Posts Categorised: Garden

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

Size.

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 ?

Creating a 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.

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.

Versatile Homeware for Indoors and Outdoors

Indoor outdoor seating comfy fun kids bean bag

This is a post that brings the outdoor in and vice versa. I decided to put together this post for several reasons. One because we have pretty up and down weather here in the UK which means it’s useful to think about versatility when thinking about purchasing home and garden furniture items and two.

I’ve been looking closely at some cool things for our own home as I’m finally sorting out our own garden and want the patio area to feel like an extension of our home, if you know what I mean ? So a little inspiration for us all ?

To kick off with is this Icon Bean Bag Armchair from Bean Bag Bazaar which is water resistant and handle so you can move it around easily. I went for the teal colour. It’s been a big hit and perfect for us as we have started making the garden much more comfortable and fun to be in this year. This particular design comes in three other colours. You can pop it in front of the tv inside, maybe in a toy room or bedroom – or anywhere really. So definitely a good idea. I recommend having a little look at their website as they have lots to see.

Really there are so many options these days and I love the thought of saving a bit of money where you can. So here are some other options.

indoor outdoor homeware outside furniture lighting ideas inspiration
1. Retro Sound Speaker – SunnyLife 2 & 3.  Salad Servers & Bamboo Bowl  – Navigate 4. Bunting Lighting – John Lewis 5. Set of 2 Planters – Habitat 6. Candle – SunnyLife 7 & 8 Wicker Side Tables & Tile Floor Mat  – Amara

All of these items can be used inside and out. There really is anything you can possibly imagine these days ( how old do I sound ? ). The speaker is from Sunnylife, which is a really cool outdoorsy type of store.

Bamboo is brilliant being eco friendly. I try and buy it in many forms these days – we’ve even used as some fencing in our garden recently and also bought party plates that we have re-used several times. This bowl from Navigate would be good for kids and adults. Nice colour too.

Finding lighting for outdoors isn’t hard but looking for something to dress an area is not as easy. The bunting here has lights through running through the string. Definitely could be used in the home too. Kids bedroom ?

I really like this planter from Habitat, it actually comes as a pair. One larger, one smaller. Really unique and colourful. I’d have this in the kitchen I think if not outside.

Candles are a nice idea for the evening, especially if scented. This one is Coconut and Amber. Creates an atmosphere wherever you put them ?

Amara have a really good selection of items. Particularly love their outdoor rugs that you could bring in. The Wicker Set of Tables are very cool and versatile.

Indoor outdoor Shelving Ladder Storage Pots Ideas Tips Gardening

The one thing that hadn’t automatically sprung to mind, but actually makes total sense is flexible storage. You see ladder shelving used a lot these days indoors and a rustic outdoor version doubles up superbly especially in a cottage or for use in a utility area ? This shelf is by Garden Trading.

I might have to do another of these as I’ve come across many items and having definitely caught the gardening bug recently, I never thought ten years ago I’d be curled up on the sofa on a Friday night waiting for Monty Don to appear on the telly. I’ve learned loads – if you’ve enjoyed this then you may well find my next post interesting. It will also be my first Youtube entry if you’d like to subscribe.

I’d love any tips you have or ideas for indoor and outdoor living. Leave me a comment below.

The Beanbag was gifted from Bean Bag Bazaar.

Interview with BBC 1’s The Instant Gardener Presenter Danny Clarke

If you’ve watched BBC1’s The Instant Gardener, you’ll have seen some amazing transformations made by Danny Clarke and the team. Bringing unloved outdoor spaces back to life and making the owners really happy. I love it. So, who better to answer some gardening questions at this important time of year than Danny himself ?

Instant Gardener BBC1 Danny Clarke

How did you get in to gardening and then television presenting ?

Although I had a passion for gardening, my career in horticulture started by accident. Unfortunately a sales company I ran for many years hit upon hard times. A friend of mine had a landlady who was looking for a gardener to help in her plot one day a week and asked if I was interested in working for her. After meeting Jo I was bowled over by her larger than life character and took on the job while still being involved with my sales business. Jo who had a passion for gardens and gardening had extensive knowledge. She was a great teacher and I absorbed as much as I could. What Jo didn’t know about plants could be put on the back of a postage stamp.

Over a period of time I got approached by people to maintain their gardens and soon I made the decision to concentrate on horticulture and kicked the sales business permanently into the long grass. It was a no brainer really as now I was doing something I truly loved.

I have always had an interest in design whether it be gardens, interiors, fashion or architecture. So I enrolled at Hadlow Horticultural College and did a one year garden design course. This gave me the confidence to design and build gardens along with maintaining them.
The television gig came about as a result of my trading title which is The Black Gardener. I received a random email form 12Yard Productions who wanted a black gardener to present a gardening show ( The Instant Gardener ) which had already been commissioned by the BBC. Someone in their development department googled the name and hey presto my website appeared. I did the screen test which was successful and it all went from there.

