We all want to give the perfect Christmas gift; but how do you choose the gift they’ll love? The options can be overwhelming in the search for that special something so here at Primrose, we’ve made things simple. Whether you’re shopping for wildlife lovers, dedicated home growers or social entertainers, you can find the perfect gift at Primrose.
For Wildlife Lovers
As a nation of animal enthusiasts, our gardens can be havens for wildlife. Welcome all varieties of birds, insects and small mammals into the garden with a selection of our houses and feeders.
A wonder to watch and a great way of increasing the variety of garden flowers. A bee or butterfly house will bring important pollinating insects into the garden and these pretty houses can sit discreetly in any space.
Nothing beats the presence of birds in a garden. The UK has a wide variety of birds that are beautiful to see and fun to watch. You can encourage great diversity into the garden with the Christmas gift of a bird feeder or table.
A wildlife-friendly garden can attract a whole host of animals from squirrels, rabbits and hedgehogs. Encourage these furry friends into the garden with houses and feeders so you can enjoy watching their antics year-round.
We love seeing how our customer’s gardens take shape throughout the year and how the sense of achievement from cultivating a garden brings so much joy.
Great gardeners deserve great tools. From handheld trowels and forks to more specialised bulb planters and weed removers, a garden can really take shape having the right tool for the right job.
Garden planters are ideal for gathering together favourite blooms and we think our fuss-free, frost-resistant, fibrecotta planters can make a great Christmas gift.
Give a gift that will keep on growing! A Christmas gift that will last for years and provide endless moments of joy, trees can transform a garden and we have a variety of species that can be gifted for any garden space.
Our gardens are the settings of wonderful moments; times we’ll treasure throughout our lives. At the centre of those moments will be one person organising it all and for them, we have a range of gifts they can be proud to display.
Extend the time spent with friends and family when the nights draw in with our range of lighting solutions. Fairy lights can add magic to any space when hung about a gazebo or strung through the trees, whilst lanterns can add a warm glow to keep everyone comfy on the sofas.
A fire pit can bring out the best of an evening – it means time spent gathered together, time spent swapping stories and jokes, time spent enjoying the warmth of a glowing fire, maybe toasting a marshmallow or two. A centrepiece befitting any keen host we have a range to suit every garden space.
For the evenings you wish can go on and on, keep everyone cosy and content with our winter blankets and throws. So whether it’s snuggling up warm with a loved one or setting down with a good book, give the gift of a relaxing evening this Christmas.
Summer has drawn to a close, and the days of picnics, day trips to the beach, and playing in the paddling pool are over. But never fear, the weather may be colder but the season also brings with it some great autumn activities for kids. The falling leaves and abundant nature provide a whole host of fun opportunities. So if you’re stuck for ideas for things to do this half term, check out our list of outdoor autumn activities for children.
Nature Colour Walk
Walks in the Great Outdoors are always a good way of connecting with nature. You can add an extra element of fun by making it a colour walk. How it works is pretty straightforward: you pick one colour, and during the walk your children have to find things that are that colour. If you have a digital camera or a smartphone even better, as you can take photos of those things and look back at them later. If you have more than one child with you perhaps you could add a competitive element and see who can find the most coloured items.
A high tech upgrade from the traditional treasure hunt, geocaching makes for a fantastic family afternoon out. You can get involved by downloading a geocaching app, then follow the instructions on the app and use your smartphone like a compass to find the “treasure”. Most caches have a logbook that you can sign when you find them, however, some of the larger ones contain trinkets- but if you take one, make sure to replace it with something of equal value.
Make the most of the harvest season by going apple picking- a fun activity that you can literally enjoy the fruits of. Never fear if you don’t have an orchard in your garden, there are plenty of pick-your-own apple farms that you can visit to pick your own harvest. These make for a fantastic fun family day out, and most places offer the opportunity to stock up on other vegetables while you’re at it! A quick Google should direct you to the apple farms in your area.
Leaf rubbing is a great way of creating beautiful seasonal artwork. This fun nature craft can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. Find a fallen leaf with a good texture, place it on a hard surface, and place a white sheet of paper on top of it. Use a crayon, pastel, or coloured pencil to gently colour over the leaf, and you’ll find you end up “drawing” the leaf onto the paper. You can use a variety of leaves and colours to create a selection of beautiful drawings.
One of the best things about summer is being able to have a barbeque; however autumn doesn’t have to mean the end of outdoor dining. Having a bonfire in the evening can be a great way to get the family together, eat some good food, and have a great time. There is some great food that can be cooked on a bonfire, including the classic marshmallow toasting, but also kebabs, fruit, grilled cheese sandwiches, and hot dogs- but that is by no means an exhaustive list! You can create your own bonfire by digging a shallow pit and surrounding with bricks and stones, but an outdoor fire pit can be a hassle-free way to host a bonfire. Please note: Make sure children are supervised around the fire and it is extinguished properly after use.
There is some great wildlife to see in the autumn months, from flying geese and grey squirrels to conkers and damsons. Take a walk, out in nature, or perhaps just keep your eyes peeled in your back garden and see which wonderful creatures and plants you can spot! Sites such as Wildlife Watch provide wildlife spotting sheets that you can pin to your fridge and tick off things as you see them over the course of the season. Perhaps you could have a separate sheet for each family member and make it a contest!
