Alice, Gardening Year

An exciting start to a new season, December is all about the run-up to Christmas and the possibility of snow this winter! Although braving the outdoors could be the last thing on your mind this month, getting outside in your garden could be exactly what you need to beat the winter blues. Gardening connects us with nature and gives us a sense of responsibility, which is great for boosting your mental health. Many plants will be dormant this month, so the key themes are protecting your garden from the colder weather, preparing for spring next year and taking the time to clear up and organise. Read on for the main December gardening jobs.

december gardening jobs

General

  • Protect ponds and outdoor taps from freezing- try floating balls or plastic bottles in the water to prevent freezing, or (unless you have koi karp) switch off your pond’s pump, and make sure outdoor taps are insulated
  • Prepare soil for next year’s crops- dig over empty borders, remove weeds and large stones, and dig in soil amendments such as manure, compost, kept, bone meal, or rock phosphate to get the soil in good condition for spring planting
  • Take care of the lawn- continue to mow the lawn if the frost is not too heavy, but raise the height of the mower blades; spike with a garden fork to improve drainage
  • Continue to clear fallen leaves- fallen leaves could be harbouring slugs and other pests so make sure to clear them from plants, plus the lawn to allow in light and prevent dead patches
  • Organise your garden shed- take the time to clear out your garden shed, check security, and organise and clean your tools ready for spring. At Primrose, we stock an extensive range of garden tools; make sure to add any you need to your Christmas list!

Plants

  • Get pruning– prune fruit trees, dormant shrubs and hedges, roses, and Japanese maples
  • Plant spring bulbs– plant bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, grape hyacinths, and fritillaries before the first frost to fill your garden with glorious colour next spring
  • Take hardwood cuttings– cut healthy shoots from suitable trees, shrubs, and climbers, including honeysuckle, blackcurrant shrubs, and popular trees, and plant in the ground or in a pot to propagate new plants
  • Lift and store dahlia tubers– these tender perennials need protection from the colder weather, so lift the dormant roots and stems to store indoors and plant back outside next spring
  • Cluster container plants together– as their roots are more exposed to the elements, move shrubs and bedding plants growing in containers to sheltered spots and cluster together for protection from the colder weather
  • Propagate oriental poppies– these plants can reproduce from any scrap of root so are perfect for propagation; trim off sections of the roots then plant into a seed tray to grow new plants
  • Check tree ties– check any tree ties to make sure trees are protected from strong winds and the tree stems will not be damaged by ties that are too tight; replace any ties that have frayed or broken
  • Collect Christmas decorations– collect seasonal foliage such as ivy, yew, and fir, along with brightly coloured stems and berries to decorate your home for the festive season

Flowers to sow this month: sweet peas, geraniums, thunbergia, hardy cyclamens, snapdragons

Produce

  • Harvest root crops– harvest leeks, winter cabbage, parsnips, sprouts, and any other remaining root crops for a fantastic harvest this Christmas
  • Protect from the frost– now the weather is getting colder and we may be getting frost, it’s important to make sure your plants are protected. Shop our frost protection range for fleeces, cloches, and other equipment to weather-proof your garden
  • Protect winter cabbages– keep an eye out for yellowing leaves and remove them as they appear as they may be harbouring diseases such as grey mould and downy mildew, and cover with netting to protect from pigeons
  • Divide rhubarb clumps– division will provide a plant identical to the parent so it’s a great way of propagation and renewing the vigour of weak or overcrowded plants; divide the crown into sections with a spade and replant
  • Protect fruit trees from moths– apply glue bands or grease bands to the trunks to prevent wingless winter moths from laying their eggs in the tree
  • Clear the vegetable plot– as most vegetables are now dormant, take the opportunity to finish clearing old crops and debris to prepare for spring; you can also use this time to install paths and paving
  • Plan next year’s vegetable garden– now is the time to reflect on what worked this year, and plan what to grow next year. It’s also a great time to order seeds ready for planting in spring; our new range of seeds from Mr Fothergill’s provide a range of high-quality flowers, vegetables, and herbs. You could also purchase one of our Raised Beds for the perfect space to grow them in

Produce to sow this month: onions, garlic, broad beans, gooseberries, currants, blackberries, strawberries, mustard

