Charlie, Garden Furniture

While corten steel may be in fashion, rust is generally not a feature you want associated with your garden, let alone your garden furniture. Unfortunately, all materials with iron in are prone to rust to some extent, even stainless steel is stainless not because the steel itself is rust-proof but because it is coated in chromium which reacts with the oxygen and moisture in the air to produce a microscopic layer that protects the underlying iron in the steel from rusting. So how to make sure that your garden furniture set doesn’t rust? Especially as garden furniture, unlike the indoor variety, is left exposed to the elements all year round?

rusting furniture


While simply making garden furniture out of stainless steel might appear to be a good option, generally this is not done by the vast majority of manufacturers – as this puts up the price of the raw material by up to 500% as well as creating additional construction costs due to stainless steel not being as malleable as other kinds of steel or iron.


Just making your garden dining set out of stainless steel might be a bit pricey however there are many other alternatives suitable for outdoor use. At Primrose our Hectare ranges are made from powder coated steel. This provides significant durability even if left outdoors all year round, and the powder coating ensures there will be no visible rusting on the surface, meaning you will be able to enjoy your furniture year after year. As this type of steel comes with powder coating, it also means that there is no need to paint it to protect it from the elements, which is often necessary after a time to keep other types of metal garden furniture looking its best. While powder coating doesn’t guarantee no rust will occur, powder coated steel is valued as one of the best trade offs between durability, weatherability and price.

Another popular alternative is Aluminium. This material when exposed to the elements develops a thin oxide layer on the outside which protects the material from further damage. However, as with many materials, if this protective coating is scratched or dented, it does leave a space for rust to occur in the damaged area. Additionally cast aluminium, due to its lightweight construction, is often unsuitable to be kept outside as it can be blown about in strong winds, thus making damage to the furniture even more likely.

Cast iron is another popular material for garden furniture, partly because it is so heavy, as this means it is not prone to being knocked over by the wind. However of the three materials discussed here it is the most prone to rust. Being made from iron, it has a high chance of rusting if left uncovered in the elements, however much cast iron furniture is now treated with a protective spray which helps reduce this risk, and if it is painted this also helps prolong its life.

Whichever type of metal you choose for your garden furniture, it is always wise to be wary of the risk of rust occurring and look after your furniture by packing it away when not in use or covering it if this is not feasible. Stay tuned for more information on looking after metal garden furniture next week.

 

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.

 

Bird Baths, Charlie, Decoration, Water Features

Why Doesn’t My Water Feature Have a Plug?

Plug or no plug, always take care when installing the electrics for your water feature.

Many of our water features are supplied without a plug. While it might seem counterintuitive this is actually done to make installation easier. Many people prefer to install their water feature by threading the cable through an external wall and from there into the mains electricity supply, to do this the plug must be removed – so for simplicity’s sake we often opt to supply without a plug to make this process easier, especially in the case of larger water features. While it is still possible to plug your water feature in conventionally using an extension cord, even this, with an outside feature, has to involve a fully weather resistant plug casing or box for the connection for safety reasons. Primrose supply such boxes from Dribox which offer a good solution.

Please Note:  Primrose always recommends getting a qualified electrician to do any electrical work that may be needed when installing a water feature.

How Much Water Does a Water Feature Use? How Often Should I Top It Up?

Another running cost associated with water features is water usage, especially if you are on a metered supply. However – all our water features are either designed for pond use or self contained, which means none of them need to be connected to a mains water supply. While they will need topping up occasionally with fresh water, especially in hot weather when the water evaporates quickly, the water use associated with most of our water features is minimal.

Please Note: With all water features containing a pump it is important to keep the water feature topped up when running – this is because the pump must remain submerged when switched on. If the pump emerges from the water due to evaporation, this has the potential to cause damage to the pump and reduce its lifespan.

How Much Electricity Does a Water Feature Use? Can It Be Left On?

How much will running a water feature set you back?The amount of electricity a water feature uses is generally dependent on the pump type and size, specifically the wattage of the pump attached to the water feature. On most of our product pages for water features we have the wattage indicated under the specifications.

To calculate how much a water feature will cost to run per hour, simply enter your pence per kWh electricity rate, found on your electricity bill, and times it by the wattage on the product page. For example if we take one of our larger water features, the Stone Effect Regal Three Tier Fountain we can see it has has a Pump Wattage of 12W, so times that by the average UK electricity rate of roughly 13p per kWh and we get a cost of 0.16 pence per hour, or 3.7 pence a day if left running constantly. This translates to less than a fan or electric heater, so it doesn’t cost as much as you might think to have the sound of running water going constantly.

Of course, if you opt for a water feature from our solar range, you won’t have to worry about running costs at all!

What Steps Should I Take to Care for My Water Feature in Winter?

Please see this guide for tips on protecting your water feature against frost in winter.

When Will a Solar Water Feature Run and Not Run?

Solar water features are great in that they are entirely self contained, however due to their reliance on the sun’s rays, there are certain situation where they won’t run, for example on overcast days or at night. You can extend the period time a solar water feature will function by purchasing one with a battery back up, this can store up to three hours of pump life in the battery, however it is important to note that in order to charge the battery the features must be left in prolonged sunlight for a period of time, so even solar water features with a battery backup may not have much life in the winter months.

A stunning solar water feature – just best not left too long in the shade!

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.

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.

 

Charlie, Gardening Year, Gazebos, Lighting, Marquees, New Products, Outdoor Heating, Solar Lighting

The great British weather. Nothing compares. Particularly not this year, with a freezing March and early April, going into the hottest early May bank holiday on record you can safely say the weather has been up and down this year. A part of this is the indian summer we experienced in late April and early May. But what exactly is an indian summer?

The phrase actually was actually coined in 1770 in what would become the United States of America and is not – as many assume – anything to do with India or the days of the British Raj, but is actually a term used to describe the weather by Native Americans to the settlers of New England. It was a phrase used by the settlers to describe the unseasonably warm weather in spring and autumn when otherwise the climate was very similar to what they were used to back in Europe.
In the UK the term did not actually get much usage until about the 1950’s – and is largely more associated with a warmer autumn than a warmer spring. Here’s hoping the term will get lots of usage this autumn.

But what can Primrose do to help you out with the indian summer we’re experiencing and the indian summer that, hopefully, lies ahead of us? Well, we don’t stock suncream, but have a great range of garden shade to keep the heat off your back. We’re especially proud of our new lines of canvas indian tents which are new in this season and sure to wow the neighbours – even if its a different sort of indian to the “indian summer”.




We also have a great range of lighting, which is perfect for elongating the warm evenings, especially as the nights begin to draw in again, but the temperature remains warm.

 

 

 

We also have a dizzying array of sail shades and awnings to suit almost any garden, and don’t forget to check out our range of water features to get the relaxing sound of trickling water in your garden even in the long, dry summer months.

All in all an indian summer is something to be celebrated. Many artists have used the term as a metaphor for prolonged good fortune and here at Primrose we certainly believe that good fortune with the weather is something to be cherished.

And if an indian summer doesn’t materialise, you can always create your own with our great range of outdoor heating solutions.

 

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

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

To see the rest of Charlie’s posts, click here.