How to Look After Houseplants During the Winter Months

On the whole houseplants thrive during the summer months when there’s lots of daylight and temperatures are more suited to their natural habitat. In the winter months however drafts, cold, and over-watering can kill off the hardiest specimen. So here’s our quick guide to keeping your plant pets happy until Spring arrives.

 Succulent (8.5cm), from £3.99, in turquoise Janice pot, various sizes, from £5.99; Chlorophytum (12cm), £5.99, in green puck pot, various sizes, from £9.99; Asplenium Crispy Wave (12cm), £6.99, in brown Atlantic basket, various sizes, from £3.49

Succulent (8.5cm), from £3.99, in turquoise Janice pot, various sizes, from £5.99; Chlorophytum (12cm), £5.99, in green puck pot, various sizes, from £9.99; Asplenium Crispy Wave (12cm), £6.99, in brown Atlantic basket, various sizes, from £3.49

  1. All houseplants require less water in winter. Make sure you're not letting your pots stay too wet, and your plants will thank you. Try cutting the frequency of watering in half, or just water if your plants look thirsty.

  2. The ideal temperature range for most plants is 20 to 26 c during the day and 15 c at night. They will survive at lower temperatures but they won’t thrive. Don’t whatever you do leave them on a windowsill behind closed curtains.

  3. Most plants will appreciate being moved nearer to a source of light during the shorter days, but make sure you keep them away from drafts.

  4. Houseplants will be dormant at this time of year so hold off with the plant food until Spring.

  5. Low humidity is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome during winter. If you have a humidifier in your home, move your plants to a spot where they will enjoy its benefits. Clustering your plants in groups will also help.

 Chair, part of Grace bistro set, £179

Chair, part of Grace bistro set, £179

Finally, don’t ignore them. Continue to check for dead leaves and any signs that your plant is in distress, but don't fuss over them or kill them with kindness. Keep an eye out for early signs of problems, which can still include insect pests, even in winter. But wait until the growing season resumes, before you re-pot them or start taking cuttings. Consider winter an off-season for your houseplants and let them rest.

 Streptocarpus 10cm pot from £6.99, Thyme common 14cm pot £3.99 or 3 for £10, Succulent mix including Echeveria 5.5cm from £2.99, Pansy mauve six pack £3.99 or 3 for £9, Trailing ivy (Hedera 9cm) £1.99

Streptocarpus 10cm pot from £6.99, Thyme common 14cm pot £3.99 or 3 for £10, Succulent mix including Echeveria 5.5cm from £2.99, Pansy mauve six pack £3.99 or 3 for £9, Trailing ivy (Hedera 9cm) £1.99

All images courtesy of Dobbies who have been inspiring gardeners since 1865.

Top Tips for Getting The Garden Ready for Autumn

There’s no escaping the fact that Autumn is coming. But we happen to think that this season is a magical time of year where the landscape colours transform from lush greens to beautiful oranges, flaming reds, and yellows.  Unfortunately the typical garden never looks that pristine at this time of year, so now is the time to start to think about how to prepare your garden for the winter months.

 Potting Table from Sue Ryder

Potting Table from Sue Ryder

Repair and Protect Fencing

Start looking at how you can create a robust environment which will last through the harsher winter months. Make sure your garden fencing is in good condition and able to survive strong blustery winds.   For instance, check the fence for any lose panels and repair fence posts now to avoid any potential problems caused by severe weather.

 Wheely Bin Cover from Sue Ryder

Wheely Bin Cover from Sue Ryder

Store Away Garden Furniture

Over the past couple of years,’ the garden has become an extension of the home and people are investing more money in garden furniture and outdoor accessories. Don’t leave these items out in the garden. You will find that metal and even barbecues tend to rust and become discoloured when subjected to the elements.  If you have a smaller outdoor space then why not consider small sheds or garden boxes to store items away. Also, consider investing in protective covers for your furniture and outdoor equipment.

Keep your Home Mud Free

Don’t you just love it when your hallway is plastered with muddy footprints? One way to keep mucky shoes and boots at bay is to invest in a welly boot store, these can come in various guises.  Metal outdoor storage units or more closed storage cupboards as seen below and can sit outside all year long.

 Boot Store from Sue Ryder

Boot Store from Sue Ryder

Tidy up the grass

Make sure that you keep weeds at bay during the Autumn months and keep the grass cut – although it doesn’t grow as fast as during the Summer months – it’s worth just giving it the odd cut now and again. Trim back perennials that have turned and also don’t forget to plant your spring bulbs; daffodils, for instance, should be planted mid-October just before the ground freezes over.

 Garden Storage Shed from Sue Ryder

Garden Storage Shed from Sue Ryder

A Shed Load of Space

Sheds are fast becoming another “must have” garden accessory.  People are opting for custom made structures that can also double up as an alternative room.   Whatever size or type of shed you have, make sure your garden shed is in good repair and store away your garden equipment neatly so that you maximize the interior space.  Use hook or nails to hang tools and introduce shelving to store items away.   If you have a smaller garden then why not invest in a compact shed, that would fit into a smaller garden space but still provide you with adequate storage.

Log Storage

Having a wood store close to your home in a handy spot for topping up you log basket will prove to be a blessing on those dark nights. It can be hard work moving heavy logs from a woodpile each day and can mean several trips back a forth. Logs that are neatly stored close to your home will be far more ideal. Make sure that you have good access to your log storage and that it’s not obstructing any other paths or gates as once stocked up it will be in position for some time.

01604593674 | www.sueryder.org/shop

About:

Money raised from the sale of these products helps provide incredible care for people with life-changing illness. Whether it’s bringing comfort to someone’s final days or enabling them to make the most of their life, Sue Ryder is there for them and their loved ones.

