Posts Categorised: Garden

Live Your Own Way with Writer and Broadcaster Kunle Barker

Kunle Barker Author writer Broadcaster

A very interesting Podcast chat this week with property expert, writer and broadcaster Kunle Barker. If you’re a fan of ITV’s Love Your Home and Garden then you will have seen him working alongside Alan Titchmarsh where he was also the consultant leading the design and build on each show.

Kunle has years of experience in the world of construction and is Chief Operating Officer at Melt Property. He also writes regularly for Architects Journal and is a Judge on several prestigious Award shows including British Home Awards and International Property Awards.  He is also the main host and curator at Grand Designs Live with Kevin McCloud.

A busy man indeed.

Kunle Barker and Kevin McCloud

With Grand Designs Live being a huge event in the world of interiors, we chatted about how well they put it all together and the challenges, especially in the ever evolving world of design. It is a well oiled machine but that takes a lot of hard work behind the scenes, of course.

Garden Room Inframespace

Kunle is also Brand Ambassador for who offer a bespoke extension and garden rooms in a unique way using structural light, steel frame technology, which is environmentally responsible and recyclable. Also reduces the use of concretes and they look amazing don’t you think ? The deliver time is pretty impressive too.

Kunle Barker Love Your Home and Garden advice adding value

I was interested to know a bit more about women in construction and whether we are seeing more entering the various trades within the the industry. It was interesting to hear about this and progress that is being made.

A very popular topic and not one to miss out on is adding value to your home. Something most of us at times in our lives strive to do for various reasons. There are many ways including pimping up your garden ,which is more important than you might think. So, we discussed this quite a bit.

Contrary to popular belief it is okay sometimes too to lose a bedroom or not make the kitchen your priority for a makeover. Some excellent advice from Kunle  on what you can do to make a difference. I certainly learnt a thing or two myself during the Podcast.

You can listen via all the usual  channels.

Hope you enjoy it. You can find all my other Episodes here.

Live Your Own Way – with Author and Plant Stylist Hilton Carter

author hilton carter stylist houseplants greenery in the home

These weeks are flying by which means we are now on Episode 2 on the second series of my Podcast. I had a great chat with Plant Stylist and Author Hilton Carter this time who very kindly shared some of his day with me to discuss his life and how he cares for and styles over 600 plants of all sizes in his home, while squeezing in time to write 2 books with another one due out soon.

Hilton’s books are aptly named ‘Wild at Home’ and ‘Wild Interiors’ with the new title called ‘Wild Creations’.

This was a real treat personally to get some quality time to talk about this subject as I am well in to my plant journey and learning more every day, but it is trial and error as we discuss. Adding plants to a home scheme can have such a beneficial effect so this is why I love the world of Biophilic design and factor it in whenever I can.

hilton carter books houseplant care diy tours

I ask what led up to him becoming a plant stylist and author ?

Both books are so helpful for anyone wanting to dip their toes in to the world of greenery right through to full on, filling your entire home with greenery types which is kind of where I’m heading … and no regrets there.

In ‘ Wild at Home ‘ you will learn all about caring for and styling your plants with some stunning home tours and clever DIY’s while ‘ Wild Interiors ‘ takes you on a global tour of  some incredible homes which he has photographed perfectly.

During the Podcast we talk about many aspects of keeping houseplants – the health benefits, the upkeep and which ones he thinks will be the ‘ it ‘ plants in the near future. Couldn’t miss out also his propagation wall with his especially designed cradles. A really inspiring idea.

It was really good to have my first international guest with Hilton being in Baltimore, USA. He has a very cool instagram page if you want to take a peek.

You can listen to this episode here with all the usual channels.

On this page, you’ll find all my other Podcast episodes. Next week we are delving in to interior photography so do subscribe to hear more soon.

Image 1: Copyright Hilton Carter 2021.

Live Your own Way Podcast – Biophilia with Sally Coulthard

Sally Coulthard Author Biophila

I absolutely loved talking on my Live Your own Way Podcast this time with best selling Author Sally Coulthard about her latest book Biophilia. She has also offered a prize for my readers with more information at the end of this post.

It was well worth the purchase and I am pretty picky when it comes to a good book. It’s a mixture of well researched facts mixed with useful ideas to enhance and balance our homes.  Well worth every penny and as I said to Sally – it’s timeless in style so definitely a keeper too.

Biophilia Book Sally Coulthard Plants Nature

I feel I know so much more about the subject and how beneficial inviting more natural elements and plants in to your home can be for your whole family. Although plants are fundamental they aren’t the only thing that can help balance the home – there are many aspects.

Sally studied Archaeology and Anthropologie at Oxford University and has gone on to write 22 books – many nature based plus some excellent Interiors ones as well. We chat about this and what especially inspired this Biophilia book.

She also writes monthly for Country Living Magazine so her knowledge on her subject and experience is vast.

Sally Coulthard Author Plant Book Illustrations

This is the inside cover of the book by Helen Bratby. The pages feel really tactile and every page is beautiful.

