Jorge, Plants, Trees

Historically it was believed that the common garden strawberry, or Fragaria x ananassa, was a hybrid of two wild species: F. virginiana, or wild strawberry, from North America, and F. chiloensis, or beach strawberry, from the pacific coast in North America and South America. Today genetic analysis has revealed its ancestry to be more complex as there are genes from other species as well. The original cross (from which all modern garden strawberries derive) occurred in occurred in France in the 1750s, once the chiloensis was brought back from Chile in 1714. Before the introduction of the common garden strawberry, the strawberry species consumed was the Fragaria vesca, or wild strawberry, that grows naturally throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere.

It’s scientific name originates from the Latin fragum, meaning fragrant, and ananassa, meaning pineapples. Interestly, strawberries aren’t technically berries as with berries the entire pericarp (flesh surrounding the seed) is succulent tissue. Instead, strawberries, are aggregate fruits which form from a single flower with many pistils (seed-bearing female organ of a flower) that develop into fruits. Years of hybridisation has produced cultivars far superior to those of old with larger fruits, heavier crops and improved disease resistance.

Primrose Strawberry Cultivars A-Z

Albion

An offspring of the ‘Diamente’ cultivar, ‘Albion’ was first fruited at the University of California in the 1998 and released commercially in 2006. The university goes through 12,000 unique cultivars every year, making it extremely special. (It is the most popular strawberry among growers in California.) Day-neutral, the plant will flower regardless of the light it receives, making it suitable for summer and winter fruiting. It is also resistant to verticillium wilt, phytophthora crown rot and, to a degree, anthracnose crown rot. Its conical, red fruits are large and firm with good flavour. It will will produce abundant runners that we recommend you clip to reduce stress and increase yields.

Cambridge’s Favourite

Recipient of the RHS Award of Garden Merit and the Perfect for Pollinators badge, ‘Cambridge Favourite’ was developed at the University of Oxford – no just kidding – the University of Cambridge in 1947. A mid season cultivar, the cultivar possesses good disease resistance and will produce abundant runners from which average-sized berries will spring. The flavour is excellent, but notably soft.

Calypso

Calypso was developed at East Malling Research in 1991. The centre was set up all the way back in 1913 by the fruit-growing sector to address challenges to farmers. Perfectly located in the Garden of England, it is surrounded by about 70% of the UK’s grower with the county specialising in fruit. (Kent’s title originates from the fact it was the first counties to set up commercial orchards of exotic fruits such as cherries – a species Henry VIII loved).

A cross between Rapella and Selva, Calypso is a significant advance over its parents. Unusually prolific for a day-neutral, or everbearing type, it is able to produce large yields whether planted in Spring or Autumn, and again, we recommend you clip its runners to improve yields. It’s fruits are larger than average in size with moderate flavour and firm flavour. The cultivar is resistant to verticillium-wilt.

Elsanta

A widely grown commercial cultivar, Elsanta was developed by Wageningen Plant Research Institute (Netherlands) and released in 1975. It’s fruits are delicious with a good storage life and are less prone to bruising; hence, a supermarket favourite. The cultivar is notable for its huge crops and one can expect up to 500g of produce in its first year. However, it is susceptible to both mildew and verticillium wilt, so we recommend plant under warm conditions and spray against mildew.

Flamenco

Another everbearer from East Malling Research (EMR), the ‘Flamenco’ is highly versatile, suitable for both beds and containers and functions well when brought into the greenhouse. A heavy cropper, this cultivar can produce up to 800G of strawberries per plant all the way to Autumn. Its fruit is sweet, larger than average, classically conical in shape.

Florence

A midseason cultivar, Florence will produce fruit from the backend of June to the end of July. It’s fruit are tasty, sweet in flavour and firm in texture. The plant is notable for its exceptional disease and pest resistance, originating from the fact it is a crossbreed of many cultivars, bred by EMR.

Framberry

A cross between strawberries and raspberries, the cultivar is notable for sweet raspberry flavour. Like strawberries proper, they are low maintenance and grow well in pots.

Honeoye

A product of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, honeoye takes its name for the Seneca word for lying finger, which describes a lake in New York State. Recipient of the RHS Award of Garden Merit, the cultivar is hardy and one of the best strawberries to grow in the colder parts of the UK. It is suitable for cloches and tunnels, but grows best in a raised bed. An early-season cultivar, the cultivar will produce heavy crops of firm, medium-sized strawberries.

