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.

Garden Furniture, Gardening Year, Guest Posts, How To

As summer gives way to autumn, we’ll barely have time to appreciate the landscape’s colour change before winter will be knocking. For some, winter means cosying up by the fire and enjoying time indoors – while others are loath to say goodbye to the sun. Whatever your stance on the season, one thing’s for certain: in order to ensure your garden is fit for the next barbecue season, attention must be paid.

Fortunately, our friends over at Jolly Good Loans are on hand to help. Today, they’ll be providing some essential pointers to help you protect your garden furniture against the harsh weather that is inevitably coming.

protect furniture over winter

When it comes to protecting your garden furniture, you’ll need to consider the types of materials your items are made from, as this will help you decide on the best method for protecting each product.

Wood

If you’re happy for the winter elements to naturally weather your wooden garden furniture, then they can be left outside with little maintenance required – just apply a lick of sealer before the start of the season to protect the timber.

If you’d rather keep your wood looking brand spanking new, investing in a furniture cover will do the trick – although we’ll get to that in more detail soon.

Metal

The resistance of metal furniture during the colder months varies, depending on what type of metal it’s made from.

Cast aluminium furniture is fine left outside during the colder months, as it develops a protective outer exterior when exposed to air, making it resistant to both corrosion and rust.

Wrought iron, on the other hand, is best stored away if it all possible. If you don’t have a garage or shed, lightweight furniture can easily be stored in the cupboard or under the stairs. For larger pieces, protect them by investing in a good furniture cover.

Furniture covers

Ensure you invest in a good-quality furniture cover that is both water resistant and breathable to prevent mould or leaks, making sure all furniture is dry before cover.

Rather than covering all your furniture with one big patio cover, try and find smaller covers that fit over individual items for more secure protection. Opt for covers that can fasten tightly, thus making sure your furniture remains under wraps during the windier days and nights.

Even when covered and secured, it’s best to move your most vulnerable furniture into shelter if at all possible. From the garage to the utility room, if you have the extra space and are able to bring your much-loved items indoors, your budget will thank you when the weather once again turns warmer. Not all plants and shrubbery will be suited to the colder climate, so as you say goodbye to your summer plants, why not move your planters and troughs indoors and treat them to a touch of creative sparkle? This could be the perfect winter project and will help you breathe life back into your tired pots and containers in time for spring.

Either way, avoid leaving it out on the lawn, storing it on a solid flat surface like a patio or decked area instead. This further reduces your furniture’s exposure to moisture, protecting it from rotting away amongst the winter wind, rain and snow.

furniture in snow

It might feel as though the snow has only just stopped falling, but the reality is that winter is knocking on our doors again. The good news is that if you start taking steps over the coming months to protect your outdoor areas, you’ll be able to enjoy your garden furniture for years to come.

Keith Harrison is a content creator and writer for Jolly Good Loans – your online personal loans encyclopedia.

Gardening Year, Guest Posts, Plants, Trees

Japanese gardens are designed to reflect the distinct beauty and passing of the four seasons. Autumn brings a light relief from the heat where sunny and less humid days takeover, giving way to cooler nights. A magical time of change when stunning and vibrant Japanese Maples glow a fiery red amongst lush moss and ferns.

By contrast, the cold and snow of winter is a time for evergreens to take centre stage. A winter garden is known for its myriad of greens, and there is a sense of peace and tranquillity as plants rest and trees reveal their intricate forms – the perfect place to escape from the distractions of our busy lives.

So if you’re looking for a little autumnal inspiration for your Japanese garden, here are some of the best Japanese plants for the cooler months.

Sango-kaku

Sango Kaku – Japanese Maple

Breathtaking in the autumn, the Japanese Maple (also known as Acer Palmatum) is widely used in Japanese gardens, and is famous for its striking red leaves and beautiful foliage. Cultivated in Japan for over 300 years, this deciduous tree is a slow growing plant that typically lives for over 100 years.

The species thrives in acidic and loam-based compost that contains high levels of organic matter. The Japanese Maple however won’t tolerate wet, dry or alkaline conditions, and their lacy, finely cut leaves require partial shade in the summer to avoid any damage from the sun.

Kuromatsu – Japanese Black Pine

The Japanese Black Pine represents longevity, and is mostly found in the coastal areas of its native Japan. The tree can reach up to 30 feet in its natural surroundings, and can tolerate temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees.

One of the most classic bonsai trees, it is tough and hardy, typically growing in stony soil where it survives harsh coastal winds. The tree is irregularly shaped and dark grey-green in colour, its needles are in fascicles of two, with a white sheath at the base. Resistant to salt and pollution, it’s commonly used in a variety of Japanese gardens, but above all it is a beautiful ornamental tree.

Ume – Japanese Apricot

The Japanese Apricot is a deciduous tree that can be found in sparse forests, by streams and in the mountains. It is most commonly planted in the north east of Japanese as the fruit is thought to be a protective charm against evil, the direction from where evil is supposed to come. Flowering in late winter around January or February, its blooms are snow-white or blood red, representing the floral symbol of January.

