Celebrations And Holidays, Competitions, Current Issues, Decoration, Events, Flowers, Garden Design, Garden Furniture, Gardening, Gardening Year, Hampton Court Flower Show, Liam, News, Planters, Planting, Plants, Ponds, RHS, Water Features

The Primrose team attended this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show to catch up with and discuss the latest gardening trends as well as engage with some of the nation’s favourite horticultural festivities. We endured the sweltering heat and odd glass of champagne to hopefully bring you the inspiration for your perfect garden.

Tropical

On display at this year were a vibrant showcase of exotic landscapes seemingly plucked from some far-off jungle and dropped onto the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. However, tropical gardening is something which is growing in popularity in the UK and not just the odd palm tree.

Tropical plants are, in fact, surprisingly hardy and many of them can tough it out through a British winter. Creating a tropical aesthetic in your very own garden provides a sense of exotic escape in what can be an otherwise cold and stressful routine. More and more urban dwellers are looking to bamboos, ferns, sarracenias and zantedeschias to create these backyard get-aways.

Many of these tropical varieties are used to battling it out below the canopy for little light and nutrients and so can thrive even in the heart of the concrete jungle. For gardens everywhere tropical planting offers height, depth and an abundance of life. Water-features and lighting perfect the ambience offering various tones and sounds.

Prairie Planting

A major trend at this year’s show was Prairie Planting; the combination of wild flowers and grasses in a seemingly loose planting scheme. Pockets of meadow teeming with wildlife were a persistent feature offering a wholesome, wild but almost gentle beauty.

There are an abundance of prairie plants which are native to the UK all of which are hardy enough to thrive in poor soils in times of drought and frost. Therefore, they make a perfect low-maintenance garden with a more natural aesthetic. Eryngiums, Echinaceas, Achilleas and Salvias among others offer a rich pallet of colours while various grasses deliver height and texture.

The prairie garden is also a fantastic way for you to join the noble crusade of saving our native bee and butterfly populations. Already an incentive which is sweeping  the country, prairie patches are being planted in local initiatives to save our ecosystems. With some bordering and creative features thrown in prairie planting also helps make an award-winning garden too.

Reclaimed

Here is a trend which certainly taps into the prevalent vintage culture of today. Adding a certain character to outdoor spaces it creates a more relaxing atmosphere allowing the mind to wonder amongst the assortment of bizarre objects strewn across the flower beds.  Big concrete planters, weedy patios, even bits of recycled car parts and vintage furniture make an appearance.

Once the hardware is in the garden is certainly easier to manage than a pristine and strictly coordinated garden while keeping a sense of style and purpose. Ground covering and climbing plants are encouraged to grow over. One may find a bike wheel or an old Coca-Cola sign amongst the wild grasses. There is certainly space to let your imagination roam.

Rust was a consistently strong contender throughout the show along with prairie planting and the reclaimed aesthetic is a natural ally to both these features.

Jorge 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 Liam’s posts.

Animals, Garden Design, Jorge, Water Features

john-constable-water-feature

With the psychological benefits associated with water, it is no wonder water features are an integral part of garden design. Since at least the eighteenth century, doctors have prescribed trips to the seaside to improve their patients’ well-being. Britain’s love affair with water stretches all the way to Aquae Sulis, located in what is today Bath; there both Briton and Roman alike would seek relaxation in its natural hot springs.

Access to water is known to both alleviate stress and promote serenity. For example, psychologists from the ‘Blue Gym’ project found that people have preference for images with water than those with none. Interestingly, the same project found that images with both blue and green garnered the most favourable response (an interesting tip for those designing their garden).

So why is this the case? Why do humans love blue and green? It is probable that our love for water is hard-coded in our genes to ensure our survival. It is a hangover from when humans were hunters and gatherers, when the colours of blue and green signalled a resource rich environment that was conducive to your long term survival. To our savannah-dwellings ancestors, habitat selection was of paramount importance, and lush grasslands and clumps of trees provided evidence of abundant wildlife and a good supply of water.

john-constable-river

It is not incidental that rivers, lakes and seas are blue, and plant life green. Only a combination of both could ensure survival and a view of both signalled the jackpot. It is from this that humans have developed a sense of pleasure when we witness such a view. While now such a view is not necessary for survival, the genetic heritage remains as evolution takes place over extremely long periods, far beyond the 20,000 odd years humans have been living in permanent settlements.

