Both Britons and the Japanese alike have a strong obsession with admiring a springtime blossom. As Juliet Roberts from Gardens Illustrated put it: “Blossom is a sure sign that spring has arrived. It has an innocent, simple beauty and its short lifespan is viewed by many cultures as a potent reminder of our own mortality.” This could be the reason that springtime blossoms intrigue us so deeply. Either that or just because it looks pretty.
There is no better (or prettier) blossom than that of the Japanese cherry blossom – a gorgeous spring display of the genus Prunus, varying in height, spread, habits, colours, prettiness, and so on. They are a symbol of destiny and karma in Japan, and the Japanese even have their own word for cherry blossom viewing: Hanami.
Luckily for us Britons, Japan and the UK share the same sort of climate which is just perfect for flowering cherry blossoms. It is not perfect, however, for the year-round avid short-wearers. That makes the UK an ideal place for growing these visually intoxicating trees. There are even a few places dotted around the country that offer an authentic Hanami experience.
Boasting the largest collection of Prunus Tai-haku in the world, Alnwick Garden often encourages visitors to enjoy a picnic under its extensive collection of Japanese blossoming cherries.
Brogdale Farm – Faversham, Kent
Also home to the National Fruit Collection, Brogdale Farm offer Hanami picnics throughout April each year. It provides visitors with the opportunity to ‘enjoy a Japanese experience’ by viewing both an exhibition and a guided tour of the blossoming orchards.
Sake no Hana – Mayfair, London
From March 20th to June 10th, Sake no Hana celebrates the cherry blossom season with a special ‘Sakura menu’ and an alluring installation of white blossoms which aim to ‘give guests a feeling of tranquility as if sitting beneath blossom trees’.
Roka – Fitzrovia, London
From April 26th to June 7th, the basement bar Roka is ‘transformed’ for six weeks with a cherry blossom installation, so you can enjoy contemporary Japanese food in an authentic Hanami setting.
Above are some of the best places to experience Hanami, so if you don’t want to dish out over five hundred quid on a plane ticket to Japan, there’s no excuse not to view a Japanese spring blossom.
Why not start planting a spring blossom in your garden? At Primrose we offer a huge range of ornamental cherry trees. Ranging from Cheal’s Weeping Cherry – a slender and pendulous plant, perfect for smaller gardens, or Prunus Kanzan, a large and elegant looking tree which is ideal as a statement piece if you have more space to play with.
Before starting my job as a Marketing Executive at Primrose, I spent four years working as a domiciliary care worker. It was during these years I learnt about the phenomenal difference a garden made to my client’s lives, and how important it is to have a wheelchair friendly garden. I spent many hours wandering my clients’ gardens hearing about the progress they had made and learnt a lot about gardening myself from their advice. I’ve seen first-hand how watching a garden grow improved the mood of my clients, and I’m sure all gardeners can agree there is nothing more satisfying than seeing the results from all your hard work when flowers bloom, fruit appears or the bumble bees come stumbling in.
It is so important then that everybody has the opportunity to garden independently, whether you have had greenfingers your whole life or decided to give it a try for the first time. Gardening presents a huge array of benefits and the light exercise of pottering in your garden has been proven to burn more calories than a gym session – and you save on that membership fee! There has also been significant research to suggest gardening dramatically improves your mental health and self-esteem…weeding doesn’t sound so bad now does it?
However, gardening with a disability is far from easy and the lack of wheelchair friendly garden products can certainly be frustrating. I have been researching ways you can make your garden wheelchair friendly so you can adapt your garden and make the most of your outdoor space!
For serious gardeners, a greenhouse is a must. A greenhouse gives you the ability to grow plants and get results you ordinarily would not be able to, especially with the uncertainty of the British weather! It also gives you the opportunity to shelter your plants and yourself from any nasty weather meaning you get some extra time to tend to your plants, and who doesn’t want that?
Finding a wheelchair friendly greenhouse need not be difficult as long as you take proper measurements and research the greenhouse thoroughly. Don’t just take into account the space in your garden but also consider the space you need to be able to work comfortably, because you might be spending a lot of time in there.
Things to consider when looking for the perfect wheelchair friendly greenhouse:
Check the width of the doors to the greenhouse and make sure your chair will be able to fit through easily when entering and exiting.
Make sure there is no threshold (small step at the base of the greenhouse) which will be difficult to get over safely in your chair.
Height of internal shelves: make sure if your greenhouse comes with shelving that it is at a height you can reach comfortably.
