Christmas, Decoration, Garden Design, George, How To, Lighting

Outdoor Christmas Lighting

It’s that time of year again for getting the decorations out of the loft and taking your home to tinsel town. But as any competitive neighbour will know, half the fun is in sprucing up the outside of your house with some festive glow. With our quick outdoor Christmas lighting tips, your house will soon be on the way to becoming the highlight of the street.

1. Use outdoor lights

Let’s get the basics out the way first. Always make sure the lights you use are meant for outside – sufficiently insulated and waterproof.

2. Illuminate the features

Throw some spotlights or trailing lights onto the centrepieces of your garden, like birdbaths and water fountains. It’ll add depth and texture to your display.

3. Use outdoor powerpoints

It’s always safer – and helps with home security – to power your lights from outdoor sockets rather than trailing plugs and cables from the house. Be sure that wires don’t become a trip hazard.

4. Light garden paths

Give your guests a special welcome over the Christmas period by bordering your pathways with lights. Your visitors will find it easier to walk at night and it creates a friendly atmosphere.

5. Fix with tape

When you’re installing your lighting, it’s much better to use electrical tape than anything like nails or staples. You don’t want any sparks flying on the big day!

6. Use light nets

Decorating trees and shrubbery can be tricky. A net strung with LED lights is a great, simple way to cover bushes with evenly-spaced spots.

7. Mind the neighbours

If you’re going all out with your festive display, be sure to warn or discuss with your neighbours first. You don’t want to make enemies this time of year! Remember to switch the lights off overnight too.

8. Light up other decorations

Bring a magical glow to existing garden decorations. Wind some mini string lights into a wreath or add spotlights to other festive ornaments on the doorstep for a magical display any time of day.

9. Use battery lights

It’s important not to overload the mains circuits with all your garden lighting. Use a mix of plugin and battery powered lights to spread the load. LED candles are very handy for placing spots of light wherever you like in the garden.

10. Hang decorative lights

Once you’ve wrapped your trees with string lights, hang a few lit baubles or stars for an extra dimension. This works particularly well on skeletal winter trees.

So there are our top 10 tips for garden lighting in the winter. Let us know your ideas and advice in the comments below.

Be sure to check out our Top 20 Outdoor Christmas Decoration Ideas infographic for plenty more festive garden inspiration. Happy Christmas!

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.

Alex, Chimeneas, Fire Pits, Garden Design, Garden Furniture, How To

What’s small, Mexican and made of clay? A chiminea! Well, although this is true, these days there are almost as many different types of chimineas as there are ways of spelling the word itself. All this choice can be a little confusing so we have prepared a guide to help you make often the first decision: Which material will be perfect for you garden?

Clay Chiminea

Clay

Clay chimineas are our most popular type with many of our customers enjoying the authentic feel that they create. Historically, fired clay was used as an inexpensive material used to create these fire pits which were an essential for both cooking and heating back in 17th century Mexico. The chimney directed smoke outside meaning that it could be used inside without filling your home with smoke and the design also funnelled fresh air in to fuel a hot, clean fire. This was useful for providing more heat for the home whilst meaning that there was less ash left behind as a more complete combustion took place.

Clay Chimenea
In more recent times, clay chimineas are more often used in the garden and offer both aesthetic appeal and functionality. The authentic look provided by clay lends itself effortlessly to rustic design and these chimineas seem to blend in perfectly with any background. They also add a little foreign charm to a garden, especially the models with Mexican or Italian designs. For guidance on how to prepare and look after your clay chiminea, visit our page full of handy tips.

 

 

Cast Iron

Cast iron chimineas burst on to the scene later than clay, providing a different option for consumers. The different material has several advantages over clay in some areas, but also some drawbacks, it really does depend on what is more important to you and what you plan on using your fire pit for.
One of the main plus points is that unlike clay versions, you won’t have to cure before use; it’s ready to go straight away. Cast iron is a more durable material, less susceptible to damage caused by temperature change, and should outlive even the best quality clay chimineas.

Cast iron Chimenea
In addition, they are less likely to be damaged accidently. Cast iron versions are not easily knocked or blown over as they are heavy and so more stable. This makes them ideal for cooking, and many of our cast iron versions come with a grill included.
Cast iron fire pits come in stylish colours such as bronze and black and can help create a more modern look if that coincides with the theme you wish to create in your garden. They are also easily re-paintable, whether you are looking to give it a fresh coat after it has faded over the years or after a change in colour to give an entirely new feel to your fire pit.

