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

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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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