If you keeping these requirements in mind it should be easy to find a greenhouse that is perfect for you, have a look at our wheelchair friendly greenhouses that also come in different colours to see if you can find the greenhouse of your dreams!
Another way you may wish to adapt your garden may be through the use of raised beds. Raised beds minimise risk by saving you from bending down to care for your plants, which would otherwise strain your back. However, make sure to thoroughly research which raised bed is going to be best for you based on your individual capability; raised beds are fantastic but they can also be difficult when you have to reach across them to tend to your plants. Think about a height that is going to work best, as well as the shape and the depth in regards to what will be most comfortable for you.
Raised beds are also a great option if you have poor quality soil due to the increased depth which makes good quality aerated soil for your plants. Isolating these plants also means you have the benefit of fewer weeds, and less pests! Raised beds are also renowned for improved drainage, which can be either a good or a bad thing depending on the situation, but does definitely mean more watering in the summer months which could become a burden.
If you have a grass garden you might find that buying some roll out garden tracking may really help you get across your garden. Garden track can help to disguise uneven grounding and gravel that typically make gardening in your chair more difficult. Clip in tracking can be extended as much as required for your convenience, or you can buy specialist wheelchair garden tracking for this purpose. Tracking is particularly good to use in bad weather too, and can be rolled up to be stored away easily until you need it next.
Finding good garden tools is an essential for any disabled gardener and there is a huge range online that have been adapted to make gardening jobs much easier; so be sure to shop around for what tools will make life easier for you personally.
In general, it’s great to have lightweight tools with wide handles. Not only will these help you with having a better grip, but it means you will be able to spend longer on gardening tasks without the tools becoming too heavy.
Without a doubt though, the most important tools when gardening in a wheelchair are those with extended arms which save you from bending too far. It’s possible to get a wide range of tools with extendable arms on the internet from grippers, sheers, weed burners and much more.
One way to save yourself from constant bending is to have a potting station in your garden so you can get on with gardening jobs such as; potting and looking after cuttings and seedlings. They are also great for storage and hiding your tools and pots you’re not currently using. Make sure to check the measurements of the workstation so you find one that is the best height for you.
It’s also worth considering using lightweight planters for planting in future, as these will make it a lot easier to manoeuvre the pot in your garden and save a lot of strain on your back when you need to re-position it. There are a wide range of lightweight planters now on the market that still have an authentic look so it’s worth having a look to find some pots that suit your garden’s style.
My last bit of advice is seemingly simple; keep your garden neat and organised! Not only will this make your garden appear tidier, but it is also very important to help prevent accidents. By having an organised garden with proper storage solutions you can give each tool a place and ensure you always know where to find it!
If you have any more advice on how to create a more wheelchair friendly garden please do get in touch, and I hope everyone enjoys their gardens now we’re entering the Spring!
Zoë 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!
No matter what the occasion or who the recipient, we’ve something for everyone from water features to companion seats, roses to candles – brighten up a loved one’s day and reap the rewards afterwards… with a gorgeous garden!
Heat packs – the most underrated heating accessory that is guaranteed to keep you warm this winter.
These useful little heat packs are the ideal way to keep warm on the go and maximise warmth. Simply shake and pop in pockets or gloves for a quick and portable source of heat – it really is as simple as that. However, they’re hugely understated and their versatility means they can be utilised for a range of activities. We’ve chosen a few of our favourites below for you.
Standing in the crowd on a cold day, these are a life safer for popping in your pockets or gloves and keeping your fingers from falling off.
Sitting on the windy shore, wrapped up warm, these help to get a firm hold of your rod – rumour has it wearing heat pads brings you in an extra large cod for supper.
It’s often really chilly when we chose to stand outside in awe of the lights, so give yourself some extra warmth.
Walking the dog
When Scooby wants a run in the snow, you need to keep warm (and it’s not like you have a thick layer of fur).
Not much beats hitting the white stuff on the slopes, but it can be pretty cold so layer up.
When the snow is falling, there’s nothing more romantic than a walk, but why not hold your lovers hand with an extra bit of warmth and spice?
Whether you’re sat around a campfire, or cosying in your sleeping bag for breakfast, heat packs help keep you extra warm.
Now is the perfect time to start planning how you want your garden to look this summer. Don’t be afraid to get out there now and get mucky.
Next time you’re doing one of the following activities, just think about picking up a little packet of warmth and you’ll have yourself thinking why you never encountered them before!
Amie is a marketing enthusiast, having worked at Primrose since graduating from Reading University in 2014.
She enjoys all things sport. A keen football fan, Amie follows Tottenham Hotspur FC, and regularly plays for her local 5 a side football team.