Jorge, Plants, Trees

Pollination is important as without it trees will not produce fruit. Most trees require insects to transfer pollen between male (anthers) and female structures (stigma), ensuring fertilisation. Some trees, however, can self-fertilise. Without fertilisation, trees would be unable to propagate and the production of seeds and fruit would be useless. In the case of cherry trees, some are self-fertile and others are self-sterile, depending on the variety.

Cherry trees require another variety flowering at the same time to ensure fertilisation. They are henceforth put into flowering groups from 1 (very early) to 5 (very late). A cherry tree can be partnered with another in a group that is plus or minus 1 (+-1) its own group. To make matters more complex, even if some varieties have their flowers open at the same time they may not pollinate. They are henceforth put into groups (from A-O). Cherry trees thus require another tree in the same group and within plus or minus 1 flowering groups.

Thankfully, this is where universal donors come in that will pollinate any cherry tree within plus or minus 1 flowering group. We henceforth recommend, you pair one of these fertile varieties with another. As previously mentioned, some cherry trees are self-fertile and do not need to be paired with another. However, they do benefit from cross-fertilisation, so for heavier crops we recommend pairing.

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Another factor you need to consider is the date of the last frost in your location. Frost can be extremely damaging to blossoms and will reduce your crop. It is henceforth important to choose trees in the latter flowering groups if you have a late last frost. Your locations date can be found using this resource online. It should also be noted that bad weather such as rain and wind will prevent pollinating insects from visiting your blossoms and could reduce your crops.  

It is important to note that cherry blossom trees will not fertilise edible cherry trees, although acid cherries will. As cherry trees are somewhat common, it is possible that another tree could fertilise your own tree. As bees forage widely, a tree within 30m could fertilise one of your own, although it is simpler to plant another within the immediate vicinity. If you believe pollination has been disrupted, you can pollinate yourself by using a paintbrush and transferring pollen from one plant to another.

So why do growers bother with multiple varieties and not just choose a self-pollinator? Firstly, just like apples, different varieties produce different tastes. And secondly, growing multiple varieties allows you to ensure a steady supply of cherries throughout the warmer months. Lastly, some varieties have preferable traits such as resistance to cracking, larger crop, larger size and others are edible right off the bat, requiring no cooking.

As a rule, acid cherries are predominantly self-fertile, while sweet cherries require are self-sterile. Now without further ado, here is a quick overview of the different varieties characteristics.

Universal Donors

  • Celeste: Large red/black cherries. Naturally compact and great for patio.
  • Lapins: Red and mild tasting. Highly productive and vigorous.
  • May Duke: Tangy versatile fruit, great for eating fresh and making jams.
  • Merchant: Good flavour. RHS Award of Garden Merit awardee.
  • Morello: Acid cherries that are perfect for cooking. RHS Award of Garden Merit awardee.
  • Nabella: Acid cherries that are great for jams, pies, and liqueurs.
  • Sasha: Dark red cherries that are sweet and juicy. Heavy cropping.
  • Stardust Coveu: Very sweet white cherries. Great flavour and firmness.
  • Stella: Large blood-red fruit. Very juicy and sweet tasting. Highly productive, but sensitive to cold. RHS Award of Garden Merit awardee.
  • Summer Sun: Great tasting dark red fruit. Extremely hardy and RHS Award of Garden Merit awardee.  
  • Sunburst: Very productive with large, firm fruit.
  • Sweetheart: Excellent flavour red cherries that are best eaten straight off the tree.
  • Van: Reddish black, sweet cherries. Superb flavour.

Self-Sterile

  • Bigarreau Napoleon: Another “white” cherry with pale golden white flesh. Firm-fleshed with a sweet tangy taste.
  • Burlat: Dark, red sweet cherries. Easy to grow.
  • Colney: Large burgundy coloured fruit. Resistant to bacterial canker and RHS Award of Garden Merit awardee.
  • Karina: Hard and tasty. Perfect with meringue and ice-cream. Not widely available in the UK. .
  • Kordia:Glossy, black and large fruit. Resistant to cracking.
  • Merton Glory: Large, red fruit flushed with white. Very tasty but not suitable for storage.
  • Morello: Acid cherries that are perfect for cooking. RHS Award of Garden Merit awardee.
  • Regina: Mild and sweet fruit and resistant to cracking. Balanced flavour.
  • Sylvia: Compact with upright growth. Similar taste to Stella.
  • White Heart: Large yellow-red fruit. Good resistant to bacterial canker.

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.

Allotment, Garden Edging, Jorge, Planters

The difference between softwood and hardwood sleepers is the wood the sleepers are sawn from and whether or not they are treated. Softwood is distinguishable from hardwood in that it comes from gymnosperm trees – that is, trees that with unenclosed seeds – while the latter comes from angiosperms – trees with enclosed seeds. Gymnosperms include such trees as pines and cypresses that bear cone-bearing seeds, while angiosperms include apple trees and oaks that inclose their seeds in fruits.

Horse Chestnuts and Pine Cones.

Gymnosperms differ from angiosperms in other ways. Most importantly, there are differences between the physical structures of the wood that can be viewed differently at a microscopic level and at the naked eye. Softwoods have a different cellular structure from hardwoods with tracheids and medullary rays transporting water, while hardwoods have vessel elements to do the same, which under the microscope appear as pores. Under the naked eye, softwoods have light grains, while hardwoods have prominent grains.

