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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Make Your Garden a Relaxing Haven


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The garden can be the unrivalled champion of stress relief. If you’ve found yourself taking on a lot of stress due to work or home obligations recently, then it might be time to head out to the garden and craft yourself a relaxing haven. Here’s how!

The magic of gardening

As you may already know, physical activity is a great way of reducing stress. People often underestimate just how much of a workout thorough gardening can be sometimes! But it’s not just the physical exertion that triggers a decrease in stress.


There’s the increase in exposure to sunlight to think about, too. An influx of vitamin D, combined with fresh air, is always great for relaxation. Another thing about gardening is that it’s a creative process, which in itself relieves stress in a very effective way. That’s why a lot of people write and paint. Why not get double the effect by creating a beautiful garden then painting it?

Creating a space for you

People underestimate how stressful being at home can be. Because your home life isn’t always completely divorced from your professional life - and it certainly isn’t much of a break from obligations if you have a family! - simply being at home isn’t always as relaxing as people make it out to be.


That’s why having a private space away from home can be very beneficial. We’re not talking about something too far away from the house, of course - we’re talking about having somewhere right in your garden! Some may choose to construct an arbour or a small summerhouse, others may choose sheds or even log cabins from Cuckooland. Whatever you choose, these spaces can be great places to relax and concentrate.

Bring in the wildlife

Nature, in itself, can be a relaxing thing - and this effect is multiplied when you throw wildlife into the equation. The presence of animals can help someone destress very effectively. This is why a lot of people suggest that those who are depressed or stressed get themselves a cat or a dog!



You can encourage wildlife into your garden by getting a bird bath and bird feeder. After all, how good can a garden really be if it doesn’t attract beautiful birds? You can also encourage the presence of butterflies and bees by planting flowers. (Although the presence of bees doesn’t always relax people!)

Calming scents
It’s strange that there’s such a strong connection between stress and smell. But studies have shown again and again that there are certain scents out there that can really help us relax, as well as boost our mood. Thankfully, you can introduce many of these scents to your garden.

The first thing you may think of is lavender, which is widely used for its calming effects. Jasmine is something else you can grow in your garden with a scent that boosts moods. If you’re not in the mood to start growing plants, or you need something a little more immediate, then try mowing your lawn. You’ve probably experienced for yourself the mood-boosting and relaxing effects that the aroma of cut grass gives.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

Located close to Gatwick Airport is the fantastic Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden. The  stunning selection of sculptures chosen by owner-curator, Hannah Peschar, is extremely wide and varied with styles varying from figurative to highly abstract. The various sculptures use an  innovative selection of contemporary materials ranging from metals, wire, glass, ceramics and plastics as well as the more traditional stone, wood and bronze.

The grounds are simply fantastic, we visited in the Spring, I would imagine the autumn colours would also compliment the sculptures beautifully as well.


A large giant head lies amongst the undergrowth.

See through fungi on an old tree stump



Another large head, this one resembles part of an old giant statue. Fabulous colour in the woods.








Each sculpture is placed in the landscape with a carefully considered and meaningful relationship with the other featured works within the garden, which was created by the award-winning landscape designer  Anthony Paul. The overall result is an beautifully inspired combination of peaceful, enclosed harmony and dramatic, surprise vistas in an ever-changing environment.Whether you are fan of sculpture of just beautiful landscapes there is something for everyone.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

How to Take Bay Cuttings

An essential herb you should have available to you is bay (Laurus nobilis) it is an easily available plant to buy but if you want to grow your own heres how!
  1. Take a heel cutting, a fresh shoot or tip in early summer or in the autumn. Cut from a mature bay tree don't be tempted to take one from a young plant. The cutting should be about 8cm (3") long.

  2. Strip off the upper and lower leaves from the cutting.

  3. Dip the intended root end into a cutting rooting hormone powder. This will stimulate vigorous root growth.

  4. Put the cutting into a small pot filled with two-thirds coarse sand and one-third good quality multi-purpose compost.

  5. Put the container under a plastic bag hanging over wire or similar to keep it from touching or landing on the cutting. This creates a mini-greenhouse for the cutting.

  6. Be patient. It will take around 9 months for the cutting to root.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Keeping Koi

Water features, whether they’re fountains, ponds or rills, can be a wonderful addition to any garden. However, a lot of gardeners will hit a point where they look at their standing water, and think that it looks a bit barren. One popular way of breathing more life into your pond is buying some koi carp and giving them a home there. Here are some tips for keeping them happy and healthy.

