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.

Chimineas, Garden Design, How To, Sally

Chimineas are amazing additions to any garden. Not only do they provide warmth, but they look great and can be used for practical tasks like barbecuing. Clay chimineas in particular can be a real statement piece and bring the flavour of Spain into your back garden. If you are thinking about or have already purchased a chiminea, there are a few tips and tricks you ought to know. These handy hints will allow you to enjoy your clay chiminea for years to come.

Medium_Tortuga_Clay_Chiminea
Medium Tortuga Clay Chiminea

A clay chiminea must be cured before it is used for the first time; this will help prevent cracking and should give your chiminea a longer, happier life. It is a relatively easy process but can take a little time. I recommend making the most of a sunny Sunday afternoon to get this task done.

Step One: Place sand in the bottom of your new clay chiminea. Keep filling it up until the sand reaches ¾ of the way to the lip of the opening. We are doing this to ensure no flames touch the clay directly the first few times we light a fire. The main reason for this is we want to warm our clay chiminea without burning it.

Step Two: Start a small fire, using only bits of paper and kindling. I wouldn’t recommend any larger pieces of wood at this stage. Allow this fire to go out naturally after it has been burning for a few minutes.

Step Three:  Always allow your chiminea to cool after any size fire has been lit within it. Chimineas are great outdoor heaters because they hold and radiate heat. This means that they take time to cool and can remain hot even when the fire is extinguished. Touching a chiminea too soon before it has cooled can result in burns. Remember to empty out your chiminea of all remaining ash, once it has cooled, and do this before starting another fire. If you are an avid composter like me, this ash can be added to the compost bin or used around the base of plants. It is a natural source of potassium so it’s great to help even our acidic soil.

Step Four: Repeat the first three steps, each time allowing your fire to become slightly larger. I would suggest repeating six times. During the third time you light your fire add some larger pieces of wood. The sixth and final fire should be almost the size of the fires you will be regularly making.

And voilá! Your beautiful new clay chiminea is cured, so you can sit back and enjoy it for years to come, without the worry of it cracking or splitting.

Deluxe_Chim_Chimenea_Weatherproof_Cover
Deluxe Chim Chimenea Weatherproof Cover

Other Tips:

  • I would recommend always lining your chiminea with sand for any size fire even after it has been cured. This is an extra step, but it will help prevent cracking.
  • Keep your chiminea dry. Chiminea covers are your best bet if you are looking to leave it outside. If you do leave it out and it gets wet, let it dry completely before use as damp clay will crack under high heat.
  • Fires can be dangerous, be aware of where children and pets are when around any open flame.

 

 

You can also have a look at our video guide to building and curing a chiminea:

Sally primroseSally works in the Marketing team here at Primrose.

She spends most of her spare time looking into the latest developments in social media. Sally loves travel and wants to step foot in every continent in the world. When not travelling the Globe or working, she likes to relax with a bit of DIY.

She is a novice gardener and doesn’t claim to be an expert, anything she learns she will happily pass on.

See all of Sally’s posts.

Garden Design, Gardening, How To, Lighting, Make over, Sally, Solar Lighting

The general rule is you have a small garden if the area is smaller than the footprint of your house. I myself have a small garden; this can be great as it is much easier to maintain and doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of it. When planning the overall design there are a few things to take into consideration, especially if space is tight.

Light is so important and it can make the biggest difference to a smaller garden. Find out where your natural light source is and watch the way the sun moves across your garden. You should see where your shady spaces are and where you can get the most sun and work with these factors to create a warm, open and enjoyable garden.

Planting

Acer palmatum 'Beni-maiko'
Acer palmatum ‘Beni-maiko’

Trees can make small gardens shady and cold. That’s not to say that you can’t plant them, as trees are great for creating boundaries and privacy, but the best place for them is in the corners of the gardens or along the back fence. This leaves the midsection and the section closest to the house open to more sunlight.

If you are picking trees for a smaller plot I would suggest an Acer or Sycamore as they allow more light through their leaves. They create a dappled shade rather than blocking out the sun completely, this leaves the garden feeling roomier.

Outdoor Lights

Solaray Stainless Steel Border Lights
Solaray Stainless Steel Border Lights

If your back garden doesn’t get much natural light you can create your own. Outdoor lights are a great way to illuminate your garden. Popular options are border lights; they stick into the ground and best used to mark a path or a flower bed. These are fantastic for framing a particular area of the garden.

I myself am particularly fond of adding a little sparkle to my trees. Outdoor fairy lights are a great choice if you want to give your garden a magical feel; they are especially beautiful just around dusk.

 

Garden Mirrors

Gothic Wooden Effect Glass Garden Mirror
Gothic Wooden Effect Glass Garden Mirror

My last tip for creating light in a smaller garden is great for two reasons. Adding mirrors to a garden is a great way to create the illusion of more space and to reflect the light you do get. Placing mirrors strategically can help reflect the light even into the darkest corners. Find where your natural light source hits and place a mirror in that area. Or place one near your border or tree lights and watch as the light they give multiplies.

Keep an eye out for more top tips for smaller gardens coming your way.

 

 

Sally primroseSally works in the Marketing team here at Primrose.

She spends most of her spare time looking into the latest developments in social media. Sally loves travel and wants to step foot in every continent in the world. When not travelling the Globe or working, she likes to relax with a bit of DIY.

She is a novice gardener and doesn’t claim to be an expert, anything she learns she will happily pass on.

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