Current Issues, Events, Gardening Year, George, Hampton Court Flower Show, News, RHS

Once again it’s time to look forward to a new year, and we’ve found plenty of festivals, shows and exhibitions to get you excited. So without further ado, dive into our gardening events 2019 calendar and find your favourite.

2019 gardening calendar

January

26-28Big Garden Birdwatch – Get set for a weekend of spying the fabulous winged wildlife in your own back garden.

February

9 Feb-10 MarchKew Orchid Festival – Columbia is the theme for this year’s show, so expect vibrant displays and a ‘carnival of animals’.

March

3Forde Abbey Plant & Gardening Fair – Take in over 30 plant stalls offering stock and expertise, plus explore the abbey’s award-winning gardens.

April

12-14RHS Flower Show Cardiff –  Alongside expert talks and shopping, expect to see inspirational gardens from recent graduates and the new Blooming Borders competition.

25-28Harrogate Spring Flower Show – See the biggest floristry exhibition in the country as well as fabulous show gardens.

30 Apr-6 MayNational Gardening Week – Across the country, gardeners will be sharing their love of all things outdoors – get involved!

May

9-12RHS Malvern Spring Festival – The focus this year is on encouraging health and wellbeing, celebrating garden photography, and introducing indoor greenery.

21-25RHS Chelsea Flower Show – The most famous gardening event on the calendar, Chelsea is packed with global flower displays, fine dining with Raymond Blanc and the world’s most ambitious show gardens.

25 May-2 JunNational Children’s Gardening Week – Make gardening fun for the younger generation while supporting the charity Greenfingers.

31st May-2 JunGardening Scotland – The 20th anniversary of Edinburgh’s biggest garden celebration, packed with plants and fun for kids.

June

5-9RHS Chatsworth Flower Show – Ask floral experts your questions, shop outdoor living goodies and indulge in some afternoon tea, all in the grounds of the Chatsworth estate.

13-16Gardeners’ World Live – Your favourite magazine comes to life with talks from experts like Alan Titchmarsh and Monty Don, alongside show gardens and shopping.

22-23Woburn Abbey Garden Show – Go to see private gardens, free tours, Q&As, live music and more at Woburn Abbey.

July

2-7RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival – Explore the new Global Impact Gardens, learn about garden wellbeing, take part in workshops and pick up some great gifts.

17-21RHS Flower Show Tatton Park – Be inspired by the Young Designer of the Year competition and discover vegetable growing expertise.

August

10-11The Great Comp Summer Show – Enjoy the 17th edition of this annual spectacular with some local jazz and Pimm’s on the lawn.

15-18Southport Flower Show – Visit the UK’s largest independent flower show, where the theme this year is ‘The Garden Party’.

September

13-15Harrogate Autumn Flower Show – Plan your garden with nursery displays, demonstrations, shopping and of course the giant vegetable competition!

28-29RHS Malvern Autumn Show – Close out the season with some retail therapy, gardening demos and plants at Malvern.

We hope this calendar has whet your appetite for the coming year. If so, get the dates in your diary and start booking tickets!

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

Barbecues, Celebrations And Holidays, Charlie, Events

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

The 5th of November occupies a special place in the cultural memory of England. While it might superficially seem like a fun and innocent occasion where children toast marshmallows and fireworks displays are put on both in public and private to numerous oohs and ahhs, this actually belies the fact that the tradition is rooted in deep sectarian divisions that run through modern British history and that persist even to this day.


Unlike many other festivals, the celebration of Bonfire Night, or “Gunpowder Treason Day”, as it was originally known, is not rooted in any ancient tradition – but firmly in the bitter religious conflicts of the Early Modern Period between those who were loyal to the new Church of England with the Crown at its head and those who remain faithful to the Bishop of Rome and the Catholic Church on the continent. Specifically the failed coup of 1605, led by Robert Catesby which famously employed Guy Fawkes, an experienced military specialist, to blow up the houses of Parliament while they were in session.

The plan was forged after the Catholic nobility in England felt badly let down by James I as they had hoped for at least a softening of the stringent anti-catholic position of his predecessor, Elizabeth I, and that he would rule England as he had ruled Scotland – with (for the time) a remarkable amount of religious toleration. In fact, very little changed with James I’s ascension to the throne. It was at this point that Catesby and his co-conspirators decided to take action. The aim was not only to kill king James I but also most of his Privy Council and thus in the same fell swoop to destroy most of the noble and clerical opposition to Catholic rule. The plan was then to kidnap and install the king’s eldest daughter, who was nine years old at the time, as the titular catholic monarch with support from a popular rebellion in the midlands, where the old faith still had many adherents, as well as presumed support from the Catholic powers on the continent.