Greenhouse

  • Clean your greenhouse– if you haven’t already done so, make sure to clean your greenhouse thoroughly; wash and disinfect capillary matting before storing away
  • Water plants sparingly– make sure plants are hydrated but keep the greenhouse as dry as possible to reduce the risk of disease
  • Combat pests– check overwintering plants for pests such as aphids and red spider mite, treat if necessary using a general insecticide
  • Maintain plants– pick faded leaves and dead flowers from plants that are being stored in the greenhouse over the winter
  • Remove snow– make sure to brush any snow off the top of greenhouses and cold frames to make sure the glass does not get damaged

Plants to sow in the greenhouse this month: basil, dill, chives, parsley, winter lettuces

Animals

  • Provide fat-rich food– birds expend a lot of energy in the winter just keeping warm, so make sure to provide fat-rich food such as suet, peanuts, and sunflower hearts to help them stock up. Our Whole Suet-Filled Co-Co Feeder provides the perfect high-energy feast, and you can shop our full Wild Bird Care range to take care of our feathered friends this winter
  • Top up the bird bath– birds need fresh water to drink and bathe in, so make sure to keep your bird bath replenished
  • Avoid turning compost– critters such as hedgehogs may be hibernating in your compost heap, so avoid turning your compost this month, or proceed with caution
  • Provide a bee refuge– bees also hibernate during the winter, so make sure to provide a safe space with one of our bee hotels. Our Seasonal Bee Nesting House is the perfect haven for bees that will help your garden thrive next summer
  • Create a log shelter– make a pile of logs in a corner of your garden to provide shelter for toads and other wildlife

Let us know what’s happening in your garden this month by getting in touch on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

Alice, Celebrations And Holidays, Christmas, Decoration, Indoor, Uncategorized

Originating from the Pagan festival of Yule, Christmas trees have long been a part of our festive traditions. From decorating your tree with Christmas music playing, to coming downstairs on Christmas morning and finding your presents under the tree, without one Christmas just isn’t the same. Buying a Christmas tree can be a complex minefield with a lot of options. However, our handy Christmas tree buying guide will walk you through the process to help you pick the right one. 

Artificial or Real?

The tradition for yuletide used to be buying a real pine tree which is then adorned with fairy lights and other decorations. However, in recent times there has been a shift towards buying artificial trees, with people believing they are better for the environment (and less hassle). Different things work for different people, so here are the benefits of each:

Real Christmas Trees

  • The authentic texture and scent of a real Christmas tree can be difficult to replicate and adds to the festive feel
  • Help provide jobs and sustain the rural economy
  • No need to store for the rest of the year
  • Plenty of beautiful trees to choose from

You can shop our full range of real Christmas trees here

Artificial Christmas Trees

  • You can save money in the long run by using them year after year
  • Low maintenance- no need to water or take care of them
  • Easy to assemble and store away
  • No need to sweep up pine needles from the floor
  • Flame resistant; real Christmas trees can be flammable when they dry out
  • There are a variety of great options to choose from: you could go for something realistic, such as our Fraser Grande model, or a more contemporary style such as our Starburst Gold Tree design

You can shop our full range of artificial Christmas trees here

What About the Environment?

It is typically believed that artificial Christmas trees are the environmentally-friendly option. However, this is not always the case. Most artificial trees are made of plastic, which comes from oil, and industrial emissions are produced when the tree is manufactured. The Carbon Trust states that a 2m artificial tree has a carbon footprint that is twice that of a real tree that ends up in landfill, and 10 times that of one which is burnt. So you will need to reuse your artificial tree for at least 10 Christmases on average to keep the environmental impact lower.

Species of Christmas Tree

The most common species of Christmas tree in the UK is the Nordmann Fir, which accounts for an estimated 80% of trees sold each year. The second most common is the Norway Spruce, and there is a selection of others to choose from. Here is a quick overview of the trees we sell at Primrose:

Nordmann Fir

The distinctive stately pyramid shape of the Nordmann Fir comes with defined layers. The glossy dark needles have a thick, waxy coating which makes them softer to the touch; perfect for households with children or pets. These trees don’t shed needles as often as other varieties, making them a great lower-maintenance option.

