaf canker.

When should you prune a cherry tree?

With many plants the correct time to prune is in late autumn and winter however the cherry tree is more susceptible to diseases such as silver lead canker and as such the majority of the pruning should be done in mid summer, around June or July.

How long do cherry trees live for?

Cherry trees typically live for around 20-40 years but the lifespan is entirely dependent on the variety. Ornamental cherry trees have only a short lifespan with many barely making it past 20 years whereas the cultivars more prized for their fruit tend to live for around 30-40 years.Cherry Tree Blossom

What causes cherry tree leaves to curl?

Curling leaves on cherry trees is usually a sign of aphids of black fly but could also be a symptom of Leaf Curl disease and is caused by a fungus called Taphrina cerasi and usually carried by the wind. Leaf Curl disease is a fungus which infects the branches and usually causes clusters of growth in the centre of the tree’s canopy with the leaves turning red in colour and are marked with white spores.

Why No Blossoms on My Flowering Cherry Tree?

Reasons why a flowering cherry tree may not blossom include a lack of sunlight, late damaging frosts or a warm winter as cherry trees need a certain amount of time in near freezing temperatures during their dormancy.

Is my Cherry Blossom tree dying?

If your cherry trees fails to produce any flowers or foliage it may well be dead, however the true indication will come from the wood; if it is is try and breaks easily under pressure this suggests the tree has died. Cherry trees also have a green lining under the bark, you can make a small incision and if this green layer has turned brown and dry unfortunately the tree has died.

When do cherry blossoms flower?Cherry blossom in bloom

Cherry tree’s tend to blossom in mid-April however exactly when is entirely dependent on the weather as they will only bloom simultaneously throughout the country in periods of extending sufficient mild temperatures. Unseasonably early warm weather or late frosts could offset bloom and in Japan they have a special blossom watch after the daily weather report!

What is peak bloom?

Peak bloom is defined by the day(s) in which 70% of the trees are blooming. Unseasonable weather may prompt some trees to bloom early but these may then be killed off by frosts, peak bloom indicates a sustained period of sufficient temperatures to prompt a mass bloom from the cherry trees.

vilmorin rowan
If you are a fan of cherry blossom trees head over to our website where we have over 100 to choose from.
 

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 Liams posts.

How To, Jorge, Planting, Plants, Trees


Bare root plants in winter pose challenges to growers and gardeners alike. Freezing temperatures make even the simplest tasks difficult, with nurserymen having to trudge for miles in the bitter cold to assess whether a plant is suitable for transportation. Facing staff shortages and delayed couriers due to severed transport connections and hazardous rural roads, fulfilling orders can be beset by delays. Gardeners face different challenges with rock hard ground making planting impossible, rendering plants brittle and vulnerable to damage.

During winter plants become dormant, transfering energy to their roots and shedding their leaves. Biological activity slows, but doesn’t stop, just like when animals enter hibernation. This allows plants to be removed from soil that provides support, nutrients, warmth, moisture and oxygen. This reduces the weight of the plant, reducing transport costs, making bare root plants significantly cheaper than alternatives.

Plants can survive for significant periods without soil and can even be grown without as in the case of hydroponics. Although they can suffer for transplant shock, in which the plant’s health is threatened due to broken roots, disturbance and dehydration.This is why plants are carefully wrapped and their roots covered in hydrogel. Hence, they should not be removed from their wrappings until you are ready to plant and be left alone in a location not liable to temperature fluctuations.

Bare root plants should never be left in direct sunlight, nor be taken into the house, but can be stored in a cold outbuilding. Plants are liable to tissue damage when warming too fast, just like when humans suffer from chilblains. Bringing a plant into the house can cause the plant to come out of dormancy.

Bare root plants can survive for up to ten days without additional nutrients and water and indefinitely in temperatures below zero. If you are unable to plant in this time we’d recommend you leave your plant in water with liquid fertiliser. You can begin planting when the ground defrosts and temperatures rise above zero, with optimal temperatures around midday. Be sure to give your plants roots a good watering.

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.

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