Jorge, Plants, Trees

Thanks to breeding programmes and the occasional sport in the nursery, there are now more trees for small gardens than ever before, perfect for your patio pot or as a centrepiece on your lawn.

Introduction

Eventual height and spread: some trees are as wide as they are high. Trees with a upright habit will take up less space than a spreading tree at the same height.

Planting in pots: planting in pots will naturally reduce a tree’s size. Key is to ensure adequate moisture / nutrient levels by using a potting mix composed of compost and garden soil and using mulch.

Species: crabapples and rowans both look fantastic as small trees and will add year round colour to your garden. Both are perfect for attracting wildlife with the crabapples’ long-lasting blossom and fruits, and the rowan’s long lasting berries. Both have good selections of dwarf species/varieties and are worth checking out before any purchasing decision.

Trees Under 3m

Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’

This dwarf flowering cherry produces a long-lasting profusion of white flowers on complex zig-zagging branches. Unusually small for a cherry, and suitable for pots, this is the ideal variety for magical spring blossom in a small garden.

fuji cherry tree

Prunus ‘Frilly Frock’

With variegated leaves, stunning spring blossom and unmatched autumn colour, ‘Frilly Frock’ is a truly magical weeping tree.

dwarf cherry blossom

Salix caprea ‘Kilmarnock’

‘Kilmarnock’ produces bright fuzzing anthers from pendulous stems, which evolved to catch pollen grains floating in the wind. This architectural variety makes an excellent centrepiece.

salix caprea kilmarnock

Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’

Known as the flamingo or shrimp willow naturally produces a lollipop shape with gorgeous cream-pink tinged foliage on coral-pink stems.

shrimp willow

Malus ‘Toringo Aros’

Winner of the ‘Best in Show’ at the National Plant Show in 2017, this crabapple is truly something to behold, if you can get your hands on it! A showstopper, ‘Toringo Aros’ produces stunning pinks and purples throughout the warmer months and as a crabapple will attract an array of wildlife to your garden.

toringo aros

Trees Under 5m

Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’

Another tree with gorgeous tones of pink and purple, this redbud is notable for its large glossy leaves which start ruby red before turning a deep purple. It produces small, intricate flowers in an abundance come March.

Malus ‘Jelly King’

This crabapple creates an unmatched display for such a small tree with spectacular pink-orange fruits. Be sure to have a go at jelly-making!

crabapple jelly king

Sorbus vilmorinii / Sorbus vilmorinii ‘Pink Charm’

Gorgeous pinnate leaves, which turn purple in autumn, and large bunches of pink berries, which are perfect for attracting birds. ‘Pink Charm’ is a new ostensibly improved variety with larger, more vibrant berries. Both are AGM, however.

sorbus vilmorinii pink charm

Upright Trees

Prunus ‘Amanogawa’

Although reaching 8m high, this cherry has a 3m spread. ‘Amanogawa’ has all the traits of a classic cherry with fragrant double pink flowers and stunning autumn colour.

Sorbus ‘Autumn Spire’

Similar in size to ‘Amanogawa’, ‘Autumn Spire’ is an offshoot of ‘Joseph Rock’, and possesses the same great features (yellow berries and vibrant autumn colour), but with a compact columnar habit.

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.

How To, Jorge, Planting, Plants, Trees

Cherry Tree Blossom

Cherry blossom trees are perfectly adapted to the UK’s climate and will flourish in your garden. As cherry trees can be quite large, it is important is to choose a location large enough to accommodate the variety you choose. The most important message to take home is the need to regularly water young trees, especially in the months after planting.

Location, Location, Location

Be sure to check the eventual height and spread of your tree before deciding on a suitable location. Cherry trees can be very large. Prunus ‘Kanzan’, for example, can grow to above 10m tall.

Cherry trees benefit from full sun, but will suffice in shady locations.

Planting in a sheltered location is recommended to prevent uprooting in strong winds. Avoid waterlogged soils.

Planting near a building should be fine, but the distance away should be based on a tree’s spread. Most cherries are grafted onto rootstocks, which ensures the roots are weak and are unable to damage foundations.

If you are worried your tree will be too large for your garden, you can always plant in a large pot (40-60cm+ depending on the variety) which will constrain a tree’s growth.