How to Grow Moss in Your Garden

Moss

Lush, green, velvety moss has been a central element of Japanese gardens for centuries, and is stunning in the autumn when it contrasts with maple trees. It can cover large areas of the garden, growing on stone lanterns, trees and garden stones. Its overall aesthetic portrays an ancient ambience, providing an ethereal sense of rugged beauty.

Thriving in humid, wet environments, Japan has one of the richest environments for moss, and with the ability to hold up to 20-30 times of its own weight in water, it can thrive in nutrient-poor soil where flowering plants have a harder time to survive.

bamboo

Bamboo

Bamboo is an evergreen that’s integral to almost every type of Japanese garden. It has a variety of uses, including the formation of hedges, fences and is frequently used to help create shade. Found near rivers and in the mountains, bamboo is also used in strolling and tea gardens, where the sound of the wind rustling through their leaves adds to the tranquillity of any Japanese garden.

While there exists a variety of different types of bamboo, these can are broadly categorised as either clumping or running bamboo. Typically clumping bamboo is found in either tropical or sub-tropical regions, and although there are a few varieties that can deal with colder temperatures, not all of them will be suited to the temperate climate of the UK.
By contrast, running bamboo usually originates in colder climates, with many varieties staying green and leafy down to about zero degrees, with a few coping well in conditions of up to minus 15 degrees.

ferns

Fern

What Japanese garden would be complete without a fern? They’re one of the most ancient plants, with their thick, green foliage offering an eye-catching accompaniment to a variety of trees and shrubs.

Throughout Japan there are hundreds of native species and many of those have been successfully cultivated in European and American gardens. They grow best in shady and moist environments, thriving out of the sun where their large luscious leaves have evolved to help them cope with life in the shade. Ferns also group well together, and beautifully complement plants like the stunning and vibrant Japanese Maple.

Enkianthus shrubs

Often found colonising mountain slopes in Japan, the E. Campanulatus is the hardiest of the Enkianthus species, boasting spectacularly bright green foliage that turns into vibrant colours of red, yellow and orange during the autumn.
This hardy, deciduous shrub can survive harsh winters, before producing clusters of pretty bell-shaped spring flowers that are cream in colour with striking pink veins. The plant thrives in acidic, well-drained soil and can survive temperatures as low as -20 degrees.

Autumn is one of the most beautiful times to visit a Japanese garden as the Japanese Maple shows off its red and golden hues in the autumnal sunshine, with the simplistic beauty of evergreens during the winter often providing a noticeable contrast against the falling snow. By emphasising and focussing on plants that thrive throughout the four seasons, you can ensure your Japanese garden remains a place of beauty, serenity and calm all year round.

This post was written by James Stedman of Japeto, a family owned business who offer an extensive selection of handpicked, high quality Japanese gardening tools, developed for professional and amateur gardeners.

Clocks, Current Issues, Gardening, Gardening Year, Lotti

Beating SAD

Even though it looked like it was going to last forever, it seems like we’re finally entering the end of summer in the UK. Autumn officially begins in three days – the 23rd September – and with it comes crunchy leaves, cosy jumpers and as much pumpkin spice latte as you can drink. However with autumn comes long nights, cold days and dark mornings, along with the early onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for many people. Also known as the “winter blues”, SAD is similar to depression and brought on by different seasons – usually winter.

It’s no surprise that the winter leaves us feeling blue. Low levels of sunlight results in a lack of Vitamin D, which in turn affects the hormones melatonin and serotonin in the parts of your brain that control mood, sleep and appetite. If you’re affected by SAD, you might find yourself feeling unhappy, craving carbohydrate-rich foods and feeling more lethargic. Low levels of Vitamin D can play havoc with your circadian system (your body’s internal clock) leaving you feeling groggy during the day. On average, women and young people are more likely to experience SAD (although it’s reported that men often feel it more intensely). Where you live can also be a contributing factor. It’s not just the difference between Orkney and the Isle of Wight: those who live nearer the planet’s equator where the change between seasons is less pronounced are less likely to be affected by SAD than those who live further away.

SAD disorder

Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to emigrate to the Maldives (which sit right above the equator). The best way to combat SAD is with the use of a SAD Lamp, designed to reproduce the UV rays produced by the sun. While these are often highly effective, they can be expensive and work best when used alongside other methods…So how can you combat the winter blues at home (and in your garden)?

You Are My Sunshine

It’s been proven time and time again that exposure to bright sunlight is directly related to the brain’s production rate of serotonin, also known as the “happy chemical”. Low levels of serotonin are directly related to a host of mental health conditions, from depression to chronic diseases like Parkinson’s.

The first step you can take is to start chasing the sun while you can. Lots of working adults will spend all day inside, and once the clocks change at the end of October, many of us will miss out on the crucial hours of daylight we experience while travelling to and from work. As the sun begins to set earlier and earlier, there’s one complaint that everyone will make: we’re leaving the house before the sun has risen and coming home long after the sun has set. Gone are sunlit commutes, or the chance to sit in the garden with a meal or a drink to unwind after a long day in the office.