Hardwood (top) with its large pores.
Hardwood (left) with its distinctive grains.

The differences in structure lead to different physical properties. In general, hardwoods are denser and more resistant to fire, but they are also slower growing and heavier. Henceforth, this explains their greater price originating from higher transport costs and longer times spent in nurseries. Although, it must be noted that this is simply a rule of thumb as there are extremely dense softwoods such as yew and soft hardwoods such as Aspen. As such, you should research a timber’s properties when deciding whether it is suitable for the task at hand.

In regards to outdoor use, the most important property is a timber’s resistant to decay and in general hardwoods are far more resistant than softwoods. Oak, for example, is highly resistant to decay and can last up to 30 or 40 years untreated. Pine, on the other hand, from which our softwood sleepers are constructed, are less resistant to decay and are henceforth treated with either Tanalith green or Tanatone brown. Both have similar properties and one can expect 15 to 20 years of use.

Another difference between softwood and hardwood sleepers is that the former’s treatment colour will fade to grey within 18 months. Oak sleepers, on the other hand, will maintain colour, which is great for rustic beds; and as they are free from treatment they are suitable for use in building water features. As mentioned previously, hardwoods are denser than softwoods, so oak sleepers are heavier than pine, which can make construction more difficult.  

If you are interested in garden sleepers, Primrose stocks both the hardwood and softwood variants at only £4.99 delivery, regardless of quantity ordered.

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.

Gardening, Gardening Year, Guest Posts, How To

We all would love a green, pristine lawn in the warmer months, but weeds and patchiness always seem to get in the way. The key to a great lawn, however, starts long before the spring. It takes preparation and using the winter months to your advantage can really aid your goal of having a lawn to be proud of. There are a few steps that you can take in the winter to get your lawn ready to grow this spring.

Green lawn

Fertilizing

People are generally more prepared to fertilize their flowering plants than their grass, but your lawn can always use extra nutrients as well. This task can be done either in the late fall or the early winter. Fertilizing should be done before the first big freeze or when frost becomes apparent. As most weeds die during the winter months, fertilizing allows your grass the opportunity to absorb nutrients unopposed. And as it starts getting colder, your lawn will have already packed the nutrients into the soil which will continue to feed the roots as the winter progresses.

Rake your lawn

Raking leaves is no one’s idea of a fun time, but it is a very important thing to do to secure your lawn’s health. When you let your leaves lie where they fall on your yard, they can cause several different issues for your grass. Leaves block sunlight to your grass – which is still essential for its health, even in winter – and can hinder the process on water evaporating. If the ground stays too wet for too long, mould can develop and hurt your grass even further.

Either rake your leaves and remove them from your garden or use a mower to break them down into tinier pieces that can be useful to your soil. Leaves can make a great fertilizer so long as they’re broken down and useful to your grass.

Cut your grass shorter

Lawn experts warn against cutting your grass too short during the summer. It can cause stress to your grass, make it susceptible to burns from the heat, and allows weeds a chance to outgrow it.

In the winter, however, cutting your grass shorter than normal can be extremely beneficial. If your grass isn’t cut short enough, the grass can become matted down and potentially smother itself throughout the winter. Longer grass also attracts pests that can set up nests; those in turn will mess up your lawn as well. Cutting your grass shorter also helps to ward off weeds before they begin, especially if you live in a place where a good freeze can happen.

winter lawn

Don’t walk on the lawn too much

Making a snowman or having a snowball fight in the garden with your family can be extremely fun in the winter. However, those soggy conditions can put a lot of stress on your lawn. Excessive foot traffic – especially in soggy conditions – can compress your soil and ruin the integrity of your lawn.

Constantly walking on brown, short grass can make it have a hard time recovering in the spring. Grass is normally pretty resilient, but not when heavy foot traffic is involved as it slows its recovery. Have fun and go play out in the snow; just be wary of the traffic your lawn is getting and try to move to different areas every now and then.

Aerate your Lawn

Aerating is generally a practice that most experts recommend for the spring or fall. However, aerating helps the grassroots by allowing air, nutrients, and water to penetrate the soil more easily. In the winter, your soil struggles the most with this cycle. If your lawn looks matted and is retaining water, aerating might be a great option to prevent some issues.

The fall and winter make or break a great lawn in the spring. By preparing early and keeping an eye on your lawn during the winter, you can get a head start in turning heads with your lawn.

Valerie CoxValerie Cox is a contributing writer for BeautyLawn Spray. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, swimming, and playing with her puppy.

Animals, Current Issues, Jorge

Primrose is proud to support Wild Futures’ Monkey Sanctuary by providing planters for their rescued marmosets to play in. Located in Looe, Cornwall, the charity has been protecting primates for for 50 years and has campaigned to end the primate pets trade.

Currently, it is not only legal to keep certain primates such as marmosets, tamarins and squirrel monkeys, but there are no licensing demands or special regulations for their care as they are not deemed dangerous under the 1976 Dangerous Animals Act. There are an estimated 5,000 primates being kept in the UK as pets, of which hundreds are rescued each year by animal charities, but many more are left behind due to a lack of funding. Unlike other species, primates are highly intelligent and undomesticated, requiring companionship and specialised diets to thrive, and are not suitable as pets.

If you are against keeping primates as pets, you can sign the RSPCA’s petition here.

Wild Futures website can be found here.

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.