Seven Tools You Need to Keep Your Lawn Looking Good

Collaborative Post

A nice lawn makes a home look so much more attractive. But, grass does take a little bit of looking after. You need access to the right equipment and products to keep it strong, healthy and lush. Here is a list of what you will need, along with a few tips to help you to get the most out of them.

Good-quality grass seed

Top of the list is good quality grass seed. Every year, some of your existing lawn is going to die back. It could because of disease, a lack of water or general wear or tear. Whatever the reason, the way to fix this is to re-seed your lawn. Doing it every year ensures that you keep ahead of the process and ensure that your lawn continues to look good.

Buying from online sellers like The Grass People is a particularly good way to get your hands on the right type of seed. They tend to sell a bigger selection. This is important because which seed is best for your lawn is dependent on where you live, your local weather and soil conditions.

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An effective mower

Keeping your lawn properly cut is also important. Doing so stimulates growth and helps to ensure that as much water as possible reaches the roots of your grass.

You should only cut your grass when it actually growing and ensure that your mower blades are sharp. Ideally, you should not cut more than a third of the blades of grass. If you cut off more of the length, you can send the grass into shock and upset its growth cycle. So, always look for a height adjustable mower.

A dethatcher

Over time, the dead material begins to clog up your lawn. It is usually a mixture of dust, dead weeds, rotting leaves and dying blades of grass. This makes it harder for water to penetrate the ground and reach the grass roots. So, once a year, you need to de-thatch your lawn. Just buy and use a de-thatching rake. They are not expensive and are very easy to use.

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An aerator

Lawns need to be aerated. If you do not do this, the soil compacts more, each year. Over time, this action presses in on the roots and suffocates them. This stunts the growth of your grass and eventually kills it off. So, you need to aerate your lawn, once a year. To do this you can buy or hire an aerator or simply use a sturdy garden fork.

Rainwater butts

Rainwater is much better for grass than tap water is. So, it really is worth investing in a couple of rain butts.

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Grass feed

Some people are lucky and end up with a lovely lush, green lawn without having to feed it. If you do not fall into that category visit your local garden centre and buy some of the grass feed they recommend.

A way to keep your lawn weed free

Weeding your lawn is also important. Weeds are greedy. They can easily guzzle up all of the water and nutrients. Plus, their leaves will inevitably end up overrunning your lawn and killing off your grass.

How you weed your lawn is very much a case of personal taste. You can go down the weed killer route or, if you prefer, buy a manual weeding tool. There are several available, so do a bit of research and shop around to find the best one for you.

Garden Lighting: Easy Ideas To Help Transform Your Outside Space

Collaborative Post

When it comes to garden lighting, many people think of security lights, designed to deter intruders, or perhaps of temporary installations for outdoor weddings or other parties. However, careful use of lighting can transform a garden and help make it a truly multi-functional after-dark space. Here are eight points to consider.

Outdoor wall lights

The popularity of outdoor wall lights means there is a fabulous selection of styles and designs on the market at a range of price points. Choose a supplier with an extensive choice, such as lights.co.uk, for a good overview of what is available and what appeals to you. You may want to opt for a style that suits your home. Traditional designs made from dark metal and glass may work well with older properties. At the other end of the spectrum, contemporary designs lean towards the minimalist and tend to be sleek and unfussy. Merging the two, mid-century modernist designs will work well in just about any space. Whatever design you choose, modern technology can ensure that your lights are easy to use and efficient in their energy use. 

garden lighting.jpg

Incorporate Lighting Into Any Garden Redesign

Garden lighting should not be an afterthought. If you're at the start of a garden redesign, think about lighting options now. Remember that most cabling can go beneath the hard landscaping. Judicious planting may be able to disguise cabling that is added at a later stage. 

Use The Services Of A Qualified Electrician

Ensure a qualified electrician installs any cabled lighting. This is important both from a safety perspective and to ensure the cables are protected from rabbits and other tunnelling or gnawing animals. Using tubing reinforced with mesh adds an additional layer of protection. 

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Illuminate From Above

Natural light originates from above. As a general rule, it is best to mimic this when illuminating outside spaces. Low wattage bulbs are most effective and can result in an eye-catching and memorable display. In any event, from a safety perspective it is essential to comply with the manufacturer's maximum wattage specification for any particular light fitting. LED lights can be an excellent choice. 

Subtle Illumination 

Many people are tempted to illuminate a single tree or bush by use of a spotlight. Despite their best intentions, this can lead to a security light effect that is anything but relaxing. You can avoid this by ensuring that your light is angled downwards. This will result in subtle pools of dappled light capable of illuminating a path or patio. Similarly, don't be tempted to light up an entire flight of steps. Illuminating alternate risers is usually far more aesthetically pleasing. 

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Neighbours

Light pollution is a common cause of discord between neighbours. It has the potential to be a statutory nuisance and, as such, fall under the remit of local government. You can avoid this becoming a problem for you by thinking about how your proposed lighting might affect any neighbours and installing your choices with care and consideration. 


Wildlife 

Inappropriate garden lighting can adversely affect wildlife. For example, moths can be disorientated by artificial lights and birds' sleep cycles can be disrupted, causing them to start singing well before dawn. Ensuring you retain dark areas within the garden, choosing low intensity lighting and turning the lights off when not in use are some of the ways you can minimise the impact on your garden wildlife

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Garden Lighting Designers

If yours is a big space or if you are feeling unsure about how to illuminate your garden to best effect, you might want to engage the services of a professional garden lighting designer. As well as taking into account all the points raised above, they will work with you to ensure that your outside space is illuminated beautifully. Colour, lighting location, direction of lighting, installation, safety and cost of illumination all fall within their remit. 

