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.

Garden Tools, Gardening, Ross

The growing reputation of the hori hori trowel has cast a long overdue spotlight on historic and artisanal gardening tools. Appearances on TV and radio call-in shows have raised the stock of more classical gardening tools and their uses in modern gardens.

Artisanal tools like the hori hori trowel are not simply for show, after all. They have survived this long because of their versatility and consistency. For some, though, gardening tools are bought more for flair than function. Collecting tools isn’t the worst of hobbies for the passionate gardener, and certainly there are enough variants to please all manner of collectors. Granted, you’re not likely to find any golden tools at your local garden centre, but there’s no reason to believe you can’t find some glorious little collectibles.

So today, let’s take a look at just a few classic tools that, for their beauty, history or timelessness, could adorn your shed wall.

Hori hori trowels

Hori hori trowel

Let’s start with the aforementioned, then; the hori hori trowel. The name of the tool has a simple and enjoyable root; hori not only means “dig” in Japanese, but it is also considered onomatopoeic for the sound of digging (I can’t hear it, personally, but perhaps I just don’t dig enough).

Many of these sorts of Japanese tools were created using similar forging techniques to those used by the Samurai; they were built to get the job done. The trowel has survived for as long as it has because of its enormous versatility; with a serrated edge, a concave design and a depth scale etched on either the handle or blade itself, the trowel can be used for digging, cutting and weeding, among others. It is a true one-stop-shop for jobs in flower beds and other small areas of your garden.

Prime amongst its pros are its durability, too; given the wide variety of tasks it can be employed for, the workload demands that the blade stand up to the rigours of its usage. The best hori hori trowels are forged from a high-quality stainless steel that resists rusting and blunting, unlike some cheaper variants. The hori hori is a gardening tool for nearly every occasion, and takes pride of place among many a tool shed.

Copper tools

Copper & bronze tools

Copper and bronze tools are wonderful things. For a start, when you polish a bronze tool, it breaks out in a golden sheen that mimics the look of a true golden tool. Now not everyone wants their tools to look shiny and lovely, of course, but for collectors that you can be dazzling pieces of art when hung on a shed wall.

The best part about bronze and copper tools, though, is the effect they have on soil. A biomimicry experimenter by the name of Viktor Schauberger conducted a series of experiments to prove that copper tools were would be more enriching for soil and plants than iron tools, which were the preference of his day. His three main hypotheses were simple: it did not follow that using a tool so prone to decay and rust, as metal tools were, could help plants grow; that heat could not cultivate, only kill, and the soil friction created by metal tools would only hinder plant growth; that iron, as a sparking metal, would deplete the electrical charge of rising groundwater, which would leave less for the plants to feast on. Copper and bronze, he argued, were not so prone to rusting, caused less friction and would allow a strong electrical charge to reach the roots in rising groundwater. Bronze tools would even leave enrich soil with copper-trace elements, which created the conditions for valuable micro-organisms to develop. His experiments proved him correct; plants treated with copper tools yielded stronger, healthier crops with fewer pests than their iron counterparts.

What copper tools offer, then, is not only a classy aesthetic that shines like gold, but a number of subtle, practical advantages over iron and steel that help cultivate plants and encourage growth. Not bad for something usually dismissed as all form and no function.

Kunai

Kunai

The kunai has a rather colourful history; first designed as a farming tool, it was later adopted by the ninjas thanks to its strength, shape and versatility.

Kunai are forged from soft iron and only sharpened at the tip, since the edges are used to break and smash softer materials such as wood or plaster. A fair comparison would be to a crowbar; the kunai is perfectly capable of prying open gaps and its strength has spawned a number of ulterior uses. The most notable, as previously mentioned, was its adoption by the ninja. It was used at times a weapon, but its true use came in more practical forms. The ninja used it to gouge holes in walls, smashing through softer material just as it did in the tranquillity of the garden. Its shape and strength also made it perfect for climbing; it could be reliably driven into trees or into pitons (a crack in a climbing surface which can help anchor you to a wall) thanks to its strong, compact design. The pommel at the top the handle was perfect for tying a rope to, which allowed the kunai to be tied to a stick and used as a spear, thrown like a Chinese rope dart or simply tied around the handle to give the user more grip.

In spite of all of this, the kunai was never primarily a weapon. It was a tool, used by farmers and warriors alike. It, too, has withstood the test of time thanks to its strong, simple design, and while the kunai has lost some its popularity as a garden tool to the ninja connotations, it is an excellent example of how an ancient tool can find new niches.

Plastic dibber

Dibbers

What a wonderful word that is, too – dibber. Most us are familiar with them any many of us will own one already, but in terms of its history, many underestimate the years in which the dibber has been a staple of the gardeners tool belt.

Its first recorded appearance was during the Roman Empire, and its design has remained consistent ever since. Dibbers, as I’m sure most us know, are pointed sticks used to make holes in which to plant seeds or bulbs. Over the years a few variations of the classic variant have evolved; t-shapes curved handles, straight dibbers that look a little more like the stakes one would employ to slay a vampire.

