Last night’s episode of Love Your Garden set place in Newark for a man that has dedicated his life helping others. Nathan, ex-veteran is a double amputee after tragically losing both his legs and almost losing his life while serving in Afghanistan in 2009. Despite having troubles of his own, Nathan has a passion to support other ex-veterans who struggle with life outside the armed forces, particularly older veterans who are less likely to seek help.
After showing immense amount of determination to continue with his day to day life and doing such a great thing for those veterans, Nathan’s friends and family decided it was time to get in contact with Alan Titchmarsh and his team to work on the garden and redesign it so that Nathan can access all levels of the garden.
The Love Your Garden team took on the challenge and the final result of the woodland inspired garden was incredible. Nathan can walk with ease and access the whole garden. Rachel , Nathan’s wife can now craft away in their new summer house. A new patio and lounge area were also created for the whole family to enjoy and a climbing frame area for Nathan’s son, Harry to explore.
Last but not least, the garden features a wonderful Outdoor Kitchen where Nathan can enjoy a few drinks from the Outdoor cooler with guest. Our Victorian Falls Waterfall Blade Cascade can be found in this area. Alan and his team got creative and did a great job with the design using pebbles and stones to create a fantastic looking waterfall for Nathan and his family to enjoy.
Watch the full episode to see the final result of the garden for yourself!
Tyler works in the Primrose Marketing team, mainly working on Social Media and Online Marketing.
Tyler is a big fan on everything sports and supports Arsenal Football Club. When not writing Primrose blogs and tweets, you can find Tyler playing for his local Sunday football team or in the gym.
Today, if you want to make a statement in your garden you might invest in a koi pond, a gazebo or a particularly large water feature. But hundreds of years ago, the garden was far more than just the patch of grass at the back of your house, and the aristocracy were keen to show off just how much money they could spend on the acres of land surrounding their estates.
Let’s say you’ve decided to buy a fountain for your garden. You head over to Primrose to see what sort of classical tiered fountains we’ve got on offer. You pick a few out…then you notice something. No, you think, it’s an illusion – just a trick of the light – so you open a few tabs for a better look and, yes, there it is: a pineapple, bold as day, sat atop a fountain. Sat atop several fountains, in fact. Some are a little more pineapply than others, but there’s a whole range of water features finished with this prickly plant.
So…why? A pineapple of all things seems a particularly random choice when it come to water feature architecture. The pineapple, however, has a rich history both inside the house and out on the lawn, which makes it one of garden’s most enduring icons.
Pineapples were first introduced to European shores after Christopher Columbus stumbled upon them in the 1400s. He brought them back to Spain where this strange, sweet fruit became an instant hit – but was virtually impossible to grow properly in Europe. The only sure-fire way to get your hands on a pineapple was to purchase one that had been imported across the ocean. This wasn’t only expensive, it was also time consuming, and fruit regularly arrived somewhat worse for wear after months at sea.
This didn’t put people off, however, and by the 1700s a pineapple craze had swept Europe. Engineers and architects in England and the Netherlands were building specialist hothouses designed to mimic tropical climates so they could grow pineapples themselves, but the process was costly and could take years. The skyrocketing demand for the odd fruit meant that they were extraordinarily expensive, and only the most wealthy members of society could afford them.
The pineapple very quickly became synonymous with opulence and money. Hosts of lavish parties would amaze their guests by bringing out trays of pineapples, and you could even rent a pineapple for your party (for the small fee of around $8000 today). Of course, a rental pineapple was not for eating; just for showing off how fabulously rich you were. This rent-a-pineapple scheme was so popular that the same pineapple would often appear at several different parties, only being sold to consume once it had begun to rot.
While the richer echelons of society were spending thousands of dollars just to be in the presence of a pineapple for a single evening, those who could not afford the fruit had their own ways of celebrating it. Pineapples were printed on fabric napkins, carved into furniture and even made their way into wallpaper. There were pineapple plates, pineapple teapots and pineapple china.
Architecture of the time was also affected by the pineapple’s boom in popularity, and it became a common finial on gates, columns and of course: fountains. While today the pineapple isn’t as fashionable as it once was, it had a huge impact on classic architecture and design and so still carries with it a feeling of opulence.
The Garden Folly
Is your garden enormous and you’ve got plenty of cash to burn? Then why not invest in a garden folly – a garden extravagance popular in the 18th Century. So named because they were seen as foolish due to their cost and size, follies were ornamental buildings built within gardens or on estates with no practical purpose.
A folly was built for pleasure alone – and while they were often designed to mimic Roman villas or monastic houses, they were purposefully built and regularly had an element of fakery to their construction. By the early 17th century, many houses were built near or around archaeological remains and having such ruins in your garden or on your estate was hugely fashionable, so the wealthy simply made their own. Follies were often highly decorative and represented the owner’s own personal eccentricities. Pyramids were popular, as well as castles and other fortifications. Gothic architecture was particularly in vogue, from tall towers to ruins covered in ivy. In the late 18th Century, inspiration was coming from the East and pagodas, bridges and even tents were cropping up across the countryside.