Image from Pexels
The Right Diet
Like any animal, a koi’s diet is essential to keeping it happy and healthy. There’s a range of specialised koi foods on the market, intended for growth, colour, general health or a combination. One of the most important things to remember is that koi are poikilothermic, meaning that their body temperature is governed by the surrounding water. This means that you need to feed them different foods during different seasons. They’ll need a lower amount of protein in the winter and colder end of spring, and foods that are high in protein during the summer. This is because food passes slowly through their gut at lower temperatures, and will be poorly digested. Be sure to consult the koi vendor about the food you should stock up on for different times of the year.
Water Quality
The quality of the water you’re keeping your koi in is another important thing to consider. You need low or non-existent levels of ammonia, nitrate, and a PH level between 6 and 9. Common toxins found in tap water, such as chlorine, chloramine, and iron, also need to be avoided to assure the best possible health for your koi. It’s also important to maintain a minimum oxygen level of 6mg per litre, which can be achieved with products like the Oase Filtoclear. You may not be able to get all of these parameters spot-on, but once you get close enough, it’s important to keep it this way. Erratic changes in oxygen, mineral levels and temperature can all be extremely strenuous to a koi’s body, and may shorten their lifespan. Whatever you do, don’t assume that the water quality is good simply because it’s clear. Battery acid is clear, but it won’t do any animal much good!
Be Vigilant
Countless people like the idea of keeping koi in a pond, but unfortunately, a lot of them simply don’t put in the time it takes to keep their environment healthy and free of problems. Now that you own koi, you’re going to have to deal with various environmental issues, such as excessive fish waste, acid rain, and nutrient runoff. These issues are fairly common, but can be serious if you don’t stay vigilant and tackle them as soon as they arise. Make sure you’re performing regular water checks, and taking steps to iron out any developing issues you come across. Koi may not be the most high-maintenance fish in the world, but when you’re not paying attention to the state of the pond, even the hardiest fish can experience some harrowing and potentially deadly health issues.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Create a Garden Your Dog Can Enjoy Too

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Your dog is an important part of the family. He is always happy to see you; always there for you with a wagging tail when you’re down, so you should do what you can to take good care of him.
Dogs love being outside in the garden with the wind in their fur and the sun on their face, and who are you to deny them that? If you want to make your dog happy and keep him safe, you should create a garden your dog can enjoy. Here are some tips that will help you to do that:
 
Secure the Borders
First thing’s first – you will need to secure your garden so that your pooch can’t escape and get into all manner of mischief and danger. Erecting a fence or building a wall, at least around the area where your dog will be playing, relaxing and sleeping is a must. Make sure you dig down a bit into the ground and start building there because some dogs are known diggers who will be down and under the fence in no time given the chance.
 
Stimulate Their Senses
Dogs are smart. If they aren’t stimulated, they can get very bored very quickly, and you don’t want that. To keep them busy in the garden, put down paving slabs to create different pathways and section off areas for digging, sleeping and playing as a first step. Then, think about texture. Paving slabs, turf, water (If you install a water feature, make sure it is dog-safe), wood chips – give them plenty to explore.

Plant Hardy Greenery
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Dogs like to run and play. They don’t stop to think about the havoc they are wreaking on the environment around them, which means that, if you want plants in your garden, you will need to go for hardy varieties that can stand up to pounding paws and wagging tails. Geranium and Leucanthemum are particularly good options.
 
A note on buying plants: Many plants and flowers are toxic to dogs, so always check a reputable source before you plant anything your garden.

Use Hedges
Make use of hedges and gates to section off areas where your dogs can roam freely and areas just for the humans, where flowers and plants will be safe from destructive paws and excessive peeing.


Build a Kennel
Your dog might like being in the garden, but when the sun is at its highest in the sky, he might want to sit in the shade for a spell, so either build or buy a good dog kennel where he can go to rest, drink some water and have a sleep in the shade.


Use Organic Pest Control
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Slugs and snails don’t only eat your plants – they can also poison dogs who eat them, but pesticides and water feature additives can also poison your dogs, which is why you should use natural organic methods of controlling pests, weeding and keeping your water feature clean if you want to keep your pet pooch safe.
 
Do you have a dog? How do you keep him or her happy in the garden?
 

