Garden Design, Gardening, Gary, New Products, Planters

There are a lot of different planters out there, with styles to match every garden design and climate. With so much choice it can be hard to know what to buy; a stone planter may look nice but might be too heavy, a zinc planter may give you the sleek look you want, but not be strong enough. If you are looking for a catch-all planter material we would recommend you consider Fibrecotta. 

Fibrecotta Planter in Garden
Fibrecotta Planter in Garden

 

What is it ?

Fibrecotta is a compound material made from layering cellulose fiber and clay with fiberglass. Once shaped, the finished material is then set, rather than fired. This manufacturing process leaves very little waste when compared to other materials and because it is set rather than fired it is more environmentally friendly.

Why Fibrecotta?

Lightweight –  Fibrecotta is a lightweight material that lets you easily position even large planters wherever you want in your garden.

Durable  – Because of their fiberglass content, Fibrecotta is a strong material that can cope with everything the weather can throw at it. Importantly, it is frost resistant so you can leave the planter out all year. It will also not corrode with the natural acids and alkalis in the soil.

Easy drainage – Like it’s heavier cousin, Terracotta, Fibrestone is porous, meaning that water will naturally filter through the planter providing you with drainage without having to drill holes.    

Good for soil – the porous walls of this planter not only allow for easier drainage, but they have a great effect on the soil too. As the water drains it takes the soils naturally present minerals with it helping your plant to thrive

Ages naturally – The passing of minerals through the planter means that it ages at the same rate as Terracotta. If you are looking for a planter that matures alongside your garden, Fibrecotta is the ideal choice. 

There are many benefits to planters made of this material. Not only is durable, lightweight and good for your plants, but it comes in many shapes and colours. Sound like the type of planter for you? Shop the range now at primrose.co.uk.

Set of terracotta coloured Fibrecotta planters from 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.

Current Issues, Jorge, Plants, Trees

It is illegal to sell ‘Pink Lady’ apple trees as the variety can only be grown under license, and the license holder – Apple and Pear Australia – refuses to license to British growers. You won’t be able to grow the tree from the apple’s seeds as they are a combination of genetic information from the variety and another apple.

‘Pink Lady’ is representative of the rise of foreign cultivars, a story that is detailed below, but if you want to still grow a tree, there are many excellent, arguably superior alternatives below.  

Contents

The Decline Of British Cultivars

There was once a time when UK supermarkets were stacked with traditional Victorian varieties such as ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’, ‘Egremont Russet’ and ‘Worcester Pearmain’, but then came the American ‘Golden Delicious’ and Australian ‘Granny Smith’ with the UK’s entry into the common market and after that the “antipodean four”: ‘Gala’, ‘Braeburn’, ‘Jazz’ and ‘Pink Lady, which originate from New Zealand and Australia – a region sometimes known as the antipodes. Now, you may have noticed the introduction of the American ‘Opal’, which is unique in its resistance to browning.

The growth of such varieties highlight changing consumer tastes, the commercialisation of apple growing and the supermarket’s demand for uniformity – a trend now in reverse with today’s consumers fed up of plastic packaging and commercial waste.

Put ‘Granny Smith’ and ‘Bramley’ side-by-side and rate them on aesthetics, you can see something like the descent of man with the heavily-russeted, misshapen ‘Bramley’ evolving into the shiny, round ‘Granny Smith’. The new introduction was cleverly marketed as a dual-purpose apple, but perhaps is only good in a salad. Anyone who has bitten into a ‘Granny Smith’ will note its overwhelming acidity, which will stop all but the bravest.

The “antipodean four” all share a crunchy texture, good skin finish (typically red), and high sugar content, which originates in part from the antipode climate and the long sunlight hours that the UK can’t match.

Sunlight, of course, plays a key role in photosynthesis, which results in light energy being converted into sugar, which is primarily stored in fruit. These apples are well-adapted to the UK’s changed palette, now accustomed to highly processed foods that are full of sugar.

A key determinant of colour is the pigment anthocyanin, which is again driven by sunlight helps such cultivars such as ‘Pink Lady’ stand out against traditional English cultivars such as ‘Cox’. Appearance is unfortunately associated with taste and Britons eat 80% more red apples than green.

Crunchiness is caused by the mechanical damage of your bite, which breaks cell walls, causing the release of juice. Crunchiness is a factor of the strength of the cell walls and the rigidity of the cells, which is a function of the water and sugar stored with the cell, as well as the age of the apple. It can be said that the sunlight hours also drive crunchiness.

Apples with the right size, shape and colour receive the highest prices from supermarkets, with apples divided into class I and class II fruit, with class II rarely being sold. (You may have noticed those “little less than perfect apples” at Waitrose.) A ‘Gala’ tree produces a significantly higher proportion of class I fruit than a ‘Cox’, resulting in such varieties being taken up UK growers.

The newest of the “antipodean four” – ‘Jazz’ and ‘Pink Lady’ – are cleverly marketed and carefully managed. Their names for example are actually trademarks with ‘Jazz’ the name of the variety ‘Scifresh’ and ‘Pink Lady’ ‘Cripps Pink’.

‘Jazz’ was developed by Enza, New Zealand Apple and Pear Marketing Board, and Plant & Food Research, while ‘Pink Lady’ was developed by Apple and Pear Australia. They can both be only grown under license, and the trademark holders refuse to license ‘Pink Lady’ to UK growers, fearing the climate will not do it justice. This is why you will never find a ‘Pink Lady’ apple tree for sale.

