Decoration, Garden Design, Jenny

History of garden gnomes

There’s no Place like Gnome

Once upon a time in the surprisingly not fictional village of Gräfenroda in the genuinely not made up free state of Thuringia, there lived a man named Phillip Griebel. To narrow that down a bit, we’re talking about the mid-nineteenth century in central Germany. Philip was a sculptor by trade who specialised in the crafting of terracotta animals. At some point Philip decided to branch out and sculpt mythical creatures. European folklore is abundant with fabulous little homunculi and beasties but Philip was charmed most by the kaukis. Depending on where you’re from you might know them as ‘leprechauns’ and ‘clurichauns’ in Ireland, ‘saunatonttu’ in Finland, ‘nisse’ or ‘tomte’ in Scandinavia, ‘barbegazi’ in Switzerland and France, and ‘voettir’ in Iceland. Today we know them best as gnomes.

Philip wasn’t alone in his love of gnomes as of all his mythical beast sculptures it was the gnome that endured as favourite. While this is all charming we do have to point out that the company Baehr and Maresch based in Dresden would claim earlier creation of garden gnomes as they had stock of “little folk” statues as early as 1841. If you want to get really picky about it you can credit the origins of garden gnomes to the Romans who placed stone representations of the Greco-Roman fertility god Priapus in their gardens to help plants grow. Wherever they came from they are here to stay.

The popularity of garden gnomes declined during the first World War and most of the second World War as, understandably, people had far more on their minds than garden ornamentation and folklore. It wasn’t until the 1930s that popularity of these little garden guardians soared after the release of Disney’s ground breaking feature length animation Snow White and The Seven Dwarves. In the 1970s, presumably aided by the popularity of experimentation with certain substances, gnomes became even more fantastical, whimsical and downright weird. There was one more big surge in the popularity of garden gnomes in the 1990s with the popularity of “roaming gnome”, a practical joke where gnomes were stolen from gardens and the owners were posted photos of the gnome in humorous situations and/or exotic locations.

Dwarf gnome

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.

Dakota Murphey, Decoration, Garden Design, How To, Make over

mum cave

It’s well-documented that men “need” their own sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of a busy family home… but what, women don’t?! The modern gal is somehow expected to be all things at once: income earner, household manager, mother, wife, lover and friend – and yet we don’t “need” our own space to unwind after a long week of relentless life? Rubbish.

I’m sure plenty of people will argue that the entire house is a woman’s kingdom, and that most homes are decorated and run to the specifications of Mum. While this may be true, the fact remains that a household is still a place of constant demands, whether that be from chores, partners, children or pets. It’s simply not the same as having our own, private space to unwind, recuperate and regain our sense of self.

Forget a man-cave, you need a mum-cave, or she-shed. Sound good? Here’s how you make it happen.

Step 1: Claim your domain

In a busy family home, it’s highly likely that all of the spots which used to be “yours”, now belong to someone else. The second bedroom became a nursery; your favourite reading nook now houses the dog bed; even the kitchen and bathroom have been overrun with toys, washing and mess.

While it’s not mandatory for you to move out to the garden shed, it’s essential that your mum-cave is in a part of your home that isn’t frequently used by other people. Converting a garage or loft is a popular choice, but may need a little more planning than taking over the shed.

she shed

Step 2: Purge it

It doesn’t get much more satisfying than emptying out junk that has accumulated over the years. Take an afternoon to clear out gardening tools, old paint tins, broken patio chairs… absolutely everything. You don’t need this stuff infringing on your mum-cave, so sell, donate or bin anything that doesn’t even get used anymore, and relocate everything else to your garage, or a garden storage chest.

Once it’s empty, bust out the rubber gloves and give your shed a thorough clean. Show no mercy to dust, mud or spiders.

Step 3: Make it cosy

To use your she-shed all year round, you’re going to need ways to keep it a comfortable temperature. The simplest way to do this is to lay insulation boards in the roof and walls, before sealing them behind MDF. If you’re feeling fancy, put an insulating underlay down on the floor too, and top it with linoleum or carpet.