With summer almost upon us, now is the perfect time to ensure your garden is in the best shape for you to enjoy it throughout the warmer months. Good lighting is an integral part of this. With a little thought and preparation, you can make your garden as visually appealing after dark as it is during daylight hours.

Fake It: Faux Flowers from Neptune

Faux flowers have upped their game. Gone are the days of the obviously artificial and thick fabric leaves, instead, fine silk petals that are beautifully hand-painted, supported by thick stems and glossy verdant leaves have taken their place. 

At Neptune, our Flower Shop presents floral stems, green sprigs, knobbly twigs and even potted succulents. We refer to them as being ‘life-like’ as opposed to ‘faux’ or ‘artificial’ because it’s a phrase that’s far more true to their nature. It’s not until you are but inches away that you realise they aren’t the real thing. 

Life-like florals are a simple way to give a room instant lift, standing them in attractive vases upon window sills, console tables or as a dining room’s tabletop centerpiece. They can introduce seasonal colour, or, consider using purely stems of greenery or even a bundle of Willow or Magnolia twigs for a more contemporary statement that requires zero effort to maintain. And because of their bendy stems, they can be looped together for more creative arrangements such as apple blossom as a bower or numerous stems grouped together and suspended over a table for a scene your guests will never forget...

The Heart Home Garden Shop

Fingers crossed we'll all be spending much more time in the garden over the next few months. So we've curated a collection of garden furniture and accessories to help you make sure your outside space is as stylish and comfortable as it can be. 

And don't forget, if you don't find what you're looking for below, there's much more in the Heart Home shop. Just hit the button above.

Garden Furniture: Dreaming of Summer

Winter is still in full swing and frosty days do not give up yet. Let’s dream about next summer, then, imagining fresh ideas for our new outdoor furniture!  It is time to think of how to arrange the outdoor space in order to enjoy it for pleasant moments of relaxation under the blue sky.

First of all, you must decide how you would like to use and organize your outdoor space. Would you like a garden where growing a small vegetable garden? Or would you prefer a location suitable to hold the many summer parties and dinners you will plan with your friends and relatives? Garden is for you a place where relaxing and reading, maybe while sipping your favourite drink, but also where running and playing with your children. You can combine all these needs by dividing spaces to create smaller areas with specific functions. A relax area with couches, hammocks or rocking chairs where you can rest and chat with friends, taking a break from your busy and sometimes stressful days; a space dedicated to food revolving around garden table and chairs, maybe covered by a huge beach umbrella or a canopy to protect you and your beloved ones from the sun while eating; and also a playground to entertain your children and let them enjoy sunny days. 

Obviously, once chosen the function your garden will take on, you must start considering what types of outdoor furniture you should use so as to furnish it at best from both an aesthetic and a functional point of view. You should focus on weather-resistant pieces of garden furniture, thus on garden tables and chairs resistant to sun and rain, specifically conceived not only to bring a touch of design but also to make durable your garden furniture. Currently, most of the outdoor furniture is realised with technological and synthetic materials characterised by fundamental qualities such as resistance to sunlight and weathering. Moreover, these materials are non-toxic and highly waterproof.

If you have opted for a relaxing outdoor living room, then items such as garden chairs and chaise longue are the ideal complements to create a welcoming atmosphere. An option that well harmonizes with the idea of a relax garden is to choose wood as the material for your furniture. Wood, for tables and outdoor tables, is definitely a valuable choice, as well as ideal for staying in the open air, surrounded by your bright plants and flowers. Wooden garden tables and chairs, in fact, are treated with special coatings that make them resistant to mould and mildew and, above all, waterproof. Another essential thing in a relax garden is the main symbol of summer and of the sweetness of do nothing: the hammock. By now, many models are available on the market, both the classic garden hammock to hang between two trees or two poles and the more contemporary one, equipped with its own supporting structure that allows you to place it wherever you want, even at home or in whatever indoor space. Many garden furniture, in fact, are also practical within the household, both to give a more natural feel to your interior design and to decorate a winter garden, a veranda, or, more simply, a nice balcony or terrace.

Summer is still far (unfortunately): you have plenty of time to think of how to organise at best your outdoor space and what garden furniture to choose to make perfect your own green corner.

She Sheds by Erika Kotite

  Belle of the Garden. Photography: Stacy Bass Photography, p168 – “Twin trellises support the garden’s climbing roses on the Williamsburg Gardenbelle she shed. This impressive architectural structure is actually centered within the brick wall and becomes part of the landscape’s permanence.”

Belle of the Garden. Photography: Stacy Bass Photography, p168 – “Twin trellises support the garden’s climbing roses on the Williamsburg Gardenbelle she shed. This impressive architectural structure is actually centered within the brick wall and becomes part of the landscape’s permanence.”

Have you dreamed of a quiet place where you can get away from it all? Do you have a creative spirit that is searching for somewhere to thrive? Would you like to surround yourself with special things that are yours and yours alone? Do you believe that the best things come in small packages? All over the world, others have felt the same desires and discovered the solitude and splendor of a she shed. They may be described by other names, such as hen hut or lady lair, but the purpose and benefits are exactly the same. 

  La casita. Photography: Cody Ulrich, p107.jpg – “A stunning chandelier that Morse made from shells hangs over the main living area of her shed. The sofa serves as her bed when she stays here. Handsome wood flooring is mostly original, painted black. Above the beams, a former air vent now serves as a small window.”

La casita. Photography: Cody Ulrich, p107.jpg – “A stunning chandelier that Morse made from shells hangs over the main living area of her shed. The sofa serves as her bed when she stays here. Handsome wood flooring is mostly original, painted black. Above the beams, a former air vent now serves as a small window.”

