Alex, Current Issues, Gardening Year, Plants

how to deal with frost

2017 has seen unprecedented weather challenges for growers. An extremely dry winter was followed by an unseasonably warm early spring. This encouraged plants to start throwing out shoots very early. We were then hit by very hard, very late frosts. To make it worse, the frosts were quite unexpected, coming during clear nights in late April off the back of good weather. The mercury plummeted to -6℃ in some rural areas and across the country, crops and gardens alike were hit hard.

Winemakers have suffered badly in the UK and across the continent. Up to 75% of some crops have been ruined by the cold snaps, with vineyards filled with huge candles to ward off the chill. In France, temperatures have dropped below -7℃, harming the new growths brought on by previous warm weather. Champagne may be in shorter supply this year, despite attempts to save crops with the down-draught from helicopters.

frosty vineyards

The frost was even more damaging as there was a lot of young, tender new growth triggered by the early warm weather which was particularly vulnerable. With many plants, the freeze decimated the new growth, killing it right back, and leaving plants looking very sorry for themselves indeed.

This is particularly bad for those of us expecting fruit crops this year, like the winemakers, who reported up to 50% of their crops may be lost and the rest delayed significantly. Strawberries, young tomato plants and other less hardy varieties that may have been moved out of the greenhouse too early on the back of the good weather, have also been wiped out throughout the country.

Late frost 2017

So what can we do to save our plants from the late frost?

  • Be prepared for unpredictable weather in the UK. Keep a close eye on the forecasts, with mild early springs followed by sudden chills the real killer.
  • Check out our tips for protecting plants against frost, including cloches, fleeces and greenhouses.
  • When moving plants outside after winter, do so carefully in stages to harden them off.
  • Choose some hardy plants like lavender and holly to keep some colour going in the garden whatever the weather throws at it.

AlexAlex works in the Primrose buying team, sourcing exciting new varieties of plants.

As a psychology graduate it is ironic that he understands plants better than people but a benefit for the purpose of writing this blog.

An enthusiastic gardener, all he needs now is a garden and he’ll be on the path to greatness. Alex’s special talents include superior planter knowledge and the ability to put a gardening twist on any current affairs story.

See all of Alex’s posts.

Alex, How To, Outdoor Heating, Patio Heaters

winter patio heater

There is nothing better than the comforting warm rays of a patio heater as you get late into a summer evening and the temperature begins to drop and all of a sudden you begin to feel a bit chilly. Just when you get to the point where you begin to regret not bringing a jacket, or wearing those shorts you had on from earlier, someone reaches for the patio heater switch and your worries fade away.

This is great, but what we have found a lot of people have been asking is “Do they work in the winter”. So, in short, yes they do, although we wouldn’t recommend wearing shorts to a dinner party in February, for various reasons. We have written this article to give you some guidance on what to expect and how to get the most out of your patio heaters in winter months.

There are two main types of outdoor heaters commonly used: Gas and electric. Electric heaters have grown in popularity over recent years as improvements to the technology have been made with modern heaters now giving off a lot more heat without the glare that used to make them rather unattractive. Gas heaters offer a different experience however, and are often preferred as they can be seen more as a feature adding to the ambience of your outdoor space.

Gas heaters do transfer some heat to the air around them as the gas burns but the heat that is most useful for outdoor use is radiant heat. This is produced as the gas is burned and then directed by the reflecting element of the heater outwards in a specific direction. Radiant heaters transfer energy through an infrared wave to an object whilst losing minimal heat to the air in between. This is much like how the sun heats the earth and creates a pleasant warming feeling instead of the stuffy feeling created by warming the air itself.

Electric heaters transmit shorter wave lengths which make this energy transfer more effective resulting in less energy being wasted heating the air giving them a greater range and effectiveness outdoors. By relying more on infrared heat, it means the effect of air temperature and wind is on energy transfer reduced with electric heaters, meaning you get great results no matter what the weather.

By emitting radiant heat, patio heaters have the power to provide warmth throughout the winter even when the air is cold and the wind is blowing. Of course, they won’t shelter you from the wind, or offer any protection from the rain, but they will provide some comfort in the colder months.

