Animals, Gary, Wildlife

Bees are the most important pollinator in our ecosystem. One-third of our food supply and 90% of our wildflowers are dependent on the work these animals do, but the loss of habitat and the increased use of pesticides have seen populations decline in recent years. 32% of bee species in the U.K are in decline or threatened and 40% of U.S beekeepers have reported a drop in numbers. Losing any of the UK’S 250 species would have a knock-on effect across the food chain, so it is important to give them as much help as we can. This guide has some great tips on how you can create a garden that is great for bee conservation.

What can I do to help?

It can sometimes feel like there is nothing you can do to have an impact on large scale problems like this, but there are some simple and easy steps that can help to sustain your local bee populations.

Plant Native Wildflowers

Native plants are generally easier to grow because they are already acclimatised to the climate. They are also the plants that your local bees have evolved to pollinate. Having a good variety of native plants is the key to good nutrition in your local bee population and it also encourages them to pollinate the area around your garden, making all the gardens around you healthier and livelier. Native plant seeds can sometimes be found at local farm shops or you can look online for specially selected selections of meadow seeds or specific species seed packs 

Let Your Lawn Grow Naturally 

A bee’s natural habitat is a wild meadow, and some of their favourite plants to pollinate are dandelions and clover, but these don’t grow on well-manicured lawns. Consider letting a portion of your lawn grow naturally – You’ll spend less time mowing, the bees will love it and you might just end up bringing more wildlife into your garden. 

Avoid Chemical Pesticides and Herbicides 

The chemicals in many pesticides and herbicides are harmful to bees, and the rise of commercial food production has had a big impact on their welfare. Avoiding the use of chemical pest control in your own garden can have a big effect on the bee population in your area. Consider using some natural options like a homemade soap and oil spray 

Leave Water Out 

Bee’s get thirsty too, so leaving out water will be a massive help for them. Put out some small bowls of water with pebbles in for them drink from will have them visiting your garden more often, pollinating more and helping your garden. 

Don’t Put Honey or Sugar Water Out

It’s a common belief that you can help by leaving out sugar water or honey for bees, but by doing this you may be inadvertently harming them. Bees are very food at finding what they need to survive, and if they find an easy source of food they will go to it more often and in bigger numbers. Unfortunately, these food sources don’t provide much nutrition and can end up being the source of disease in a hive. The best food you can give a bee is a garden full of flowers 

Build a Bee Hotel

When we think of bees we often think of a thriving hive. But, of the 270 species of bee in the U.K, only twenty live in hives, the rest are solitary. These bees tend to nest in small enclosed areas. You can buy a pre-made habitat for them or if you want to be a bit more hands-on you can build your own bee hotel. It’s easy to do and is a big help to wild populations. 

Helping our pollinators is really important for the health of the natural world around us, and there are a lot of small things you can do in your garden that can have a big impact in overall bee conservation. 

 

Let us know what are you doing to help? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

 

 

Gary at PrimroseGary works in the Primrose product loading team, writing product descriptions and other copy. With seven years as a professional chef under his belt, he can usually be found experimenting in the kitchen or sat reading a book.

See all of Gary’s posts.

Birds, Conservation, Gary

 

 

The ultimate goal for most gardeners is to have a space that’s teaming with wildlife. A diverse garden is a healthy garden, and birds are an important part of keeping it all balanced. They are the most effective non-chemical method of insect control, they’re pollinators and even take care of some of your weeding; its also really fun to watch them from your window. This guide will go over the basics of creating a garden that will successfully attract birds.

 

Step One – Prepare the space 

 

Just like humans, birds like 5-star accommodation. Before adding bird tables and nesting boxes, you need to first make sure that your garden is somewhere birds want to visit. Below are a few of the first steps you should take to increase your chances of regular visitors

  • Plant the correct trees – trees provide food, water and nesting space for birds as well as being an easy escape from predators. You want to strike a good balance of vegetation in your garden to make it interesting and to satisfy the needs of the birds you want to attract. Fruit trees bearing trees such as Crab apple and plum will provide food and safe space whilst larger species like Oak or Willow are great for shelter. Avoid Sycamores or Cherry trees as they attract insects that  birds don’t

 

  • Be clever with your flowers –  there are an estimated 612 species of bird in the UK, and each one has different food and nesting needs, many are also only active at certain times of the year. Fill your garden with an array of plants that will provide food and nesting material year-round. In summer, try to provide sweet fruits like Blackberries and Mulberries and seeds from sunflowers. In spring you should provide fatty fruits like Mapleleaf and Dogwood whilst autumn and winter should be geared towards persistent fruits like Crabapples and Conifers. By providing year-round food you will see the birds in your garden change with the seasons, keeping it interesting and ever-changing. A list of the best plant choices can be found here

 

  • Place shrubs and plants in same species clumps – in general, this is good practice to help with pollination and fruit yields, but birds love dense foliage to hide in and watch for predators. You will often find that these clumps attract large groups of smaller birds like finches, goldcrests and Wrens. 

