England – the Rose
The rose has represented England since the 1400s when the Houses of York and Tudor battled for the English throne. York fought under the sign of the white rose, while Lancaster chose red. Following the unification of the throne, a new double rose incorporating red and white was adopted by the Tudor dynasty.
Wales – the Daffodil
A common sight across the Welsh valleys in the spring, the daffodil is an obvious choice for the national flower. The daffodil is worn on the 1st of March each year to celebrate St David’s Day, and is known as “Peter’s Leek” in the Welsh language.
Scotland – the Thistle
Although some residents prefer heather, the thistle is the official national emblem of Scotland. Legend has it that the spiky plant saved Scotland from being overrun by stealthy Viking invaders when the barefoot Norse warriors accidentally stood on the plant, their cries of pain alerting local Scots to their presence.
Northern Ireland – the Flax
Although the Shamrock is believed by many to be the national flower of Northern Ireland, the plant does not actually produce any flowers. Instead Flax is the official floral symbol, appearing as the emblem of the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, the badge of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and some one pound coins minted between 1986 and 1991.
If you thought that gardening was the hobby of choice for older people, new research suggests that you could be wrong. Research by Stewart Garden has found that people aged between 25 and 34 are not only more enthusiastic about growing their own fruit and vegetables, but that they also spend more on gardening products than any other demographic.
Those in the younger age bracket spent an average of £300 per year on gardening, whilst those aged 55 and over spent around £200. A massive 88% of 25 to 34 year olds were actively growing edible plants from seed, which accounts for a third of their £300 annual expenditure. Respondents aged 55+ appear to focus on the aesthetics of their garden, with just 23% saying that they grow their own fruit and vegetables.
Under-35s also spend significant sums on propagators, pots and hanging baskets, leading researchers to conclude that these gardeners have smaller plots of land with which to work. They were also more likely to involve children in garden maintenance, and had a preference for products made from recycled plastics.
In the middle age bracket (those aged 35 to 54), gardeners were more likely to use compost as part of their maintenance routines. Researchers conclude that these gardeners probably have larger plots of land on which to work than their younger and older counterparts. These gardeners are also believed to grow more of their produce in the ground, rather than in pots and baskets.
Welcome to the brand new Genus Performance Gardenwear blog. Over time we intend to develop this page – and indeed the whole site - into a friendly community for men and women who want to celebrate the joys of gardening.
As you may have noticed, our brand new site is not quite ready to accept orders so in the meantime, why not connect with us on your favourite social networks? That way, we can let you know as soon as our store opens. You can find Genus on:
We will also be sharing news, photos and general tips and tricks to help you enjoy your own garden more. Because as Gardeners’ World Magazine recently confirmed, gardening really does make us happy.
We look forward to connecting with you soon.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer is in Keukenhof, in the Netherlands. Dutch for “kitchen garden”, Keukenhof is also sometimes known as the “Garden of Europe”. Covering 32 hectares, officials estimate that they plant around seven million new bulbs every year.
A castle’s flower garden
Keukenhof was built in the 15th Century to provide herbs for the nearby castle kitchen, hence its name. The land was passed between owners over the centuries until the modern garden was established in 1949 as a place for flower growers from across the Netherlands and Europe as a place to show off new hybrid flower variants. Keukenhof has subsequently been the world’s largest flower garden ever since.
A range of styles
The grounds of Keukenhof contain many different garden styles. Visitors can enjoy a stroll through an English landscape garden, or view the collection of bulbs from rare plants in the Historical Garden. A Japanese country garden provides a departure from the norm with a more “playful”, non-traditional approach. Inside the pavilions, 86 ‘royal suppliers’ show off their finest cut flowers daily. There is also an annual flower bulb market that takes place each October, providing visitors with the chance to take a little reminder of Keukenhof back to their own garden at home.
Annual flower bed theme
Each year the gardens of Keukenhof choose a country around which to theme their spring flower displays. 2013 was the turn of Great Britain, with tulips being used to create huge mosaics of Big Ben and Tower Bridge. There were also a number of British-themed displays inside the Juliana Pavilion, overseen by Keukenhof staff wearing British national costumes, playing bagpipes and reading poetry.