In She Sheds, the beautiful new book by Erika Kotite, you’ll see dozens of in-depth examples of these private spaces to inspire you in your own pursuit. Some she sheds are dedicated to making art or music, some to gardening, writing, or reading. The activities are as varied as the women who have created them. But they all share one thing in common: they began as someone’s dream and blossomed into a small slice of heaven. 

  The Bridal Shed. Photography by Anne Wells, p59 – “The underside of the roof is swathed in a cotton canopy. (There is a timber roof above.) A storage area to the far end is created with a stud partition that comes out just to the center of the shed.”

The Bridal Shed. Photography by Anne Wells, p59 – “The underside of the roof is swathed in a cotton canopy. (There is a timber roof above.) A storage area to the far end is created with a stud partition that comes out just to the center of the shed.”

Erika Kotite is an editor, writer, and content developer in both print and digital media. She was editor-in-chief of Romantic Homes and Victorian Homes for many years, bringing that experience to producing books for Sterling, Quarry, and Walter Foster. Some of her titles include, Felt Fashion: Couture Projects from Apparel to Accessories, Blogging for Bliss, and The Daily Book of Photography. 

She Sheds: A Room Of Your Own by Erika Kotite is published by Cool Springs Press (£16.99). The book officially releases on 16th February and more information can be found here

​Outdoor Living By Selina Lake

Taken from her book Outdoor Living, Selina Lake shares with us her styling tips on how to create the perfect afternoon tea party.

MyStyle Tips

A long table instantly creates a special mood and works well if guests are going to be serving themselves, as they can pass refreshments and platters from one end to the other. It’s easy to create an extra-long table by dragging a couple of classic wooden picnic benches together. These are available from most home and garden stores and are a great investment for the garden. Position the tables in the best spot for early evening sunshine to catch the last rays of the day.

No pretty table outside is complete without flowers – the more, the better. Stems look great in a mix of jam jars and vases and I also like to scatter them on the table. Think about incorporating blooms in other ways, too – perhaps by decorating cakes with flower heads or hanging posies from tree branches using ribbon.

One of my favourite pastimes is collecting vintage china. I simply can’t resist a floral plate from a second-hand shop, especially if it boasts a rosy pattern and a glimmer of gold. Mismatched plates add a certain charm to a pretty table and you could team them with non-matching cutlery/flatware for a total eclectic look. 

Continue the mix-and-match theme with your glassware, too. When I see glasses I like, I tend to buy just two or three, instead of a set, and I now have quite a collection of assorted glasses. 

Add a few pieces of gold china or candlesticks for a touch of luxury and to reflect the sunlight.

Words by Selina Lake, photography by Debi Treloar

Outdoor Living by Selina Lake, photography by Debi Treloar is published by Ryland Peters & Small and is available from rylandpeters.com

How Does Your Garden Grow? - Part 2

Last week we shared with you stylist Joanna Thornhill's innovative garden 'fake-over'. This week we are featuring her ideas for some very stylish and economical planting ideas. 

  Pots painted in spray paint, from a selection, Plastikote.

Pots painted in spray paint, from a selection, Plastikote.

An old fruit basket makes for a pretty tiered planter when lined with hanging basket lining and filled with trailing plants.

Found dumped on the side of the road, these tyres make surprisingly good large planters. By creating a ‘bottom’ with some plastic sheeting punched with holes for drainage, it provides a happy home for numerous blooms.

Cut flowers from the garden look sweet displayed in a vintage milk bottle holder.  

Old food tins are given a new lease of life, spray-painted and then used as planters (with drainage holes punched in the bottom) and candle votives (with a star design punched in the side to allow the light to shine through). Both were created by punching a nail through the can with a hammer, to puncture its surface.

This unusual tiered plant stand is great for making the most of small spaces or balconies, and helps stop smaller plants looking too disparate.

Some leftover emulsion paint was used to add streaks of painterly colour to this cheap terracotta pot, with pinks selected to pick up on the Fuchsia plant it houses. The pot was sealed with two coats of PVA glue inside and out, to prevent the paint from running off whilst allowing the terracotta to breathe.

Lined with hanging basket lining, this cute colander was just 50p from a local charity shop and makes for a sweet planter.

Feature and styling: Joanna Thornhill.

Photography: Rita Platts.

This feature originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Heart Home mag. All stockists and prices were correct at time of publication.

Wild & Wolf: V&A Gardening Collection

With the beginning of June feeling more like Autumn than Summer, we're still feeling pretty positive that the rays of sunshine will soon be shining upon us. We wont let the wet weather dampen our spirits, in fact we're getting excited at the prospect at spending more time in the garden.

So lets get ready to make hay while the sun shines with Wild & Wolf's new collaboration with Victoria & Albert museum. The new range of floral home & gardening tools is available in three archive prints - a detail from William Morris' 19th century botanical Bower wallpaper and two patterns based on William Kilburn's delicate century textile designs.

So come on sun, we need to play with these gorgeous new accessories. 

Wild & Wolf V&A gardening collection from £9.95 www.wildandwolf.com 

How Does Your Garden Grow? - Part 1

Owning a garden for the first time can be a daunting prospect, especially for those not naturally equipped with green fingers. Interiors stylist Joanna Thornhill faced such a challenge after purchasing her first property in Walthamstow, north-east London, and she inherited an uninspiring patch of barren concrete. Her response was to tackle the space much like any other interiors makeover: tart it up and style it out!  

 This colourful space provides the perfect spot to both entertain and relax during the warmer months.

This colourful space provides the perfect spot to both entertain and relax during the warmer months.