Not all follies were strictly ornamental, and many of them were used as rooms to take tea, admire one’s garden or even as hides for birdwatching (or hunting). When famine struck Ireland in the 1740s, famine follies began to spring up as wealthy landowners were keen to help starving farmers but felt that simply giving them money would be undignified. When another potato famine struck the country a century later, even more famine follies were erected. These projects were, essentially, useless – piers, gateways, roads to nowhere – but were a way to pay those who could no longer farm.
So, let’s say you’ve decided to build a folly on one of your spare acres of land and you’re a big fan of the pineapple. Why not take a leaf out of the 4th Earl of Dunmore John Murray’s book, and combine the two?
The Dunmore Pineapple is an impressive building in Stirlingshire, Scotland, which was first built as a hothouse in which those prized pineapples could be grown. Murray left Scotland to take up the position of the Governor of Virginia, and it was only upon his return to the country that the enormous stone pineapple was added to the building. Today, the Dunmore Pineapple is widely regarded as one of the most ambitious and impressive follies and you can even rent it out as a holiday home.
You’ve got a pineapple on your fountain and a fake roman ruin at the bottom of your garden: so what now? Why not invest in your very own hermit for that added does of intelleculatism?
In Georgian Britain, it was the very height of fashion and entertainment to have a hermit living somewhere on your land. These ornamental hermits would remain in the grounds of a house or estate where they would dwell in a purpose-built hermitage or folly and pass out sage advice to your visitors.
Garden hermits would be encouraged to dress as a philosopher or druid, usually draped in robes with long, unkempt hair and beards. They would often be seen carrying around large, heavy books from which they would preach to dinner guests. Often, a hermit was expected to go unwashed and ungroomed and had to act sombre and introspective, embodying the 18th century obsession with the melancholy. Guests could gain entrance to a hermit’s residence where you would expect to find him living humbly, sat behind a desk with the key tools of his trade: an hourglass and skull (to remind his guests of time and mortality), a pair of glasses and a large book. If you couldn’t afford to pay a hermit to live in your garden, it wasn’t uncommon to leave a skull, book or hourglass outside a folly or other structure to give the impression that a hermit did live there but was currently otherwise occupied.
Hermits served a variety of purposes in the Georgian household staff. Some hermits wrote and memorised poetry while others might serve wine. Many hermits were immediately accessible to guests, answering their deep questions of philosophy, religion or morality or providing them with wisdom. Some would merely go about their business quietly and silently, designed to be observed from afar.
The job was incredibly popular and quite sought-after – if you agreed to the landowner’s often rather strange stipulations, you would be provided with food and living quarters as well as a small stipend. Charles Hamilton, in Painshill, once posted an advertisement looking for a man to live in the hermitage and temple on his estate for seven years in exchange for £700 (around £60,000 today) on the understanding that the successful applicant did not speak to anyone, leave the estate or cut his hair for the duration of the role. While this is an excellent example of the high premium that people were willing to pay for their own personal hermit, It’s not so good an example of Hamilton’s judge of character: three weeks later, the hermit he hired was found at the local pub and was swiftly removed from his post.
Let’s glance back a couple of hundred years to 1592 and travel across the sea to Denmark, where the tulip was becoming the flower of choice for the fabulously rich. In this year, Carolus Clusius, one of the most important botanists of the time, wrote the first book on tulip care and their popularity exploded. At one stage, Clusius’ personal garden was regularly broken into by fans of the iconic plant, who would steal his bulbs and raid his flowerbeds.
Tulip-mania (or tulpenmanie, in Dutch) continued into the 17th Century. Demand was at an all-time high as the flowers were unlike any seen in Europe before. The bright, intensely saturated colours were perfect for creating intense flower beds and soon horticulturalists and botanists were working to create a wider range of tulip variety – for example the white and red Rosen.
By 1623, 10 rare tulip bulbs would set you back around 12,000 guilders – more than the cost of an upmarket townhouse in the center of Amsterdam. The tulip boom, which had been started by the wealthy seeking extravagant gardens, was exacerbated by those trying to make a quick profit in what was quickly becoming one of the world’s first speculative markets. Soon, tulip bulbs were even being used as a form of currency, being traded for goods and land. Tulips were bought and sold by everyone, from the aristocracy to farmers, chimney sweeps or butchers.
And then, in 1637, the tulip market collapsed virtually overnight. Even the cheapest bulbs were far too expensive and speculators could no longer afford to continue buying and selling. Just like that, the trade vanished. But the tulip did not – and the bulbs worth hundreds of guilders had made their way into the soil at last, where they could grow.
Lotti works with the Primrose Product Loading team, creating product descriptions and newsletter headers.
When not writing, Lotti enjoys watching (and over-analyzing) indie movies with a pint from the local craft brewery or cosplaying at London Comic Con.
Lotti is learning to roller skate, with limited success.
We’re thrilled to announce the publication of our first book, The Primrose Water Feature Book: Inspiring Stories to Transform Your Garden. It’s the end of a long and rewarding journey, so we’re delighted to finally be able to share it with you.