Garden redesign Danny Clarke Instant Gardener BBC1

Which have been your favourite projects so far on The Instant Gardener ?

My favourite project on The Instant Gardener was for Shirley who lives in Manchester. She is a gamester who is mad for the Doctor Who tv series. It seemed pretty natural to design a themed garden based on the time lord. I cut three concentric rings into the lawn. We put slate chippings in the centre and middle strip which were contained with aluminium lawn edging to denote the universe. Random planting of round topiarised standard privet balls and small conical shaped yew trees into the area represented planets and rockets.

A wonky five sided arch made from fence posts constructed by AJ  the shows handyman was securely placed in the centre. This was the time portal that would cause Shirley to disappear into another dimension if ever she walked through it. Her shed was painted blue to mimic the Tardis. A narrow strip of the same colour was repeated on the decking by the rear patio doors which became the landing pad if ever the doctor should choose to visit. It was great to get the opportunity to show that gardens too can have humour.

At this time of year, what would you recommend we start preparing in the garden ?

The best time of year to prepare your garden for the coming year is in the winter. It’s a great time to take advantage of the dormancy. This is the season to repair fences, cut back plants that have finished, enrich your soil, prune perennials, weed, divide and plant bulbs. For me it’s the opportunity that shouldn’t be missed otherwise you may spend the spring playing catch up to get your space ship shape.

The Instant Gardener BBC1 Danny Clarke Interrview

What tips would you give to someone with a small garden to give the impression of space ?

When giving a small garden the illusion of space it’s important to think big. By this I mean try and put the largest plants and objects such as pots into the area. This way the boundaries will be blurred and your eyes will be concentrated on whats happening within the plot rather than taken to the edges. Buying one large plant can prove to be more cost effective than several smaller ones. And the same principle applies to pots.

Instant Gardener BBC1 Images Pond Redesign

Equally, how do you make a larger garden aesthetically pleasing ? 

My pet hate is to see narrow borders. Your garden as far as I’m concerned is about the plants. They shouldn’t be lining up like soldiers on duty along the border. They will look and grow at their best placed in the ground further into the garden. This will give your space a more aesthetically pleasing look and will free them from competition posed by a fence, wall or hedge which they will definitely thank you for.

If someone is looking to extend there living space through to the garden, how can they achieve this ?

A simple way to extend the living space into a garden is to repeat or mimic whatever is in your home to the outside. For example the flooring by the indoors can be of similar material to the patio. Repeat colours in your interior walls to a fence or shed. This will give your property a bit of joined up writing by extending the eye line and give the whole property the illusion of seeming larger than it really is. Another good idea is to place the same plants with identical pots in the home and garden.

Which plants and flowers do you recommend  for this time of year to add lots of colour ? 

March is such an optimistic time of year with the promise of what’s to come. A fab way to release those winter blues is to make sure you have plenty of colour in your garden at this time of year. Hellebores, Chaenomeles ( Quince ), Magnolia under planted with Primulas, Ophiopogon ( black grass ), Pulmonaria ( lungwort ) and Heuchera are particular favourites of mine.

For novice gardeners such as myself – which are low maintenance plants ? 

Most shrubs and ornamental grasses are low maintenance. However there are three in particular that will give you stunning season long colour that I would recommend. They are jasmine plants where you have winter and summer options. These only need the odd drink of water in dry spells.

Lavender will withstand the sunniest of areas and poor soil. The only maintenance needed here is a trim after flowering and a spot with good drainage as they don’t like their feet languishing in water.

I’m a massive fan of grasses and Stipa arundinacea is a particular fav of mine. As an evergreen it gives all year round colour turning from green in summer to a yellow and orange with red streaking in the winter months. In August it produces sprays of feathery flowers. If you’re in any doubt what to put next a plant a grass will often do as they provide great contrast to its neighbour.

Danny Clarke BBC1 Instant Gardener

What projects are you currently working on ? 

I am currently working on a garden design and build project near Croydon. It’s been very enjoyable and provided me with work over the winter months. They wanted me to take my cue from their neighbours outside space which has been done to a good standard. So you might say it’s next doors plot that gave me inspiration for the build. The hardlandscaping is almost complete and the plan is to undertake the planting at the end of April. I’m also going to be involved in some more telly very soon for the This Morning show where I makeover a garden for an unsuspecting mum for Mothers Day.

Can you offer advice for anyone wanting to go down the horticulture route ? 

