Friday, 13 January 2017

This Summer - A Beer Garden in Your Garden

There’s not a better time to start planning for new additions to your garden than now. Although we are still in winter (and will be for a while), getting prepared for the summer ahead  is important to save you from rushing around in the coming months. That is precious time which could be spent on carrying out work which is summertime only - think mowing, pruning and most essentially taking some time out to relax.

Make your garden the ‘spare room’ that you always use. Rather than having it as a decorative space to admire, this summer is shaping up as Garden Season for different reasons; people are spending more time in their gardens and inviting friends over than going out. And if they are going out, they’re going to places that provide beer gardens. So why not combine the two and make the perfect beer garden at home?

To do so, there are some essentials that need to be invested in to complete your look. Think about the scope of your garden; do you have a patio or decking already in place? If not, it’s time to start thinking about one. Not only does it divide up your garden, giving the illusion of more space and a smarter look, it will also provide a firm base for what’s to come…

This is probably the most important thing - the furniture. Consider a rattan corner sofa for cosy lounging, or even a picnic table to give your garden that authentic beer garden feel. It provides a focal point within your garden and somewhere to entertain your friends, so make sure that you have picked something that is stylish and will last so you are able to do this for years to come.

Adding a bit more atmosphere to the mix, pubs are increasingly adding outdoor heating to their beer gardens to ensure that the customer stays there throughout the night. While you won’t have any customers, you wouldn’t want your guests complaining of the cold. There has been a huge boom in the sales of firepits and chimineas, and the investment in either is definitely worthwhile. If you add it to the centre of where you are all sitting, you’ll probably find you’re warmer sitting outside than you are sitting in.

Realistically, that’s all that you need. It doesn’t take much to completely transform your garden from unused space to social gathering place. Friends will flock to wherever there is a warm and welcoming vibe, and all it takes is a bit of literal warmth and somewhere to sit and chat the night away. But don’t forget the drinks, whether alcoholic or not - there are a wealth of outdoor fridges available online should you wish to go a bit fancy and have your beverages within arms reach. If not, a trip to the kitchen will do just fine.

After doing these simples steps, all that will be left for you to do is sit back and enjoy it. That is, after doing all of your other garden duties … but at least this big step will be out of the way!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Give Your Garden Character With These Additions

Now the Christmas rush is over and we are all busy focusing on our new year's resolutions some will begin to look to their gardens. Winter is yet to end but spring draws ever near. Gardening is a hobby for many, but for some they just like to see it look a bit better than the previous year, so why not give your garden some character with these little additions.

Use Intricate Wooden Carvings

Wooden carvings have a certain charm that stone ones do not. They can come in a myriad of fantastical beasts and animals and you can even request exactly what you want before commissioning a sculpture. If you get them treated they can last for years, ever gaining in character as they become weather worn. They can fuel a youngster's imagination and become a talking point of any garden party. You can get them in many different sizes too so you can choose exactly what you want for the perfect location. You can even carve sculptures out of existing trees or stumps to make use out of annoying wood you’d otherwise have to find a way of disposing.

Try Some Different Plants

Some people fall into a routine with plants and end up planting the same things every year. So why not buy some new plant pots for your new plants and give your garden a different look this year. You can use vibrant colours in different areas that bloom at alternating times, this way there will always be a splash of colour in your garden. You can also try some hanging baskets or wall growing plants and flowers to lend colour to other areas that could need it.


Different Garden Furniture

Using different garden furniture can help get people out into the garden more often. Try comfortable chairs and loungers instead of hard wooden benches and seats. The additional comfortably furniture can be placed on its own or even under some form or awning which will really give it some character in the summer months. Commissioned furniture can set your garden apart from the rest.

Try A Swing For The Kids

Getting a kid to play outside is harder than ever. With all the new gaming software, social media and Christmas presents it’s almost impossible to get them outside. But if you use a swing you can help get the kids outside whilst also making a worthwhile addition to your garden. You can get them specially made, so that they fit into your garden perfectly instead of buying a garish multicoloured swing set which ruins the feel you’ve been striving for.


