Flowers, George, Planting, Plants

Laburnum

You may have heard of laburnum and some of the horror stories that surround this infamous tree. It’s been common in back gardens and schoolyards for decades, so can it really be that bad? We set out to investigate what makes laburnum so feared, how deadly it really is and whether we need to get out those chainsaws or not.

What is laburnum?

Laburnum are deciduous trees native to southern Europe. There are two kinds – common laburnum (Laburnum anagyroides) and alpine laburnum (Laburnum alpinum). The trees have beautiful hanging yellow flowers in spring, which gives rise to their nickname ‘the golden chain tree’. The fruit develops into a dangling pod and its wood has historically been used in carpentry, including bagpipes at one stage. Laburnum are often planted as ornamental trees in gardens and parks, which is a significant factor in their notoriety.

Poisonous laburnum

How is it poisonous?

All parts of the common laburnum are poisonous – the bark, roots, leaves and especially the seed pods. They contain the alkaloid toxin cytisine. Consumption of this can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, frothing at the mouth, convulsions and even death through paralysis.

The laburnum hysteria

It’s because these ornamental trees were often planted around gardens and school playgrounds that they started to cause panic. Children would play with and eat the seed pods, which look similar to regular peas. Many kids started to get sick as a result and in the 1970s, 3000 hospital admissions a year were put down to laburnum poisoning. But many of these were reactionary and the children’s stomachs were pumped before they could even be tested for poisoning or symptoms begin to show.

As recently as 2007, children were taken to hospital after a primary school playground was extended into an area with overhanging laburnum branches. Fifteen children had to be admitted after they were caught playing with the seed pods.

Laburnum hysteria

Many parents have cut down laburnums in their gardens as a result of nationwide hysteria since the 70s and there is a deep-rooted suspicion of these trees.

How to deal with laburnum

But do we need to reach for an axe at the first sign of a chain tree? Many experts say this is an overreaction (and we often leave many more poisonous plants in their wake). If you’re worried about young children around laburnum, it’s best to chop off the lower branches so the kids can’t reach any dangling seed pods. You could also erect a fence around the base of the tree to keep stray hands at bay.

Other poisonous plants to watch out for

Laburnum may not be the only potential killer lurking in your back garden. Keep an eye out for these fatal flora:

  • Yew is one of the most poisonous common garden trees. Animals get sick if they chew the bark, yet all parts of the tree are poisonous. Dead branches are supposedly even more toxic.
  • Deadly nightshade is perhaps the most infamous perennial. It was introduced by the Romans and actually used cosmetically for its toxic effect that makes the pupils dilate.
  • Hemlock is an extremely poisonous flowering plant often found near streams and unkempt areas. Eating just six fresh leaves can result in fatal paralysis. Hemlock has even been used to administer the death penalty, killing Socrates.

Hemlock

How worried should we be?

It’s easy to get caught up in the panic around toxic trees like laburnum. But the reality is this plant is very rarely fatal. Of course it’s worth taking precautions if you have young children around and are worried about them taking a fancy to the poisonous seed pods. For everyone else, these trees offer little chance of harm, but plenty of beauty. If you’d like to brighten up your garden with some golden blossom then check out the laburnums we have on offer at Primrose.

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.

Gardening, George, Grow Your Own, Herbs, How To, Infographics, Planting, Watering

Gardening shouldn’t be limited to outside, particularly if you live in the city or an apartment. Having plants inside will enhance your rooms with life, colour and lovely scents. You can also have herbs and vegetables right on hand for cooking. So read on and pick up some tips on how to grow plants indoors with our step-by-step infographic.

And when you’re ready to start growing, we have some wonderful planters that will look great in your house!

How to grow plants indoors infographic

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Infographic by our designer Becky.

Check out the previous installment of The Complete Guide to Container Gardening, How to Grow Herbs in Pots. And read Part 9: How to Plant a Hanging Basket.

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.

Cats, George, How To, Pest Advice, Pest Control

homemade cat repellents

Neighbourhood cats strolling into your garden and fouling on the lawn can soon become an unmanageable problem. If you’re at your wits’ end then it’s time to get creative to keep the kitties away. Our homemade cat repellents are simple to make and are usually very cheap too.

1. Homemade cat deterrent spray

Mix together lemon juice, rosemary and white vinegar – three things cats detest. Put the liquid in a spray bottle so it’s easy to use around the garden. Simply spray near where the cats spend time – on planters, the patio, or even inside.

2. Lemon or orange peel

Cats hate citrus scents, so take your leftover orange and lemon peel and scatter it where you’d like to deter the offending felines. Just be sure to replace the peels once they get old and lose their smell.

lemon peel

3. Sandpaper

Cats have sensitive paws and will avoid treading on uncomfortable surfaces. Placing a few bits of sandpaper around your flowerbeds should keep cats from clambering around where they are not welcome.

4. Essential oils

There are a few scented oils that are known for repelling cats – peppermint, lemon, orange, lavender and citronella. Mix one part oil to three parts water for the perfect deterrent liquid. Pop it in a spray bottle for easy use.

essential oils

5. Cat deterrent plants

If you want to keep your garden looking clean and natural then try planting some cat deterrent flowers – our list includes rosemary, lavender and the scaredy cat plant.

6. Dried herbs

Buy some of the herbs cats find most offensive, like rosemary and lavender, and scatter dried bunches around the areas you’d like them to leave. This works great inside too.

dried herbs

Tips for naturally repelling cats

  • All cats are different and will react better to different deterrents, so try experimenting with all these ideas.
  • A cat’s sense of smell is 40 times more effective than a human’s, which is why these scented options work so well.
  • If you’re using one of the spray methods, make sure to reapply after each rainfall has washed the previous effort away.

naturally repelling cats

We hope you find these homemade cat repellents successful. They’re all natural and non-toxic, so completely humane and won’t harm the animals. If you’re still having trouble with invasive cats then you could try boosting your efforts with our ultrasonic repellers. These are also humane and come with a money-back guarantee!

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.

Gardening, George, Grow Your Own, How To, Planters, Planting

As any chef will tell you, there’s nothing like having fresh herbs on hand when you’re cooking. Many herbs are simple to grow at home, either on the windowsill or just outside the kitchen door. To get you started, here’s a visual guide on how to grow herbs in pots. Bon appétit!

Make home growing even easier with our brilliant herb planters.

How to grow herbs in pots infographic

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Brought to life by our graphic designer Becky.

Did you miss the last infographic, How to Plant Strawberries in Containers? Next up we have Part 8 of The Complete Guide to Container Gardening – How to Grow Plants Indoors.

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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