Bay tree standard, £65; wooden planter, £55, both Trees Direct. Green American glass cake stand, £39; folding giant spotty newspaper stars, £7.50; recycled plastic kettle, £8; plastic pouffe, £35; plastic mat, £12, hand-painted religious tin can, £15.50, all REfound Objects. Melamine plates (on wall), similar from Rockett St George. Vegetable oil tin stool, from £35 from a selection at The Chair Man at Wood Street Market, Walthamstow. Orange bunny and paper bunting, from a selection at Tiger Stores. Phoenix pygmy date plant, metal steps and selected other plants and pots, from a selection, Wilkinson.

 A bright splash of colour and some cosy textiles makes this seating nook sing.

A bright splash of colour and some cosy textiles makes this seating nook sing.

Bench, from a selection at Argos, painted in Summer Medley 1 paint by Dulux. Bench seat pad covered in Green Mum’s oilcloth, £12 per metre, Viva la Frida. Battersea toile cushion, £60, Snowden Flood.

 After sourcing a plastic plant pot to fit inside its opening, this old teapot is put to good use as an alternative plant pot, complete with drainage spout.

After sourcing a plastic plant pot to fit inside its opening, this old teapot is put to good use as an alternative plant pot, complete with drainage spout.

Wire fruit stand, floral cross-stitch cushion, stone dog ornament, yellow tealight holder, metal frame, fruit crate, metal teapot and colander (used as planters) and milk bottle holder, all vintage – try eBay, charity shops or salvage fairs for similar

 These Heuchera plants look cute peeking out of a vintage fruit crate, lined with a bin bag to minimise wood rot. Old garden tools make appropriate décor for the space.

These Heuchera plants look cute peeking out of a vintage fruit crate, lined with a bin bag to minimise wood rot. Old garden tools make appropriate décor for the space.

Bamboo slat screen fencing, £29.99 per 4mx2m panel, Homebase.

 Reclaimed railway sleepers add a rustic touch to this city garden. If creating a similar look at home, bear in mind that reclaimed sleepers sometimes contain metal inserts – if you wish to cut some to size, it’s best to purchase new ones to ensure you get a clean cut.

Reclaimed railway sleepers add a rustic touch to this city garden. If creating a similar look at home, bear in mind that reclaimed sleepers sometimes contain metal inserts – if you wish to cut some to size, it’s best to purchase new ones to ensure you get a clean cut.

Alicante astro turf, £13.99 per square metre, Touch of Grass. Cotswold stone gravel, (in flower beds) £7.49 per maxi bag, Homebase.

 A vintage sign, found at the annual Lille Brocante flea market, adds a touch of industrial interest to the shed.

A vintage sign, found at the annual Lille Brocante flea market, adds a touch of industrial interest to the shed.

Value Traditional overlap 6ft x 6ft shed, £175, Wilkinson, painted in Pale Jasmine from Garden Shades range, £23.49 for 2.5l, Cuprinol and Summer Medley 1 with Weathershield base, £23.99 for 1l, Dulux.

 An old plastic chandelier, stripped of its wiring, creates a quirky, mood-setting outdoor light. Spray-painted a vibrant blue and with pillar candles added where light bulb fittings once were, it is hung from a hanging basket bracket screwed into a fence post.

An old plastic chandelier, stripped of its wiring, creates a quirky, mood-setting outdoor light. Spray-painted a vibrant blue and with pillar candles added where light bulb fittings once were, it is hung from a hanging basket bracket screwed into a fence post.

Solar powered LED party lights, £35, Lakeland.

 Lots of clever tricks have been used to add height within this garden: here, a discarded table leg, found on the street outside, has been topped with a slate roof tile to create a quirky plant stand.

Lots of clever tricks have been used to add height within this garden: here, a discarded table leg, found on the street outside, has been topped with a slate roof tile to create a quirky plant stand.

Wire bird cage, £75 for two, Rockett St George.

Next week we'll share more of Joanna's innovative ideas for potted plants.

Feature and styling: Joanna Thornhill.

Photography: Rita Platts.

This feature originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Heart Home mag. All stockists and prices were correct at time of publication.

Sophie Allport WINS 5* Award at Prestigious Chelsea Flower Show

With 165,000 visitors descending on London to admire breathtaking displays, beautiful designs and buckets of creativity, it can only mean one thing… the 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show is on! For the sixth year in a row, the team at Lincolnshire based Sophie Allport have beavered away behind the scenes in the months leading up to the world renowned event. They have set up a carefully designed exhibitor stand and are delighted to have been presented with a ‘five star’ award! “We’re absolutely thrilled to have won our first five-star award. All those months of designing and planning followed by a big effort to construct the stand last week have paid off,” explained Sophie Allport.

Sophie is showcasing her new Hare collection of homewares plus a limited edition ‘Chelsea Flower Show 2016’ fine bone china mug which has so far proved to be the best seller.

“I’m a very keen gardener,” explained Sophie. “I find Chelsea so inspiring. It gets better every year. We have been so lucky this year to overlook Cleve West’s gold award-winning M&G garden opposite our stand. It’s breathtaking!”

The eagle eyed members of the Sophie Allport team have so far spotted The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Naomie Harris and Mary Berry at the Show. “We’ve been excited to have some famous faces on the stand already including Kirstie Allsopp, Anton du Beke, Dame Judi Dench and some ‘girl power’ from former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell,” said Sophie.

All items in the Sophie Allport collection can be purchased from sophieallport.com or by phoning 01780 560256.  