The book contains a number of case studies to see how some of our customers have used water features to turn their garden into something wonderful. There’s a whole range of styles, from minimalist modern centrepieces, to relaxing bubble tubes in an allotment. Alongside interviews and gorgeous photography, we have articles to help guide you through the process of choosing a water feature, installing it, lighting it and more.
Recently I was lucky enough to chat with the author, Kim Stoddart, about what she does and the process of writing the book. Over to Kim:
1. Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m a gardening journalist for a range of national publications (including the Guardian) and run courses from my smallholding and training gardens in beautiful West Wales. I have a passion for wildlife friendly gardening and believe that everyone would benefit from the many therapeutic benefits of spending time in a green outdoor space. As such I believe water has an incredibly important role to play in the garden, providing relaxation and much more besides.
2. What appealed to you about taking on this project?
As a gardening writer I’ve been aware of Primrose for a number of years now and really like the company. They have a good reputation and an extremely wide selection of water features, so I was delighted to help bring the subject alive for them.
3. What was the process of researching and writing the book like?
Being a gardening enthusiastic (aka geek), the opportunity to immerse myself in a particular subject is always appealing. Researching the book involved looking up everything to do with the subject past and present as well as working closely with the excellent team of experts at Primrose who know everything there is to know about water features.
4. What surprised you most from talking to our customers?
I think just how much their water features have enhanced their lives as well as their gardens is probably what came across most strikingly. Once you have a water feature you’re absolutely smitten with it.
5. What was your favourite featured garden?
That’s very difficult to say as I think they all had virtue and areas of interest. What I liked most was hearing from each Primrose customer about what their garden and water feature within meant to them. In all cases it was an extension of their own personal tastes and lifestyle and therefore fascinating to capture the many ways a green space can be enjoyed.
6. What would be your dream water feature?
The truth of the matter is that since writing this book, I’m now on a mission to include as many water features as possible within my training gardens. It’s an addictive but hugely beneficial hobby.
7. Has the project changed the way you look at gardens?
Well ask me anything about water features and I can talk for hours! Otherwise, I’d say I notice the beauty of natural water sources much more now and am inspired to recreate as many different features as I can at home. There’s nothing quite like the sound of a gently bubbling feature, it’s good for the soul.
8. What’s next for you?
Aside from the usual gardening writing in magazines and newspapers, I’m working on expanding my training courses through my social enterprise www.greenrocketcourses.com which help fund therapeutic opportunities for people on the autistic spectrum. My courses for the general public provide lots of time saving advice, tips and inspiration for people interested in growing their own food in particular. I also cover climate change gardening a great deal. There are also a few book projects on the horizon.
George 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.
Many people who own a bit of land would love to build a pond on it. What could be more soothing than the sight of a body of water stocked with koi or other animal life or the sound of a pond with a little waterfall or fountain? What’s more beautiful than a pond ringed with or floating beautiful flowers? Then, when the person builds a pond the water is turbid, the fish die, the plants die. Essentially, they end up with a hole full of mud. What went wrong?
There are places on every property where a pond simply can’t be built because it either, interferes with the sewer drain or utility lines, or it’s not shaded properly. The pond should also not be built in a low spot because it will collect pollutants, flood during rainstorms and be hard to clean. Not only this, the location needs to have the right soil. It should not be sandy or gravelly because that sort of soil drains too quickly. Clay soil is ideal for a pond because it holds on to water.
Lack of Ledges
Ledges are needed for semi-aquatic plants whose roots need be submerged while the rest of them are above water. Ledges can even be resting places for frogs and basking places for turtles. Also, the gravel in a pond that’s dug without ledges will simply slide to the deepest part of the pond, and boulders will crowd the space.
The water in a pond that’s too shallow will either become too hot, or evaporate out during the summer. In the winter, the water needs to be deep enough so the fish won’t freeze to death. If you have fish, a shallow pond can leave them more susceptible to predators.
A pond that’s too deep is hard to take care of, but it is better to have a pond that is deeper than the owner is comfortable with than one that is too shallow. If you are stocking your pond with fish, a pond that is too deep can hurt the population due to lack of oxygen.
The Wrong Stones/Lining
A natural looking pond should support rocks of several sizes. In the end, the pond owner should have a few tons of different sized rocks, from gravel to boulders. The pond liner has to be large enough to easily cover the area. Pond liners are expensive, but the owner’s best bet is to buy a bit more than they think they need.
Though there are some people who have ponds that do not need artificial filters, these ponds are a bit tricky to install and maintain. Chances are they are natural bodies of water anyway. Improper filtration leaves water dirty and unable to sustain the sort of life that the pond owner wants. It may only be able to sustain life such as algae and mosquitoes.
Underestimating the Labour
Anyone who has even planted a sapling in their landscape knows that it can be a job of work, especially if the soil is heavy. Excavating a pond is most likely not a job for one person if they wish to finish it in a reasonable amount of time. Renting a professional with a backhoe is always an option.
Building a pond may be a lot of work, but the end result is more than worth it. Especially if you can do it the right way, by planning ahead and being aware of potential oversights before they can occur. You will certainly enjoy your new water feature a lot more if aren’t worrying about mistakes you made during the build.
Drew Bishop is a contributing writer for Trophy Pond. In his spare time he enjoys camping and spending time on the lake.