Monday, 27 February 2017

Give Your Garden Some Summer Lovin' This Spring

If you can’t wait for the summer months and the way that they bring out the best in all of your beautiful flowers, then why wait? Don’t wait for the summer when you can bring the summer to your garden now, in the springtime. As soon as the last dregs of persistently bad and wet weather have passed, and it is safe to get outside and make a start on sprucing up your garden, you should.

Start by trimming and tending to your grass that has, of late, seen no action and therefore grown out-of-control. Feeding your lawn like clockwork with granular feed should start as soon as is practically possible for you, and should then continue throughout the spring and summer months. If winter killed your grass well and truly, then not to fear, it can be rectified — you should seek to eradicate any instances of moss quickly though so that you can get to thickening the affected area of grass. And as soon as it is in a position to be tended once more, get to shaping and trimming it in order to bring the best out of it aesthetically. Buy a Hayter Mower to assist you in making sure your grassy area doesn’t look like it has a winter hangover and isn't suffering from wear and tear, but is instead in a pristine and perfect condition. Your grass is the centre piece of your garden, so should be the first piece of the puzzle that you seek to get in place as you seek to construct the perfect summer garden.

However, a garden wouldn't be the same without flowers in it — so it’s a good job you can get to planting summer-flowering bulbs as early as in the spring! Lilies, Gladiolus and Ranunculus are just some that can all be planted before the summer period kicks in, but will erupt to life and provide a colourful summer display when it does; if these don’t take your fancy, then make sure to check the huge catalogue on Thompson & Morgan to find the seeds and bulbs that can be planted during the spring that best suit your garden’s style and character.

You should also focus your energies on covering all of the practical aspects of owning and maintaining a sizzling summer garden. This means that you should be carrying out actions such as: clearing up your flower beds and borders, so that the dead growth of the winter is cut back and you can really focus on the future; sowing seeds that need a longer season, so that you’re covered in the long-run; hunting down any unwelcome garden pests, so that they don’t back around to bite you (or any guests you may invite over) on the bum when you host summer parties; cleaning your greenhouse, so that it is clean for the time when it is to adorned with trades of seedlings; and put-up, fix or paint any fences, gates and trellis. Doing all of these tasks, no matter how tedious they may seem, will mean your garden will have a sturdy backbone that you can work upon.

Getting your garden practically in order as early as possible in the year is a way to stay on top of keeping it looking aesthetically pleasing when the summer sun is shining upon it, so start pronto! Tending to your garden as if it were summer time now will mean you will be able to reap the rewards when it is in fact in the midst of it.
 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Let The Exterior Of Your Home Reflect The Interior

A lot of people put more thought into the interior of their homes, than they do with the exterior. It makes sense to some people to make sure that the inside of their homes is completely to their taste and that all aspects of it look, and feel, just as they had imagined their home to look when they initially moved in. This is perfectly understandable, as after all, when the inside of your home is more important to you - visually and pragmatically - then you will want to get it sorted out before you start on the exterior aspects.


However, when your home is fitted out to a level that you are happy with, it is easy to forget about the exterior of your home and how that also affects the look and feel of your home. The interior of your home may be fitted with modern flooring, expensive and vintage furniture, trendy aspects like a vinyl player, unique artworks and state of the art TVs and kitchen appliances but if, from the outside, your home looks pretty ordinary and does not reflect the inside then you will not be doing yourself justice and all your hard work may seem like a waste of time.


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Exterior aspects of your home can make a big difference to the overall look. These can include: the garden, paintwork, fences, and general disrepair. Take a look at the exterior of your home and think about what additions, or maintenance, it could benefit from. Would solar powered decking lights make a big difference? Could planting flowers, and getting rid of any weeds, make your garden look more colourful? Should you pair the colour of your fence with the paintwork of your home?


Maintaining the garden can be one of the most beneficial jobs that you do. A well thought out and carefully maintained garden can mean that you will want to spend more time outdoors, and if all aspects are kept on top of, people will see that you take pride in all appearances of your home. Simply by replacing natural grass with gravel can mean less work for you, and it can also add a more modern effect. By planting flowers in designated areas, more colour will be added and can make your garden look much brighter. By taking the time to paint your fence, and repainting the outside of your home, your house and its additions could look brand new.


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Allow yourself time away from developing the inside of your home, and head outside to see what can be done to make all parts of the exterior a better reflection of you, your creativity and your passion to make your home as best as it can be. By simply taking an hour or so out of every day, which you can dedicate to the exterior of your home, you will more than likely be surprised at how manageable it all becomes and, also, if done well can be done at a fairly cheap price.

