Current Issues, Garden Design, Gardening Year, Gardens, Guest Posts

garden trends 2018

When spring and summer are on the horizon our attention turns to how much we’re looking forward to enjoying the garden on sunny days, and what we can do to make the most of our space. This is going to be a big year for gardeners, so put on your gloves, roll up your sleeves and get ready to get covered in grass stains. From completely restyling a huge back garden to enjoying your balcony or terrace, here are five of the best garden trends for 2018.

1. Growing your own

Growing your own has always been popular, but with a rapidly growing trend towards eating a more plant-based diet it’s destined to become even more so. Depending on the space you have you can be as ambitious as you like – the garden is your oyster. However, if space is of a premium, runner beans, tomatoes, herbs and hanging fruit plants can all be grown in small areas. There’s nothing more rewarding than tucking into the fruits (and veg) of your labour!

2. Dining al fresco

What better way to enjoy the fruits of your labour than outdoors? Al fresco dining is a wonderful way to enjoy the garden, in both the day and the evening; in the sun and even when the temperatures drop. Set aside an outside dining space, complete with furniture, cool lighting and either a fire pit, chimney or patio heater so you can enjoy it at all times.

3. Forest-inspired colours

If you’re really into the latest trends and colour is an important part of your garden theme, then natural is the way to go in 2018. And by natural we mean lush forest-inspired deep greens, woodland golds and browns, shades of berries and rustic reds. These are some of the shades included in Pantone’s Verdure palette for the coming year. You can of course impart your own personality with bright tones found in flowering shrubs and herbs, bold colours on your fence or some funky dining furniture. But keep a base of natural for an on-trend look and add a twist with other colours of your choosing.

4. The wonder of Wabi-sabi

Sticking with the natural theme, and it doesn’t come more natural than this, is the Japanese art of Wabi-sabi. This garden art form has been around for over 500 years and actually requires pretty minimal effort. It’s all about combining the slight nurturing of your garden with embracing the natural imperfections of your outside space: the moss on your brickwork and stones, those rusty gate handles and hinges, that overgrown shrubbery and those distressed pots. If the thought of getting covered in dirt isn’t for you, this trend is perfect.

planting cacti

5. Small-space gardening

It’s not always possible to create elaborate garden themes, particularly when you don’t actually have a garden, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still create a cool outside space. Whether it’s a balcony, tiny courtyard or even a windowsill, you can still get growing. Rather than looking down, look up! Use balconies and wrap them in climbing shrubs, buy vertical structures to grow flowers on and create a palette of outdoor tones in your window box. With a little space and a lot of imagination there’s plenty that can be done. With space being more at a premium than ever, small-space gardening has become a big thing.

Have fun implementing some of this year’s best garden trends into your outside space and enjoy!

Eleanor CainesEleanor is a freelance writer. She loves to write about everything from gardening to travels. Her favourite part of her outside space is the fairy garden she created with her daughter.

Gardening, Gardens, Jenny

gardening fitness routine

Get fit and feel great from my head to-ma-toes

You could pay a small fortune in the gym with a personal trainer trying to develop your core, leg, back, shoulder and arm muscle groups… or you could get up and shovel something. No, really! Shovelling is a high intensity workout where, depending on your pace and stamina, you can burn up to 250 calories per 30 minutes of work. You can burn even more calories than that in lower temperatures as your body works harder to keep warm. The weeks between January and early spring is the best time of year to get the garden ready for new growth so get out and get shovelling! We have a great range of luxury tools to get you started.

Shovelling isn’t the only garden workout: weeding can burn up to 150 calories for 30 minutes of work. As well as being a great calorific workout, gardening helps you reawaken old muscles as you get your body bending and moving in new ways. From squats to lifts, gardening encourages you to give the whole of your body an effective workout.

Shovelling is great cardio and works a vast range of muscle groups so don’t forget to get ready. Like any exercise it’s important to warm up, so start with light gardening first and most importantly, don’t get too cold! If you get too cold your muscles will tighten up and you put yourself at risk of injury. Layer up and be responsible. Listen to your body when you think enough is enough. To give yourself the best chance possible of staying out in the cold while keeping warm you can use heated insoles, socks, gloves, gilets and so much more.

yoga in garden

Mind your back! With safety in mind do try to reduce the risk of strain with clever tools to help you lift bulky loads. Keep pathways clear and accessible to avoid sudden twists or strain while you move. Most importantly, lift with your legs and keep your back straight.

