Alice, Gardening, Gardening & Landscaping

Summer is the peak season for your garden; when the flowers bloom, the vegetables are ready to harvest, and the long lighter evenings pave the way for outdoor entertainment. Now the weather has taken a turn for the warmer, it’s time to think about what you want to bloom in your garden next season. Here are some ideas for upgrading and creating a summer garden.

creating a sumemr garden

Plan it out

Now it’s warm enough to head outside but the plants are yet to come into bloom, it’s a great time to revamp your garden and get started on any major projects so you can enjoy the results come summer. Could your garden do with a redesign? A new patio, decking, pond, or shift in layout? Could your fences, drainage system, paths or greenhouse do with a revamp? Do some research, browse Pinterest for inspiration, and either hire a professional or do it yourself. We stock a great range of patio paving, fencing, ponds, and greenhouses, to help out.

Living space

The bridge between your living room and garden is closing, as people are catching onto the trend of having furniture outdoors. Furniture designers are now producing lightweight and weatherproof garden furniture to offer a comfortable place to relax in your garden. You can use decking to provide a patio area; sofas, wicker chairs, and coffee tables to create a base; then get creative with planters, throws, cushions, lanterns and more to decorate. A fire pit can also make a bold focal point; these are also great for keeping warm during the evenings!

Alfresco dining

Get ready for those summer evenings by setting up a cooking station so you can impress your guests with delicious edibles. In addition to the classic BBQ, there is also the option of a chiminea, an outdoor fireplace that can function like a standard oven, or a pizza oven if you fancy cooking up something a little different! We also have a range of garden dining furniture, so you can alfresco dine in style!

Cosy canopies

Let’s face it, the British summer can be unpredictable, and there are likely to be as many rainy days as sunny ones. However, you don’t have to let the rain ruin your garden party. A canopy or pegola is a great solution for an unexpected downpour when you have friends over. They can also shield from the sun to provide a shady space. The Anthracite Veranda Garden Canopy Gazebo has a retractable roof that can be slid on and off depending on the weather.

A bouquet of colour

Now is the time to start planting the seeds of the flowers you wish to bloom come summer. These will fill your garden with glorious colour and impress guests, along with keeping bees and other pollinators happy. Flowers will make up your flowerbeds and borders, however you can also try container growing to add accents of colour to patios and decking. Our top picks include the Poppy “Ladybird” and the Sunflower “Sunburst”

Edible delights

One of the best parts about having a garden is the ability to grow tasty fresh fruits and vegetables. Now is the time to plan what you want to grow ready to harvest this summer and start planting the vegetable seeds. If you have the space, it’s a good idea to choose a range, including beans and peas for protein, dark green vegetables for iron, and sweet peppers and tomatoes for vitamin C. You don’t have to limit their placement to a vegetable plot or patch; coloured lettuces, kale, and rainbow chard look great planted in flowerbeds or borders, and vegetables can also be grown in containers on the patio. 

What are your plans for your garden this summer? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

 

Gardening, Gardening & Landscaping, Gardening Year, Greenhouses, Plants, Scott, Uncategorized

January can be a quiet month for the garden. It may seem like everything is just waiting for the return of spring but there is plenty you can do now that will benefit the garden later in the year. For January gardening we suggest following these three P’s: Plan for the year ahead, Protect from the cold weather and Provide for the wildlife in your garden. Read on for our handy breakdown that incorporates all of these elements so you can prepare for success this year in the garden. 

General

frosted lawn

  • Compost: it’s the perfect time to begin a compost heap. You can utilise garden and kitchen waste (any organic plant matter) to make nutrient-rich compost year-round for your garden. One of the first things you can use is the Christmas tree! If you already have a compost heap now is a great time to make use of it as a mulch in your garden beds where the nutrients will benefit the soil later in the year. 
  • Tread carefully: your lawn will be very fragile this time of year. Frost can make grass brittle and prone to cracking resulting in yellow and brown patches in spring. A simple way of avoiding this is with garden tracking that puts less pressure on the lawn.
  • Repair: winter can be a devastating month at times with weather wreaking havoc on drains, fences and planters. Now is a good time to take note of the damage and think of fixes and solutions for when the warmer days begin.
  • Tidy up: it’s important to keep on top of the mess that can build up over winter. Fallen leaves can be cleared up and composted or left in a heap for wildlife.