Personalise Your Garden

To really make it yours you need to personalise it. This will give your garden bags of character that won’t be seen anywhere else. You can use personalised slate signs to spruce up the fence or wall. If you have an artistic streak why not try painting a picture on a wall or making your own carving into a thick shed wall. You can find a myriad of personal ideas here for your garden.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Ornamental Elegance: How To Create A Japanese Inspired Garden

Flickr Image: jen

Even though it’s currently winter, it’s never too early to start planning your garden for next year, especially if you’ve got a bare plot of land or have just moved house. Japanese gardens are quiet, peaceful places of relaxation and meditation, drawing inspiration from painted rocks, sand, water, bamboo, flowering plants, meditation statues and bridges to create a natural, organic place of balance and symmetry. All these elements are easy to add into your existing garden, as well as a wonderful way to utilise the full potential of a smaller space, so it’s no wonder that Japanese style gardens continue to be a horticultural favourite!
Flickr Image: Ezry Abdul Rahman

Build Mysterious Paths
The Japanese are unfailingly polite, endlessly patient and incredibly hardworking and this shows particularly in the usage of winding paths, stepping stones and forest trails in their gardens. The idea here is to draw the eye past what can be seen and instead consider the path that wanders away into the distance. Why not place a small wooden or stone pagoda or statue in the middle of the pathway? That way visitors will feel intrigued by what they have discovered so far and be inspired to explore further at the same time as enjoying the various shrubs, flowers and grasses that caress the edges of the stone, or concrete blocks. Try to plant evergreen trees and shrubs that will provide colour and texture all year round, as well as emulating the creative aspect of your garden by appearing in a range of different shapes.

Flickr Image: Prayitno

It’s All About Reflection

If your garden is big enough consider adding a zig-zag bridge. Not only are these bridges very pretty but they’re supposed to bring you luck, legend says evil spirits can only walk in straight lines and hence become trapped by the bridge. Add large water features such as ornamental waterfalls, ponds, and mini streams to allow the soothing sound of water burbling to permeate your little oasis of calm as well as being a water source for any animals in the area. To give the edges of a pond texture plant ornamental grasses, willows, and papyrus that’ll rustle gently in the breeze. Fill your pond with water, add in water plants, lilies, and grasses that’ll encourage frogs and insects to investigate before adding some koi carp. Then simply place some bridgman garden furniture, or wicker chairs beside it and enjoy watching the fish explore their new home.

Flickr Image: Güldem Üstün

Pretty Pavilions And Charming Teahouses  
Thanks to the ancient custom of the tea ceremony along with the honor of enjoying intricate performances by Japanese Geisha’s, private pavilions and special tea houses have long been featured in Japanese design. Instead of a barbecue pit or outdoor terrace why not construct a pavilion of bamboo or wood? Not only will your garden benefit from the inclusion of eco- friendly materials and look more natural, but pavilions are great focal points for entertaining as well as being a lovely spot to sit and read near on a summer's day. In the evenings try to dot small, storm lanterns around the paths as they'll make beautiful, glowing additions to the garden.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Perfect Parsnips for Christmas

Parsnips are one of the best vegetables for winter with a lovey nutty taste and there are so many wonderful ways to prepare them. Heres a few I love.

Parmesan crusted Parsnips.
Cook the parsnips in boiling salted water until tender. Add oil to baking tray and sprinkle grated parmesan, polenta and mustard powder, heat for about five minutes and then add the parsnips, and transfer the tray to the oven cooking for about 30 to 40 minutes turning at least once.

Parsnip Crisps.
Use a swivel blade peeler to peel strips from the parsnips. Coat them in oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place them in backing trays in single layers and bake for about 30 minutes until they are crisp  Grind sea salt over them and eat them hot.