Judibell

A very-late season cultivar from EMR, Judibell was the first commercial cultivar released with the extended dormancy trait that keeps the plant dormant till mid-May. The cultivar is resistant to both Verticillium Wilt and Crown Rot, although is somewhat susceptible to powdery mildew, which can be fought against with spray. It’s fruits are juicy red and of superb quality.

Mara des Bois

Mara des Bois combines the best of commercial and alpine cultivars with a taste reminiscent of wild strawberries, intense aromatic flavour, vigour and heavy cropping. This aromatic flavour has its origin in the flavour compound methyl anthranilate, not present in most supermarket strawberries. The cultivar was created by nurseryman Jacques Marionnet in 1991 from four cultivars – Gento, Redgauntlet, Ostara and Korona – and is prized the world over by Michelin-starred chefs. Highly popular among hobbyists in France, over 15 million are bought every year, producing 10,000 tonnes of strawberries. Another day neutral cultivar, it will produce fruit intermittently throughout the summer.  

Pineberry

Appearing as inverted colour strawberries, pineberries are actually another hybrid of Fragaria chiloensis and Fragaria virginiana – the same hybridisation that gave us the common garden strawberry. The cultivar originates from Wil Beekers, a Dutch grower, who sought to exploit demand for niche fruit around the world. First sold commercially in the Netherlands and Belgium in 2010, the cultivar quickly spread to the UK, and then the States in 2012.

Smaller than the common strawberry with white colouring and red seeds, pineberries have a fresh acidic-sweet taste, much like pineapples, hence its name. This is interesting considering the Latin name for strawberries is Fragaria x ananassa with ananassa meaning pineapples – another early misnomer of plant naming. The cultivar produces small yields, but is understandably popular for its novel look and taste. Growing it yourself can save you a small fortune vis-a-vis purchasing it in the shops.

Red Gauntlet

A mid-season cultivar that will produce second crop come September, the Red Gauntlet is understandably popular among growers with large sweet-tasting fruits. Highly suitable to cloches and tunnels, the cultivar has good disease resistance with some resistance to botrytis.

Rhapsody

Another cultivar well-adapted to the colder parts of the UK, Rhapsody was developed by the Scottish Crop Research Institute and is recommended by both the Ministry of Agriculture and the RHS. A progeny of Talisam, Cambridge Vigour and Cambridge Favourite, Rhapsody has good resistance to disease (including the dreaded red core) and is a heavy cropper, more so than Cambridge Favourite. Superb in flavour, these strawberries are not to be ignored.

Sonata

Recommended by Which? magazine, Sonata is a mid-season cultivar with sharp flavour. The plant is widely marketed as a successor to Elsanta due to its uniform fruit shape and consistent quality of fruit. Well adapted to Northern Europe’s climatic conditions, Sonata is another cultivar suited to the colder parts of the UK.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.

Garden Edging, Garden Screening, Gardening, Gardens, Hedging, Liam, Planting, Plants

When is the best time to plant a hedge?

If you are planting an evergreen hedge the best time to plant is early autumn; if, however, you are planting a deciduous hedge the best time to plant is late autumn to late winter. Ensure that the ground is well prepared and is neither frozen nor waterlogged.

What is the fastest growing hedge?

Leyland Cypress ‘Leylandii’ hedges grows up to a meter every year but can be kept to any height given that it is trimmed once or twice a year. Cherry Laurel, Bamboo or Red Berberis are also fast growing hedges which also have unique aesthetics offering a range of beautiful screening.

How far apart do you plant a hedge?

How far you need to plant a hedge depends on the variety and ranges from 30cm (Privet) to 60cm (Leylandii) a part. To plant a double staggered row establish two parallel lines 30-50cm apart and then plant to the required distance for your chosen variety for an incredibly thick and healthy looking hedge.

What are the best hedges for screening?

The best hedges for screening which ensure the most privacy are all typically evergreen hedges; leylandii is a fantastic, fast-growing hedge that will give you splendid coverage in no time. Yew is also a classic and charming hedge for screening and although it isn’t as fast growing as the leylandii it is shade tolerant and will do extremely well in north-facing positions. The Common Holly ‘Ilex aquifolium’ is a splendid hedge for privacy with thick, vigorous growth remaining a beautiful shade of dark, gloss-green throughout the year also doubling up as an effective intruder deterrent.

Leyland Cypress (Leylandii)
Leyland Cypress (Leylandii)

What are the best hedges for front gardens?

