Jorge, Plants, Trees

Historically it was believed that the common garden strawberry, or Fragaria x ananassa, was a hybrid of two wild species: F. virginiana, or wild strawberry, from North America, and F. chiloensis, or beach strawberry, from the pacific coast in North America and South America. Today genetic analysis has revealed its ancestry to be more complex as there are genes from other species as well. The original cross (from which all modern garden strawberries derive) occurred in occurred in France in the 1750s, once the chiloensis was brought back from Chile in 1714. Before the introduction of the common garden strawberry, the strawberry species consumed was the Fragaria vesca, or wild strawberry, that grows naturally throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere.

It’s scientific name originates from the Latin fragum, meaning fragrant, and ananassa, meaning pineapples. Interestly, strawberries aren’t technically berries as with berries the entire pericarp (flesh surrounding the seed) is succulent tissue. Instead, strawberries, are aggregate fruits which form from a single flower with many pistils (seed-bearing female organ of a flower) that develop into fruits. Years of hybridisation has produced cultivars far superior to those of old with larger fruits, heavier crops and improved disease resistance.

Primrose Strawberry Cultivars A-Z


An offspring of the ‘Diamente’ cultivar, ‘Albion’ was first fruited at the University of California in the 1998 and released commercially in 2006. The university goes through 12,000 unique cultivars every year, making it extremely special. (It is the most popular strawberry among growers in California.) Day-neutral, the plant will flower regardless of the light it receives, making it suitable for summer and winter fruiting. It is also resistant to verticillium wilt, phytophthora crown rot and, to a degree, anthracnose crown rot. Its conical, red fruits are large and firm with good flavour. It will will produce abundant runners that we recommend you clip to reduce stress and increase yields.

Cambridge’s Favourite

Recipient of the RHS Award of Garden Merit and the Perfect for Pollinators badge, ‘Cambridge Favourite’ was developed at the University of Oxford – no just kidding – the University of Cambridge in 1947. A mid season cultivar, the cultivar possesses good disease resistance and will produce abundant runners from which average-sized berries will spring. The flavour is excellent, but notably soft.


Calypso was developed at East Malling Research in 1991. The centre was set up all the way back in 1913 by the fruit-growing sector to address challenges to farmers. Perfectly located in the Garden of England, it is surrounded by about 70% of the UK’s grower with the county specialising in fruit. (Kent’s title originates from the fact it was the first counties to set up commercial orchards of exotic fruits such as cherries – a species Henry VIII loved).

A cross between Rapella and Selva, Calypso is a significant advance over its parents. Unusually prolific for a day-neutral, or everbearing type, it is able to produce large yields whether planted in Spring or Autumn, and again, we recommend you clip its runners to improve yields. It’s fruits are larger than average in size with moderate flavour and firm flavour. The cultivar is resistant to verticillium-wilt.


A widely grown commercial cultivar, Elsanta was developed by Wageningen Plant Research Institute (Netherlands) and released in 1975. It’s fruits are delicious with a good storage life and are less prone to bruising; hence, a supermarket favourite. The cultivar is notable for its huge crops and one can expect up to 500g of produce in its first year. However, it is susceptible to both mildew and verticillium wilt, so we recommend plant under warm conditions and spray against mildew.


Another everbearer from East Malling Research (EMR), the ‘Flamenco’ is highly versatile, suitable for both beds and containers and functions well when brought into the greenhouse. A heavy cropper, this cultivar can produce up to 800G of strawberries per plant all the way to Autumn. Its fruit is sweet, larger than average, classically conical in shape.


A midseason cultivar, Florence will produce fruit from the backend of June to the end of July. It’s fruit are tasty, sweet in flavour and firm in texture. The plant is notable for its exceptional disease and pest resistance, originating from the fact it is a crossbreed of many cultivars, bred by EMR.


A cross between strawberries and raspberries, the cultivar is notable for sweet raspberry flavour. Like strawberries proper, they are low maintenance and grow well in pots.


A product of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, honeoye takes its name for the Seneca word for lying finger, which describes a lake in New York State. Recipient of the RHS Award of Garden Merit, the cultivar is hardy and one of the best strawberries to grow in the colder parts of the UK. It is suitable for cloches and tunnels, but grows best in a raised bed. An early-season cultivar, the cultivar will produce heavy crops of firm, medium-sized strawberries.


A very-late season cultivar from EMR, Judibell was the first commercial cultivar released with the extended dormancy trait that keeps the plant dormant till mid-May. The cultivar is resistant to both Verticillium Wilt and Crown Rot, although is somewhat susceptible to powdery mildew, which can be fought against with spray. It’s fruits are juicy red and of superb quality.

Mara des Bois

Mara des Bois combines the best of commercial and alpine cultivars with a taste reminiscent of wild strawberries, intense aromatic flavour, vigour and heavy cropping. This aromatic flavour has its origin in the flavour compound methyl anthranilate, not present in most supermarket strawberries. The cultivar was created by nurseryman Jacques Marionnet in 1991 from four cultivars – Gento, Redgauntlet, Ostara and Korona – and is prized the world over by Michelin-starred chefs. Highly popular among hobbyists in France, over 15 million are bought every year, producing 10,000 tonnes of strawberries. Another day neutral cultivar, it will produce fruit intermittently throughout the summer.  