Humans’ preferences for certain habitats have been confirmed in a number of surveys. In one, people from around the world were all shown standardised photos of five landscapes – deciduous forest, tropical forest, open savannah with trees, coniferous forest, and desert – and no category stood out, except that of the desert, which had a slightly negative response. (It is, unsurprisingly, an environment that is both hostile to human life and resource scarce.) When the experiment was extended to young children, they expressed a marked preference for the savannah (where early human evolution took place) as well as landscapes with water, trees, game animals, and cloud patterns among others, which offer opportunities for both food and water.

savannah-environmental-preferences

In another survey, a professional polling organisation conducted a poll of art preferences in ten countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, and found that blue was the most popular colour, followed by green. And again, there was a marked preference for water, plants, and large animals, both wild and domestic, among others.

Indeed, it is likely that such colours also provide animals a rudimentary pleasure as such environments sustain the majority of life on earth, provided they in fact see in colour. Indeed, animals with comparatively low sentience may find it hard to enjoy anything else.

roman-aqueduct
The Pont du Gard, the most famous Roman aqueduct in existence – it was modified in the 1740s to carry a wide road.  Emanuele  (2007)  licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Now, when do man-made water features pop up in human history? Famously, the Romans built a system of aqueducts to supply the city of Rome with water, which was necessary to feed the expanding metropolis. These aqueducts utilised gravity to transport water from the surrounding hills, which was then stored in large cisterns. From these cisterns, the water would then travel through pipes to public distribution points and individual’s houses where there might be fountains. To power these fountains, the Romans again utilised gravity, as because a foot of height generates 0.43 pounds per square inch of water pressure, even a small cistern could power a fountain. As a sidenote, the Romans were not the first to use gravity to power fountains as even such primitive societies such as the Maya did so.

The power of gravity could be utilised in other ways to power fountains. Jumping forward to the 18th century, King Louis XIV’s fountain complex at Versailles was powered by the river Seine. It utilised an convoluted system of 14 huge water wheels to power pistons for over 200 water pumps. The water was transferred through a system of reservoirs up the hill into an aqueduct, which then distributed the water to the various fountains on the grounds. In the intervening years between the romans and Versailles, fountains would find their greatest popularity in the Islamic world (in the famous paradise gardens), and later renaissance Italy. It was in these two golden ages that saw the emergence of such artists and engineers that could enable their construction. The surviving examples from these periods are still highly popular today.

renaissance-water-fountain
The Fontana Masini in the Piazza del Popolo in Cesena, completed in 1591. It was designed by Cesena Francesco Masini and built by the stonemason Montevecchio Domenico and his assistants.

Other more complicated methods of pumping water emerged in time such as hydraulic rams and steam engines. The former is not too dissimilar to the water wheel in that it requires no power other than the kinetic energy of flowing water. The device, in effect, takes in water at one height, and outputs water at another higher height. It was invented in 1796 by Joseph Michel Montgolfier, who is otherwise famous as one of the inventors of the hot air balloon. The steam pump, and its successor the electric pump, would prove revolutionary and greatly increase the power of fountains, enabling such fountains as the King Fahd’s Fountain that produces the largest water jets on earth, possibly surpassing a 1,000 feet.

largest-fountain-on-earth
King Fahd’s Fountain, located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Now, returning to the original question, a water feature is likely to signal a plentiful supply of water, and allow one to feel relaxed, and at home. Even better, the sound of running water will allow such relaxation when in earshot. Then, once placed in the greenery of the garden, it provides the perfect environment for a human to relax. Now thanks to advances in technology, you can use solar energy to power your feature, allowing one to both save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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.

Decoration, Garden Design, Garden Furniture, Gardening, How To, Water Features, Zoe

It can be difficult to make the most of your space in a small garden without the effect feeling claustrophobic. There are a number of reasons your garden may feel small:
• High imposing walls or fences surrounding your garden
• Lack of natural light making the space feel dark and small
• No interesting colour incorporation to brighten the area
• Oversized garden furniture that overpowers the area
• Abundance of overgrown greenery
• Or simply a very small space to work with

This guide can help you with some space saving and trendy ideas that will help transform your small garden into a light and relaxing place to be, that still offers plenty of opportunity to test your gardening skills.

Mirrors

The use of mirrors in a small garden can really help to create a sense of space as the light reflects off the glass and into the outdoor area. There are many options to suit your individual style, whether it is a country garden or modern social space.
One way to incorporate mirrors is to have two identical mirrors facing each other; this will create the feel of an infinite garden and prov
ide a great opportunity to make the most of natural lighting.