Of course this plan failed, when Guy Fawkes was discovered and eventually gave up details of the plot after several days of torture. Soon evolved a day of thanksgiving for the protection of king, realm and church, with effigies of, not guy fawkes, but the pope being burned on bonfires, such was the virulent anti-papist sentiment that surrounded the celebration. The burning of Guy Fawkes in place of the pope is in fact a far more modern twist on the event, starting in the latter 18th or early 19th century, when traditional English bigotry against Roman Catholics fell into decline. In fact, much like our national anthem, the original rhyme commemorating the event is now often shortened to remove the sectarian elements:

   Remember, remember!

   The fifth of November,

   The Gunpowder treason and plot;

   I know of no reason

   Why the Gunpowder treason

   Should ever be forgot!

   Guy Fawkes and his companions

   Did the scheme contrive,

   To blow the King and Parliament

   All up alive.

   Threescore barrels, laid below,

   To prove old England’s overthrow.

   But, by God’s providence, him they catch,

   With a dark lantern, lighting a match!

   A stick and a stake

   For King James’s sake!

   If you won’t give me one,

   I’ll take two,

   The better for me,

   And the worse for you.

   A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,

   A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,

   A pint of beer to wash it down,

   And a jolly good fire to burn him.

   Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!

   Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!

   Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!


It must be remembered that throughout much of the early modern period in England, there was a continual threat of invasion from the Catholic powers on the continent who were keen, at the pope’s behest, to re-establish the old faith in England, often supported by loyalists to the Church of Rome in England itself. Central to these fears was the existence of the Jesuit missionaries to England who risked life and limb to minister to those in England still loyal to the old faith. The Jesuits were singled out for special abhorrence because of their loyalty to the Pope, even to this day Jesuits must swear a special oath of loyalty to the Roman Pontiff along with their regular vows, and indeed the coup of 1605 was sometimes known as the “Jesuit Treason”, owing to Jesuit priests being confessors to many of the conspirators – though historians question how actively they were involved with the plot itself.

Gunpowder Treason Day was formally celebrated by the state almost immediately with the passing of the observance of the 5th of November Act of 1605. Throughout various periods in English history the celebrations took on differing tones, but always with a strong anti-papist sentiment throughout, as the act itself set out “many malignant and devilish Papists, Jesuits, and Seminary Priests, much envying and fearing, conspired most horribly…” thus cementing a strong anti-catholic current in English culture. It was one of the few national celebrations to survive the Republican period of Oliver Cromwell, whose virulent puritanism famously led him to cancel Christmas, but festivities around Bonfire Night were still permitted due to the strong anti-Catholic message it sent out.


Another important historical event in the history of Bonfire Night was the Glorious Revolution. Some 80 years on from the 1605 coup attempt, William of Orange in conjunction with Parliament successfully staged a coup to remove James II from the throne – after he had not only secretly converted to Roman Catholicism, but also produced a male heir. James II also attempted to ban bonfires and fireworks on the 5th November, ostensibly because of the fire risk, but many felt it was because of his objection to the burning of the Pope’s effigy. This ban was largely ignored and indeed his conversion ignited ever more anti-papist fervour amoung much of the population. William of Orange landed on English soil to become William III of England, coincidentally, on the 5th of November 1688. His birthday was also on the 4th November and he decreed a “double celebration” for his happy arrival and the “Deliverance of the Church and Nation” and so the celebrations around the 5th November become even stronger.

William of Orange

As time progressed, the celebration of the 5th November became ever more a cultural celebration for the lower classes – an opportunity for mischief and to pit disorder against order. The famous bonfire of Lewes was reported to be an excuse for annual rioting and much of the original meaning was lost. While the restoration by the Pope of the Catholic Hierarchy in England and Wales, following on from Catholic Emancipation, saw a resurgence of anti-papist sentiments surrounding the day, with the new Catholic Bishops and the Pope being burned in effigy in Southwark, by this time effigies of the Pope had largely been replaced by effigies of Guy Fawkes and the term “Guy Fawkes Day” rather than “Gunpowder Treason Day” had begun to stick. Finally in 1859, the Observance of the 5th November act was repealed, and the anti-papist thanksgiving prayer in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer was removed.

