Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

The January garden: How to make compost

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

January in the UK isn’t always the most cheerful of months; the excitement of Christmas is over, and spring is still a long way off. Now’s the time, though, to finish up the last of those lingering garden jobs and have a final tidy up before the growing season. If you don’t already make your own compost, this is also a great time to get started as compost made now should be ready to use in the autumn.

Getting started

First you’ll need either a compost bin or a heap. Heaps are fine, but are messier than bins and harder to keep under control. Bins can be homemade or purpose-bought, and should be sited in a well-drained, level area and placed directly on the soil.

We like this wooden easy-access compost bin, from garden specialists Primrose – it’s affordable (£26.95 to £39.95, depending on size), and features removable slats so that you can fill it easily.

What can be composted?

Compost is a mixture of kitchen and garden waste, and you can also add small amounts of paper and cardboard. The trick is to keep a good mixture of ‘green’ waste (vegetable peelings, used tea bags, coffee grounds, grass cuttings) and ‘brown’ waste (wood shavings, shredded leaves, paper, cardboard, woody plant stems, crushed egg shells). The ideal compost ‘recipe’ is to use half brown and half green.

Keep this stylish caddy, available in slate, ivory, apple green and cream, in your kitchen as fill it as you cook. £20 from Lily and Lime.

To start off a brand new heap, use grass cuttings, straw or, if you can, a layer of horse manure to give a bit of bulk.

What can’t be composted?

Cooked food scraps shouldn’t be composted, as they’ll break down slowly and attract pests (you may be able to put cooked scraps out for the birds, though). Raw meat or fish or cat litter are also unsuitable.

The ‘cool’ heap compost method

This is the easiest way of creating compost, and really just means adding bits of waste and scraps as you along, and trying to keep the balance roughly right. Compost made in this way is very nutritious, but may take a long time to be ready to use.

The ‘hot’ heap compost method

If you need to speed things along a bit, you can take your cool heap pile and accelerate it. Fork the heap into a container, and between every few forkfuls, water the contents of the bin to keep it damp. When the bin’s full, cover it and leave it for a few days, and you should find it gets hot.

At this point, give the contents a really good mix to let the oxygen get to the middle of the pile and kickstart the composting process. You can repeat this step several times if you like, the more times you do it the less time the compost will take to be ready.

If that all sounds a bit too much like hard work, how about this tumbling composter, £78.95 from Primrose as above? Just load it up, and turn the handle for well-mixed compost.

When to use compost in your garden

With the cold heap method, you’ll probably find that the bottom of the pile is ready before the top, so you can just start using it from the bottom. When it’s ready, compost should be dark brown, crumbly and have a faint earthy smell.

With a hot heap, all the compost will be ready at once. The best time to use it in the garden is spring or autumn, and you can use it to enrich existing soil, pot plants or grow seedlings.


RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013: Trailfinders Australian Garden

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Best show garden chelsea 2013

One of the most talked about show garden designs at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the Trailfinders Australian Garden.

Presented by Fleming’s, this garden has won a gold medal and picked up the coveted Best Show Garden award – a fitting reward, since it’s their last year of competing.

The distinctive garden was designed by Phil Johnson, from Philip Johnson Landscapes, and is a brilliant example of how a garden can be sustainable and innovative.

The garden demonstrates plenty of ways in which rain and floodwater can be naturally harvested and reused in a residential setting and includes a billabong, waterfalls and even a rock gorge, plus plenty of great examples of native Australian planting.

Standing tall above the garden is a stunning studio made from reclaimed timber. It’s been cut into petal shapes and made into a flower design, to represent the shape of the Australian waratah flower, and certainly has the ‘wow’ factor.

Here’s the inspiration behind the design:

Trailfinders Australian garden design chelsea 2013

Chelsea Flower Shower 2013: Brand Alley Garden

Monday, May 20th, 2013


Fresh garden design Chelsea Flower Show 2013

It seems to come round quickly, but one of our favourite garden events of the year, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, is on again this week.

As ever, there are loads of amazing garden designs on display and plenty of ideas to gain for modern and contemporary gardens.

The BrandAlley garden, in the Fresh Gardens category, has been designed by award-winning gardener Paul Hervey-Brookes and is inspired by city living and the blend between the psychology of our public and private fashion sense. This is represented by a public, showy side of the garden, with stone monoliths and sculptures on one side, contrasted with a private, more hidden garden with relaxed seating on the other side.

All the plants used represent current colour trends from the fashion world – creams, lime greens and bursts of orange – and there are interesting textures and installations adding height and sculpture.

British sculptor, Andrew Flint, created the four bespoke sculptures for the design and installation artist Fiona Haines produced an unusual textile water feature which is made from recycled optical lenses.

BrandAlley garden planting Chelsea

And here are the drawings of the concept behind the finished design:

Chelsea Flower Show 2013 garden design ideas

Contemporary garden: Living art garden planter frame

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Living art contemporary garden planterContemporary herb planter idea

Looking for something a bit different to add a new perspective to your garden?

Forget having all your planters positioned on ground level and get yourself some living art frames.

These cleverly designed frames house small plant pots to create a framed art effect hanging to have on a wall or fence outside.

Use them to display pots of your favourite flowers, arranged in graduating heights, some fresh green plants or as a novel way of growing culinary herbs.

The living art frames are made from mild steel and can be powder coated in a choice of colours (black, white, light grey, beige, plate green or shocking pink). There are drainage holes in the base, small holes for light at the top and they come with brackets on the back, ready to be mounted.

The frames are made to order by Cockburn Engineering and cost £75 each.

They’re a great idea for a contemporary garden and would be especially good for those short on space, as you can make the most of planting in any free areas on walls or fences.