We talked about how the last few months have felt and whether things might change for good when it comes to slowing life down a bit and appreciating what is around us.

I do hope you enjoy the Podcast and as mentioned earlier there’s more … if you are on instagram I am running a giveaway for a few days as Sally is kindly offering the chance for someone to receive a copy of the book as a prize.

You can find my post here with how to enter that. I haven’t run a giveaway for ages so it’s nice to be able such a great gift.

Next week I am chatting to the super talented Dominic Chinea from BBC1’s The Repair Shop. Do subscribe if you enjoy as there’s more to come. So glad I started this show – I feel I am finding out more and more each week about different aspects of design – as you never stop learning do you ?

If you missed last week’s you can find it here.

How to Choose the right Parasol for your Outdoor Space

Solero Parasols Garden shade inspiration ideas summer
Ad – This post is a paid partnership with Solero Parasols.

As I’m very garden focused at the moment, finding a good parasol is something I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to. If this Summer is anything like last year then it’s definitely worth considering some good shade somewhere outside to be prepared.

Gone are the days of just umbrella type shades with little slightly wobbly bases, there are literally so many stylish and practical parasols on offer that it’s hard to navigate the internet sometimes and decipher what you’ll need, so I’ve put together some pointers that might make it a bit simpler all round using a company called Solero Parasols for examples as they know their stuff when it comes to such things.

solero parasols garden sunny shade ideas inspiration


A factor before you invest is  – will it fit ? I have made the mistake before of loving something and buying it without measuring up. It’s vital to work out the measurements to ensure it will cover all the chairs and table if going over a dining or seated area. Or that it will fit in lots of different areas without being over bearing. I do think go as big as you possibly can for as much as ground coverage as possible. In our case I always think of our pets as well and keeping them shady at the same time.

If you do need shade for a smaller space then a smaller square version should be just the ticket.

parasols ideas south facing garden bright shade

Durability and protection.

Thinking about the weather. Is your garden prone to extreme weather ? Or is the space South facing meaning that you will get more sun and heat at the hottest time of the day ?

For colder weather, A hydropholic (repels water) coating will be useful and also reinforced ribs will mean standing up to powerful winds. A cover for the parasol while it is not bing used is obviously a sensible idea too.

being safe from UV rays is right up there on the list and so good to know if the material used for the parasol have 100% filter for radiation.

Wall Parasol garden restaurant shade sunny ground solero parasol wall attached

Base and mobility.

Are you going to be moving the parasol around or will you want to station it in just one area ?

Is it going to be a side arm ( Cantilever ) parasol that frees up the seating area or do you want something more classic like the Centre Pole Parasols ?

There’s also the wall parasols with integrated gas spring to make easy opening and closing like the one here above. These would be prefect for a smaller patio, a restaurant or even as a sunshade for a beach hut ? The thought of coordinating a parasol with a bright beach hut fills me with colour happiness.

If you are wanting a base there’s tile, granite or if you want something permanent then anchor bases that are stainless steel and poured in to the terrace with concrete to fix them.

If you are going to be moving the parasol around you can find bases with wheels which are very handy.

Which Shape.

Round, square or rectangle ? The pro’s for the round are it can generally open and close above a table and has a higher closing height because all the ribs are the same length.

As for a square shape, they can connect with wall gutters so if it is raining the water will find it’s way through the gutter and not all over you. So you can sit outside whatever the weather without getting wet.

Aesthetically it really depends on the look you prefer and it’s as simple as that.

Parasols outdoors beach garden ideas

Colour and material.

Of course, I am going to bring up the colour aspect but it’s definitely important. I notice that Solero Parasols offer a 4 year guarantee which I think is excellent and a real deal maker personally. For instance, you want to be able to trust that it won’t fade from a nice vibrant turquoise to a palid light blue within the first year or that you are at least looked after by the company if that were to happen.

If you have a table and chairs already or surrounding fences etc then it’s worth taking in to account whether everything is cohesive. You could even make up a little mood board before purchasing. It always helps pull everything together and decipher which colour parasol will look best. You want to be happy with it for years to come, after all. The parasols that I am showing today are fade resistant and 100% recyclable fabric.

With the poles being made of possibly aluminium or wood this is another thing to add in to the mix. Would you prefer a rustic wooden look or a sleek metal contemporary design ?

Tilting Parasol garden swimming pool colours sizes Tilting parasol outdoor sunny

Operating and technical options.

Where do I begin? You can buy parasols that tilts from side to side very discreetly with the sun like the Solero Fratello Pro here.

There’s no need these days to have garden heaters separate to your parasols as now you can buy waterproof ones that attach to the inside of the brackets creating a nice low glare warmth.

For lighting there are clip on LED like the Solero Lux  which is basically a strip type light which you affix to the rib of the parasol or lights that clip around the pole.

These accessories help to free up space around you which can be useful and more practical.

But you’d need to double check that the products work alongside each other before buying.