Roast parsnips
Cut your parsnips into bite sized chunks and simmer in boiling water for about five minutes. Preheat your oven and a baking tray with oil. Remove the parsnips and add them to the hot tray, ensuring you coat them all in the oil. Roast for about 30 to 40 minutes turning at least once. Serve whilst hot.

If you do make the crisps then its worth making a lot at they are very moorish and I find they get eaten very quickly. You can make vegetable crisps from other vegetables for extra variety.

Do These Things For A Magical Looking Garden

Having a magical looking garden can be one of the best additions to your home. Not only will it up the value of your home, it’ll give you somewhere to spend time, whether you’re on your own or with friends. If you want somewhere tranquil to relax and reflect, make your garden the ideal spot! Do these things for a magical looking garden if this sounds good to you:

Plant Beautiful Flowers
There’s no way you can have a magical looking garden without planting flowers. Make sure you plant plenty of beautiful flowers that you can maintain to add to the look of your garden. Although many flowers will need regular maintenance, this doesn’t have to be hard to do. In fact, you should enjoy it! There are apps that can help you to do this, so if you need a nudge when it’s time to water them and fertilize the soil, that’s what you can get.

Consider Adding A Stone Path
Stone paths can have a really magical feel to them, especially if they are cobbled or winding in any way. You may need to level out your garden and make big changes to include one of these if you have nothing like it already. It could be a good idea to sketch out what you want it to look like and go from there. You may need professional help if you’re unsure - you want to make sure you get this right!


Find The Right Kind Of Lighting
Having the right kind of lighting is crucial for a magical looking garden. You can have different kinds depending on what you want to use your garden for. If you’re planning on using your garden to socialize, you’ll need a strong, reliable lighting source. Garden led lights can be a great choice for this. However, you could also look at fairy lights, lanterns, and solar lighting.

Get Some Furniture That Adds To The Effect
Make sure you have furniture in your garden that adds to the magical effect you’re going for. Make sure it’s sturdy and durable enough to withstand the elements. You could go for something quite vintage looking, but there are so many different styles that could work. Make sure you have plenty of seating if you usually entertain, and don't’ forget to place it somewhere suitable. If you have a quiet spot in the garden, it could be a good idea to put it there.

Add Accessories
There are so many accessories that will help your garden to look even more magical. You could even create a mini fairy garden somewhere with little fairy ornaments and a door. Make sure you add some kind of water feature too, as this always creates a tranquil effect.

Start doing these things right away and you’ll have a magical looking garden by the time you’re finished! If you have any ideas or tips you think would work for this theme, then make sure you leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!

Monday, 12 December 2016

Gardening Trends To Re-Inspire Your Hobby

Gardening is something that many people enjoy as a hobby. It’s an opportunity to be creative, grow something from nothing, or just spend time in the great outdoors. A lot of people take real pride in their garden areas, and their hobby can go from strength to strength. However, some people can lose sight of their gardening purpose, so I thought I would share with you some of the gardening trends that could re-inspire that gardening spark inside of you hope. Re-igniting that hobby once more.

Colored structures are making a comeback

No longer do you have to hide your shed, storage areas or summer houses. Making them look like part of the garden. Now you can get inspired with color once more and enjoy making features out of your fences and garden structures. It used to be seen that these kinds of things were taking the design away from the garden itself, but it seems that more people are making these structures part of their overall garden design.


Increase in houseplants and growing vegetables indoors

Sometimes it’s not possible to have a huge exterior outside space in your home, especially if you live in a small home with just a yard or even an apartment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the benefits of gardening through houseplants or even growing your own food. Thanks to things like hydroponics kits and tutorials advising on methods to successfully grow many things indoors. It means that now more people are feeling inspired by gardening and wanting to make more of their homes, even if it is a corner of their home.

