Alice, Uncategorized

Travel can be a great way to broaden your horizons, experience another culture and improve your confidence. However, you don’t need to go abroad to have great experiences. There is a treasure trove of wonderful places and activities right on your doorstep in your local community. Sadly these resources often go untapped as people go about their everyday lives and don’t recognise their existence. However, if you are interested in getting involved, here are some great things to discover in your local community.

things to discover in my local community

Local Businesses

Locally owned businesses are a staple in any community, however they often struggle to compete with large chains. So make sure to do your part and take a look off the beaten track to see what your town or city has to offer. A locally-owned restaurant, bar, or coffee shop often has a more homely feel along with high-quality dishes you may not have tried before, and a local craft shop can provide some fantastic unique items. Google Maps and Tripadvisor are great places to start for some new finds, and local guides should have some good recommendations.

Meetups

Whether you’ve moved to a new area and are looking to start a social circle from scratch, or you simply want to expand your network in your hometown, meetups are the best way to meet new people. These group gatherings are packed with people with the same intention, so they’re great for striking up friendships. Meetup.com has a variety of general and special interest groups and the events allow you to explore the local area, and Citysocializer is a great way of forming a group if you live in a major city.

Landmarks & Attractions

If you’re a long-time local, you may have fallen into the grind of everyday living and not seen the best your town or city has to offer. Every area has an array of landmarks, scenic areas, and museums that you may not have even heard of before; branching out and trying something new can open you up to a whole host of hidden gems. Check out Tripadvisor or TimeOut for the main attractions in your area. Local guides should be helpful too. 

Events

Every town or city can be host to some great events that most people don’t hear about. If your social life consists of meals and nights out, a bit of research can open you up to a whole host of new experiences, from quirky craft fairs to comedy nights to evening classes. Most events are listed on Facebook, so make sure to dig around in the Events section. You can also find a range of events on Eventbrite.

Volunteering

If you fancy giving something back, volunteering is a great way of getting in touch with your community. Not only is it a great way of meeting new people, but it’s also a great way of getting involved in your area in a whole new light. Your local food bank is bound to be on the lookout for volunteers to help sort and box food parcels, and a quick Google search should provide you with some local charities that may be on the lookout for a helping hand. Do It is also a great organisation for finding volunteering opportunities. 

Community Gardens

Community gardens have been a key part of the community for hundreds of years; in WWII, allotments were set up on inner city sites to provide the residents with affordable fresh fruit and vegetables. Today, they are still valuable additions to local areas, transforming vacant sites into green spaces, and are great ways of getting involved with your local community and helping other discover gardening. Check out this list to find community gardening projects in your area.

Hot Deals

Operating on a tight budget this month? Discount websites such as Groupon and Wowcher are great ways of enjoying your local area on a budget. These sites have some great deals to snap up, including restaurant discounts, cooking courses, activities such as paintball and trampolining, and more. These not-to-be-missed offers are great ways to explore and enjoy your local community without breaking the bank. 

What exciting happenings are going on in your local community? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Gardening, Gardening & Landscaping, Gardening Year, Greenhouses, Plants, Scott, Uncategorized

January can be a quiet month for the garden. It may seem like everything is just waiting for the return of spring but there is plenty you can do now that will benefit the garden later in the year. For January gardening we suggest following these three P’s: Plan for the year ahead, Protect from the cold weather and Provide for the wildlife in your garden. Read on for our handy breakdown that incorporates all of these elements so you can prepare for success this year in the garden. 

General

frosted lawn

  • Compost: it’s the perfect time to begin a compost heap. You can utilise garden and kitchen waste (any organic plant matter) to make nutrient-rich compost year-round for your garden. One of the first things you can use is the Christmas tree! If you already have a compost heap now is a great time to make use of it as a mulch in your garden beds where the nutrients will benefit the soil later in the year. 
  • Tread carefully: your lawn will be very fragile this time of year. Frost can make grass brittle and prone to cracking resulting in yellow and brown patches in spring. A simple way of avoiding this is with garden tracking that puts less pressure on the lawn.
  • Repair: winter can be a devastating month at times with weather wreaking havoc on drains, fences and planters. Now is a good time to take note of the damage and think of fixes and solutions for when the warmer days begin.
  • Tidy up: it’s important to keep on top of the mess that can build up over winter. Fallen leaves can be cleared up and composted or left in a heap for wildlife.