It was only during the Renaissance that dibbers became manufactured items; some moved away from simple wooden designs and made the tool from iron, perfect for penetrating harder surfaces like clay. The dibber was also a time-saver for farmers; one would walk with a dibber making holes in the soil, and another would follow behind planting seeds in each and fill them back in. Classic wooden dibbers are a vintage little addition to a tool shed, and many prefer the feel of smooth wood to modern plastic or metal handles. As another little nugget for you, it was revealed on an episode of the BBC’s “Would I Lie To You?” that comedian Lee Mack has donated his dibber to the British Lawnmower Museum. Proof that any old tool can become a collectible if marketed properly, I suppose.

garden hoe

Hoes

I can’t write that word without thinking of the Two Ronnie’s “Four Candles” sketch. “No no, o’s! O’s for the gate, mon repose, o’s! Letter o’s!”

Anyway…

So you may be thinking “why no Earth are we discussing something as common as a garden hoe in a blog that features hori horis and kunais?” Well, dear reader, that’s because the hoe has a rather brilliant historical backstory. The hoe actually predates the plough and may only have been preceded by digging sticks. As one of the oldest tools in our shed, it has evolved to accommodate developing technologies and has seen its head redesigned to meet a wide variety of needs. The hoe is even divinely inspired according to some myths and ancient colonies. In Sumerian mythology, its invention is credited to the chief council of the Gods, Enlil, and Shennong (“The God Farmer”) in ancient Chinese culture. The hoe was even depicted in predynastic Egyptian art, and mentioned in ancient documents like the Book of Isaiah and the Code of Hammurabi from the Babylonian Empire. And here’s another little fact for you, fellow hoe enthusiasts; the short-handled hoe is banned in the US state of California, who deemed it an unsafe hand tool after farmers developed crippling lower back pain after years of usage. The more ya know, eh?

So there we have it – just a smattering of the classic, historical or artisanal tools that could and perhaps should adorn your shed wall. Quite uplifting to know your hoe may be divinely inspired, isn’t it?

Ross at PrimroseRoss works in the Product Loading department and gets to see all the weird and wonderful products that pass through Primrose. Ross is a life-long Southampton fan and favours jazz music, reading and a quiet place to enjoy them.

See all of Ross’s posts.

Flowers, Gardening, Gardens, Liam, Plants, Trees

japanese magnolia

Magnolias

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.

Current Issues, Events, Gardening Year, George, Hampton Court Flower Show, News, RHS

Another year, another roster of fabulous events to pack out you calendar. We’ve gathered up the best exhibitions, flower shows and festivals coming down the track, so you can start booking your tickets and grab the best deals for gardening events in 2018. We’re excited already!

gardening events 2018

2018 Gardening Events

January

27-29 Jan – Big Garden Birdwatch – Do your bit to help keep track of what’s flying around our back gardens by joining in this nationwide event.

February

10 Feb-11 Mar – Kew’s Orchid Festival – Thailand is the star of this annual celebration of the vibrant world of orchids.
13-14 Feb – RHS Early Spring Plant Fair – The first tinges of spring are in the air at this show to inspire your new year’s gardening.

March

16 MarNational Collection of Magnolias – Hear from the owner of Caehays Castle’s magnolias in a lecture and tour of the gardens.

April

6-7 Apr – RHS Orchid Show & Plant Fair – You won’t want to miss the spectacular spring plants on display at Lindley and Lawrence Halls.
13-15 Apr – RHS Flower Show Cardiff – The first major plant show of the year brings the joy and inspiration of gardening to Wales.
22-22 Apr – RHS Spring Plant Fair – Visit Hyde Hall to stock up on plants for the season ahead, with a range of specialist growers.
26-29 Apr – Harrogate Spring Flower Show – Show gardens, floral art and plants for any type of garden are all waiting for you at Harrogate.
30-6 May – National Gardening Week – Host your own event or take part in a local activity to share in this celebration of all things garden.

May

10-13 MayRHS Malvern Spring Festival – Join in with this proper family event, full of shopping, flowers and food.
22-26 MayRHS Chelsea Flower Show – The ultimate flower show that is always unmissable for any lovers of plants and garden design.
26 May-3 JunNational Children’s Gardening Week – Get the kids into gardening with fun events and activities to do.

June

1-3 JunGardening Scotland – Celebrate the joy of everything garden in Edinburgh, from inspirational designs to accessories and plants.
6-10 JunRHS Chatsworth Flower Show – Talks, floral displays, advice and shopping round out this unique garden show.
14-17 JunGardeners’ World Live – The nation’s favourite gardening programme comes to life with talks and exhibits for you to soak up.
23-24 JunWoburn Abbey Garden Show – Experience the 9th annual show at Woburn Abbey for talks, advice and lots of fun.

July

2-8 JulRHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show – Take in a historic royal landmark alongside its gorgeous gardens and plant shows.
18-22 JulRHS Flower Show Tatton Park – Experience the work of up and coming garden designers in this summer exhibition.

August

16-19 AugSouthport Flower Show – The theme is ‘Once Upon a Time’ for the country’s largest independent flower show.

September

29-30 SepRHS Malvern Autumn Show – the second annual Malvern show packs in autumn plants and cookery workshops.

October

27-28 OctRHS Urban Garden Show – City growing and houseplants are order of the day at this inspiration exhibition.

November

24 Nov-2 DecNational Tree Week – Celebrate the start of the winter tree planting season by joining in with a local project.

So there’s our gardening events 2018 calendar. Hopefully you’re now feeling inspired for the year ahead – and please do let us know if you have any more suggestions!

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.

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