However many of the sentiments of Bonfire Night live on to this day and throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, many popular hate figures were burned in effigy as part of celebrations: The Tsar of Russia, Kaiser Wilhelm II, women’s suffragists and, more recently, David Cameron and Theresa May were burned as part of the famous Lewes Bonfire. In a twist on the cultural memory of the event, Guy Fawkes has counter-intuitively become a cult anti-establishment hero, with the popular Graphic Novel and film “V for Vendetta”, and many don his mask to protest against the excesses of Capitalism and Government. Whilst at the same time, marketing campaigns by fireworks manufacturers have largely been successful in getting the 5th November to be called fireworks night, and indeed fireworks are now often the main draw of the event.

In conclusion, whilst this celebration may be steeped in old sectarian divisions, it has largely lost its original meaning – though there are notably parts of the United Kingdom where Guy Fawkes day still resonates with the old sectarian conflicts. The festival itself has also been overshadowed by the modern celebration of halloween, with its similar excuse for riotous disorder. Many suggest that there are are also superficial similarities between it and other festivals that occur at the same time of year, such as the Hindu festival of Diwali – the festival of lights, which symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. Largely it is now a good excuse for gathering round the bonfire or firepit, toasting some marshmallows and enjoying the burning of whatever national hate figure has irked you for that particular year.

Some of the Primrose Staff Enjoying a Bonfire

CharlieCharlie works in the Primrose marketing team, mainly on online marketing.

When not writing for the Primrose Blog, Charlie likes nothing more than a good book and a cool cider.

See all of Charlie’s posts.

 

Celebrations And Holidays, Events, Flowers, Gardening, How To, Lotti

After the Stonewall riots of 1969, LGBT Pride month has been held around the world every June with events, marches and memorials to recognise and celebrate LGBT people. Since 1978, the rainbow flag has been an icon of LGBT people after being designed by gay activist Gilbert Baker and is used today as a symbol of identity or support.

Looking for a more unique way to display the rainbow flag this June? We’ve put together a list of gorgeous flowers (and what they mean in the language of flowers) so you can grow a rainbow of flowers in your garden. If you’ve not got enough room for such an ambitious project, we’ve also included instructions on how you can make your own unique rainbow roses from home!

Red – Zinnias

When you start looking for a gorgeous red bloom, there’s a good chance that the first flower that springs to mind is the enduring red rose – a powerful and near-universal symbol of love. However, why not turn to a less well-known plant: the vibrant and long-lasting Zinnia. Zinnias are popular thanks to their wide variety of colours and shapes, and their multiple cascades of petals make a great feature in any garden. Easier to grow than roses, Zinnia need to be seeded inside or in a greenhouse then transplanted outside once the threat of frost has passed for the year. Like roses, Zinnias are often cut for bouquets thanks to their pretty blooms.

In the Victorian language of flowers, zinnias represent thinking of friends and loved ones, particularly absent friends. Thanks to the flower’s hardy nature, the meaning has evolved so it now represents endurance in the face of adversity. Red zinnias specifically represent steadfastness and familial ties, the red colour being linked to the heart. Zinnias in the home or garden remind us of far-away loved ones and that we have the strength to work through the obstacles that life may throw at us.

Orange – Dahlias

Next in our rainbow of flowers is the orange dahlia. In the UK, dahlias are becoming more and more popular thanks to their showy blooms and ease to grow. Dahlias will require protection during the winter months and can be planted outside between May and June. Dahlias need trimming and “pinching out” once they begin to shoot to encourage strong growth with lots of flowers.

These eye-catching flowers symbolise lasting bonds and commitments to another person or a certain ideal. In Victorian floriography, they meant an everlasting union and was popular during weddings. Like zinnias, they remind us to stay graceful under pressure and represent drawing upon inner strength in times of adversity. Dahlias also symbolise standing out, forging your own path and embracing what makes you unique.

Yellow – Gladiolus

Bright yellow blooms have long been associated with cheerfulness, happiness and enthusiasm. The yellow gladiolus is no different, with its tall, striking stem which can grow a staggering five foot high in the right conditions. Famed for their beauty, Gladiolus are popular as cut flowers and usually make their way into vases and bouquets. They’re fairly easy to grow from bulbs both directly in the ground or in a planter and need plenty of water to thrive.