Water, Water, Water

The message we wish most to convey to your customers is the need to water your tree regularly and thoroughly in the months after planting. This will help your tree recover from the effects of transplant shock in which a tree loses much of its water absorbing capacity.

Planting Your Tree

Follow steps A for containerised trees and steps B for bare root trees.

  1. Ensure your tree is hydrated before planting.
    1. Give the rootball a good watering. Free up any spiralised roots.
    2. Leave your tree’s roots to soak in water for half an hour. Pruning woody roots back a few inches can help stimulate the growth of new water-absorbing roots.
  2. Dig a square hole three times the radius of the rootball, but only a few inches deeper than the rootball. Loosen any compact soil around the sides.
  3. Place your tree in the hole. Ensure the graft point is above the soil. The highest roots should be no more than an inch below the ground. (Containerised trees roughly level.)
  4. Fill your hole with a mix of garden soil and compost. Do not compress the soil!
  5. Plant a stake with the stake facing away from the prevailing wind.
  6. Give your tree a good watering.
  7. Add a layer of mulch. Mulch helps improve moisture levels. Ensure the mulch doesn’t touch the base of the tree.
  8. Depending on your location, a rabbit guard can be useful as hungry rabbits will nibble on bark come winter.
    1. Cutting back branches will produce a better balance between the root system and top growth, ensuring your tree does not rock in the wind. Cut the central stem back up to a third and branches by half, snipping right above buds.

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, Plants

busy winter gardening

It’s a mistake to think that because the flowers have stopped blooming and your bushes and shrubs are devoid of leaves that there’s nothing to do in the garden now that winter is here. The winter weather in the UK has become even more changeable but there are always going to be extremely cold days, heavy rain and winds, maybe even snow. If you love your garden, there’s no need to go into hibernation for the winter months. There is still lots to keep you busy.

Bring in some winter plants

If you’re used to a lush green garden and plenty of blooms in the spring and summer, it can be sad to see such an austere area in the winter. You can bring in some colour and interest with hardy and winter flowering plants and shrubs. If you want winter flowering shrubs, they will obviously need time to embed and grow before they start to bloom so they will need general care according to the plant type until the season they bloom. For more instant colour, a job you can do in winter is to plant flowers that can withstand the harsh conditions. You might have an area of the garden set aside for winter flowers, or you might use pots and containers. Traditional crocus, Christmas roses. Snowdrops, and even early daffodils can all provide splashes of colour when the skies are grey.

snowdrop

Looking after the lawn

Grass does not stop growing in the coldest months of the year, but growth slows down considerably. According to the professionals at Mowers Online, there will be spurts of growth during milder periods so if there is a dry period, it is worth getting the mower out to tidy up the lawn. Cutting the lawn will also stimulate growth at this time of year. Despite the slow growth, grass that is just left alone between October and March – generally considered the closed season on lawn mowing – can become long, diseased, thinner, and less dense. It will make it harder to get it looking pristine again.

There are other things to bear in mind if you want your grass to look its best when spring comes.

  • Apply some soluble iron to provide colour and hardiness.
  • Clear up fallen leaves as best as you can so they don’t smother the grass and prevent growth.
  • Do not walk on the lawn when it is covered in frost.
  • Keep edges along pathways and around borders trimmed.
  • Don’t worry about clearing snow from the lawn.

winter grass

Thinking ahead

Now is the time to think about the new growth you want to introduce to your garden for the spring. You aren’t restricted to sowing seeds indoors or keeping things in the shed to start them off. The practice of winter sowing enables you to get a head start on spring. Whether you want to plant flowers or vegetables, there is a way to seed now for spring growth. You’ll need to understand the winter sowing technique and then have the confidence to apply it to the things you want to grow.