In the UK, if you work longer than six hours a day you’ve got the right to one uninterrupted 20 minute break. If you’re at work during daylight hours, try to take a walk during your break – even if it’s just around the block or to the shop and back! Even on overcast days (which are going to get more common as autumn turns into winter), the UV rays from the sun can still reach you, helping to boost your Vitamin D levels. During winter it’s tempting to avoid the chill and stay inside, but talking a brisk walk every day can really help those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, so grab a coat and get outside!

Going outside

Let’s Go In The Garden

There’s a tradition for gardeners to “tuck in the garden” when the cold weather hits. This means tidying the garden, collecting seeds and laying mulch and fleeces in preparation for the spring, putting your garden (and your green thumbs) into hibernation. While it might be chilly outside, your garden can still thrive during the winter, and after all: there’s no bad weather, just unsuitable clothing!

Gardening in Winter

This winter, get yourself a pair of sturdy wellies, a thick coat and maybe even some heated clothing to really keep the cold off, and get out into the garden. There’s lots to do in the garden over winter, from pruning plants to simply having a thorough tidy.

Not all plants and flowers thrive best during the summer, and there’s a whole host of winter bloomers ready and waiting to fill your garden with colour even on the frostiest day. Winter Honeysuckle is a great shrub which blooms with delicate white flowers, and the impressive Midwinter Fire dogwood adds impressive reds and oranges to your beds and borders. A great tip is to plant winter plants and flowers in pots and planters and place them near to the house. On a dreary winter day, getting to the other end of the garden can feel like a herculean challenge, and pottering about just a few meters away from the warmth of the house is a lot easier. By keeping plants near the house, you can also enjoy their colour and scent for longer (even when you’re not outside). If you do have a lot of winter growers planted in the ground, you can cut and gather stems to display indoors to brighten up your home. One of the most rewarding winter gardening jobs is planting a bare-root tree ready for the spring. Bare root trees need to be planted between November and March, when the tree is dormant, so it can flourish when the weather starts to warm up.

Several studies have shown a link between gardening and better mental health. Gardening not only gets you outside, where you can absorb more sunlight, but is also good physical exercise – which is particularly important during the winter. By putting aside time for the garden between November and March you can help to give your mood a boost as well as getting the satisfaction of a well-tended garden.

The Great Indoors

Not everyone has a garden, and for many people getting outside can be too overwhelming when the sky’s dark and there’s a chill in the air. A great alternative is to bring the outdoors indoors and invest in a wide variety of houseplants. While there’s been less research on the impact houseplants can have on your health, there’s lots of studies that suggest they can positively impact both your physical and mental health.

gardening indoors

Houseplants have a great capacity to improve the quality of the air in your home. Air pollution levels are often higher indoors, especially during the winter (when ventilation is worse). Being indoors for long periods of time can result in something known as Sick Building Syndrome (yes, really!) which manifests as physical symptoms such as headaches, itchy skin and eyes, and a runny nose. These feelings can be exacerbated by poor ventilation and bad air quality. Houseplants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, improving the quality of the air around them. It’s also thought that plants can absorb and remove VOCs (volatile organic compounds): indoor contaminants emitted by furnishings, cleaning material and paints.

There’s a lot of easy-to-grow houseplants out there, and they’re great not just for your home but for your office or workplace too. Indoor plants have been found to help increase productivity, reduce levels of stress and improve general mood as well as helping to lower blood pressure and one study even reported a 25% drop in the occurrence of headaches after plants were introduced to an environment.

Filling your house with plants during the winter can be a great way to keep your mood boosted during the winter and stave off the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It can also help to really get hands-on with the growing process. Repot houseplants sold in too-small containers, keep a rigorous schedule for watering (especially if, like my houseplants, yours all have distinctly different watering needs) and prune them when necessary. Planting a window box is a great way to get really involved with indoor gardening, especially if you’re planting edibles. A kitchen herb garden means you can garden on a miniature scale, and there’s nothing so satisfying as knowing your hard work has paid off when you can add home-grown herbs to your meals. You can also grow a variety of veggies indoors over the winter, such as tomatoes, kale, chard, or mushrooms.

planting cacti

What Else?

Keeping on top of your planters, going for regular walks and filling your home with impressive houseplants is a great start, but over the winter it’s also important to make sure you’re eating healthily and taking multi-vitamins to help your body along during these colder months. Even low-impact exercise is a great way to naturally boost your body’s serotonin production, great for keeping the blues at bay.

If you’re struggling this winter, and can’t seem to boost your mood and find it affecting your day-to-day life, career, or your relationships you should visit your GP to discuss what options are available to you. Counselling and therapy are great options for people who need extra help over winter, and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and mindfulness can help us to examine the way we think and teach us how to allow negative thoughts to pass more peacefully. In some cases, your doctor might want to prescribe short-term antidepressants such as SSRIs, which are designed to increase your body’s serotonin production levels.

SAD effects around 6% of the UK population and 1 in 3 people report suffering from “winter blues” in some way. During short days, we simply can’t get enough of the vitamins needed for healthy serotonin production. It’s important to remember that if you’re suffering for the effects of SAD, you’re not alone, and try to appreciate the unique beauty that winter brings to your garden.

happy in garden

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.