Plants

summer bulbs

  • Inspect spring bulbs: take a look at stored bulbs and tubers to ensure they remain cool and dry. Keeping these stored correctly can be key to successful planting for spring. Having everything stored and ready also makes it much easier to plan for your garden designs and plant layouts.
  • Plant bare-root: now is an excellent time to plant bare-root trees and shrubs as this dormant winter period provides time for strong roots to establish; this is great preparation for the plant to grow strong healthy foliage in spring. 
  • Cut and compost: clear away decaying perennial plant stems and add them to the compost heap. This will help the plants focus on the healthy stems come spring. 
  • Prune: now is a great time to prune trees to shape. Pruning serves two mains functions: 1. It allows the tree’s energy to focus on the areas of growth we want to flourish and 2. Clearing the weight and density of a tree’s branches allows more light to reach the remainder of the tree. 
  • Water planters: plants need water all year round, not just when the sun is out and potted plants rely on us almost entirely for their water supply. Make sure you cut back on watering in winter but continue to water regularly to help keep roots healthy. Make sure you have good drainage and wait for the water to run through and out of the pot. 

Produce

soil cultivation

  • Prepare your soil: the sooner you can cultivate the soil in empty flower beds the better. This will give time for large clods of earth to break down and improve on the soil structure in preparation for growing success in spring. Try to work the soil when it is moist but not soaking wet as you’ll have great difficulty if anything becomes compacted and later dries out. Add compost to the soil to encourage extra nutrition and then cover with a good mulch or even a polythene cover which will help protect it from winter frosts and stop weeds from sprouting early. 
  • Prep potatoes: seed potatoes can be purchased in winter ready for planting in March. You can “chit” the potatoes as part of your January gardening plan which simply means encouraging them to sprout before planting; you can do this by storing them in a cool dry room for a few weeks. 
  • Force rhubarb: this means covering the crown of the plant to prevent light from getting to it. With an established rhubarb plant this can result in early growth that can be harvested when 20-30cm long. 
  • Apply organic fertiliser: a slow release of nutrients is perfect for assisting the slow return of life to plants and trees coming out of dormancy. Organic fertiliser will ensure this slow release as opposed to artificial fertilizers which provide quick shocks of nutrition which would do more harm and good at this point in the year.

Greenhouse

greenhouse

  • Temperature control: with the weather beginning to fluctuate January gardening in the greenhouse can be tricky. It’s best to judge each week or day as it comes. You’ll likely want to keep the greenhouse heated at night with a gas or electric heater, but during the day it may be warm enough to ventilate or even keep the door open. 
  • Clean the glass: you’ll want to make the most of what light you do get in winter and one f the easiest ways to do this is by giving the glass a good clean. For an extra helping hand you could also stick large bubble wrap onto the glass which will help to store and release some heat as well as concentrate the light. 
  • Move plants: overwintered plants can begin to be moved back outside once the sun starts to appear more frequently. It may be best to keep a layer of fleece or other winter protection like a cloche or cold frame with the plant so it can acclimatise gradually to the outside weather again. 
  • Plan ahead: now is a great time to organise the greenhouse with staging and shelves, making sure everything is accessible and ready for planting. 

Animals

bird feeder

  • Feed the birds: this is the hardest time of year for birds were finding food can be a daily struggle. Ensure you give the birds in your garden a hand by putting food out. If you can identify the birds in your garden you can feed specific foodstuffs to help them thrive. Some birds may like mealworms whilst others may only eat seeds or fatty foods. 
  • Provide shelter: giving homes to wildlife in your garden can be the difference between surviving the winter or not. Birdhouses, beehives, hedgehog homes and frog houses can be purchased for specific animals but you can also provide natural shelter with leaf piles, log piles and compost heaps. 
  • Maintain birdbaths: birds need water throughout the year to keep themselves clean and to drink. Make sure you top up your birdbath with fresh water often. An easy way to keep it from freezing over is by adding a small ball that can float on the top and agitate the water. 
  • Clean feeders and tables: keep your bird feeders and tables cleared from debris like leaves and branches so that food is easily accessible.  