Having a subtle garden design

While there is a huge trend to have colored structures, the complete opposite is happening to the actual garden itself. People are opting for a more subtle design finish in their exterior gardens. From softer blooms, to color coordinated flowerbeds. Gardens no longer have to be over the top for people to appreciate the hard work it goes into maintaining them.


Making the outside area an experience to enjoy rather than a labor of love

Gardening is a hobby that all can enjoy, but a trend that has developed this year is to make the garden a place where you can enjoy the experience of being outside, rather that it just being a place that has become a labor of love. Consider adding entertaining areas on decking, or even install a hot tub that everyone can enjoy on a warm summers evening.

Adding lighting schemes to your garden

Many people want to ensure that you can experience the garden, even when the sun goes down. So more and more people are choosing lighting schemes in their garden. But rest assured, this isn't going to run up your electricity bill, many lighting schemes use solar power which is a cost-effective way to light up your garden at night. It might even encourage you to use your outside space at night, maybe for entertaining or dining on a decked area.

I hope this has inspired you to consider more gardening for the next year ahead.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Getting your Winter Onions In

Following on from our post earlier this month about how to grow onions its worth reminding ourselves that there are actually quite a number of different varieties of onions from sets that can planted in your vegetable plot or allotment now. Sets are the simplest way to grow onions yourself much easier than from seed. They have the bonus that they can be harvested earlier on in the year as well.

Electric is a good red set, Radar a good yellow and Shakespeare is a highly reliable white.

You can also sow some spring onions now: White Lisbon Winter Hardy is a good one that we like to use. Check your local garden centre as quite a lot of them will have shallots available now for plantin. Jermor is already available in my local garden centre. These are good to be planted about now or though until just into the New Year.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Building Your Nest: Ways To Make Your Garden Sustainable And Eco-Friendly

As a species, all humans are under extreme pressure to improve the way they live and reduce their impact on the world. There are loads of ways that you can do this within the home; but, what can you do in your garden? A lot of gardens have tons of unused space that can be repurposed to help the planet. However small, these changes can still make a difference.

Unfortunately, unless you have a massive garden and several thousand to throw at it, you can’t really generate much power from your garden. Solar panels are great for your roof, but that’s not the garden. If you have a river on or a large hill your land, you can also look into hydro or wind power.

  • Compost Your Waste

Most of our food waste and other organics still have valuable energy that will simply go to waste, if thrown away. Instead, you can compost it. Composting is best done in the dark, as this will encourage insects to do their work. It’s also good to have a separate area of the garden for it; to avoid a mess. You can get your hands on a plastic composter for relatively little. They will reduce the smell, and help to keep everything tidy.

You can use compost on the plants in your garden to help them grow. By letting organic waste breakdown, you create a nutrient rich material without using chemicals. This is a great way to make it easier to grow your own food!

  • Grow Some Fruit And Veg

Most of the fruit and vegetables that we eat come from overseas. They’re transported across land, sea, and air before they meet our dinner plates. This isn’t a problem when you only consider yourself in the mix. But, with so many people relying on their food being available to buy, huge amounts of food have to be moved around.

By growing your own food, you can offset this a little bit. You probably can’t grow everything you’ll need, all year round. But, you can at least limit what you buy. Using a greenhouse will help you to grow food all year round, and will also keep your produce safe from animals.

If you talk to your friends and family, you can even arrange to grow food to share. If each of you focuses on one or two different types of food, you can share your extra produce with those around you; getting food in return.

  • Source Your Own Water

Just like our food, moving water around the world uses a lot of valuable resources, and contributes greatly to emissions. But, most of us live on our own hidden reservoir; the garden. Using Nicholls boreholes or a similar company, you can start sourcing your own water. A borehole takes advantage of the water that the soil and earth in our gardens absorb when it rains. You can start supplying nearly all of your water from your garden, shrinking your carbon footprint and water bill, at the same time.

Be creative, and take advantage of your space. It’s a good idea to leave an area of the garden to grow freely. This gives animals a place to live and increases your garden’s carbon conversion.

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