Plants

summer bulbs

  • Inspect spring bulbs: take a look at stored bulbs and tubers to ensure they remain cool and dry. Keeping these stored correctly can be key to successful planting for spring. Having everything stored and ready also makes it much easier to plan for your garden designs and plant layouts.
  • Plant bare-root: now is an excellent time to plant bare-root trees and shrubs as this dormant winter period provides time for strong roots to establish; this is great preparation for the plant to grow strong healthy foliage in spring. 
  • Cut and compost: clear away decaying perennial plant stems and add them to the compost heap. This will help the plants focus on the healthy stems come spring. 
  • Prune: now is a great time to prune trees to shape. Pruning serves two mains functions: 1. It allows the tree’s energy to focus on the areas of growth we want to flourish and 2. Clearing the weight and density of a tree’s branches allows more light to reach the remainder of the tree. 
  • Water planters: plants need water all year round, not just when the sun is out and potted plants rely on us almost entirely for their water supply. Make sure you cut back on watering in winter but continue to water regularly to help keep roots healthy. Make sure you have good drainage and wait for the water to run through and out of the pot. 

Produce

soil cultivation

  • Prepare your soil: the sooner you can cultivate the soil in empty flower beds the better. This will give time for large clods of earth to break down and improve on the soil structure in preparation for growing success in spring. Try to work the soil when it is moist but not soaking wet as you’ll have great difficulty if anything becomes compacted and later dries out. Add compost to the soil to encourage extra nutrition and then cover with a good mulch or even a polythene cover which will help protect it from winter frosts and stop weeds from sprouting early. 
  • Prep potatoes: seed potatoes can be purchased in winter ready for planting in March. You can “chit” the potatoes as part of your January gardening plan which simply means encouraging them to sprout before planting; you can do this by storing them in a cool dry room for a few weeks. 
  • Force rhubarb: this means covering the crown of the plant to prevent light from getting to it. With an established rhubarb plant this can result in early growth that can be harvested when 20-30cm long. 
  • Apply organic fertiliser: a slow release of nutrients is perfect for assisting the slow return of life to plants and trees coming out of dormancy. Organic fertiliser will ensure this slow release as opposed to artificial fertilizers which provide quick shocks of nutrition which would do more harm and good at this point in the year.

Greenhouse

greenhouse

  • Temperature control: with the weather beginning to fluctuate January gardening in the greenhouse can be tricky. It’s best to judge each week or day as it comes. You’ll likely want to keep the greenhouse heated at night with a gas or electric heater, but during the day it may be warm enough to ventilate or even keep the door open. 
  • Clean the glass: you’ll want to make the most of what light you do get in winter and one f the easiest ways to do this is by giving the glass a good clean. For an extra helping hand you could also stick large bubble wrap onto the glass which will help to store and release some heat as well as concentrate the light. 
  • Move plants: overwintered plants can begin to be moved back outside once the sun starts to appear more frequently. It may be best to keep a layer of fleece or other winter protection like a cloche or cold frame with the plant so it can acclimatise gradually to the outside weather again. 
  • Plan ahead: now is a great time to organise the greenhouse with staging and shelves, making sure everything is accessible and ready for planting. 