Annual flower parade
Keukenhof also hosts an annual flower parade each May. A 40 kilometre route sees floats covered in flowers travel from Noordwijk to Haarlem, finishing at Keukenhof. The parade is completely free, with spectators lining the entire route to catch a glimpse of the fantastic floral creations as they pass. Keukenhof ticket holders can also get a closer look at each float as they re-enter the garden after the parade.
Visitors to Keukenhof may be disappointed to learn that the garden does not contain endless rows of tulips as might be expected. The garden contains millions of flower and plant varieties, including tulips, but each is restricted to small areas. For the classic view of tulip fields stretching off into the distance, visitors will need to try and stop at one of the private growers in the area.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's Heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth
We loved this poem enough to add it to one of our Pinterest boards and it also inspired us to investigate the role of gardens in various spiritual and religious traditions. This is what we discovered:
According to the Bible, the world began in the Garden of Eden (also the inspiration for Gurney’s poem) and placed Adam and Eve in charge of tending it. Life in the garden was said to be idyllic as man and God walked together in the cool of the evening.
The Japanese rock garden has become a spiritual discipline for Zen Buddhists. These small, walled gardens use rocks, gravel, water, trees, bushes and moss to represent mountain and water scenes. Japanese rock gardens are designed to imitate the essence of nature, thereby serving as an aid to meditation about the true meaning of life.
Islam also attaches a religious importance to gardens, using them as a place of rest and relaxation. During visits to Islamic gardens, Muslims are encouraged to reflect on their faith, the surrounding serving as a reminder of the life in paradise that awaits them. The Qur’an, Islam’s holy text, regularly references gardens to reinforce their use as a glimpse of heaven.
Chinese Taoists have used gardens as a way to reach enlightenment for over 2000 years. Followers of Taoism use gardens to disengage from worldly concerns and instead contemplate the unity of creation. Tao gardens are designed to evoke the idyllic feeling of walking through a natural landscape. In this way adherents can fully appreciate the harmony between man and nature. Gardens typically include water, rocks, bridges in addition to flowers and trees.
Hinduism takes gardening a step further by venerating certain plants. Tulsi basil, for instance, is believed to be an incarnation of a god, and is therefore the foundation of any Hindu garden. The plant is also believed to keep the mind healthy and free of worry so that worshippers at temples, which also tend to be surrounded by gardens, can concentrate on the gods.
Rising out of the heavily populated city of Haifa in Israel, the Bahá’í Gardens are built along 19 terraces up the side of Mount Carmel. At the centre of the garden stands a gold-domed shrine marking the final resting place of the Prophet-Herald. The garden is a place of pilgrimage for adherents of the Bahá’í faith, and is also specifically aligned towards the city of ‘Akko which holds a sacred significance.
We loved the story we read the other day about 70 year-old Stuart Grindle, a retired joiner from Tickhill near Doncaster, who mows his lawn twice a day because he wants the perfect garden.
The self-confessed “gardening geek” claims to spend 30 hours each week mowing the lawn to ensure that the grass remains exactly 5mm long. He also tends the flowerbeds regularly. Stuart’s passion for gardening is such that he estimates having devoted 40,000 hours over the past thirty years to it.
To help create the uniform grass length and perfect stripes, Stuart relies on a 66 year-old mower. The 14-blade 1947 Ransome Certes mower was originally owned by a bowling green keeper, but is now Stuart’s second-most important possession after the garden itself. His wife, Anne, confirmed: “Stuart loves the lawnmower and he would not part with it for the world. He says it’s perfect.”
Commenting on his efforts, Stuart said, “The lawn is my pride and joy. Most people probably only get the lawnmower out once a week but I cut my lawn twice a day three times a week. People think it’s astroturf because it’s in such good condition. That’s down to watering it and cutting it often.”
To help maintain the perfectly manicured look of his lawn, Stuart has also taken the unusual step of banning everyone except his wife from even walking on the grass. As a child, his son was banned from playing ball games on the grass, being sent instead to use the local playing fields.
Stuart has, however, recently relaxed his lawn rules for one day only, opening his garden to the public for a charity event. “I have to admit it was a pleasure and a pain,” he said about having to watch visitors walking across his treasured turf. However the event was a complete success raising over £1200 for three charitable causes.
We were delighted to see Genus on the front page of Horticulture Week in mid-September. After all, if the professionals like us we must be doing something right!
The Press Association picked up on our launch at the end of August and sent a syndicated Top Buy news piece to 100 regional newspapers. At least 20 around the UK featured us over the following weeks.