 

One slight downside is that being metal; they are prone to getting rather hot. You will need to consider where you place the fire pit. Ensure it is not pushed up against anything that may be affected by the heat and that it is placed on top of a fireproof surface. It is also wise to consider keeping it in an area where it is not likely to be bumped into when in use, especially with children around, and extra care must be taken when operating to ensure that you don’t accidently touch the hot metal.

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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.

Animals, Bird Baths, Garden Design, Garden Tools, Gardening, Gardening Year, George, Greenhouses, Heated Clothing, How To, Planting, Plants

Gardening in Winter

When the cold winds blow and snow begins to settle on the lawn, it’s tempting to close the backdoor and spend the winter curled up by the fire. But if you’re an outdoorsy person then there’s no need to give up on the garden for a whole season every year. With our guide to gardening in winter you’ll find plenty of projects to crack on with before the spring, how to protect your plants against the cold and top tips for making the most out of your time outdoors.

Winter Gardening Jobs

  • Pruning. Some plants are best cut back and pruned over winter, such as roses, shrubs, fruit trees and deciduous hedges. This will encourage healthy new shoots to grow when the weather warms up again.
  • Cleaning. While the life in your garden is less demanding, it’s a good opportunity to sort out a bit of general maintenance. Hosing down your paths and patios will not only spruce them up, but also ensure they’re free of grime which could become slippery in the cold, damp conditions.
  • Checking for structural damage. If you have a greenhouse, conservatory or shed then winter is the best time of year to give them a good inspection. Most of the surrounding foliage will have died back, leaving a clear path to see any cracks in the frames or broken window panes. Fixing these now is crucial for protecting any plants inside from freezing draughts.
  • Ordering seed catalogues. Get prepared for the sowing season by choosing seeds and plants to buy. It’s a good time to sit back and plan how you might like to redesign your planting or reflect on which flowers grow best in your garden.
  • Cutting the lawn. You won’t need to mow the grass anywhere near as frequently as in the summer, but if the weather is mild it will need doing every now and then. The grass won’t grow as fast, so you can leave it longer than normal.

Winter Gardening Tips

  • Don’t compact the soil. During wintertime, the ground will likely be saturated from excess rain and freeze due to the plummeting temperatures. It’s best to avoid treading on the earth too much as you will compact the already dense soil, making it even more difficult to work in the spring. So try to step lightly when you need to go over it.
  • Maintain tools. There won’t be many labour intensive jobs to do in the garden over winter so it’s a good opportunity to show your tools some TLC. Oil any machinery that requires it and sharpen the blades of your trimmers and secateurs. Then you’ll be all set for cracking on when the frost thaws.
  • Keep watering. It’s easy to overlook watering your garden when the weather’s so rubbish this time of year. But it’s still important to go outside and give your plants a quick water every now and then, particularly if it hasn’t rained in a while. And don’t forget to water your indoor flowers too!
  • Plan ahead. Winter is a great time to plan your garden design for the coming year. Most of the plants and trees have died back, leaving the core layout of your plot clear. Take advantage of this by mapping out new paths or patios, or deciding where to put that new shed or greenhouse.

Trees in Winter

Winter Planting

  • Winter loving plants. Surprisingly, there are a few plants that defy nature and come into their own in the chilly months. Besides evergreen trees, these include witch hazel, winter jasmine, winter honeysuckle and viburnum. Add a few of these for a colourful flowerbed all year round.
  • Winter vegetables. If you have an allotment or kitchen garden, then there are plenty of hardy vegetables that will keep you going over winter. In early summer you can sow broccoli, leeks, winter cabbage and brussel sprouts, which are all capable of enduring the frost – and perfect for a Christmas dinner!
  • Frost protection. As any gardener will no doubt be aware, most plants don’t take well to frosty nights and freezing temperatures. There are many methods to protect your plants against frost, from cloches and fleece blankets to careful watering and layering mulch.
  • Indoor gardening. Perhaps the simplest way to get your gardening fix without having the brace yourself against the chill is by planting inside. Not all plants will grow well indoors, so make sure you do your research. Most plants will grow best in rooms full of light and insulated against draughts. For the most effective indoor growing, it may be worth investing in specialist lights and a grow room.

Winter Wildlife in the Garden

Wintertime can be harsh for animals in the wild. Food is scarce, conditions are icy cold and shelter is hard to come by. You can help out the creatures that come to your garden by providing a little assistance. For the birds, leave out extra food in your birdfeeder and keep your birdbath topped up with water – though make sure it doesn’t freeze. A tennis ball in there should do the trick. You can also plant berry bushes, which will provide a source of winter food and a place to shelter.
For other creatures, make sure there’s somewhere for them to bunker down and sit out the winter months. Simply leave out a pile of leaves or uncut grass for groundlings to nest in.