Horticulture for me isn’t a job but a way of life. I love it with a passion. And my advice to anyone coming into it is to make sure you have a real joy for the industry. Particularly as it’s unlikely to make you a millionaire. But then again who knows and cares.

A big thanks to Danny for answering my questions and offering up some great garden inspiration. You can find out more about Danny on his website.

Do you have any extra Spring gardening tips ? Leave me a comment below. Always good to hear from you.

Create an Urban Jungle with these Tropical Houseplants

Over the last few years I’ve become increasingly obsessed with plants. You only have to read my last post about planters for evidence.

Well, I was pretty well over the moon when Urban Jungle opened it’s second centre, even nearer to me, because it’s such a clever venture full of exotic plants and colourful homeware – and omg the food is pretty delicious. I think it’s also so important to give a big shout out for local businesses that are offering something totally unique and felt a post was in order plus I am going to talk through some recommendations for tropical houseplant buying thanks to Nick, one of their team who passed on some wisdom :)

There are so many options if you’re choosing a plant and they all have slightly different needs. Although surprisingly low maintenance considering they’re not in their original habitat. The one above is a Snake plant  ( Latin name Sanseveria ) Super easy to care for as it’s from the succulent family. Only needs watering once or twice a month. It’s great for the home especially bedrooms as it’s an air purifier.

spider plants  There are different types including these ( left and right ) which are very cool because you can plait them. Okay that’s just my weird reason but they are pretty quirky aren’t they ?

With mine, I water it every few months and it’s happy with that.

Fiddle leaf fig plant

This plant is known as the Fiddle Leaf Fig or Ficus. It originates from tropic rainforests of Western Africa.

It needs decent light but not overly bright and not to be moved around as it doesn’t like change. The leaves at the bottom sometimes die off so you need to remove them and they do grow back. Don’t over water the plant – keep the top soil moist.

Natal Lily plant orange petals

Natal Lily Plant aka Clivia Miniata. I took this one home this time. How could I not ? It’s a South African woodland plant that grows the most amazing orange flowers. It has a flowering rest period around Autumn when it needs to have a cooler environment other than that it prefers a warmer temperature. The leaves are also really pretty and they don’t die off. Again don’t over water – let it become 50% dry before watering again.

Sago palm plant

Top left is the Sago Palm or Cycas Revoluta. This is one of my favourites because it’s base resembles a pineapple. These are excellent for conservatories. They can get huge so be warned ;)

From Japan, they can live inside or out and are slow growing.

Bottom right is a Corn Plant – Draceana Massangeana Fragrans originally from Madagascar  – you can’t see the trunk of it in this photo but it looks like a little tree. It’s a very popular houseplant because it’s so it doesn’t ask much and perfect for the beginner. You can put it anywhere in the home. It does grow larger so be aware of that. It’s a great foliage plant.

Rhipsalis plant cacti

I adore the Mistletoe Cacti ( Rhipsalis ) it is really versatile as it works in a hanging basket or in a pot and just does it’s thing ! Doesn’t need much watering and when you do add some water at the bottom in a little plate so it takes what it needs. Ideally put it in a bright room but not direct sunlight.

lipstick plant aeschynathus mona lisa plant hanging

Another lovely hanging plant is the Mona Lisa – in Latin: Aeschynathus. Also known as Lipstick Plant. They love warn temperatures and humidity. Ideal for bathrooms and I guess a kitchen. I would pop this on a shelf. Another plant that likes some water in a plate under the pot.

houseplants easy

I can vouch for the Pothos plant as we have one in our living room and it’s a great feature with it’s shiny, marbled leaves. Very low maintenance and really hardy, it’s perfect for a busy home. I water the pothos about once a week and keep the top inch moist. In the Summer apparently a little but of plant feed is helpful.

air plant

You may have seen Air Plants ( Tillandsia ) on Pinterest being used in all sorts of random ways as it doesn’t need soil so sometimes people hang them from shelves or attach to mirrors. They look great tucked in to sand with succulents. They just need a little bit of mist spray and they’re good to go.

urban jungle tropical plants

 

boden blue bag

I hope my tips are helpful. It’s such a joy to visit Urban Jungle and I wanted to share it with you. It is situated just outside of Beccles and they are also based in Costessey near Norwich. There are loads and loads of outdoor plants too. I feel like I’m on holiday there with the palm trees and giant Cacti to greet you.

boden boots

Sitting amongst the greenery and vibrant colours to eat your meals makes each table feel like you have lots of privacy and the music is alway nice and chilled.

urban jungle suffolk

Do you have any favourite places to visit locally ? Let me know …

Lucy x

All clothing very kindly c / o BodenPrinted Jumper, Renee Shoulder Bag, Black Boho Boots, Soho Skinny Jeans.