DG

Friday, 17 February 2017

Big Ideas For Your Garden? Prioritise Proper Planning



Whisper it quietly, but the time to get back in the garden is creeping nearer and nearer. This is good news for some, who since October have been limiting their outdoor work to necessary repairs and tidying. For others, who take on garden work only when necessary, it marks the beginning of the end of their ideal excuse. Before long, your local garden centre will be a hive of activity again.


Let's be clear - it's still a little too cold to be planting out very much. Even if you wrap up warm, most of what you plant will struggle to survive against the harsh conditions - and we may yet have more snowfall. Nonetheless, this is very much the time to put together any plans you may have to overhaul your garden in 2017.


Big garden renovations do not happen overnight. They take time and effort. Most of all, they take a certain amount of planning. Whatever ideas you have to bring your garden up to date, an idea does not become a reality without a sound plan.


You can ignore that advice, but it will be at your peril. If you're one of those people who decides to do something and jumps right into action, it can result in a garden that looks disjointed. Unfinished. A collection of good ideas not fully realised. The garden equivalent of an album released by any group referred to as "a good singles band."


The following, then, are ideas which, if planned and executed with precision, could make your 2017 summer garden special.


#1. Modern Decking




There are different ways to "do" decking. Some will look excellent, leaving you with a garden full of character which will be an ideal outdoor space. Others can look thrown together, not match up with anything else in your garden, and just give the impression of an afterthought. Your garden is too important to look like that.


First of all, you must decide on the finish for the decking. To get the right look, you need to scan around your garden and evaluate the general look. Do you have a fence, and if so what colour is it? What naturally grows around your garden, and what colour of decking will fit with the look of your house? Are you prepared to paint the fence, or the exterior of your house, to get the right look?


Safety is also an important consideration. If you're going to be holding barbecues and children will be playing out there, the decking needs to be kept as dry as possible. Sitting water can encourage bacteria, damage the finish and the load-bearing abilities of the wood you've used. Also, because decking creates a multi-level effect, you don't want people to fall off it. Putting in place a balustrade, by SHS Products or similar, is a good idea. Done right, it will enhance the look considerably.


#2. Fire




Okay, left there alone like that, the word can seem a bit extreme. No-one is suggesting just setting fire to part of your garden and occasionally throwing wood on it, though. There are ways and means to use fire in your garden which make it look spectacular.


Obviously, safety is an issue here. However you might choose to include fire in your garden, it needs to be in a way that children and pets are not going to be at risk of harm. For example, one of the most popular garden accessories of 2016 was a fire pit. Versatile and visually impressive, they nonetheless need to be placed very carefully.


Most important of all when considering a fire pit, chimenea or barbecue, is that it needs to be away from the house or any fence. You buy fuel for these things at a garden centre or supermarket. You do not want your fence or your siding to become additional fuel. Also, by situating it away from the house, it is out of the way of any kids or pets who might come running out, excited to play in the garden.


Therefore it is essential to create a fireproof space for any new accessory like this that you buy. Laying down concrete paving, keeping any wood out of the way and ensuring that nothing is hanging overhead are essential. Fire can be beautiful, cosy, romantic. It can also be deadly, so respect its power.


Finally, any time you are going to light a fire, check among the fuel for any creatures that may have nested in there. Hedgehogs, in particular, like to huddle among piles of material for warmth and safety.


#3. Your First Menagerie




It's becoming more and more popular to create a little bit of the countryside in the towns and suburbs of Britain. This was originally seen mainly in terms of planting food and flowers but has spread to include keeping animals in your garden. And why not?


Be aware that personal responsibility is essential here. Of course, it is wonderful to have a few chickens or a duck here and there. Depending on the size of your garden, you can go further and keep a goat or two. You do, however, need to provide them with adequate living space. For chickens, this means a coop, and a similar arrangement for any other fowl. Ducks will ideally need a pond to swim in.


Goats or other livestock will need at least a shelter. Unless you plan to have them sleep in the house at night, you can't expect them to roam around the garden in all weathers.


If you fancy just having a little nature around your garden but can't commit to maintaining that kind of space, create a hedgehog house. Keep it supplied with food and water. Then it will become a refuge for the kind of animals that are often driven out of other areas by predators and angry gardeners.


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