Next, you’re probably going to want a power supply. If your shed already has an outlet then make sure it can handle everything you might want to plug into it (sound system, heater, TV etc.). If there isn’t an existing plug, or if it isn’t powerful enough, you’ll need to spend a day connecting one from the main house. Don’t forget to check the strength of your Wi-Fi connection, and purchase a booster if it’s sluggish.

interior design

Step 4: Live your interior design dreams

Remember that cream living room you used to dream about? Or the fantastic shade of turquoise paint that your hubby refused to use in the bedroom? Now’s your chance to make it happen, in a space that nobody else can have an opinion about. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t panic. There is heaps of inspiration available on the web, you just need to know where to look!

If you don’t have much spare furniture at home, try looking in local charity shops and flea markets for second-hand desks, unique storage units and squashy armchairs to help you realise your vision at bargain prices.

Step 5: Add the necessities

Once you’ve decided what role your den is going to play (craft station, yoga studio, reading nook etc.), and have put the main bits of furniture in their place, it’s time to accessorise. Anything that has taken a backseat in the main home can find a haven in your she-cave, whether that’s strings of fairy lights, a zillion scatter cushions or your prized collection of tchotchkes.

transforming shed

Step 6: Protect your kingdom

The final step is to make sure that your mum-cave is safe from unwelcome visitors – yes, that can include your family, but we also mean opportunist thieves who might spot that your shed is no longer simply a shed.

Firstly, avoid drawing unnecessary curiosity by closing curtains, turning off standby lights and removing any valuables overnight. Secondly, visit a security hardware specialist like Signet Locks for tips about improving the locks and latches on your shed and garden gates, to make accessing your garden more difficult.

Once your she-shed is safely under lock and key, you’re done! All that’s left is to grab yourself a glass of wine and some cosy slippers, then slink off to finally enjoy an hour of peace.

Dakota Murphey

Dakota Murphey is an independent content writer who regularly contributes to the horticulture industry. She enjoys nothing more than pottering around her gardening in the sunshine. Find out what else Dakota has been up to on Twitter, @Dakota_Murphey.

Garden Design, Gardening, Gardens, Tyler

The question that you ask yourself about the patch you have in your garden is; should I go for Natural Grass or Artificial Grass? Fear not as we have just the post for you! Here is a breakdown of both options and an evaluation of which is best for you.

artificial grass

Artificial Grass

First off we’re going to start with the placement holder of grass, Artificial Grass. Artificial turf is a surface made out of synthetic fibres to look just like the real thing. It was originally made to replace grass in sports facilities as sports usually requires the ground to be in great condition and artificial turf was a great option. Now, Artificial Grass is becoming more popular in residential gardens around the world! Here are the Pros on having Artificial Grass in your garden.

Benefits of Artificial Grass

  • There is little to no maintenance needed for artificial grass; There will be no need to cut it on a weekly basis!
  • If you have a pet that spends a lot of time in the garden, you won’t have to worry about your grass being worn down by them constantly going up and down the garden.
  • It’s season friendly! This means that at any time of the year, you can walk across your garden without the worry of carrying mud with you into your house.
  • Artificial grass won’t need to be watered. That means in the Summer, you won’t have to worry about watering the grass.
  • If there is a patch in your garden that doesn’t get much sunlight and always seems to be frozen or doesn’t grow, Artificial grass allows you to fill that patch!

natural grass

Natural Grass

Now if you’re looking to the more natural side of your garden, then stick with natural grass. All that is needed to grow Grass is you guessed it… Grass seeds. Grass seeds are best sown in the summer to mid autumn. This can be a long period but if grown properly with plenty of water and sunlight, it’ll be worth the wait. Here are the benefits of having Natural Grass in your back garden:

Benefits of Natural Grass

  • Having real grass in your back garden is all round better for the environment. Grass helps produce Oxygen like every other plant so it would help benefit us all!
  • Real Grass will give your garden a natural feel and look and will complement the beautiful flowers and plants in your garden. It also allows the wildlife to have more comfort too.
  • Once your grass has grown and looking great in your garden, you’ll have the moment  pride due to growing and maintaining your new green patch.
  • The smell of freshly cut grass; who doesn’t love the smell!