 

Head over to the Primrose Instagram to show us how you’re getting on with your garden this month! Tagged photos may be featured on the Primrose feed.

Scott at PrimroseScott is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.

See all of Scott’s posts.

Alice, Gardening, Gardening & Landscaping, Gardening Year

The weather is getting colder and Bonfire night is on its way. Now autumn is slowly turning into winter, it’s time to prepare your garden for the colder months and sow the seeds for the summer. So we have put together a list of November gardening jobs to help you make the most of the last of the harvest season.

november gardening jobs

General

  • Create a compost heap– fallen leaves and dead plant material can make great compost, so make sure to set up a compost heap or bin if you haven’t already
  • Collect fallen leaves– keep your garden looking tidy and keep any fungal spores, slugs, and snails at bay
  • Revamp your fencing– now the foliage is dormant, it’s a great time to inspect your fencing. We have a wide range of traditional and contemporary fencing if it’s time to replace
  • Prepare a bonfire– with Bonfire Night approaching, prepare a space in your garden to create a bonfire and start collecting logs. A fire pit makes a striking focal point, and a log store provides a ready supply of logs

Plants

november gardening jobs

  • Protect from the frost– standard terracotta planters often break in cold weather, so consider our frost-resistant fibrecotta. For plants in flower beds, a cold frame or cloche fleece provides instant protection
  • Raise plant containers– raise pots off the ground for the winter using bricks or pot feet to prevent them from becoming waterlogged
  • Prune rose bushes- prevent wind rock (swaying in the wind and the roots becoming loose) by pruning roses by one third to half their height
  • Cut back herbaceous perennials– cut back the yellowing foliage of any flowering plants, then life and divide any overcrowded clumps
  • Plant tulip bulbstulip bulbs to bloom in spring next year are best planted in late autumn to prevent the tulip fire disease
  • Move dormant plants– if you need to relocate any plants or fruit trees, now is the time to do so while they are dormant

Produce

  • Harvest parsnips– now is the perfect time to harvest any parsnips, as their flavour will have sweetened
  • Spread manure across the vegetable beds– this will rot down over the winter
  • Plant bare-root treesbare root refers to trees dug and sold while they are dormant. They are sold during autumn-winter, so shop and plant any fruit you want to grow next summer
  • Prevent moth damage– protect fruit trees from winter moth caterpillars by placing grease bands around the trunks

Greenhouse

november gardening jobs

  • Stock up on greenhouse accessories– now you’ll be spending more time in your greenhouse, make sure to stock up on accessories, including a heater to maintain the temperature and staging to hold your plants
  • Install solar lights– now the evenings are getting darker, install some solar lights so you can check on your plants during the winter evenings
  • Propagate perennials– grow new perennials including verbascum, phlox, and oriental poppies by taking root cuttings
  • Sow winter herbs– sow Mediterranean herbs such as thyme, sage, and parsley for a fresh supply during the winter

Animals

november gardening jobs

  • Encourage feathered guests– birds can bring life to your garden and help keep pest numbers down, so make sure to welcome them with a bird feeder and a birdbath
  • Clean out nest boxes– if your nest box has been used over the summer, take the time to clean it out to reduce the risk of bird parasites
  • Place a net over any ponds– use a pond net to prevent any leaves falling in and keep predators at bay
  • Create a hibernation habitat– around this time, wildlife such as hedgehogs will be hibernation for the winter, so make sure to offer them a safe refuge with one of our hedgehog houses

November gardening jobs can see you doing all sorts but be sure to keep yourself warm! As the weather turns colder, you can also check out our range of heated gloves and clothing to keep things toasty as you tend to your garden!

Let us know what you’re up to in your garden this month on Twitter or Instagram!

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.