Appearing as inverted colour strawberries, pineberries are actually another hybrid of Fragaria chiloensis and Fragaria virginiana – the same hybridisation that gave us the common garden strawberry. The cultivar originates from Wil Beekers, a Dutch grower, who sought to exploit demand for niche fruit around the world. First sold commercially in the Netherlands and Belgium in 2010, the cultivar quickly spread to the UK, and then the States in 2012.

Smaller than the common strawberry with white colouring and red seeds, pineberries have a fresh acidic-sweet taste, much like pineapples, hence its name. This is interesting considering the Latin name for strawberries is Fragaria x ananassa with ananassa meaning pineapples – another early misnomer of plant naming. The cultivar produces small yields, but is understandably popular for its novel look and taste. Growing it yourself can save you a small fortune vis-a-vis purchasing it in the shops.

Red Gauntlet

A mid-season cultivar that will produce second crop come September, the Red Gauntlet is understandably popular among growers with large sweet-tasting fruits. Highly suitable to cloches and tunnels, the cultivar has good disease resistance with some resistance to botrytis.


Another cultivar well-adapted to the colder parts of the UK, Rhapsody was developed by the Scottish Crop Research Institute and is recommended by both the Ministry of Agriculture and the RHS. A progeny of Talisam, Cambridge Vigour and Cambridge Favourite, Rhapsody has good resistance to disease (including the dreaded red core) and is a heavy cropper, more so than Cambridge Favourite. Superb in flavour, these strawberries are not to be ignored.


Recommended by Which? magazine, Sonata is a mid-season cultivar with sharp flavour. The plant is widely marketed as a successor to Elsanta due to its uniform fruit shape and consistent quality of fruit. Well adapted to Northern Europe’s climatic conditions, Sonata is another cultivar suited to the colder parts of the UK.

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.

Flowers, Gardening, Gardens, Liam, Plants, Trees

japanese magnolia


Magnolias are one of the world’s oldest flowering plants still in existence today with relatives dating back over 95 million years. Today they are still adored across the world for their bountiful blooms and overall ornamental charm. All magnolias produce flowers, some of the finest flowers of any tree, but some varieties have key differences. Magnolias, depending on the variety, can be deciduous or evergreen and both have their unique benefits when helping you achieve your dream outdoor aesthetic. Read along to discover which variety is best suited to your garden!

Despite being forests being the home of magnolias, it is  a tree which has adapted remarkably well to urban environments. However, magnolias vary significantly in size so it’s essential you pick the right one to perfectly fit your outdoor space. M. susan, for example,  is a fantastic little specimen that grows to a mature height of 2.5-4m which is a perfect size for the front garden along a driveway. Conversely, M. grandiflora gallisoniensis is a tree of awesome magnitude, reaching a height of 10m and from July through to September will be covered in huge white sweetly scented flowers. This tree will become a centerpiece to even the larger sized gardens.

Deciduous MagnoliaDeciduous magnolia in bloom

Deciduous Magnolias bring their own distinct beauty which more than compensates for its bare months. The flowers for these varieties tend to bloom slightly before or just as the leaves begin to emerge. For this reason there can be beautiful colour contrasts between the bright flowers and the silver bark invoking conceptions of life, death and rebirth. If you have happened to spot a magnolia in passing and are not sure whether it is deciduous or evergreen the easy way to tell is to see whether the leaves are completely uncurled or not. Additionally these deciduous varieties offer superb autumn displays so there is a wide range of varying tones to be enjoyed throughout the seasons. The deciduous magnolias we sell are; M. Susan, M. Soulangeana and M. Stellata.

Evergreen Magnoliaevergreen magnolia

Evergreen magnolias are fantastic to add some vibrant colour all year-round. Their broad ovate leaves are a deep, emerald green with a pale green or rust-red shade on the underside. Evergreens tend to need warmer conditions as they originate from the Gulf Coast of the southern states of America. They will only do well in more mild areas of the country that do not experience prolonged periods of subfreezing temperatures. The evergreen varieties we sell are; M. grandiflora gallisoniensis and M. grandiflora little gem.

magnolia grandiflora with flower

Grandiflora Magnolia

Grandiflora is a word that tends to pop up in the vibrant world of botany, especially with magnolias. Its literal translation from Latin means ‘great flower’ and is simply a name given to those plants that have exceptionally large flowers. Grandiflora magnolias usually carry a sweet, lemon-like scent and can be as large as nearly a foot in diameter!

There are several forms which have bred from M. grandiflora since it was brought over to Europe in 1726 from the Gulf Coast of North America. All grandiflora magnolias are evergreen and as such to achieve the most profuse blossoms they will require a mild temperate climate. Providing that they can rival the most spectacular flower display of any tree around!

If you’re a Magnolia fan then you should head over to the Magnolia category on our website where we have a fantastic selection of both evergreen and deciduous magnolia along with several grandiflora 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 pastime 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, 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.