 

Alternatively, you can use an ornate garden window mirror that adds character and charm. If you’re feeling crafty you could create this yourself with recycled window shutters!
The use of mini mirrors can incorporate light into the garden in a more subtle way, whilst creating a unique texture. The combination of outside fairy lights trailing along your mirrors can also create a lovely atmosphere in the evening.

If you want to learn more about the safety aspects of garden mirrors check out our previous blog post!

 

 

Stainless Steel Planters

If you’re not keen on using mirrors, stainless steel planters offer an excellent alternative. These will help to make the surrounding space seem bigger, and do not pose the same risks as mirrors do outside.
Try creating some depth in your small garden by adding plants of different heights in your planters, this will create a layered effect and also make the space appear larger.

Water

A water feature can be a great way to add some personality to your garden, and is a great tool to carry through a theme in your garden whether it is a classic country style, oriental theme or an ultra-modern layout.

However, the fantastic thing about water features in small gardens is the opportunity to incorporate light into a space, similarly to mirrors and stainless steel. The water from the feature will reflect the sky, and is a more natural way to reflect light into your garden. One bonus of this is that this may encourage wildlife too!

Trees

In a small garden the addition of trees can create the illusion of space. You can cleverly train certain trees to grow in a particular direction to help cover an ugly wall, and make the space seem less imposing. This may require a bit of patience in order to achieve the desired results however!

Vertical Planting

There are many other little ways you can make the most of your secluded spots through the use of vertical planting. This can be
achieved through Trellis’ and climbing plants, which will grow upwards and help hide walls.

However, for an easier option you could purchase a wall mounted planter that can attach easily to a wall and still optimise vertical space.

Screening

If you have dark walls or fencing surrounding your garden, this may be another reason the space feels so small. Sometimes the colours can have the effect of feeling gloomy or oppressive, but one easy way to brighten your garden is the addition of some screening.

This is easy to put up, and can also cover any broken brickwork or blemishes. There are a range of materials and colours to choose from, but a natural style bamboo screening could really help to boost the feeling of space by brightening the whole area and adding some personality.

Storage Solutions

If you’re short of space in your garden but still want to have a chill out area there are a range of storage solutions that can help you do that.
Seating with storage space built in is one particularly clever way to create more space in your garden as it is not visible. This gives you the option to have an area to relax but also be able to store away things such as blankets, cushions etc. when they are not needed!

You could also use coffee tables with storage built in as an alternative to bulky sheds and storage boxes, this would be a great addition to a social space so your guests can relax with a couple of drinks after you’ve stored away some of your garden necessities!

Hopefully this guide has inspired you to make the most of the space you have, and if you want to explore design tips for lighting your small garden be sure to read our advice on this too!

Zoe at PrimroseZoë 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!

See all of Zoë’s posts.

Callum, Primrose Gardens, Water Features

Your favourite time of the week has arrived! We have loved seeing all of  your creations and hope to see many more. Remember you get a £5 voucher if you join and upload some photos! This week we are looking at all the wonderful water features you guys have shared with us on Primrose Gardens.  With so many designs about these days, it would be rude not share the best of these creative innovations.

A lovely metallic hanging fountain courtesy of God's own garden
A lovely metallic hanging fountain courtesy of God’s own garden
A delicate 4-tier cascading water feature seen here in The Bailey's garden
A delicate 4-tier cascading water feature seen here in The Bailey’s garden
An alluring 5-tier cascading water feature courtesy of Magical imaging's garden
An alluring 5-tier cascading water feature courtesy of Magical imaging’s garden
A beautiful natural and rocky 4-tier cascading water feature seen in Waterland's garden
A beautiful, natural and rocky 4-tier cascading water feature seen in Waterland’s garden
We finish up with a quite stunning cascading blade water feature seen here in Blaythorne's House
We finish up with a quite stunning cascading blade water feature seen here in Blaythorne’s House

Primrose Gardens allows you to create a beautiful pictorial record of your garden where you can show off your garden to family and friends to enjoy over the years. It’s also a community of garden enthusiasts and the perfect space to discuss tips and tricks, as well as getting plants identified!

Callum is currently on his placement year here at Primrose with his parents being huge garden enthusiasts.Callum

In the time he has free from his parents rambling on about the garden, he is being a typical university student experiencing life to the full and supporting his beloved Reading FC.

See all of Callum’s posts.

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