 

Garden Tools, Lotti

In the June of 1994, Alvin Straight, veteran of both WWII and the Korean war, was facing a tough decision. His 80-year-old brother Henry had suffered a stroke and was incredibly ill. Straight, aged 73, hadn’t spoken to his brother for nearly a decade and decided that now was the time to make amends…but he lived in Laurens, Iowa and Henry in Blue River, Wisconsin: 250 miles away. Alvin’s age and failing eyesight meant that he didn’t have a valid drivers license and he had a deep distrust of the public transport system.

So what could he do? This could be his last chance to see his brother alive. By July, he’d finally made his decision. He loaded up his trailer with food, water, petrol and camping equipment and hitched it up to his reliable ride-on lawnmower and set out to see his brother.

straight story
Alvin Straight, played by Richard Farnsworth in David Lynch’s ‘The Straight Story’

Alvin Straight had only travelled around thirty miles on his lawnmower before the engine blew. He was towed home, the lawnmower a write-off and the trailer still full of provisions.

Maybe it was a sign; perhaps the universe was sending him a message to invest in a bus ticket instead. Or perhaps it was sending him a message to buy a more reliable lawn mower.

Upon returning home, Alvin bought a 1966 John Deere riding lawn mower and once again set off at a whopping speed of 5 miles per hour on the 250 mile journey to Blue Water (roughly the same distance from Portsmouth to Leeds). He waved goodbye to his wife and daughter and headed down the U.S. Highways, shunning the winding country roads that he’d favoured before.

This time, it took four days (and only twenty-one miles) for Alvin to once again run into troubles as he plodded down Highway 18. The John Deere mower had a slew of mechanical troubles which he was forced to stop in West Bend, Iowa for repairs, paying around $240 for a new generator, starter, and spark plugs. But Alvin was stubborn and would not be deterred, and after paying for the various repairs once again set off.

long road

His next bump in the road came 90 miles from West Bend when he ran out of money. The veteran lived off of social security cheques, and his next installment wouldn’t be for two weeks. With a tiny engine that only held around 5.6 litres of fuel, petrol was one of the highest costs of the journey. Undeterred by this seemingly minor setback, he parked his lawn mower and trailer at the side of the road and camped out while he waited for his money to come in. With a trailer packed with groceries, a foam rubber mat to sleep on and a camping stove, Alvin spent two weeks in his makeshift camp, waving to the cars that passed him by.

If it wasn’t faulty parts or money stopping Alvin Straight, it was the weather. Just thirty miles from Wisconsin torrential rain forced him to stop once again. Nearly blind already, the poor conditions made driving impossible. In an interview with the Washington Post, Straight said “I’m not crazy enough to drive in the rain…If you can’t see, get off the damn road.”

Finally on the home stretch, with the weather cleared and his money woes behind him, the road ahead seemed clear for Alvin: but there was one final moment of bad luck in store for him. A mere two miles from his brother’s home, the mower broke down for the final time. A passing farmer helped him push the Deere and the trailer the rest of the way, arriving at the house on August 16th, six weeks after setting off.

John Deere tractor

Alvin Straight stayed with his brother and family for several weeks. During this time, news of the lawn-mower road trip had reached national news organisations and offers were pouring in for interviews and TV appearances. He turned down the chance to appear on the Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, choosing rather to stay away from the spotlight. He did, however, accept a fee to appear in a local John Deere dealership’s advert. He also traded his 1966 mower for a brand new one worth $5000 with the owner of the Texas Equipment Company, who displayed his old one as a curiosity.

Several weeks later, Alvin Straight reluctantly accepted a lift back to Laurens with his nephew in his truck. After his recovery, Henry followed his brother and moved back to Iowa to be closer to his family.

You’d think that his six week, 250 mile trip was enough adventure for Alvin, but nearly two years later he set off again (on his new mower) for Idaho. At 1100 miles, the trip was nearly four and a half times as long as his journey to Wisconsin. He made it 400 miles before being found in South Dakota, suffering from sunburn and dehydration. Straight returned home but never fully recovered, and passed away after a stroke in November 1996. True to form, his funeral procession was accompanied by a John Deere mower.

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.