 

  • Be insect friendly – inviting insects into your garden may sound counterproductive, but the right species help get rid of pests and aid pollination. You don’t need to worry about the populations getting too big either as they make a tasty snack for lots of bird species. Think about putting a bug hotel, Ladybird tower or Nectar feeder in your garden to establish a healthy and diverse insect species that will attract lots of hungry birds to your garden. 

 

Step Two – Dress it up 

 

Once you have the basics right you can start to add little extras that will keep the birds coming to your garden and make them stay longer. 

 

  • Provide Water –  your plants will provide some water for your birds, but they could always do with a little more. Bird tables are a great way to provide this water as it’s suitable for both drinking and bathing, just ensure that any bird tabes are put close to shrubs so your birds feel safe from predators.

 

  • Make Food Available Year-round – living in the wild is difficult, food is not always available and can cost a lot of energy to obtain. A garden that has a constant and varied supply of food is a win for any passing bird and they will certainly be repeat visitors. You should provide a good mixture of seeds and fat balls that change every now and then to keep birds interested.  

 

  • Put Up Nest Boxes – a garden with ample supplies of food and water is an ideal environment for birds to raise their young. Bird boxes provide shelter and secure living spaces to birds who are rearing their chicks. Place them in trees or up high to protect them from cats and other predators and ensure they are out of direct sunlight. You will get the best results from only putting up 1-2 boxes as many bird species don’t like to compete over feeding and nesting space. 

 

 

Step Three – Make it safe 

A safe garden is one that will bird will return to. Like all animals, if they feel unsafe they will stay away. Providing thick foliage will go some of the ways of doing this, but there are a few small steps you can take to make your garden as safe as possible. 

 

  • Avoid putting food on the ground – It’s best to put any food on a bird table or raised surface as it keeps the food away from competitors or predators.  

 

 

  • Hang bird feeders out of the way – Hang any bird feeders out of the reach of other animals by hanging them from a tree or high place 

 

  • Deter cats from coming into your garden – Birds will sometimes avoid gardens that they know cats often visit. If you don’t want them around consider installing a cat deterrent  

 

Step four – Enjoy the wildlife

 

Following these simple steps will invite birds into your garden year-round bringing your garden to life and giving you a space where something is always going on. How have you made your garden bird-friendly? and what have you seen visiting? Let us know on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter 

 

 

Gary at PrimroseGary works in the Primrose product loading team, writing product descriptions and other copy. With seven years as a professional chef under his belt, he can usually be found experimenting in the kitchen or sat reading a book.

See all of Gary’s posts.

Celebrations And Holidays, Christmas, Decoration, Gary, Lighting

One of the best parts about the run-up to Christmas is decorating the house and garden.  Nothing beats the festive feeling you get from a dressed-up space, and the rights lights can really add some atmosphere. We have put together a guide for choosing the right outdoor and indoor Christmas lights for you. 

Shop our full range of Christmas Lights Here 

Before buying there are a few things to consider that will affect both where you put your lights, and if they are actually suitable for your space. 

Suitability for the garden

Always remember to check the product carefully before buying, especially if you are decorating the outside of your house. Whilst most of our lights are suitable for indoor and outdoor use, indoor-only lights are not built to withstand wet and cold conditions, and some of the bulbs in outdoor only lights are not always safety tested for use on indoor furnishings. 

Power 

Your lights power source is also an important consideration when creating a lighting display. :

Mains powered  The most reliable lights in winter, they allow you more control over when your lights are on. You may need to consider buying protection for your leads and cables to avoid exposing any electrics to the winter weather

Battery-powered These lights are a great option for smaller gardens, balconies or areas that cannot easily be connected to mains power. Just remember to keep a good store of the correct batteries to keep the display lit.