In summary, both options will bring out the green in your garden and have many benefits to consider so really it’s down to personal preference. If you’re looking to have grass that is maintenance-free and will look great all year round, then Artificial grass is a great option to go forward with. However, if you want that natural feel to your garden and have the time to maintain and grow grass then keep it natural with real grass.

Tyler at PrimroseTyler works in the Primrose Marketing team, mainly working on Social Media and Online Marketing.

Tyler is a big fan on everything sports and supports Arsenal Football Club. When not writing Primrose blogs and tweets, you can find Tyler playing for his local Sunday football team or in the gym.

See all of Tyler’s posts.

Competitions, Decoration, Garden Design, Make over, Zoe

As many of you know, during the summer we ran a care home competition in which the winner won £1000 cash to use towards renovating their communal garden. However, alongside the cash we also wanted to offer some practical advice on how they could transform their space in the best way. The care home discussed how they wanted to make their garden space a place where all the residents could go out and enjoy  the outdoors and wildlife, so our team of experts put their minds together to create the plan below.

Care Home Garden

Design Plan

As you can see from the above design, we wanted to create safe, smooth pathways for the residents to walk on compared to walking on the grass, and make it easier for wheelchair users to navigate. We suggested that the care home may also want to install railings alongside the path to provide extra support for those when walking in the garden.

The next important thing was to provide ample seating so the residents could relax and enjoy the garden comfortably. As you can see from the design, we have incorporated a number of wooden benches between the two central areas so that residents are able to sit and talk to each other, whilst also viewing the focus points.

Bird bath

On the left hand side we have a tiered water feature bird bath that will encourage the wild birds to come and bathe and drink from. This was a particular requirement from the care home, as they try and engage the residents in recognising the wildlife in the garden and discussing this as a group. The other benefit of having a water feature is the soothing sounds of trickling water. Alongside the noise of birds chirping, the calming sounds of water can soothe a busy mind.

It was also vitally important to include planters and raised beds in the design so those residents who were more able could still enjoy light gardening. The height of raised beds often helps those who are elderly or disabled because it puts less pressure on the back from bending down. A recent survey found that 79% of people believe access to a garden is essential for quality of life,  so we thought it would be great to have the residents engage with gardening in a positive way.

In terms of which plants would work in this area we thought something fragrant would help engage the senses. Plants such as lavender emit a calming scent, known to improve cognitive function in dementia sufferers  and also jasmine which is a natural remedy for relieving feelings of depression and stress. We believe the planting of these flowers would help to improve the residents’ wellbeing whilst enjoying the garden.

Lavender

On a summers day when the sun is shining, we also wanted to provide areas of cover for the residents so they do not suffer from sunburn. In the design you can notice our plan to install two sail shades in the different seating areas. These sail shades are also waterproof so provide cover in rainy weather if they get caught in the rain! Should the residents want to be in the garden in all weathers, they may also enjoy sitting whilst the evenings get darker enjoying the dim light from the solar fairy lights installed.

Next steps

The design process is still in progress, and we will be sure to update you with the latest changes in the development of the care home garden. Fill us in with any garden designs you are planning over the winter too by commenting below or tagging us on Facebook. We can’t wait to show you the finished result in summer 2018!

Zoe at PrimroseZoë works in the Marketing team at Primrose, and is passionate about all things social media.

After travelling across Europe and Asia, Zoë is intrigued by different cultures and learning more about the world around her. If she’s not jet setting, Zoë loves nothing more than curling up with a good book and a large glass of red wine!

She is an amateur gardener but keen to learn more and get stuck in!

See all of Zoë’s posts.

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