300,000 Commemorative Poppies to be Unveiled at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Acclaimed landscape designer Phillip Johnson has teamed up with the creators of the 5000 Poppies Project to showcase a vast tribute of almost 300,000 handcrafted poppies at 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show from 24-28 May 2016. The ambitious display will honour all servicemen and women who have fought across all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations over the last 100 years.  This unique event is being made possible through the support of the Victorian Government and Qantas.

  5000 Poppies Federation Sqaure

5000 Poppies Federation Sqaure

Phillip Johnson’s ambitious, elegant design for Chelsea will incorporate a stunning selection of poppies from 50,000 contributors from across the globe. The design features a simple central geometric installation, complemented by more than 25,000 stemmed poppies extending into the manicured lawns of the Chelsea Hospital.

  5000 Poppies Project Fed Square April 2015

5000 Poppies Project Fed Square April 2015

Overall the design will cover almost 2,000 sqm (21,500 sqft). This will be the first time that the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has connected into the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in such a dramatic way, and RHS Chelsea organisers expect the installation to be a highlight at the Show.

This vast project came from humble beginnings and sparked massive international community interest.  In 2013, Australian creators Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight set out to crochet just 120 crocheted poppies to plant at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne in honour of their fathers who both fought in WWII.  A huge outpouring of community spirit and creative energy took this project to an unprecedented scale.

  Margaret Knight

Margaret Knight

By Remembrance Day 2013 more than 5,000 poppies had been collected, and by Anzac Day 2015 the total was well in excess of quarter of a million poppies from contributors around the globe. The result was a spectacular visual tribute in Melbourne’s landmark Federation Square and on Princes Bridge, and led to an invitation to showcase at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The aim to honour all servicemen and women reflects the way that the project has grown to include many contributors from other countries and cultures.

  RHS Chelsea Flower Show - 5000 Poppies artist impression (credit Colin Jackson)

RHS Chelsea Flower Show - 5000 Poppies artist impression (credit Colin Jackson)

Say It With Flowers From Bloom

With Mother's day approaching why not celebrate it with a lovely bunch of flowers. And we're not talking about normal flowers but silk flowers! Discover the beauty of truly realistic silk flowers created by Tiffany Davies for Bloom.

Every one of Bloom's petals, buds and leaves is designed and made by hand to uncompromising standards. Praised by journalists, sought after by interior designers and loved by customers, these stunning silk blooms flourish and thrive in any home for years.

Bloom faux flowers can go where real flowers won't survive - Bright sunlight, dim corners, draughty halls. Bloom flowers can be displayed all year round and are particularly good in offices where central heating is a bit of a hazard to real flowers and plants. The beauty of faux flowers is that they will look good anywhere and will stay looking great for years to come. 

Don't forget Mother's day 6th March.

Garden Decking: The New Generation

Choosing garden decking can be a bit of a minefield, particularly when there are so many choices on the market. Just choosing a colour can be difficult enough; deciding on the best type of material for your project can be positively baffling, particularly if you’re not familiar with the various options.

In recent years, there have been many exciting new developments in the decking industry. Manufacturers have been responding to the demands of their customers by producing products that not only look great, but are also capable of withstanding the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

 EasyClean Legacy Ashwood decking

EasyClean Legacy Ashwood decking

Before you build your new deck, it’s extremely important to plan the project properly. It’s particularly crucial that you put some thought into your choice of material before getting stuck in; you want a deck that will serve its practical purpose for years to come, whilst also retaining the vivid, detailed appearance that attracted you in the first place.

Capped composite decking is a fairly new development, but it has already become an incredibly popular choice amongst homeowners due to its resilience and durability. Here are the main advantages of capped composite decking:

It Looks Great

Capped composite decking comes in a fantastic selection of colours and styles, making it suitable for those who are looking to capture an authentic wooden look as well as for those who would prefer implement a sleeker, more contemporary design. Some products even blend the best of both styles; for example, capped EasyClean Legacy Ashwood decking from TimberTech combines a stylish, muted grey palette with a natural wood finish:

   
  
 
  
    
  
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  EasyClean Legacy Ashwood decking

EasyClean Legacy Ashwood decking

As well as enabling you to create an attractive design, capped decking also ensures that your carefully assembled deck will cope with the elements, along with the inevitable impact of regular use. Protected by a moisture-resistant polymer sleeve, capped composite decking is great for the changeable and damp conditions we’re accustomed to here in the UK. It’s also great for families and clumsy dinner guests, as the sleeve prevents spills and stains from seeping into the material.

It’s Versatile

Thanks to its durability, shade variety, and low-maintenance properties, capped composite decking is also extremely versatile, making it suitable for all kinds of different projects. 

   
  
 
  
    
  
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  EasyClean Terrain+ Silver Maple decking

EasyClean Terrain+ Silver Maple decking

Take, for example, the deck pictured above (again created using TimberTech composite decking). This deck isn’t simply a platform for garden chairs and plant pots; it is a cosy garden seating area, and it’s assembled entirely out of capped composite decking. Whether used as an adornment for a water feature or as a stylish and functional patio step design, there is virtually no limit to the ways in which you can use this type of decking, and you can always rest assured that your boards will not warp, splinter or tarnish.

It’s Easy to Maintain

Even the keenest gardeners and DIY devotees don’t want to spend unnecessary time on the upkeep of their deck, which is what makes capped decking ideal for both the everyman and the outdoor living enthusiast. Not only does it not require the tedious and time-consuming process of staining and sealing, it is also extremely easy to clean, requiring no more than the occasional wash and sweep.

   
  
 
  
    
  
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  EasyClean Terrain Birch decking with EasyClean Terrain Elm framing

EasyClean Terrain Birch decking with EasyClean Terrain Elm framing

This means that even the lightest-coloured boards (such as those pictured above) are easy to keep clear and grime-free without much effort, allowing the deck to remain an asset as opposed to a hindrance and adding character to your garden without being a drain on your time and money.