Welcome to our next post in our garden bird series. Today we will be taking a peek into the lives of chaffinches, one of the most common finches seen in British gardens. Their colourful plumage and loud song make the chaffinch unmistakable and unmissable in terms of bird watching. To find out more about the common chaffinch, read on!
What Does a Chaffinch Look Like?
The common chaffinch, latin name Fringilla coelebs, is a small passerine bird, or perching bird, that lies in the finch family, alongside goldfinches.
The male and female chaffinch both have white stripes on their tails and wings, but they differ greatly in colour. Males have strikingly coloured plumage, with a blueish-grey cap and copper underparts. The vibrant colours of the males’ feathers become even more pronounced during breeding season when they are attracting the more plain looking grey-brown females. Juvenile chaffinches resemble the female but are smaller in size.
Where Will I See Chaffinches?
Chaffinches are not migratory birds, so you will see it in the UK all year round. You will find them in woodlands, hedgerows and parks as well as in your garden.
The chaffinch is present in most of Europe, Asia and northwest Africa and was introduced from its native Britain to many of its overseas territories in the latter half of the 19th century. It is one of the most common and widespread birds in the finch family.
When Do Chaffinches Breed?
Males start defending their breeding territories as early as February, but breeding usually begins in late April. It is largely dependent on the Spring temperatures, occurring earlier in the south and later in the north. Breeding can continue until as late as July.
Mating begins by the male attracting a female to his territory with bird song. Three out of nine calls present in the chaffinch during the breeding season are courtship calls. The first two, “kseep” and “tchirp” are made by the male to facilitate pair formation and the last, “seep”, is a call that signals acceptance from the female. Interestingly, during the winter months when breeding is over, the number of calls diminishes from nine to only two for each sex.
Once paired, the female will build a nest with a deep cup in the fork of the tree. Nests are often very well camouflaged and difficult to locate to the untrained eye. Nesting materials include grass, moss, cobwebs and lichen, and the nest will be lined with feathers and rootlets.
Clutches typically consist of four to five eggs and are laid in the early morning at daily intervals. Eggs vary in colour, from off-white with brown spots to blueish-green. They are incubated for around 14 days by the female before fledglings hatch. Young are fed by both male and female before flying the nest several weeks later.
As chaffinches like to nest in trees, it is worth putting up a bird box that will help encourage breeding and may attract chaffinches to breed in your garden.
What Do Chaffinches Eat?
During breeding season, chaffinches feed mainly on invertebrates, feeding insects and caterpillars to their young. They search for their prey by foraging in trees and may even be seen catching flying insects in the air. Other invertebrates in their breeding season diet include spiders, earwigs and aphids.
Outside of breeding season, chaffinches eat seeds and also feed directly off of plants. They are ground feeders, so you are likely to see them feeding off seeds that have fallen around your bird table. You can always invest in a ground feeder too if you would like to see more chaffinches in your garden.
We hope you enjoyed finding out about chaffinches in this post! Keep a look out for the next in this series, where we will be taking a deep dive into dunnocks. If you’ve missed out on any post in these series, check them out here:
Megan 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.
If you don’t have your own small animal audience, store-bought is fine.
Exciting news folks! Primrose has recently got in awhole new selection of terrarium making tools, the first on the site made specifically for closed-system terrariums! Well since they’re so new, and terrariums are finally making the come back they deserve, I went and wrote up the journey through creating my own closed-system terrarium.
The sets we have online also include a very handy shovel and rake set that extends to reach the bottom of your jar, these are indispensable if you have a very deep terrarium! (Although you could always wrap some wire around a fork and a spoon, no judgement here.)
If possible, it’s recommended to find a piece of plastic mesh to help keep the stone and soil layer separate, but don’t worry if you can’t get hold of any, I didn’t use it in my terrarium.
A lot of newspaper to work on (it gets messy!)
A funnel (I made one out of a cereal packet)
Scissors (for pruning if needed)
Small hand trowel (for removing soil from roots)
And last but not least, the plants and accessories you want in the terrarium.
These are the two species I used, Tradescantia Purple Passion at the front and a Chlorophytum Comosum behind.
The idea of a closed terrarium is to create an ecosystem that will sustain itself. Both the plants and soil release moisture that becomes water vapour, and condenses against the walls of the terrarium during the warm daylight, falling back to the soil in the cooler evenings. This creation of an enclosed watering system is what will keep your terrarium growing, but just throwing dirt and plants at it isn’t going to work, an irrigation system is needed to stop the soil from rotting under too much water.
At this point you’ll want to grab the funnel, or if you’re on a budget, make one out of cardboard or paper to make for easier application of the materials.
First pour in a layer of small stones, pebbles, or gravel. There’s no hard and fast measurement as it depends on what size receptacle you’re using, a good rule to stick to is one-quarter stones to three-quarters soil. Remember this layer has to be deep enough to stop any pooling water from sitting in the soil.