Light Types 

Using a combination of different lights in your display is the best way to keep things interesting. We sell a variety of different light types:

String 

These lights are the most common and versatile. You can wrap them around a tree or use them to border windows or guttering. String lights come in multiple variations: 

Straight line

lights are the most popular choice because of their versatility. The basic forms of these lights are great for decorating trees or fences whilst the more decorative  look great day or night. 

Icicle

Lights follow the same basic design of other string lights, but instead, the lights hang. These lights often look like hanging lightbulbs, but we also offer some more inventive options. These lights are great for hanging across fences or from porches and trees. 

 

Silhouettes & statues 

Add a statement piece to your display with a lighting arrangement that is hard to miss. These lights make a perfect centrepiece, or a great starting point to build a display around.  

Projectors

Create a vibrant backdrop to your display by using a projector to create moving or static images on any flat surface. Kids will love watching these projectors and they are perfect for blank spaces that are unsuitable for lights or other decorations. 

Stake 

The main feature of a stake light is the pointed end that lets you drive it into your lawn, borders or plant pots. The freestanding lights are great for lining pathways or adding colour accents to smaller spaces like balconies or courtyards. 

Storage 

It’s fun to plan a Christmas display and create something wonderful, but once Christmas is over, and the display comes down, what do you do with all your lights and decorations? We are familiar with the annual journey into the attic or back of the cupboard to fetch out a box of tangled wires and tinsel. Avoid hours of untangling and replacing light bulbs by putting your decorations in a handy storage bag

Shop the Christmas range now and tag us in your Christmas light creations on Instagram @primrose.co.uk   

 

Gary at PrimroseGary works in the Primrose product loading team, writing product descriptions and other copy. With seven years as a professional chef under his belt, he can usually be found experimenting in the kitchen or sat reading a book.

See all of Gary’s posts.

Gardening, Gardening Year, Gardens, Gary, How To, Plants

Autumn leaves waiting to be raked

The September heat is fading, and Autumn is in full swing. As it gets colder, the trees begin to change and nature becomes gold for a few months. We have put together a list of the essential gardening jobs for October to help you make the most out of the transitional season in your garden.

General 

  • Mulch the borders with compost if not done in the spring to boost the quality of your soil and help it retain water and nutrients during the colder months. 
  • Continue to tidy borders of weeds and leaves. These will become slippery over winter, but will also be harder to remove once the soil freezes.
  • Apply autumn lawn feed. These specialised feeds help to fortify your lawn from frost and icy conditions. 
  • Cut back perennials that have died down. 
  • Renovate old lawns or create new grass areas by laying turf. By doing this now you encourage root growth instead of leaf growth which allows your grass to survive the winter, and cuts down on and mowing in the cold

Animals 

  • Refill Feeders regularly This well help late migratory birds on their way, but also provide a constant food source for wintering birds. See our range of bird feeds here.  
  • Install insect hotels. This is the easiest time of year to find the raw materials you need to build an insect hotel. By doing it now you’ll also have it ready for the Insects try to get away from the cold. 

Plants 

  • Remove fallen leaves from roses to prevent blackspot – a fungal disease that can spread quickly to your whole rosegarden. 
  • Pot up your herbs and take them inside, either to a frost-free greenhouse or windowsill.
  • Move tender plants, including aquatic ones, into a greenhouse or conservatory
  • Bring potted tropical plants inside, including bananas, pineapple lilies (eucomis) and brugmansias.

Produce 

  • Begin planting garlic for a good summer harvest.  
  • Apply fleece to late season crops when frost is forecast
  • Harvest apples, pears, grapes and nuts

Greenhouse

  • Clean out the greenhouse to get rid of debris that can harbor overwintering pests
  • Attach guttering to the greenhouse and install a water butt, to make good use of autumn rain. You can reuse this water elsewhere in the garden, it also discourages water from freezing on the greenhouse
  • Wash greenhouse glazing to let in as much of the weaker autumn daylight as possible. This will keep your plants healthy as well as warm during the cold winter months.

It’s a busy time of the gardening year, but putting in some hard work now will give you great results in spring. Let us know what your up to on social media

 

Gary at PrimroseGary works in the Primrose product loading team, writing product descriptions and other copy. With seven years as a professional chef under his belt, he can usually be found experimenting in the kitchen or sat reading a book.

See all of Gary’s posts.