Bird in Winter

What to Wear Outside

Obviously the priority when gardening outside from November to February is keeping warm. Wrap up as much as you can with hats, gloves, scarves and coats, while allowing enough ease of movement to be able to get on with your digging and pruning. A great way to cut back on the layers while retaining the warmth is with heated clothing. You can use heat pads for your hands or even battery heated socks and gloves for long-lasting toastiness. Just make sure that you don’t spend too long outside at a time, especially if you’re feeling unwell. There’s nothing like a regular tea break to warm yourself up!

One Year Ends, Another Begins

So don’t let the cold weather and long nights dishearten you too much – there’s still plenty of opportunity to get outside and enjoy your garden in winter. From protecting the plants you’ve tended all year to planning new features for the next, winter is the perfect time for reflection and inspiration. Take a brisk walk through the grass before huddling up inside with a hot drink and admiring your garden through the window. Treat someone special to a book full of gardening ideas for Christmas. And most of all get ready, for spring will soon begin!

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.

Celebrations And Holidays, Charlie, Garden Design, Gardening Year, Halloween, How To, Ponds, Water Features

gyard

Halloween is fast approaching! The time of year when it is said evil spirits are allowed to roam all over the earth and cause mischief and upset to decent honest folk. The etymology of halloween is all hallow’s eve, being the day before the Christian festival of All Saints’ Day (1st November) and All Souls’ Day (2nd November). But even before Christian influence this time of year, after the harvest is over and when winter begins to draw in, was often seen as a liminal period, where the boundaries between this world and the next were weakened and the souls of the dead could return to visit the living. In the Christian tradition, the spirits visiting on Halloween were the spirits of lost loved ones on their way through purgatory. The origin of trick-or-treating was in the poor going door to door and collecting “soul cakes” from families in return for praying for their dead relatives to speed their journey through purgatory.
Halloween today has evolved to be something other than its origins, with less of an emphasis on praying for and remembering the dead, and more of an emphasis on fun and fright and of course, tricks and treats! So why not bring out that halloween staple, the jack o’ lantern, to give pause to any trick or treaters looking to come to your door? Originally carved in this country from turnips to ward off evil spirits, these symbols of halloween (now more often carved from the American pumpkin) are still today a common sight in the windows of people’s homes and in front gardens and its distinctive orange colour gives halloween its current livery.

Whether you want to create a friendly welcome, a spooky scare or a goofy character follow these simple steps to create a jack o’ lantern of your very own:

Step 1. Find a pumpkin. (Or turnip!) This step is easy, you can find one in any supermarket around Halloween, alternatively you could opt to get one from a farmer’s market.

Step 2. Start by cutting a hole in the top of your pumpkin, around the stalk. You’ll want it to be large enough to be able to reach in and hollow out the pumpkin.

Step 3. Hollow out the pumpkin using a spoon or similar instrument (or if you don’t mind getting a bit messy your bare hands). You can either dispose of the seeds and flesh, or perhaps recycle them for a Halloween recipe.

Step 4. Using a marker, sketch out the design you want for the face of your pumpkin. This could be anything from the classic halloween grin to something more zaney. You’ll find some interesting examples in the image below.

Step 5. This is the tricky part. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut away the design you want from the pumpkin. You might want to have a spare pumpkin or two in case of slippages!

Step 6. Place some regular or LED tea lights inside your newly made jack o’ lantern and place in a prime location to scare any trick or treaters brave enough to knock on your door.

Halloween Pumpkins

Another way to amaze and frighten your friends is with a Primrose mister. Place one in your pond to create the spooky effect of mist pouring over your garden. Or use one of our mini misters inside to create a spooky display indoors for that halloween houseparty. What’s important is that you use a float to keep the mister just the right amount below the water line – misters work by vibrating at an ultrasonic level creating waves of mist, not smoke, that creeps around the surface of the water and the surrounding area, creating a startling effect. For added ambience, you could opt for a mister with colour changing LED lights to really give some atmosphere to your home on Halloween.

pond_misters_illustration
We here at Primrose hope the above will help you make this Halloween one to remember.

Happy Halloween!

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

When not writing for the Primrose Blog, Charlie likes nothing more than a good book and a cool cider.

To see the rest of Charlie’s posts, click here.

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