Check your terrarium from all angles, sometimes it’s hard to judge the level of coverage with curved glass.
Next is activated charcoal. This is an integral ingredient in the tasty soup that is your closed terrarium. It absorbs chemicals in the soil, water, and air that could otherwise build up over time and damage the plants. Charcoal also cleans up unpleasant odours that are released from the decomposing soil and helps stop mildew forming.
You don’t need a whole layer of the stuff, but make sure there’s a good handful being placed in, it’s going to do a lot of work after all!
If you’ve been able to source some plastic mesh, now is the time to cut it to shape, fold it up and pop it in. You’ll need some long tools to push and pull it into place, and then you can add the substrate. (Note that the charcoal seems fine both above and below the mesh layer.) Again, if you don’t have a mesh layer don’t worry! You can still power on!
Okay, let’s layer up some soil! You’ll need a decent amount, remember we’re working to approx one-quarter stones to three-quarters substrate. Don’t worry if your measurements aren’t perfect, it’s all a learning process!
Make some small divots for the plants to sit in, and let’s move on to prepping some plants!
Easy as 1, 2, 3!
A closed terrarium is a specific type of environment. There’s a lot of damp warmth in there, and if left in direct sunlight, the refraction of the glass will cook everything inside. So we need moisture-loving, low light-thriving, quite small plants. Which admittedly cuts down our options somewhat, but here are some plants that I’ve discovered-
Small ferns will help fill out any space, and they’re relatively easy to come by. Try and find a miniature variety if you can, as some ferns can grow pretty big.
Some that come recommended:
Peperomia, Maidenhair fern, Pteris, and Adiantum. I chose a variegated fern to place in mine, the pot I purchased had three separate plants in it so I picked out the smallest to place in my also quite small terrarium.
Soleirolia variants are perfect as well, and have a variety of amusing names such as, mind-your-own-business, baby’s tears, angel’s tears, friendship plant and Irish moss. (It is in fact, not a moss, but a plant from the nettle family.)
Tradescantia- also known as Spiderwort, is another plant that does well in humid climates. There are a lot of variants though, and I’d recommend staying away from any that are flowering as they will wilt and die quickly in the terrarium. I chose a Tradescantia Purple Passion to place in mine.
Other tropical foliage such as Dizygotheca and Neoregelia ‘fireball’ enjoy a humid environment, making them other possibilities for your display.
To finish it off I would recommend some moss. I took a trowel and dug some out of my garden. Moss is a great way to fill out your terrarium, it helps to cover bare soil and brings more diversity into the jar.
Trixie spent the whole time trying to eat my plants and the moss. Thanks Trix.
This section entirely depends on what container you’re using for your terrarium, but for brevity’s sake I’m going to assume you’re using the same line of terrariums that I am, and in that case you’ve got some trimming to do. The opening of the bottle is a lot smaller than you first think, so you’ll need to carefully extract the plants from their pots, and gently scrape or shake off most of the soil around the roots so you can fit it through the top. This is where having another container or a lot of newspaper down comes in handy to catch all the soil!
Move the plant around after it’s fallen inside, and make sure you push soil back around the roots when you’ve confirmed the placement.
Now is a good time to consider the layout of your terrarium. Instagram and Pinterest are great sources of inspiration, just make sure whatever you use is small enough to fit!
In my terrarium I used some old chunky sticks to create a divide in the middle, putting the fern one side and the tradescantia on the other, with moss liberally applied all around. To finish it off, I added some more height with a mossy stick reaching up through the bottle, remember to consider your layers to make for a more visually interesting display!
Here’s my finished terrarium! I’m very pleased with how it turned out, and it didn’t take more than about half an hour to put together!
Before adding the cork, make sure you give your terrarium a good spritz with a spray bottle, or pour a little water down the side. You don’t need to add the cork straight away – allow the bottle to stand for a day to let the plants settle, and for the first week or so, take the cork off for a few hours every day. This allows you to adjust the water, and allows the plants to breathe and accumulate to their new closed-system environment a little easier.
Keep your terrarium out of direct sunlight, and rotate it every day or so to allow all sides to soak up some heat.
And here’s my beauty after 2 weeks! The tiny wild clover in the moss are loving it!
Troubleshooting and the future
There’s always the fear that your terrarium won’t last the weekend. Fear not! If you’ve used the right plants and followed the guide you should be safe. One thing to bear in mind is the water cycle, moisture should build up over the day, then drip back down to the soil overnight. If there is too much condensation then plants might start to rot, so remove the cork and allow it to dry out a little. If there’s no moisture on the sides by late afternoon, it may need a spritz of water to keep the cycle going.
If it does unfortunately go wrong, there’s no shame in calling it a day, dumping it all out and starting again. We all have to start somewhere, and I’m sure your next terrarium will look amazing!
If you do make up one of our terrariums, be sure to snap a photo and send it in!
Bonus points for getting your pets involved!
Charlotte is a Copy Writer at Primrose, writing product descriptions and about anything else that comes her way. She owns 2 rabbits and 5 chickens that she loves very much. (Her garden is most certainly not tidy).
When not at her desk you can find her attempting to find her way back to Japan again, or drawing.