As I said before, you will still want to dress appropriately and the power of your heater will also have an impact on the warmth you feel. Although heaters with more power are often more expensive to run, they do offer greater range and warmth. It is worth investing in an efficient heater that may be more expensive initially, but provides greater heating efficiency for less electricity as energy waste through glare and transfer to air is limited by the technology.

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Alex

Alex works in the Primrose marketing team, mainly on online marketing.

As a psychology graduate it is ironic that he understands plants better than people but a benefit for the purpose of writing this blog.

An enthusiastic gardener, all he needs now is a garden and he’ll be on the path to greatness. Alex’s special talents include superior planter knowledge and the ability to put a gardening twist on any current affairs story.

See all of Alex’s posts.

Alex, Current Issues, Flowers, Garden Design, Garden Furniture, Gardening, Gardening Year, How To, News

Gardening has become increasingly influenced by trends over the last decade with styles and techniques seeming to vary on a similar frequency to that of clothing and it could be argued more frequently than that of the historically fluid field of interior design.

Perhaps this is influenced by the natural cycle that our gardens go through each year with every spring an opportunity to tweak, re-arrange or entirely redesign your outdoor space. This year will be no different so we have been looking into what’s going to be all the rage in the gardening world and have found some interesting trends that are going to be big in 2016.

Monochrome Palettes:

Minimalism is nothing new and has been synonymous with modern interior design since the turn of the century but 2016 is set to see this trend spread outdoors too with monochrome palettes being used to create simple, calm spaces. 50 shades of grey in your garden will mean something completely different this year with this technique working particularly well with stone water features, aged zinc, slate and subtle white flora.

Monochrome garden

See-through Fences

I found this to be an interesting concept. Fences are normally used to create privacy, so this seems kind of pointless at first. But after seeing how they can be used, I now understand. You can angle the slats so that it gives the illusion of being see-through, lets plenty of light in and inflicts a less enclosing feel on the boundary of your garden without giving you direct line of sight onto your neighbours garden, and vice versa. These now offer a modern alternative to the tradition boundary options of either A. A fence or B. A bush and also act as a real talking point.

See through fence

The Grottage

The Grottage is another idea that was previously unfamiliar to me. Grottage, a portmanteau of the words garage and cottage, is a new term used to describe what may previously have been described inelegantly as a garage conversion. I have seen some real good looking examples of these and the purpose of them can vary from a small, sun house like function to offer some shelter and comfort in the garden to more of a guest house with bed and small kitchenette. I think the former will be more popular with people choosing to transform disused garages from a storage place for tools that are seldom in action to a quaint feature where guests can relax and enjoy the garden out of the midday heat of the sun, or more likely; out of the rain.

Grottage

Turf-to-Order

A cool time saving concept for those who are trying to achieve the “untamed look” without having to wait for their garden to untame itself. With the untamed look set to be another hot trend this year, some clever gardenistas have come up with the idea of creating it for you, on rolls of turf, which you can then just install into your garden kind of like the horticultural version of Ikea furniture. You can order turf with a variety of wild flowers and grasses already prepared and instantly transform your neat, tidy garden into a wild, untamed all-natural experience.

turf to order

Pallet Style Furniture

This is one of my personal favourites; I enjoy the innovation behind this concept and I remember first seeing these in a bar a few years ago (they were obviously homemade) and thinking wow that’s not a bad idea! Now, companies will make them for you and you get a better quality product that still brings that intriguing bespoke feel to your garden as visitors have that eureka moment when they realise that your elegant sofa set has actually been innovatively crafted from a few humble pallets.

pallet furniture

Sustainable Features Integrated with Design

An area close to my heart – sustainable development may not interest everyone but it is something I have studied closely for a few years now and an area that is a bit more familiar to me. The sustainable trend is a trend that has threatened to take off each year for the last 5 or so but as of yet it has not hit the mainstream. Of course, there are still some wonderful examples to be found. Some real works of ingenuity and functional design creating spaces that are not just aesthetically pleasing but environmentally conscious and sustainable.

Over this time, however, ideas have been developed, products improved and now a sustainable garden is a more accessible goal. With more accessibility, and appetite seemingly as strong as ever, 2016 will hopefully be the year where this trend really takes hold.