There are a range of fantastic hedging plants for the front garden; Box (Buxus sempervirens) will form a brilliant neat small hedge to line path- and driveways while Yew will give you a more substantial hedge that can protect your home from roadside pollutants. Lavender also makes a wonderful, if unique hedge with the notorious purple flowers and rich fragrance.

What is the best hedge for a small garden?

The best hedges for smaller gardens are privet or osmanthus delavayii – two incredible hedges which grow thick and luscious in minimal amounts of space. Equally bamboos are a brilliant feature in the garden which also add an Asiatic charm to your garden.

What is the best hedge for wildlife?

For wildlife the best varieties of hedging plants are native species such as beeck, blackthorn, holly and hawthorn, all of which providing welcome shelter and food to our native animals. You can grow a wildlife hedge which consists of several of these native species in a single hedge with hawthorn being used as the base comprising around 60% of the hedge.

What is the best hedge?

The best hedge all depends entirely on what you want from your hedge; Box makes a brilliant neat little hedge to border pathways while leylandii is a spectacularly fast-growing evergreen sure to give you ample screening.  Equally there are flowering hedges such as Rhododendron or Lavender or fantastic native species including hawthorn and beech. Which hedging plant is the best depends on your vision for your outdoor space, as there’s such to be the perfect hedge to meet your needs.

Yew hedge
Yew hedge

Liam at PrimroseLiam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pastime is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

See all of Liam’s posts.

Flowers, Gardening, Gardens, Liam, Plants, Trees

japanese magnolia

Magnolias

Magnolias are one of the world’s oldest flowering plants still in existence today with relatives dating back over 95 million years. Today they are still adored across the world for their bountiful blooms and overall ornamental charm. All magnolias produce flowers, some of the finest flowers of any tree, but some varieties have key differences. Magnolias, depending on the variety, can be deciduous or evergreen and both have their unique benefits when helping you achieve your dream outdoor aesthetic. Read along to discover which variety is best suited to your garden!

Despite being forests being the home of magnolias, it is  a tree which has adapted remarkably well to urban environments. However, magnolias vary significantly in size so it’s essential you pick the right one to perfectly fit your outdoor space. M. susan, for example,  is a fantastic little specimen that grows to a mature height of 2.5-4m which is a perfect size for the front garden along a driveway. Conversely, M. grandiflora gallisoniensis is a tree of awesome magnitude, reaching a height of 10m and from July through to September will be covered in huge white sweetly scented flowers. This tree will become a centerpiece to even the larger sized gardens.

Deciduous MagnoliaDeciduous magnolia in bloom

Deciduous Magnolias bring their own distinct beauty which more than compensates for its bare months. The flowers for these varieties tend to bloom slightly before or just as the leaves begin to emerge. For this reason there can be beautiful colour contrasts between the bright flowers and the silver bark invoking conceptions of life, death and rebirth. If you have happened to spot a magnolia in passing and are not sure whether it is deciduous or evergreen the easy way to tell is to see whether the leaves are completely uncurled or not. Additionally these deciduous varieties offer superb autumn displays so there is a wide range of varying tones to be enjoyed throughout the seasons. The deciduous magnolias we sell are; M. Susan, M. Soulangeana and M. Stellata.

Evergreen Magnoliaevergreen magnolia

Evergreen magnolias are fantastic to add some vibrant colour all year-round. Their broad ovate leaves are a deep, emerald green with a pale green or rust-red shade on the underside. Evergreens tend to need warmer conditions as they originate from the Gulf Coast of the southern states of America. They will only do well in more mild areas of the country that do not experience prolonged periods of subfreezing temperatures. The evergreen varieties we sell are; M. grandiflora gallisoniensis and M. grandiflora little gem.

magnolia grandiflora with flower

Grandiflora Magnolia

Grandiflora is a word that tends to pop up in the vibrant world of botany, especially with magnolias. Its literal translation from Latin means ‘great flower’ and is simply a name given to those plants that have exceptionally large flowers. Grandiflora magnolias usually carry a sweet, lemon-like scent and can be as large as nearly a foot in diameter!

There are several forms which have bred from M. grandiflora since it was brought over to Europe in 1726 from the Gulf Coast of North America. All grandiflora magnolias are evergreen and as such to achieve the most profuse blossoms they will require a mild temperate climate. Providing that they can rival the most spectacular flower display of any tree around!

If you’re a Magnolia fan then you should head over to the Magnolia category on our website where we have a fantastic selection of both evergreen and deciduous magnolia along with several grandiflora to choose from.

Liam at PrimroseLiam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pastime is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

See all of Liam’s posts.