Clear out the shed

Winter is a good time to do a spring clean of the shed. Most gardeners start off with the intention of starting each spring with a nice, tidy shed, all organised with tools all sorted, pots arranged by sized, and electrical tools stored correctly. By the time the summer is over, tools are everywhere, some still have clumps of soil attached, there’s compost on the floor, the extension leads are all jumbled, and there’s detritus all over the place. Put on a warm jumper or a coat and be resolute in tidying it all up. Get rid of anything you know you won’t use despite good intentions, clean tools, repair anything that needs it. You’ll be glad of the effort when spring comes around.

winter shed

A DIY project

TV gardening expert Alan Titchmarsh says that the winter is the ideal time to undertake a DIY project. You might consider building a raised bed from railway sleepers or bricks. Borders can be reshaped, or you might think about putting edges to the borders using slate, fencing, or some other decorative materials. Winter might be time to think about installing that brick barbecue you’ve been planning for the last couple of years, or to add extra seating so you don’t have guests scrabbling for seats during those family get togethers on summer days. You might even erect a new shed. The thing to remember about DIY projects in the garden in winter is that progress will be determined by the weather. The ground might be too hard to dig, the rain might be too heavy, and you can’t work when there’s a few inches of snow on the ground.

Ruby ClarksonRuby Clarkson is a freelance writer who has a passion for all things gardening. When she isn’t outside planting flowers or digging up weeds, she is wrapped up in a blanket with a cup of tea and a book.

Animals, Megan, Ponds, Wildlife

Whether you have a pond, or you’re thinking of building a pond in your garden, you may be wondering about the wildlife ponds attract. Pond are rich habitats for all sorts of wildlife. To find out more about the pond wildlife you may spot in your garden, read on.

Pond Wildlife

Frogs

The common frog is one of the most recognisable types of pond wildlife you will find taking a dip in your pond. Long, striped legs and smooth, moist skin characterise the common frog, which are found throughout the UK in damp habitats. They are active throughout most of the year, only hibernating during the colder winter months. Frogs are carnivores and their diet consists of insects including flies, mosquitoes and dragonflies.

Pond Wildlife - Frogs

Toads

Toads are distinguishable from frogs by their skin, which is dry and warty in appearance. They travel by crawling rather than hopping and are larger than the common frog. Although especially found in wet locations, toads can also inhabit open countryside and other dry areas well away from standing water. Toads are nocturnal, so you are unlikely to see them until dusk, when they venture out often travelling great distances to hunt. A toad’s diet consists of insects and they have even been known to consume small mice.

Pond Wildlife - Toads

Newts

There are three species of newt that are native to the UK: the great crested newt, the palmate newt and the smooth newt.

The great crested newt is the largest, measuring up to 16 cm in length. Appearing almost black, they are actually dark grey-brown and covered in darker-coloured spots. You are most likely to spot them during the spring breeding season, as they spend the rest of the year in woodland and grassland. Great crested newts are the least widespread of newt species in the British Isles, and are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Pond Wildlife - Newts

In contrast, the palmate newt is the smallest of UK newt species. Olive-brown in colour, they prefer shallow ponds and are active during the daylight hours. Fascinatingly, the females lay their eggs individually and wrap them in leaves of aquatic plants to protect them.

Very similar in appearance to the palmate newt, smooth newts are species you are most likely to spot in and around your garden pond as they are the most common newt in the British Isles.

Invertebrates

Harder to spot because of their size, garden ponds can be home to a wide variety of invertebrates including:

  • Dragonflies
  • Mayflies
  • Snails
  • Water fleas
  • Pond Skaters
  • Water beetles

Pond Wildlife - Dragonflies

All of these species are important parts of the ecosystem, playing roles as both prey and predators. Many feed on algae and aquatic plants and others, such as dragonflies, are carnivorous and feed on smaller insects.

Birds

Most smaller garden ponds are too small for wetland birds such as ducks, swan and geese. However, you may spot wild birds using your pond to bathe in or take a drink from. You can introduce sloping sides and logs to your pond to make it a safer environment for these birds. Adding pond plants and keeping up with general pond maintenance will also make sure there’s bountiful amounts of insects for insect-eating birds.

Wild Birds

One feathered visitor that may not be welcome to your pond is the heron. They mainly feed on fish, and often visit garden ponds looking for an easy meal. If you want to deter herons from your pond, you can take a look at our post on how to heron proof a pond.

Ponds are home to a wide variety of wildlife. If you are particularly fond of observing wildlife in your garden installing a pond is a no-brainer.

 

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.