Celebrations And Holidays, Christmas, Decoration, Indoor

Your choice of tree is one of the most important decisions you will make at Christmas, It will be the centrepiece of your home for the festive season so getting the right one is important. This guide will help you choose the perfect tree for you and your home.

Artificial or Real?

A real tree is a traditional choice for many, but they may not be practical for all homes and lifestyles. A good quality artificial tree is a good alternative to a real tree in some homes. When making this choice consider:  

Real trees: 

  • Traditional smell and look 
  • Use less plastic 
  • Are grown in environmentally friendly ways 
  • Can be recycled after use 
  • Drop needles so may not be suitable for small children and pets
  • Can carry allergens
  • Can be difficult to transport

You can shop our full range of real Christmas trees here

Artificial trees

  • Reusable – saving money in the long term 
  • Easy to assemble and store 
  • No dropped needles
  • Carry no allergens
  • Take up space
  • Made of plastic
  • Can become damaged if not stored correctly 

You can shop our full range of artificial Christmas trees here

Environmental impact

Artificial Christmas trees are often seen as the environmentally-friendly option. However, this is not always the case. Most artificial trees are made of plastic, not all of them can be recycled and most will end up in a landfill. You can find trees made from recycled plastic, and if you maintain the tree well it may last for years, which will have a net benefit.  Real trees can be easily recycled and provide a boost to local ecology when grown. They can also be grown in soil that is unsuitable for other crops and for each acre, provide enough oxygen for 18 people every day. Each tree will also absorb around 1 tonne of carbon in its life. 

Species of Christmas Tree

Like all plants, there are a few species of Christmas tree. Each one brings something different and plays a different role in your home

Nordmann Fir

The most popular Christmas tree. Has a pyramid shape made of defined layers of straight twig-like branches. The glossy dark needles have a thick, waxy coating which makes them softer to the touch; better for households with children or pets. These trees don’t shed needles as often as other varieties, making them a great lower-maintenance option.

View Our Range Of Nordman Fir Trees

Norway Spruce

More commonly used in eastern Europe, the Norway spruce has a rounder shape with a pointed top. The foliage is a bit thicker and the branches point at a slight upward angle which makes them better for decorating with heavier decorations.  The short green needles can be spiky, so it may not be the best option for families with young children or pets. They may also shed more if your home is particularly warm.

View Our Full Range Of Norway Spruce Trees

 

Other Considerations

Before buying a Christmas tree, there are other things you should consider:

  • Allergens: according to Haymax, one-third of the UK population suffers from an increase in itchy skin and cold-like symptoms, known as “Christmas Tree Syndrome”. If someone in your household is allergic to Christmas trees, an artificial tree could be a better option.
  • Size: make sure to measure the height of the room of the tree is going to be based in before you buy, and factor in the size of the tree stand to make sure it fits!
  • Fire safety: if you choose a real Christmas tree, keep it away from direct contact with a heat source, such as a fireplace or heat vent. If you are using fairy lights, make sure to switch them off when you are not at home or buy lights with a timer so they are off when you are asleep. 
  • Buy online: sometimes buying your tree online is the best opinion. If you don’t live near or have access to a farm and want a good quality tree delivered to your door within 24 hours then it might be perfect for you. We have an extensive range of real Christmas trees this year, all cut and wrapped in order, to ensure they reach you in the best quality.

Alice at PrimroseAlice works in the Primrose copywriting team. She spends her days here writing gardening product descriptions and cracking blog posts.

Outside work, Alice is writing a fiction novel and runs her own blog. She also enjoys travel, good food, and tarot reading.

See all of Alice’s posts.

 

Allotment, Gardening Year, Gary, Grow Your Own, Halloween, Recipe

The best part about growing or foraging your own food is the delicious delights you can make with what you find. We’ve put together some easy recipes you can make with the top produce you can forage or harvest from September to November 

 

Raspberry Jam

Time: 30 mins

Makes: 3lb Jam

Note: you will need to sterilise your jars before you begin cooking your jam. You can do this by rinsing them in soapy water, then place on a baking tray in a low oven to dry completely. Keep them warm until you fill them

 Ingredients

  •         1kg raspberries, halved
  •         juice of 1 lemon
  •         1kg bag jam sugar