Creative Ideas for Using Paving Slabs in the Garden

With a little creativity and a dash of inspiration, paving slabs needn’t be anything close to boring. Quite to the contrary in fact, as to treat your garden as something of a blank canvas with which to work is to open up a world of exciting opportunities for improvements.

From paths to patios to points of interest for the garden, there’s really very little that can’t be done with an order of paving slabs and a serving of elbow-grease.

So for those with the desire to try something a little different though perhaps in need of an inspirational nudge, here’s a quick introduction to just a few beautifully creative ideas for using paving slabs in the garden:

Chessboard Effect

TB_20_3.tif

First up, why not consider interspersing standard stone paving slabs with green grass squares, in order to create a beautifully impressive chessboard effect? In fact, you need not stick with plain stone paving slabs as you could use almost any colour or design to come up with a uniquely attractive finish.

A Circular Centrepiece

Why not get well and truly creative with the curve stones and create yourself a stunning circular centrepiece for the garden? The resulting feature could be used either as a simple aesthetic focus point, or as a beautiful base for a patio set and summer grill. And when it comes to the various colours, styles and finishes on offer, the opportunities are endless!

Easypave has a huge selection of patio paving and slabs to choose from to suit all gardens and if you’re looking for some inspiration then have a look at their circle patio design ideas.

The Prettiest Path

If you’ve been giving thought to improving your garden with the installation of a path, why not get a little creative with its design? Paths can be as vibrant, colourful and genuinely beautiful as you like, perhaps mixing together paving slabs of multiple sizes and colours to create a uniquely pretty effect. 

Marvellous Mosaics 

Another fantastically creative feature for the garden is that of a mosaic, created using beautifully coloured tiles or paving products and framed using high-quality paving slabs. The real beauty of the outdoor mosaic is the way in which you do not have to follow any specific pattern or rules – totally random and 100% unique results are usually the very best results!

Half and Half

Try to remember that when it comes to improving your garden with paving slabs, there’s nothing to say you have to go all-in or not at all. In this example, the slabs have simply been positioned in such a manner as to create an elegant and minimalist pathway to an equally elegant summer seating area. 

A Second Life

Last but not least, it’s worth remembering that with a little creativity and effort, even broken paving slabs of any given specification can be brought back to life as something beautiful. In this instance, a variety of paving slab bits and pieces have been brought together to create a functional and fabulously stunning outdoor living space. 


The House Gardener By Isabelle Palmer

Ideas and inspiration for indoor gardens by Isabelle Palmer.

Hanging Containers

Hanging Vine

How wonderful to wake up to the sight of pretty leaves tumbling over the edges of a suspended glass container.

Hanging baskets can seem staid and fussy, with too many plants crowded into a small, often ugly basket. This beautiful metallic container breaks the rule, however, as it’s both handsome and simple – great for a stylish bedroom or perhaps displayed at the top of a flight of stairs. The delicate, glossy leaves of the plant fall over the edge of the container, making for an easy, uncluttered look. In this display, I used Pellaea rotundifolia, which is commonly known as the button fern. A small, low-growing fern, it is easy to grow and creates a unique look with its small rounded leaflets.

Hanging Containers

Hanging Bottles

You really don’t want need very much – just some ingenuity to create a lovely green picture.  The lush greens and purples of the plants dripping out of the bottles work really well in a kitchen.

For this creative project, I selected a trio of green-glass wine bottles. Recycling and re-using containers is a wonderful way to make the most of budget gardening. You really don’t need very much – just some ingenuity to create a lovely green picture.

The lush greens and purples of the plants dripping out of the bottles work really well in a kitchen. They look great in any window, but particularly against the steel-framed window here, which is a lovely feature of this kitchen’s pantry. The plants used are Begonia foliosa (fern begonia), Hatiora Salicornioides (dancing bones cactus), and Ficus benjamina (weeping fig).

Hanging Treasure

The metallic beauty of this bathroom container allows the variegated ivy to be shown in all its glory.

Bathrooms are ideal spots for indoor plants, as there is sometimes ample space for an attractive display. Unfortunately, people often place dull artificial plants in a bathroom. However, if you think about it, the bathroom can be the most suitable room in the home for growing an indoor plant. In fact, the warm – often humid- conditions in a bright well lit bathroom are perfect for growing plants, even tropical ones.

Here, the lovely copper hanging container, which contains Hedera helix (common ivy) underplanted with moss, creates a striking focal point in a relaxing bathroom. The ivy leaves peeking over the edge of the container are glossy and green, and look particularly bright against the natural hues of the bathroom. If you are keeping plants in your bathroom, it’s important to avoid spraying them with aerosols or dusting them with talcum powder or other bathroom products, as this can stop photosynthesis

Extract taken from THE HOUSE GARDENER by ISABELLE PALMER, published by CICO Books (£25), Photos © HELEN CATHCART.

Easy Ideas for Adding Colour to the Garden

We can't all be green-fingered. And we can't all have spectacular blooms brightening up our outside space. But that doesn't mean the garden shouldn't be full of cheer!  It's very easy (well, a little effort is required of course) to keep the garden looking bright, fresh and on-trend by adding colour to the outdoor furniture and accessories.

  Table: Cuprinol Garden Shades in Green Orchid.   Bench: Cuprinol Garden Shades in Winters Night (both £24.99 2.5L)   Decking: Cuprinol Anti Slip Decking Stain (RRP £24.09 for 2.5L) in Boston Teak.