Rain gardens have been popular in dryer parts of America for a few years now and are predicted to make an appearance over here this year. The idea is to create a shallow planted depression in your garden where rain water will run into and be held until it soaks into the soil. The advantages are that in dryer times this will help store any little bit of rain and keep your garden hydrated meaning you have to reach for the hose pipe less often. Secondly, this reduces rainwater run-off, a growing problem. As our once green land increasingly becomes concreted over or built on, rain now tends to run off along the ground much more without soaking in. This washes all the dust and other impurities along with it into the water system and can lead to sharp rises in river levels after short bursts of rain, often causing flooding.

rain garden

There are loads of other neat ideas on the web to make your garden more sustainable and a lot of these come at little or no cost (besides a bit of elbow grease).

Stay tuned to our blog as we run through other things to keep an eye on in 2016 to get the most out of your garden this year!

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Alex

Alex works in the Primrose marketing team, mainly on online marketing.

As a psychology graduate it is ironic that he understands plants better than people but a benefit for the purpose of writing this blog.

An enthusiastic gardener, all he needs now is a garden and he’ll be on the path to greatness. Alex’s special talents include superior planter knowledge and the ability to put a gardening twist on any current affairs story.

See all of Alex’s posts.

Alex, Current Issues, Garden Design, How To

 

Meditation Garden

 

The year is 1000 BBY. The New Sith Wars have come to an end and so too have the Republic Dark Ages and things are looking up for the universe with a wide belief that the Sith, who had been on a quest of universal domination for several millennia since the Dark Jedi Wars, had finally been defeated and were now extinct. As we now well know this was not the case however unaware of these developments, the Jedi order had begun reconstructing their meditation gardens on Coruscant after it had been destroyed some time earlier. Of course, it was to be devastated again many years down the line when Darth Sidious, then disguised as Chancellor Palpatine, orders Darth Vader to raid the temple and lay waste to it.

Once repaired the garden provided a peaceful place where Jedi could seek solace and the noise of the turbulent universe was momentarily rendered absent. The gardens provided a serene place where young Jedi students would often come to meditate, gather their thoughts and tune themselves to the environment. But you don’t need to be a Jedi to create yourself a bubble of serenity in a manic world. There are a few simple things you can do to turn your garden into a tranquil oasis of calm and we have some tips to help you do so.

Our first tip, which applies to any garden project, is to spend ample time planning. This is especially true in this instance because small imperfections can cause annoyances that will surely aid the dark side to take over. When creating this space, it is important to picture what would be a relaxing space for you personally. The idea of relaxation is inherently linked to one’s intrinsic emotions and as such, your relaxing space should reflect your inner self. Think about what it is that you love about spending time in the garden already, what parts of your garden you already enjoy and use those ideas to help formulate your plan.

Take inspiration. Although I did say that this should be a personal space, there is no harm in taking inspiration from other gardens. The web is full of interesting pages and collections of gardens that can provide you with ideas and themes that you can then weave your personal touch into. Choosing a theme to follow roughly is also a great way to create a sense of calmness as this instils a sense of orderliness and focus. A Japanese theme is very popular at the moment and their ordered, clean approach to landscaping lends itself well to creating a calm space.

Japanese Garden Encorporate existing structures and treelines into the design. These can be used to create little areas of sanctuary. Pergolas are often used in Oriental gardens for this purpose and you’d like one you can either create one yourself or buy them ready made.

The sound of running water is known for it’s calming effect and a water feature can be the perfect addition to a relaxing space. You can pick up cascading water features of all varieties for a reasonable price and rock monolith water features seem to fit perfectly with many meditation gardens that I have seen, especially the Japanese themed.

Further additions often found in these types of gardens are sculptures or rocks. They give you something to focus on and the more natural looking ones give an earthy feel to the garden. These again should be choosen to your personal taste but keeping it simple works well as you don’t want to over complicate this space.

If you really are a Star Wars fan of course there is plenty of Star Wars garden merchandise out there too. You can find an ewok garden gnome, a Yoda water fountain or if you’re really keen, a 12 foot AT-ST walker that will make your neighbours happy. AT-ST Walker

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Alex

Alex works in the Primrose marketing team, mainly on online marketing.

As a psychology graduate it is ironic that he understands plants better than people but a benefit for the purpose of writing this blog.

An enthusiastic gardener, all he needs now is a garden and he’ll be on the path to greatness. Alex’s special talents include superior planter knowledge and the ability to put a gardening twist on any current affairs story.

See all of Alex’s posts.

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