Method

  1.   Put a plate in the fridge or freezer
  2.   Put your raspberries and lemon juice in a large saucepan over a low heat and mash with a potato masher. Leave to cook until just boiling
  3.   Put the raspberries through a fine sieve to separate the seeds
  4.   Put the pulp back into the pan and add the sugar
  5.   Bring to a rapid boil for about five minutes
  6.   Drop a bit of your jam onto your cold plate. If it solidifies and wrinkles when you run your finger through it, it is ready. If not boil for another two minutes and try again, keep doing this until its ready.
  7.   Fill your sterilized jars

 Damson & Apple Crumble

Time: 60 mins

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  •         800g-900g damsons
  •         50g light soft brown sugar
  •         knob of butter
  •         1-2 tbsp sloe gin (optional)
  •         2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  •         For the crumble
  •         250g plain flour
  •         150g unsalted butter, cold
  •         80g light soft brown sugar
  •         80g demerara sugar
  •         50g ground almonds

Method

  1.   Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6
  2.   Put the damsons into a pan with the sugar, butter and sloe gin if using (or a splash of water if not) and heat gently until the damsons start to give off their juices
  3.   Tip into the base of a large shallow gratin dish (about 25cm long) and stir through the apple slices
  4.   Rub the butter and flour together until the mixture goes crumbly. Add the rest of the crumble ingredients and mix together
  5.   Put the crumble over the damson mixture and put into the oven for 30-40 mins until golden brown and the mixture is bubbling.
  6.   Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes
  7.   Serve with custard or ice cream

 

Aubergine and courgette bake

Time: 80 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  •         2 large aubergines cut into 1cm discs
  •         2 courgettes, cut into 0.5cm strips
  •         1 tbsp olive oil
  •         1 onion, finely chopped
  •         1 red pepper, finely chopped
  •         2–3 cloves garlic, crushed
  •         1 heaped tsp dried oregano
  •         1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  •         50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  •         120g reduced-fat mozzarella, thinly sliced

Method

  1.   Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
  2.   Grill the aubergines and courgettes until lightly browned on each side.
  3.   Meanwhile, add the oil to a pan with the onion, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until they go clear
  4.   Add the red pepper, stirring regularly for another 5 minutes
  5.   Mix in the garlic, oregano and tomatoes, and simmer for 5 minutes
  6.   Add some of the sauce to an ovenproof dish and layer the aubergine mixture and parmesan and top off with the mozzarella.
  7.   Bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes until golden brown
  8.   Serve
  9.  

Nectarine puff tart

Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  •         1 sheet, ready-rolled puff pastry
  •         1 egg, beaten
  •         3 large nectarines, thinly sliced
  •         3 tbsp runny honey
  •         50ml  dark rum or amaretto
  •         large pinch ground cinnamon
  •         Zest of 1 lime

Method

  1.   Preheat the oven to 220C/200Fan/Gas 7
  2.   Lay the pastry sheet out on a sheet of baking paper and roll the pastry edges up to form a 1cm border and brush with beaten egg
  3.   Mix the nectarine, honey, rum and cinnamon in a bowl and mix well
  4.   Arrange the mixture in the middle of the pastry and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden.
  5.   Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes
  6.   Sprinkle the lime zest on top and serve sliced

 

Pumpkin Bubble & Squeak

Time : 30 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  •         700g mashed pumpkin
  •         200g chopped cooked cabbage
  •         6 rashers bacon
  •         2 carrots, sliced
  •         1 onion, sliced
  •         2 tbsp butter
  •         2 tbsp veg oil
  •         salt
  •         pepper

Method

  1.   Preheat the grill
  2.   Grill the bacon until crispy
  3.   In a bowl, mix the cabbage with the pumpkin and other veg. Season to taste
  4.   Form the potato mixture into round patties
  5.   Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan
  6.   Fry your patties on both sides until just starting to crisp. Remove from the pan and put onto a metal tray. Grill until crispy
  7.   Meanwhile, fry or poach your egg
  8.   Remove the potato mixture from the tray and serve with the cut-up bacon and the egg 

Pickled Beetroot

 Makes: 20 portions

Time:  20 mins

Notes: You will need a rack or tray to put in the bottom of your pan for the last step to keep the jars off of the bottom of your pot

Ingredients

  •         1.5kg beetroot, destemmed
  •         130g caster sugar
  •         1tsp pickling salt (can use sea salt if necessary)
  •         330 ml white wine vinegar
  •         8g whole cloves