If you don’t do much gardening and the excuse is always that you simply don’t have room in the house for working out, why not invest in an extra room? No, not an expensive house extension, a garden room. Summerhouses are ideal spaces to adapt to your needs, whether personal gym, yoga studio or home office, a summerhouse gives you almost all the benefits of a house extension at only a fraction of the cost.

Working out in the garden isn’t just great for burning calories. With gardening you can expect to gain other great benefits such as decreased blood pressure and lower levels of cholesterol. Depending on the intensity and regularity of your gardening, over time you will strengthen joints, improve flexibility and even slow the onset of osteoporosis. Generally improving your fitness has a multitude of long term health benefits and doing so with gardening means you help out nature too! Building projects such as setting up water features and birdbaths are great physical activities with long term benefits for you and visiting wildlife.

There are a huge number of health benefits associated with exercising outside in this way. The psychological impact of growing a healthy crop of vegetables or seeing your garden full of beautiful blooms will give you a great sense of achievement. This kicks off the “feel good” reaction in the body where dopamine, well, makes us feel good! Hence the name. Dopamine has a range of health benefits including memory development and learning, decreases inflammation, improves sleep, and much more. Besides all that, you get tomatoes! Long-term, sustained cardio workouts (like the sort you’ll be getting in your garden) increase your levels of serotonin, which leaves you feeling happier and more sociable. There’s also a lot of research that shows just being outside can have a big impact on your mental health, leaving you less likely to feel symptoms of anxiety or depression.

gardening exercise

Jenny at PrimroseJenny works in the Primrose Product Loading team working on adding new and exciting products to the website. When she’s not writing, proofreading or drinking the strongest coffee possible Jenny loves to climb and can often be found halfway up a wall at the local climbing centre.

See all of Jenny’s posts.

Garden Edging, Garden Screening, Gardening, Gardens, Hedging, Liam, Planting, Plants

When is the best time to plant a hedge?

If you are planting an evergreen hedge the best time to plant is early autumn; if, however, you are planting a deciduous hedge the best time to plant is late autumn to late winter. Ensure that the ground is well prepared and is neither frozen nor waterlogged.

What is the fastest growing hedge?

Leyland Cypress ‘Leylandii’ hedges grows up to a meter every year but can be kept to any height given that it is trimmed once or twice a year. Cherry Laurel, Bamboo or Red Berberis are also fast growing hedges which also have unique aesthetics offering a range of beautiful screening.

How far apart do you plant a hedge?

How far you need to plant a hedge depends on the variety and ranges from 30cm (Privet) to 60cm (Leylandii) a part. To plant a double staggered row establish two parallel lines 30-50cm apart and then plant to the required distance for your chosen variety for an incredibly thick and healthy looking hedge.

What are the best hedges for screening?

The best hedges for screening which ensure the most privacy are all typically evergreen hedges; leylandii is a fantastic, fast-growing hedge that will give you splendid coverage in no time. Yew is also a classic and charming hedge for screening and although it isn’t as fast growing as the leylandii it is shade tolerant and will do extremely well in north-facing positions. The Common Holly ‘Ilex aquifolium’ is a splendid hedge for privacy with thick, vigorous growth remaining a beautiful shade of dark, gloss-green throughout the year also doubling up as an effective intruder deterrent.

Leyland Cypress (Leylandii)
Leyland Cypress (Leylandii)

What are the best hedges for front gardens?

There are a range of fantastic hedging plants for the front garden; Box (Buxus sempervirens) will form a brilliant neat small hedge to line path- and driveways while Yew will give you a more substantial hedge that can protect your home from roadside pollutants. Lavender also makes a wonderful, if unique hedge with the notorious purple flowers and rich fragrance.

What is the best hedge for a small garden?

The best hedges for smaller gardens are privet or osmanthus delavayii – two incredible hedges which grow thick and luscious in minimal amounts of space. Equally bamboos are a brilliant feature in the garden which also add an Asiatic charm to your garden.

What is the best hedge for wildlife?

For wildlife the best varieties of hedging plants are native species such as beeck, blackthorn, holly and hawthorn, all of which providing welcome shelter and food to our native animals. You can grow a wildlife hedge which consists of several of these native species in a single hedge with hawthorn being used as the base comprising around 60% of the hedge.

What is the best hedge?

The best hedge all depends entirely on what you want from your hedge; Box makes a brilliant neat little hedge to border pathways while leylandii is a spectacularly fast-growing evergreen sure to give you ample screening.  Equally there are flowering hedges such as Rhododendron or Lavender or fantastic native species including hawthorn and beech. Which hedging plant is the best depends on your vision for your outdoor space, as there’s such to be the perfect hedge to meet your needs.

Yew hedge
Yew hedge

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, 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.