These tall, imposing flowers were named for the Latin word “gladius”, meaning “sword”, thanks to their shape, which is enhanced by the blade-like foliage. This means that they are often used as a symbol of infatuation, as they are said to “pierce” the heart. Their tall, upright nature leads people to associate them with strength of will and determination. Like most yellow flowers, the colour means happiness and positivity, making these flowers a great gift to give to someone to remind them that they have your love and support.

Green – Green Carnations/Chrysanthemums

Green Carnation by The Bex (Flickr) under CC BY 2.0

The first choice for the green flower in our rainbow is the striking green carnation, which was made famous by playwright Oscar Wilde in the 1890s when he arranged for one of his actors to sport the green bloom for the duration of the play, as well as a handful of his friends and followers in the audience. Even though Wilde insisted that it meant “nothing whatsoever”, the flower soon came to represent Wilde and his followers as well as what the Victorians were describing as an “unnatural vice” – homosexuality. The green carnation that Wilde loved so much, however, was an invention. It didn’t grow naturally, and had to be dyed to achieve the vibrant hue. Thanks to increased hybridisation and flower cultivation, today it is possible to grow these enigmatic flowers (but it’s a lot easier to find white ones and dye them!)

Fancy something a little easier to grow? Chrysanthemums have come back into fashion in a big way thanks to the impressive flowers and huge range of shapes and forms that they can be grown in. Green chrysanthemums need some protection from wind and chill so a cover can be useful, or keeping them indoors in in a greenhouse to give them time to grow before planting them outside.

In Victorian floriography, Chrysanthemums were given to show friendship and to pass on your well wishes to the recipient. In some countries, the chrysanthemum is a memorial flower and is a popular graveside flower to help honour loved ones who have passed away.

Blue – Love-in-a-Mist

When I began to put this list together, my initial concern was that finding blue flowers beyond the common forget-me-not or bluebell would be virtually impossible – how wrong I was! After much deliberation, I landed on Nigella Damascena, also known as love-in-a-mist, as the perfect blue bloom. Thanks to its slightly odd look, love-in-a-mist has collected a wide array of unusual names, and you might hear it being referred to as the spiderflower, chase-the-bush, devil in a bush or kiss-me-twice-before-I-rise. This hardy, bushy plant is fairly easy to grow, making it a common sight in the cottage garden.

This somewhat bizarre little flower features soft blue petals surrounded and fine, feathery bracts topped with seed pods. With this strange appearance comes a number of myths and legends about the origin of this odd little flower. It is strongly associated with St. Catherine of Alexandria, a figure which many scholars believe was created to counter the influence of the pagan philosopher and mathematician Hypatia. During the renaissance and earlier, the flower was seen as a symbol of femininity and was closely linked to the goddess venus and was often found as an ingredient in love spells and elixirs.

In the language of flowers, love-in-a-mist is a declaration of affection and love but also a strong message which means “you puzzle or intrigue me”. Be careful if you give this flower to someone as a gift – it also means you’re open for a kiss!

Indigo – Delphinium “Giotto”

The next colour in the rainbow – Indigo – is slightly trickier to pin down. I’ve chosen the Delphinium “Giotto”; a gorgeous flower which boasts a whole spectrum of colour within its delicate petals, perfect for your personal rainbow. Like gladiolus, delphiniums grow in tall, upright flower spikes which add more height to your garden beds and borders. Grown best in fertile soil, these flowers need to be sheltered from strong winds and staked to support the spikes. While these flowers are beautiful, they also need to be treated with some caution: the entire flower is poisonous and eating it can cause nausea, cramping and sickness and may irritate the skin.

Also known as the larkspur, these old-fashioned flowers have been popular in gardens for hundreds of years. Again, the tall “swords” of flowers are a symbol of striving to achieve goals as well as positivity. When given as a gift, delphiniums can mean encouragement and support as well as enjoying the lighter side of life. What makes these flowers perfect for your rainbow, however, is the way the blue, purple and pink petals mimic the colours of the bisexual pride flag.

Violet – Violets

For the final flower in our rainbow, there’s really no other choice than the humble violet. These dainty little flowers are found all over the world and there are over 500 unique species of violet. These popular plants can be eaten and are often used to give a final, colourful flourish to salads, desserts or stuffings. In the French city of Toulouse, violets have been commercially cultivated since the 1850s and are still being used today to make perfume, lotions, liqueur or crystallised candies.  