Method

  1. Sterilise jars and lids by putting in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Place the beetroots in a large stockpot with water to cover. Bring to the boil and cook for around 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and reserve half of the beetroot water
  3. Once the beetroot has cooled, peel.
  4. Fill each jar with beetroots and add several whole cloves to each.
  5. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, beetroot water, vinegar, and pickling salt. Bring to a rapid boil. Pour over the beetroots in the jars and seal lids.
  6. Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to the boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot leaving a 5cm space between the,. Pour in more boiling water until the water level is at least 2.5cm above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Leave the jars to cool and store in a cool place

  

Roasted Plums

  •         6 dark plums, halved and pitted
  •         1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  •         1 tbsp sugar
  •         280g Greek yoghurt
  •         2 tablespoons chopped roasted hazelnut
  •         2 tsp honey

Method

  1.       Heat oven to 160°c /140 fan / Gas 3
  2.       Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place plums cut side up on the sheet
  3.       Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar
  4.       Put in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until soft and some juices run off
  5.       Divide among 4 bowls, top each with 2 tablespoons yoghurt, sprinkle with nuts and drizzle with honey

Pumpkin Soup

 

Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

Notes: Can be frozen for up to 2 months

Ingredients

  •         2 tbsp olive oil
  •         2 onions, finely chopped
  •         1kg pumpkin ,peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
  •         700ml vegetable stock or chicken stock
  •         150ml double cream

Method

  1.   Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan
  1.   Gently cook the onions for 5 minutes until soft
  1.   Add pumpkin to the pan, then carry on cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden.
  1.   Add the stock to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins until the veg is soft.
  1.   Add the cream into the pan, bring back to the boil, then purée with a hand blender.
  1.   Serve

 Apple Bread and Butter pudding

Time: 60 minutes

Serves: 4 

Ingredients

  •         75g  raisins
  •         100ml  cold tea
  •         3 apples, cored
  •         squeeze lemon juice
  •         400ml full-fat milk
  •         125g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  •         3 eggs
  •         100g brown sugar
  •         2 tsp cinnamon
  •         1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  •         1 tsp vanilla extract
  •         ½ large bread loaf

Method

  1.   Grease a baking dish and preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 4
  1.   Put the raisins in a small bowl, add the cold tea and leave them to soak
  1.   Peel, core and slice the apples and keep them fresh in a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon juice
  1.   Gently warm the milk in a saucepan, then add the butter and allow it to melt. Set the milk and butter aside to cool slightly
  1.   Put the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk until well combined. Whisk in the milk
  1.   Tear the bread into pieces and layer in the greased baking dish. Strain the raisins, discarding the tea, and scatter them over the bread, then top with the sliced fruit. Pour in the batter and sprinkle with some extra brown sugar
  1.   Bake for 30 minutes, or until the pudding has set and has a golden crust on top.

 

 

 

Barbecues, Celebrations And Holidays, Fire Pits, Gary, Outdoor Living, Recipe

There is more to putting on a great barbeque  than just a fancy grill and some burgers. A truly great garden party that even the host can enjoy is made in the preparation. Make the process a lot easier with these top tips. 

 

Consider a theme 

Organising your party around a theme is a surefire way to get your ideas flowing. It’ll make it more memorable for your guests whilst also making it much easier to plan. Some ideas could include:

  • Tropical holiday
  • Street party
  • Staycation

 

Decorate 

Whether you have a theme or not, decorating the garden will help you set the atmosphere you want. When decorating consider the following: 

Accessories –  just like with your living room, it’s the small touches that make the biggest difference. Cushionsoutdoor rugs and small decorative features will go a long way to completing the look and feel you want

Lighting – if your family and friends like to gather and natter for a long time then some well-chosen lighting will help give your evening a more relaxed atmosphere or help you keep celebrating for longer. There are plenty of options available.

Heating – in the summer, it’s easy to be in the garden for most of the evening, but if you want to use your social space year-round then you might need to invest in some outdoor heating for when the evenings get chilly. There are plenty of options for heating your garden from upright patio heaters to parasol or wall-mounted heaters. If you want to add some atmosphere, consider a fire pit or chiminea.