Primrose has a selection of Nordmann Fir trees, including this versatile classic 5ft Nordmann Fir Field Mix

View Our Range Of Nordman Fir Trees

Norway Spruce

The traditional Norway Spruce used to be the most popular Christmas tree. It has an attractive broad triangular shape with a pointed top, which is incredibly strong and sturdy. The short green needles of the Norway Spruce are very fine and spiky, so it may not be the best option for families with young children or pets. They also tend to shed more often than the Nordmann fir. 

Primrose has a great selection of Norway Spruce trees, including this adorable 4ft Premium Norway Spruce.

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.
  • Timing: Christmas trees are typically cut at the same time, so if you are buying a real tree, there’s no benefit in leaving it until later in the season to buy. Most places start selling them from late November; it’s best to buy yours by mid-December.
  • Seller: plenty of retailers sell Christmas trees but think twice before buying from a pop-up tree seller, so there’s no way of getting advice or a refund if there are any issues with the tree.
  • 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 are opting for a real Christmas tree, make sure it will not be placed near a heat source, such as a fireplace or heat vent. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near the tree. If you are using fairy lights, make sure to switch them off when not in use and avoid placing anything near them that burns easily, such as paper. 

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.

 

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.

 

Alice, Children in the garden, Wildlife

Summer has drawn to a close, and the days of picnics, day trips to the beach, and playing in the paddling pool are over. But never fear, the weather may be colder but the season also brings with it some great autumn activities for kids. The falling leaves and abundant nature provide a whole host of fun opportunities. So if you’re stuck for ideas for things to do this half term, check out our list of outdoor autumn activities for children.

Nature Colour Walk

autumn walk

Walks in the Great Outdoors are always a good way of connecting with nature. You can add an extra element of fun by making it a colour walk. How it works is pretty straightforward: you pick one colour, and during the walk your children have to find things that are that colour. If you have a digital camera or a smartphone even better, as you can take photos of those things and look back at them later. If you have more than one child with you perhaps you could add a competitive element and see who can find the most coloured items.

Geocaching

geocaching

A high tech upgrade from the traditional treasure hunt, geocaching makes for a fantastic family afternoon out. You can get involved by downloading a geocaching app, then follow the instructions on the app and use your smartphone like a compass to find the “treasure”. Most caches have a logbook that you can sign when you find them, however, some of the larger ones contain trinkets- but if you take one, make sure to replace it with something of equal value.

Apple Picking

apple picking

Make the most of the harvest season by going apple picking- a fun activity that you can literally enjoy the fruits of. Never fear if you don’t have an orchard in your garden, there are plenty of pick-your-own apple farms that you can visit to pick your own harvest. These make for a fantastic fun family day out, and most places offer the opportunity to stock up on other vegetables while you’re at it! A quick Google should direct you to the apple farms in your area.

Leaf Rubbing

leaf rubbing

Leaf rubbing is a great way of creating beautiful seasonal artwork. This fun nature craft can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. Find a fallen leaf with a good texture, place it on a hard surface, and place a white sheet of paper on top of it. Use a crayon, pastel, or coloured pencil to gently colour over the leaf, and you’ll find you end up “drawing” the leaf onto the paper. You can use a variety of leaves and colours to create a selection of beautiful drawings.

Bonfire

bonfire

One of the best things about summer is being able to have a barbeque; however autumn doesn’t have to mean the end of outdoor dining. Having a bonfire in the evening can be a great way to get the family together, eat some good food, and have a great time. There is some great food that can be cooked on a bonfire, including the classic marshmallow toasting, but also kebabs, fruit, grilled cheese sandwiches, and hot dogs- but that is by no means an exhaustive list! You can create your own bonfire by digging a shallow pit and surrounding with bricks and stones, but an outdoor fire pit can be a hassle-free way to host a bonfire. Please note: Make sure children are supervised around the fire and it is extinguished properly after use.

Wildlife Spotting

wildlife walk

There is some great wildlife to see in the autumn months, from flying geese and grey squirrels to conkers and damsons. Take a walk, out in nature, or perhaps just keep your eyes peeled in your back garden and see which wonderful creatures and plants you can spot! Sites such as Wildlife Watch provide wildlife spotting sheets that you can pin to your fridge and tick off things as you see them over the course of the season. Perhaps you could have a separate sheet for each family member and make it a contest!

What will your family be up to this season? Share your autumn activities with us on Twitter, Facebook, and 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.