Animals

bird feeder

  • Feed the birds: this is the hardest time of year for birds were finding food can be a daily struggle. Ensure you give the birds in your garden a hand by putting food out. If you can identify the birds in your garden you can feed specific foodstuffs to help them thrive. Some birds may like mealworms whilst others may only eat seeds or fatty foods. 
  • Provide shelter: giving homes to wildlife in your garden can be the difference between surviving the winter or not. Birdhouses, beehives, hedgehog homes and frog houses can be purchased for specific animals but you can also provide natural shelter with leaf piles, log piles and compost heaps. 
  • Maintain birdbaths: birds need water throughout the year to keep themselves clean and to drink. Make sure you top up your birdbath with fresh water often. An easy way to keep it from freezing over is by adding a small ball that can float on the top and agitate the water. 
  • Clean feeders and tables: keep your bird feeders and tables cleared from debris like leaves and branches so that food is easily accessible.  

 

Head over to the Primrose Instagram to show us how you’re getting on with your garden this month! Tagged photos may be featured on the Primrose feed.

Scott at PrimroseScott is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.

See all of Scott’s posts.

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.

 

Uncategorized, Will

Source: Kalin

The Berlin Wall famously divided families and enforced division for nearly thirty years, but strangely it also gave one man the opportunity to create a flourishing urban garden. This is the story of Osman Kalin, a Turkish immigrant who defied the authorities to turn a piece of wasteland beneath the Berlin Wall into an oasis of greenery beloved by his community. It’s an example of gardening at its best: a source of greenery and positivity during a darkly turbulent time.

In 1961 the Berlin Wall was erected quickly and haphazardly, and consequently a splinter of East Berlin land ended up on the wrong side of the dividing line. Given that it was inaccessible to its legal owners the land was used as an informal dumping ground, until 1982 when Osman cleared away the rubbish and started up a vegetable patch as a post-retirement project. In a nearby watchtower East Berlin guards spotted his activities and investigated to make sure he wasn’t digging a tunnel, but eventually allowed him to carry on with his green fingered endeavours. The West Berlin police also turned up and tried to move him off the land, but he stubbornly refused to budge.

Source: Kalin

Osman soon planted garlic and onions, along with several fruit trees, and he would regularly make gifts of his produce to the guards on the wall. They soon became comfortable with his presence and even began sending him a Christmas card every year. In 1983 Osman also began constructing a ramshackle shed that slowly evolved into a two-storey treehouse kitted out with electricity and running water, which soon became known as ‘Das Baumhaus an der Mauer’ or ‘The Treehouse on the Wall’.

The violence inherent in the Berlin Wall was never far away, as the garden was located at a popular crossing point for those desperate enough to make an escape attempt. Yet despite the presence of barbed wire and machine guns, Osman became famous for his cheerful friendliness, always happy to share his produce or invite visitors in for a cup of tea. Anarchist punks living in the area were especially big fans, holding him as an example of heroic resistance to political power.

Source: Kalin

In 1989 the Berlin Wall came down, and while this was a moment of great joy for most, it meant Osman had become an illegal squatter. There were attempts to evict him, but the local community rallied to his side. This included the Church of St Thomas next door, which helpfully tried to use a map from the 1780s to claim that the land actually belonged to the church. Faced with such widespread opposition the local council abandoned their attempts and the garden was allowed to stay.

Osman passed away in April 2018, but the garden is now tended by his son Mehmet and granddaughter Funda. People still visit the Treehouse on the Wall, inspired by Osman’s determination to create something special amidst the harsh realities of international power politics. As Osman showed, gardening can often mean much more than just a hobby; it’s a way of improving mental health, gathering people together, and bringing beauty to those that need it most. The Berlin Wall might be long gone, but the garden remains – surely that says something about what really matters?

Why not follow in Osman’s example yourself? Although you may wish to avoid requisitioning land that doesn’t belong to you, even a small space can be turned into a calming oasis of greenery, or a bountiful source of fresh fruit and vegetables. Have a look at Primrose’s range of outdoor sheds or tools for growing your own veg, and get started on creating your own outdoor escape.

All images have been reproduced with permission of owner.

Will at PrimroseWill is a Copywriter at Primrose and spends his days rattling out words for the website. In his spare time he treads the boards with an Am-Dram group, reads books about terrible, terrible wars, and rambles the countryside looking wistful.

See all of Will’s posts.