 

Seating

Do you have enough space for everyone? It’s not ideal to have people perched all over the place when you are trying to have a good time, it always ends up with dropped food and people scattered everywhere. If you entertain a lot then it might be worth getting yourself a full set, but if it’s less regular then a few stacking or folding chairs you can store in the shed are a great option. 

Never Underestimate a Paddling Pool

They are much more useful than for just splashing about in. If put in a shaded area they become a great way for keeping all your drinks cool.

Do you have everything you need? 

If you have your grill, coals or gas and some buns ready, then you might think you have all you need to get barbequing, not quite. Your household utensils might not be good enough for the job. Buying a set of dedicated BBQ tools is a good idea, as is making sure you have everything else, like bottle openers and plates/cups ready too.

Plan A Menu 

 You don’t want to run out of food halfway through your party and end up with half burgers in a bun. Before you start, write a list of exactly how much food you might need, and stick to it. If you plan long enough in advance you will have time to marinade all your meats and get your prep down as well as plan what you’re going to cook when. If you want some menu inspiration why not check out our blog post  on how to cook the perfect barbeque menu

Don’t Forget Sides & Sauces

 Avoid last-minute rushes by planning your sides beforehand and getting them on your shopping list. Stuck for ideas? Here’s our basic breakdown of the ideal garden party and barbeque 

 

Alice, Celebrations And Holidays, Outdoor Living

Bank holidays offer a great respite from the demands of work and school, and the long weekend allows the opportunity to visit family or take a trip somewhere. But if you’re stuck at home this year never fear, there are plenty of fun games you can play in the comfort of your own back garden. Here are some garden games for the bank holiday that you can play to make the most of the sunshine.

garden games for the bank holiday

Hide & Seek

Hide and seek is a simple fun game that you can play in the garden on a sunny afternoon without having to purchase any additional equipment. Typically, one person closes their eyes and counts to a specified number, and other players must hide and the other person must then try and find them. There is also a variation called “Kick The Can” where unfound players can kick a can placed in the middle of the garden to free captured players.

Blind Man’s Bluff

Originating from Tudor and Victorian England, Blind Man’s Bluff is a fun variation of “tag”. One player wears a blindfold and must try and tag the other players. If another player is tagged, they then become “it” and must try and tag the others. Make sure to play this game in a clear area free of obstructions and hazards to ensure safety.

Giant Chess

Think chess is a game reserved for rainy days indoors? Think again. Our Giant Garden Chess Set can take the game to a whole new level. Playing chess offers some surprising benefits, including improving problem-solving skills, focus, and memory, and even helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The giant chess pieces add a fun, dynamic element to the game, and you can enjoy the benefits while making the most of the sunny weather.

Rounders

A playground favourite, rounders is a game that provides fun for all the family. This simple game requires a bat, ball, and four bases, and team members take it in turns to hit the ball then aim to run around the four posts and score a “rounder” before the opposing retrieves the ball and throws it back to the bowler. It is a fantastic form of aerobic exercise and interval training, and can also help develop hand-eye coordination. The Muddy Puddle Traditional Wooden Rounders Set has everything you need to play the game in a handy string bag.

Swingball

Swingball is a simple yet fun activity that can provide hours of entertainment on a sunny day. The game consists of a portable pole where a ball attached to a string swings around, and players must bat the ball to keep it swinging in their direction until it reaches their end of the swinging track on the top of the pole. The Mookie All Surface Lite Swingball Set can be used on all surfaces. Just be careful of the swinging ball! 

Frisbee

An old-school classic, a frisbee can provide fun for all the family on summer days- including dogs! A highly versatile activity, you can play a simple throw and catch game, see who can throw the frisbee the furthest, play “piggy in the middle” or a whole host of team games. The Aerobie Pro Flying Ring by Smyth’s Toys is an aerodynamic design that was allegedly used to set the Guiness World Record for the farthest frisbee throw.

Parachute Games

A parachute can provide an afternoon of fun for all the family. People typically stand around the edges, holding onto the handles, but there are a whole host of games you can play, that can include ruffling the parachute, one person sitting in the middle, or creating a bubble of air that allows everyone to sit inside. These games encourage co-operative play while building upper body strength. The Newitts Play Parachute comes in various sizes and rainbow colours.

If you fancy a break from all the activity, check out our post on how to build an outdoor cinema in your garden.

What games are you playing in your garden this bank holiday? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.