Growing your own violets is fairly simple and they can be planted from early spring through to the autumn. They thrive in sunny locations but need some shade during the hottest summer months and should be pruned and de-headed once the flowers have died. Make sure you mix leaf mould into the soil to keep your violets happy and healthy.

In Victorian floriography, violets were a symbol of innocence and modesty, and the purple flowers were a message that the giver was completely preoccupied with their love for the recipient. Violets have been associated with women who love women for many years – in fact, as far back as 600BC with the ancient Greek poet Sappho. Sappho, who hailed from the island of Lesbos, wrote several poems about her female lovers and in one of her lyric poems describes how her partner and herself wear “violet tiaras”. As a nod to Sappho, women in the early to mid 20th century gifted posies of violets to women they were attempting to woo.

Rainbow Roses

Not got room in your garden for a rainbow bed, or don’t have a garden at all? You can make your own bunch of gorgeous rainbow roses at home, and all you need is white roses, food colouring and something to put the dye in.

Start by taking a single white rose and trimming the stem so it isn’t too long. The longer the stem, the longer it will take for the petals to change colour. Using a sharp knife (a craft knife is ideal) slice the stem into three sections.

When dying the flower, cutting it into seven pieces (one for each colour of the rainbow) isn’t reliable as the stem becomes a lot weaker. By cutting into three pieces and relying on colour theory, it’s possible to achieve a rainbow effect without the risk of destroying the flower itself. When you use just red, yellow and blue (or magenta, cyan and yellow depending on the ink or dye you have), it’s possible to make a whole rainbow (just like your printer!).

Next, you need to submerse each third of the stem in a water/dye mix. There’s a few ways you can do this. You can use glasses full of dye and place a part of the stem in each glass. This is slightly easier if you use shot glasses, but you need to be able to support the flower in some way too. You can also fill watertight bags (like sandwich or freezer bags) and place one stem per bag, securing with a rubber band. This way, you can place the whole rose and three bags in one glass, where it’ll be better supported.

When it comes to mixing your dye solution, you want to use plenty of dye to make sure the colours show up on the petals. You want a small amount of water and around 20 drops of dye for a more vivid colour. For the best results, we recommend you use warm water as it’s absorbed more quickly by the flower.

Place the three sections into the three colours using your chosen method. Depending on how long your rose is, and how much dye you used, the petals can begin to change colour in as quickly as half an hour! For the best effect, leave the rose to soak up the dye overnight or maybe for as long as two days. When the rose is ready, trim the three sections off. You can place your colourful rose in fresh water with some flower food.

Jenny at PrimroseLotti works with the Primrose Product Loading team, creating product descriptions and newsletter headers.

When not writing, Lotti enjoys watching (and over-analyzing) indie movies with a pint from the local craft brewery or cosplaying at London Comic Con.

Lotti is learning to roller skate, with limited success.

See all of Lotti’s posts.

Events, Gardening, Gardens, Tyler

Time to grab those gardening tools and trim those bushes for World Naked Gardening Day! World Naked Gardening Day occurs on the first Saturday of May, every year and has got to be the most strangest yet funniest days of the year. But how did this annual event start you ask? We’ll break it down for you…

world-naked-gardening-day

History of World Naked Gardening Day

This peculiar holiday was created back in 2005 by Mike Storey and Jacob Gabriel for a movement of Body Freedom Collaborative project which introduced Nude and Nature together. Although the prime message was to promote unashamed acceptance of the human body, the creators also saw it as a bit of fun for all gardeners and non gardeners around the world! The original date for World Naked Gardening Day occurred on 10th September 2005, but growing plants was always best to do during spring time… and also it might be chilly for some participating! So for that reason, they changed the date to the first Saturday of May, every year.

World Naked Gardening Day 2

How you can celebrate World Naked Gardening Day

It’s simple; strip down and go outdoors! You can try this out in your own garden and privacy and not worry about what the neighbours think! You can also join in with others at some of the many naked gardening clubs across the country. How come try celebrating during a hiking trail, if you have the bal… Tools!

So remember, if you’re looking to join in with the nation to expose yourself to the outside world, the event will take place on 5th May 2018.

Tyler at PrimroseTyler works in the Primrose Marketing team, mainly working on Social Media and Online Marketing.

Tyler is a big fan on everything sports and supports Arsenal Football Club. When not writing Primrose blogs and tweets, you can find Tyler playing for his local Sunday football team or in the gym.

See all of Tyler’s posts.