I think maybe most of us have grappled with an umbrella or parasol before, trying to open it. It’s much easier with a push pull system which means the parasol opens up by just pulling the handle of the parasol down. But there are other ways to open some of the parasols such as using a winch handle. Last but not least there’s a double purely system which is nice and simple and opens the parasol by pulling a cord down.

parasols outdoor ideas shady garden summer

Overall quality and pricing.

Check out reviews. Read up on the websites about the materials used and do your research and also – does the company offer a decent warranty ?

I chose to collaborate with Solero Parasols on this because they are specialists, have a 5 star rating and have so much on offer that you can’t go wrong – being able to specify colours and finishes along with bases. They describe themselves is middle to high end when it comes to pricing point.

In terms of a good quality parasol – it will be an investment for some time and will be well made so you may be looking at around £295 to start with and remember to bear in mind the extra accessories of required, that I have just mentioned. I am saving up for one myself and having done some research for this post will be spending a little more than I had initially planned to make sure I get something that will last throughout the coming years.

As there are so many different variations to choose from, you can often mix and match on this particular website to find exactly what you need as long as they are designed to work and fit together.

If you want to know any more then do head over to the Solero Parasols – their site is incredibly informative. I think I’ve learned everything I need to know today just by looking through their pages.

Are you looking for garden pieces too ? What do you think of these ?

Mediterranean Border with Garden on a Roll

Garden on a roll, plants, instructions gardening mediterranean

You might call 9 years of talking and thinking about doing our garden a little on the side of procrastination ? But this year when we hit the start of Spring I decided this was the season we would finally get motivated by creating a Mediterranean border with Garden on a Roll.

But where to start when you’re a gardening novice and the closest you’ve ever got to feeling at all  in the know about creating a healthy garden border, is when you’re sitting watching Gardner’s World with a cuppa ?

This is why I got in touch with Antony, a professional landscape garden designer, who has a company called Garden on a Roll whom you may already have heard of ? Basically they do all the planning and choosing work for you and package it all up in a box.

You just have to do the gardening bit your end.

You can choose from 7 different types to suit. These are Shady, Sunny, Wildlife, English Cottage, Evergreen Easy Care or Mediterranean which is what we opted for.

I’ve always had a thing about that part of the world which was encouraged further by my visit to The Eden Project Biomes a few years ago – if you remember?  You then choose your border size and that really is it.

Mediterranean Border Plants Greenery Shrubs

Antony checked with me first whether our type of soil would be suitable and then not long after a beautiful big card box box arrived by delivery with all the plants needed for our 9 metre by 40 cm border along with the specially mapped out on a bio degradable paper roll and everything else supplied to get the job done which included a tote bag with a trowl, gloves, pegs, some Root Plus and information to get me started.

Garden on a Roll

I think the thing that has put me off doing the garden before is the fear that I may put the wrong plants in and cause chaos. So it was really reassuring to know that I could follow the plan and do as I was told. This ‘ Good Luck ‘ note on the roll was a lovely start to the project.

Soil preparation gardening garden on a roll ideas tips

Although I had already pretty much got the bed ready beforehand and used some old bricks that my Mum gave us for a border, I went over the soil again before starting and really mixed in the organic matter.

Then I pushed back the top layer to make way for the roll and would use this excess soil at the end to push back over the roll and surround the plants. The roll disperses over time so all in all a really quick and practical way to

putting garden pegs gardening ideas tips

So next was laying the roll along the bed and pegging it down to hold it down securely and make the next step easy.

garden on a roll planting mediterranean plants flowers

Next I cut along all the lines inside the circles to make way for planting. Pushing back the corners. Honestly, by this point I was thinking ” I love gardening ” … and was also filming the process. More on that later …

Then digging holes big enough for the plants, dunking the bases of each one in to water first and then in they went. As mentioned earlier I then covered them all over with the soil left over and made sure everything was patted down. It all took a few hours which really wasn’t too bad at all.

Garden on A roll Border Mediterranean

Now all I have to do is keep them watered, give them some feed every now and then – and over time they will grow in to a really lush mixture of Mediterranean colour and greenery. I will update you in a while on how it’s all going.

Scabousa Misty Butterfly pink FlowerGeum Orange FlowerLeptospermum pink flowerSalvia Plant Purple Garden Border

I had to grab a few close up pics of some of the flowers. Top to bottom these are Scabousa, Geum, Leptospermum and Salvia. I can’t wait to see these mature.

It was really good to get my first Youtube video under my belt too. So if you fancy watching the process as well as reading about it then have a look here and give it a thumbs if you fancy. Don’t be put off by my slightly scary face here in the preview. Haha. If you subscribe there will be more videos soon to see.

Also  – if you’d like to leave me a comment please do. Always love to hear from you.

You can find out more about these amazing Garden on a Roll borders here. I’ve loved the experience.

Disclaimer: The Border was supplied by Garden on a Roll. As always all opinions are my own.