Table: Cuprinol Garden Shades in Green Orchid. Bench: Cuprinol Garden Shades in Winters Night (both £24.99 2.5L) Decking: Cuprinol Anti Slip Decking Stain (RRP £24.09 for 2.5L) in Boston Teak.

We all know that we should regularly paint and protect our garden table and chairs, but why not make a statement with these gorgeous soft shades to make a real focal point of your eating area. Coordinating cushions will finish the look and add an extra layer of comfort for those long lazy weekend breakfasts. 

  Decking: Cuprinol Anti Slip Decking Stain (RRP £24.09 for 2.5L)  in Silver Birch.   Benches: Cuprinol Garden Shades (RRP £24.99 for 2.5L) in Black Ash.   Table: Cuprinol Garden Furniture Stain(RRP £12.69 for 750ML) in Mahogany.

Decking: Cuprinol Anti Slip Decking Stain (RRP £24.09 for 2.5L)  in Silver Birch. Benches: Cuprinol Garden Shades (RRP £24.99 for 2.5L) in Black Ash. Table: Cuprinol Garden Furniture Stain(RRP £12.69 for 750ML) in Mahogany.

Even accessories such as lanterns, plant pots, watering cans and herb markers can be given the paint treatment with specialist paint. This is especially effective as brighter, zingy colour accents when furniture and decks are painted a more neutral shade. We love this silver birch decking stain and it provides just the right muted background for some bright orange and green pops.

  Decking: Cuprinol Anti Slip Decking Stain (RRP £24.09 for 2.5L)  in Silver Birch.   Benches: Cuprinol Garden Shades (RRP £24.99 for 2.5L) in Black Ash.   Table: Cuprinol Garden Furniture Stain(RRP £12.69 for 750ML) in Mahogany.

Decking: Cuprinol Anti Slip Decking Stain (RRP £24.09 for 2.5L)  in Silver Birch. Benches: Cuprinol Garden Shades (RRP £24.99 for 2.5L) in Black Ash. Table: Cuprinol Garden Furniture Stain(RRP £12.69 for 750ML) in Mahogany.

  Decking and seat: Cuprinol Anti Slip Decking Stain(RRP £24.09 for 2.5L) in Silver Birch.   Fence: Cuprinol Garden Shades(RRP £24.99 for 2.5L) in Beach Blue and Coral Splash.

Decking and seat: Cuprinol Anti Slip Decking Stain(RRP £24.09 for 2.5L) in Silver Birch. Fence: Cuprinol Garden Shades(RRP £24.99 for 2.5L) in Beach Blue and Coral Splash.

Fences too, will benefit from a little attention with the brush. Let your imagination run free with some ice-cream shades and create a fun, stylish corner for a little rest and relaxation. The special pigments in the paint will give a rich colour while still allowing the natural texture of the wood grain to show though.

Now sit back and relax!

All paints from Cuprinol. All products from Homebase.

6 Inspiring Balcony Garden Ideas

A report from the Royal Horticulture Society reveals that more than 85% of us Brits reside in towns and cities – and many of us live in properties without traditional gardens. We all know that access to a garden in urban areas is important, as they have a real impact on our wellbeing, so if your garden space is limited, fear not – there’s plenty of scope to create one on a balcony (or even a window ledge).

Here are six ideas to get you excited about setting up a garden on your balcony. 

 Pots and Accessories - Homebase

Pots and Accessories - Homebase

1. Three is the Magic Number

If you’re working with a small space, stick to a palette of no more than three colours (and use green as a base colour). It’s easy for a balcony garden to look over-crowded, so limiting yourself to just three complementary colours will help to make your balcony more restful retreat than urban jungle. Check out this guide from Floristry Expert for more information.

2. Artificial Turf

Artificial turf can be a great option for the balcony gardener – it requires minimal upkeep and gives instant impact. Although it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, artificial turf is usually the only viable option for the more industrial-type city balconies. Just look at this cool post from Fennel and Fern if you don’t believe us!

 Accessories - Sainsbury's Home

Accessories - Sainsbury's Home

3. Implement Top Dressing

When you’re working with such a small space, it’s important to keep everything neat and tidy – even more so than with a traditional garden. Top dressing on your containers, whether it’s with pebbles, slate, or wood chips, is an easy way to tidy them up. It also helps prevent weeds from growing and stops soil prematurely drying out.

4. Minimalist Potato Patch

Growing your own potatoes, carrots, turnips and other root veg doesn’t require a huge field. It’s totally possible to cultivate your own potato patch on your balcony with the help of a potato bag – we particularly like the Botanico Spud Bag, which has a pull-down section for easy access to the vegetables. They require just compost, seeds, water and sunlight – the bags can help you grow a selection of veg for stews, pies and Sunday roasts from your balcony or terrace.

 Pots - House of Bath

Pots - House of Bath

5. Plant Vertically and Horizontally

One of the most important lessons for the balcony gardener is to think beyond the floor space when planning out your garden. Plant up walls, alongside balcony rails and hang containers from overhead surfaces; the balcony gardener needs to be creative with space!

London-based garden specialists Capital Gardens explain the benefits: “Vertical gardening can help small areas like balconies really come to life. Almost all surfaces can be used to grow attractive and sweet-smelling plants; just be sure to water them often, as vertical gardens – especially if they’re on a sunny balcony – tend to dry out quickly.”

 Accessories - Tesco Direct

Accessories - Tesco Direct

6. Think Practical

Before ordering large trees and ornate flower pots for your balcony, it is important to check the load-bearing capacity of the balcony. Hire a structural engineer to advise you about how much weight your balcony can withstand so your garden doesn’t crash down upon the balcony below.

If you have any more balcony garden advice to share, please let us know in the comments below!