Indoor allotment herb growing kit from Prezzybox

Friday, August 10th, 2012
Grow your own herbs indoors

Grow your own indoors

If you love using fresh herbs in cooking, but lack a garden, then here’s a fun a way of growing your own – in an indoor allotment.

This great little herb growing kit comes with mini plant pots and an allotment to put them into – you even get a white picket fence and a mini shed!

In the shed you’ll find snips, soil pellets and three packs of seeds containing coriander, basil and oregano, to get you started.

Grow your own herbs at home

It’s a great way of growing culinary herbs on an easy-to-manage level, without the hassle of needing to look after a whole garden, and you can keep all your bits and pieces tidied away in the ‘shed’.

The indoor allotment costs £24.99 from Prezzybox.

Jacuzzi UK outdoor garden hot tub

Friday, June 8th, 2012
Contemporary garden hot tub jacuzzi

Luxury garden hot tub

Who fancies a hot tub in the garden?

If you’ve got space, there are some surprisingly compact Jacuzzi options available, with all the technology and features you expect from a top notch hot tub.

This one, from Jacuzzi UK, is fitted with 15 water jets, has stainless steel jet plates and four comfy headrests. To help create a magical effect when used after dark, there’s LED lighting included.

All hot tubs are delivered and installed by Jacuzzi UK – the only thing you need to do is ensure you’ve got a ready prepared, flat solid base for it to go on.

John Lewis are selling some Jacuzzi UK packages, including this family outdoor hot tub, which includes a chestnut cabinet surround. It’s the perfect addition to finish off a luxury garden.

Metal comb-ination honeycomb trellis

Friday, November 4th, 2011
Metal honeycomb contemporary modular garden trellis

Honeycomb trellis

The autumn and winter months are a great time to plan garden ideas for the next year. If you fancy putting up some trellis to grow plants vertically up a fence or wall, but want something contemporary in design, then how about this metal comb-ination trellis?

Based on a honeycomb pattern, and designed by Arik Levy, this modern modular trellis comes in three sizes and can be put together to create your own pattern, allowing for plenty of creativity.

It’s made from powder coated metal and comes with all the necessary fittings and fixtures to put it up. It’s a lovely idea and very eye-catching, whether there are plants growing up it or not.

The metal Comb-ination trellis is available to purchase from Garden Beet. Prices start at £36.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2011: Irish Sky Garden

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
Contemporary garden design by Diarmuid Gavin

Irish Sky Garden (image courtesy of PA Picselect)

Contemporary garden designer, Diarmuid Gavin, has created a variety of striking gardens for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show over the years, but his Irish Sky Garden is in a league of its own.

Drawing inspiration from the visual effects in the film Avatar, featuring the floating islands of Pandora, and the Restaurant in the Sky, which is suspended in the air by a crane, his Irish Sky Garden design is an elaborate creation.
Diarmuid Gavin contemporary garden design

Irish Sky Garden (image courtesy of PA Picselect)

At ground level, there’s a lush green garden with 25 small pools of water, which offer reflections of the action above. Hanging from a crane 25m above the Chelsea Flower Show, is a bright pink floating pod with a roof of lawn, which contains its own mini garden.
The Irish Sky Garden is Diarmuid Gavin’s seventh garden for Chelsea and we’re thrilled to learn that he’s finally won a much deserved gold medal for his efforts.

Chelsea Flower Show 2011: Basildon Bond centenary artisan garden

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
Basildon Bond artisan garden design Chelsea 2011

Basildon Bond garden (image courtesy of PA Picselect)

The 2011 RHS Chelsea Flower Show is taking place this week and, as ever, there are some amazing garden designs featured.  

There are lots of fantastic gardens and great design ideas to see and, even if you’re not going to the event, there’s plenty of coverage to watch on the BBC .  

Basildon Bond artisan garden by Will Quarmy

Basildon Bond garden (image courtesy of PA Picselect)

One of the gardens that caught our eye is the Basildon Bond artisan garden, designed by Will Quarmby (from Quarmy Landscaping and Design) to celebrate the centenary of the stationery company. We weren’t quite sure how paper would be incorporated into the design, but it’s been cleverly achieved using waterproof paper atached to the walls of the garden. The paper is attached along the top edge only, so that the sheets move and flap in the wind, casting shadows and light into the garden – it’s very effective. There’s even paper used around a small water feature.  

The garden also includes a reproduction of the Basildon Bond clock and the whole design looks like the perfect place to sit in and put pen to paper.  

Although paper may not be the ideal material to use in your own garden, there are some great ideas and inspiration to take from this design. It illustrates how white needn’t be plain and boring, and can actually create shade and texture in garden design.

Grange herb wheel planter: Create a herb garden

Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Herb garden design and planting ideas

Herb wheel plante

Nothing quite beats using freshly grown herbs in cooking, rather than dried herbs, and they’re relatively easy to grow on your kitchen windowsill or outside in the garden.

If you’re looking to create a feature herb garden, then here’s an easy way to get going – rather than having to dig out a plot yourself, why not buy this wooden hexagonal planter for your herbs?

The herb wheel planter is made from timber and has six roomy compartments suitable for planting a selection of herbs in.

You do need to do a bit of self-assembly to put it together, but once made, you can use it in a corner of your patio, or even as a small raised bed area in a border.

The Grange herb wheel planter measures 1.07 metres wide and costs £49.95 from Garden Chic.

If this herb planter is a bit too big for your garden, then they also have lots of other wooden planters available that would be perfect for herbs, like this Forest Garden Caledonian tiered raised bed or the Forest Garden cascade planter (this would be particularly good if you have limited space).

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