Flowers, Gardening, Gardens, How To, Liam, Plants, Ponds, Weeding

Water HyacinthWhat to do with pond plants in winter

Pond plants are categorised as hardy or non-hardy which determines how you prepare them for winter, while for some it may be best to throw them away others can be protected and sprout again come spring. Hardy pond plants such as hardy water lilies can be moved to the deeper areas of the pond (at least 18 inches), pruned to the crown and then submerged in the water which will remain warmer than the outside air. For some non-hardy pond plants such as Water Hyacinth or Water Lettuce it may be worth simply to remove them and then replace them come spring. For more expensive non-hardy plants such as tropical Water Lilies you can place them in a tub or bucket and to move them inside to a greenhouse or garage provided the temperature remains above 12°C.

What pond plants survive winter?

Hardy Water Lilies from the Nymphaeaceae family, hardy oxygenators such as Variegated Pennywort or hardy shelf plants such as aquatic Forget-me-nots will all survive winter but how they should be prepared will differ. Depending on the plants preferred growing habitat (i.e deep water, marginal etc) these plants have different methods of preparation if they are to survive through to spring. If the plant is growing in the water, such as Rushes or Iris then you should cut to roughly 20cm above the water line ensuring that the plant does not become submerged otherwise it could drown. Hardy water Lilies or floating plants should be moved to the deepest parts of the pond as the water will stay warmer than the surrounding air. Hardy marginal or moisture loving Perennials should be cut down to as low as 5-10cm.

Water LilyWhat pond plants are the best?

Water Lilies (Nymphaeaceae) are brilliant for adding colour and a subtle beauty to your aquatic space and are among the best plants for your pond. Water forget-me-nots provide a delicate yet bright shade of blue through the summer months and are a pollinators favourite so will be sure to boost the biodiversity in the pond. Hornwort is an essential native oxygenator that will keep ponds of all sizes healthy and clean supporting aquatic life but preventing the growth of weeds and algae. There are a vast number of truly spectacular pond plants, however, depending on what function you want them to serve or what aesthetic you are trying to create some will be wholly better than others.

What pond plants are good for wildlife?

The right pond plants can make your pond a haven for wildlife; oxygenating plants help support aquatic life while floating plants and marginal plants provide shelter and spaces for animals to climb out of the water and rest. Having around 30% of the surface area of your pond covered with plants provides ample shelter while preventing the growth of weeds. Many flowering pond plants are brilliant for attracting bees including Iris stocks and Pontederia.

Pond ReedsWhat pond plants are oxygenators?

Oxygenating pond plants are those which photosynthesis underwater releasing oxygen into the water which can be incredibly beneficial to your pond supporting aquatic life and preventing the growth of weeds and algae. Varieties include Slender Club Rush Scripus cernuus which is an outstanding oxygenating plant for your pond as it retains its luscious shade of green throughout the year with tiny white flowers emerging in the summer. Common Water Starwort – Callitriche autumnalis floats on the surface growing a thick oxygenating layer providing shade and shelter for aquatic life and preventing the growth of weeds.

How to keep the water clear in a pond

The best way to keep your pond water clear is regular maintenance including removing any twigs, leaves or algae from the surface to prevent decay and regularly checking the health and vitality of your pond plants. In addition to this routinely cleaning the ponds water filter and draining your pond annually to clean the bottom and sides will go a long way to keeping your pond clean and looking great.

Water LilyWhat causes pond plants to die?

There are a number of reasons as to why you pond plant may be dying including lack of sunlight, murky or toxic water, planted at an incorrect depth or an incorrect temperature. It is important to always check the specific plant requirements and upkeep a cleaning routine to ensure the health and vitality of the pond. Make sure there is enough space between the plants and none of them are becoming too deprived of light. Remove dead plant matter and this can decay and encourage the growth of weeds which will add competition for nutrients and light. Additionally it may be necessary to check the pH of your pond water if several plants appear to be dying at the same time and to clean the bottom of any toxic sludge that has developed.

Are water lilies poisonous (to cats/dogs)?

Water lilies are not true lilies and are instead a part of the genus Nymphaea and so are not poisonous to cats but still can be poisonous to dogs if ingested in large amounts. It is, however, essential to check which species as the White Water Lily is not poisonous but the Yellow Water Lilies are poisonous. Symptoms of poisoning in cats or dogs includes lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting and depression.

If you are a fan of pond plants  head over to our website where we have many to choose from.

Liam at PrimroseLiam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pass-time is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

See all of Liams posts.

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