‘Pink Lady’ has its own website as well as Facebook and Twitter. The brand was keen to give out apples for free on launch at various London stations and even had a tie in Great Ormond Street Hospital. It has its own logo “so much more than an apple”, which is again trademarked. The campaign was so successful, it even won an award at the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Alternatives To Pink Lady

As detailed above, even if you were able to grow an ‘Pink Lady’ apple in your garden, it would be unlikely to taste like one found in the supermarket, owing to the UK’s climatic conditions. The UK’s lack of sunlight can actually be an advantage as when yields are smaller flavour is often concentrated. Flavour is more than just sugar content, but acidity and mouthfeel. ‘Cox’ is famously aromatic and high in both sugar and acidity, creating well balanced flavour.

The Antipodean Apples

Braeburn’ and ‘Gala’ are both easily available and indeed ‘Braeburn’ remains the bestseller at garden centres, but not online (perhaps due to the canniness of the online shopper).

RHS Award Of Garden Varieties

Modern AGM cultivars include ‘Discovery’, ‘Pixie’, ‘Sunset’ and ‘Scrumptious’, which are all easy to grow. Discovery, Sunset & Pixie come recommended from our nurserymen.

Cox

A British classic, but somewhat difficult to grow. You won’t be disappointed with apples you recieve!

Unique Flavours

Egremont Russet and Worcester Pearmain are notable for their unique flavours with hints of pineapple and strawberry respectively.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.

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.

Awnings, Current Issues, Guest Posts, New Products, Watering

smart technology garden

When smart technology first arrived, many just thought it was something that controlled thermostats and helped save on HVAC costs.

Then it morphed into motion detectors, smart doorbells and security systems. As you know, smart technology applications continue to grow at a rapid pace, and if you want to keep your garden growing also, check out the latest innovations:

Smart irrigation

Whether you live in an apartment in Eugene, Oregon or a penthouse in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood, we know you can get your plants to grow and keep your grass green by simply standing outside with the hose and watering by hand, but by using a smart app, you can control when you water and why you water.

A good smart system that is integrated with your sprinkler configuration can tell you when it is the best time to water. Those in hot climates know that random watering done during the heat of the day is wasteful since there is a lot of evaporation, and a smart app can pin down the correct times to give your plants a good drink. The best innovations can interface with the weather so that you don’t water when it is raining.

smart irrigation

Smart mower

Wouldn’t it be great to just sit on the lawn chair while you grass is being cut? This is now possible with robot lawn mowing systems, and of course, these can be controlled from your mobile device.

Here’s how it works; available for lawns of all shapes and sizes, robot lawn mowers are relatively easy to set up and program. They’re powered by rechargeable batteries, so you don’t have to keep buying fresh batteries. Plus, they’re super quiet, which means you can turn them on at any hour of the day without bothering the neighbors. You’ll use bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity, and a mobile app to get them set up and get to work. Remember, if you have a large lawn, you’ll need to purchase a model that can handle larger areas and things that get in the way such as flower beds, trees, and bushes.

smart mower

Smart garden hub

These gizmos, such as GreenIQ, put it all together:

  • Soil temperature
  • Garden lights
  • Smoke alarms
  • Motion detectors
  • Personal weather stations

A smart garden hub will capture this information, interpret it, and allow your app to dictate plant watering cycles.

GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub, specifically, supports various Smart Home Integrations such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Nest, and Apple Watch and allows you to complete your Smart Home with a full Smart Garden experience.

The system factors in weather data from public weather stations or private like ones, Netatmo and Davis. It detects pipe leaks and clogs when connected to a flow meter. If you want your GreenIQ to factor in the soil moisture level, add a soil sensor to your system.

The possibilities are endless with smart garden hubs like GreenIQ!

Soil condition

Do you want to know your soil moisture content, fertilizer readings, temperature, light intensity, and what to do about it?

A soil sensor like Spiio can provide all of this information and your app can advise you of any corrective action that may be necessary.

With a good soil sensor and an integrated app, you will no longer have to guess about which fertilizer will adjust your lawn’s pH to the proper level for the type of plants you are growing.

smart soil

Smart awnings

Electric awnings have transformed the garden shade experience into something that can be managed with ease. You can extend your awning at the touch of a button and retract it the moment the conditions become too blustery. But now electric awnings have entered the modern age with the adoption of smart technology – you can set them up to be controlled from you mobile phone.

Camera

This is simple, but totally necessary if you go on vacation. A friend of ours was a great gardener but lived in the hot southwest and was afraid to go on vacation in July because three days without water would be a disaster for his garden.

One year, he had to leave for a wedding and primitively set up a mechanically timed DIY sprinkler system. It was set to go on twice a day. Our friend left for a week and hoped for the best. When he came home, he found out that while his concocted sprinkler system worked, it had also rained every day, and our guy came home to a flooded backyard.

With a simple camera, he could have seen from his mobile device that the sprinkler system needed to be turned off, and he could have asked his neighbor to help. Since he didn’t know what was going on, he had to clean up the mess.

The moral? Even if you don’t want to invest in a smart watering or gardening system, at least set up a smart camera so you can see what your yard looks like when you are gone, and subsequently take action where needed.

garden camera

RadbilSam Radbil is the lead writer for ABODO Apartments, an online real estate marketplace with available apartments from small towns like Eugene, Oregon to big cities like New York City. ABODO’s research and writing has been featured nationally in Curbed, Forbes, Realtor.com, HousingWire and more.