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.

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!

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.

Add a seating area or furniture 

Your home gardens, pool areas, and patios are as much a part of your home environment as your house interiors. These outdoor areas are even among the first things people see when they pass by or visit your home, so making sure they are tastefully designed and well-maintained create great first impressions before people even get to step inside your home. Know how to choose your outdoor furniture well so that they add to the beauty of your home, complement your interiors, and reflect a good image on you as well. Here are design and decorating tips that you can follow for guaranteed great visual appeal, or use as inspiration to kick off your own outdoor design ideas. 

Woven rattan chair and outdoor sofa sets 
Woven furniture made of natural plant materials such as rattan are great choices for breezy garden furniture that complements the outdoors well. Wicker rattan furniture is weather resistant, durable, and requires low-level maintenance. Being weight-bearing pieces, rattan seats are typically upholstered with sufficient cushions to distribute the sitter’s weight more evenly and prevent the rattan seats from sagging over time. If you have a rattan chair with no upholstery, use a throw pillow in an interesting color as a seat cushion. The unobtrusive tones of natural rattan make the colors of accent pillows pop even better, adding to the visual appeal of your furniture. 

Chunky wood benches 
Place large statement pieces made of timber at the end of your garden pathways. This creates a rustic and elegant look for your landscape, and also grants you a great view of your outdoor environment. Teak is a great material choice for its lovely tone and texture, and its reddish brown hue that eventually weathers into a silver-grey patina adds to the elegance of your outdoor furniture. If you want to retain the reddish brown quality of your teak furniture instead of letting it turn silvery over time, you can buy a brightener from teak suppliers to restore its original look. 

Metal wrought-iron chairs 
Wrought iron chairs are available in intricate designs and antique motifs. They are reminiscent of the classical French style, and are best used as functional yet interesting accent pieces against walls or within small kitchen gardens. Metal chairs used to be made of heavy cast iron that needed frequent repainting to prevent rusting. Nowadays, patterns can be replicated using materials such as aluminum and stainless steel, both of which are rust-resistant so no repainting would be necessary. Use the intricate details and graceful curves of metal chairs to inspire a vintage and romantic feel in your outdoors. 

Sun loungers 
Sun loungers with teak slatted bases are perfect add-ons to your pool area. Cover them with a towel and use them if you need to rest for short periods between swimming, or have them upholstered with cushions for extended lounging. If you need your lounger to be mobile for frequent repositioning, get one with a pair of small wheels for your convenience. Loungers with adjustable back rests offer you more options for relaxing, and are a practical choice if you want multi-position variety. Additionally, if you have a modern lounger, it can also be easily highlighted at night by outfitting modern outdoor lighting. Such style is pretty commonplace in modern homes these days especially those that see guests over at the pool area at night.

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

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.

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.

Is It Possible For Kids To Find Gardening Enjoyable?

From playing football to sitting on a swing, young children love to spend time outside in their gardens. It’s an environment where they feel safe to run around and explore their surroundings. Their garden can also ignite their imagination which can only make their games even more enjoyable. But despite their love of spending time in the garden, many parents don’t consider gardening as an enjoyable kids activity. While some elements of gardening can be hazardous to small children, there are elements that they can still get involved in. So rather than presuming they won’t enjoy it, here are some gardening activities your kids are bound to adore.

Rake the leaves on your lawn

During the autumn and winter, give your kids the responsibility of raking the leaves off your lawn. This will not only help to keep your garden looking pristine, but can also teach your kids about the change in seasons. You can explain why the trees and plants die and what you can do to make them look even better next year. You could even use some of the leaves for kid’s art projects. You can find some fabulous ideas on Small children may need some assistance with this activity, but try to let them do as much as they can by themselves. This can make them feel more mature and independent.
Create an edible garden

Another fantastic activity your kids will love is planting their own vegetable patch or fruit trees in your garden. They can take part in caring for the edible sections in your garden by watering the patch or trees regularly. Being able to eat the produce they have grown can be a wonderful reward for all their hard work. It can introduce them to healthy foods they may not have encountered before which can improve their diet considerably. Your kids will also love being able to get a snack from your garden rather than going to the store.

See for more ideas on types of fruit trees your kids can plant and care for. Alternatively, visit your local gardening centre for vegetable seeds that require little maintenance.

Encourage them to get messy

It’s no secret that gardening can get messy. This is one of the main reasons why your children will enjoy it so much. Allowing your kids to get messy encourages them to explore and learn more about their environment. So let them help you pull up weeds and dig through the soil with their hands. You can even create games that involve soil from your garden such as building a mud castle. This can teach them more about your garden while also allowing them to unleash their creativity. But if you don’t want your kids to get too messy, take a look at the kids clothing on

These activities can help make gardening fun and age appropriate for your children. It will be hard to keep them indoors when they find spending time in the garden so enjoyable and rewarding. So if someone asks you if your child enjoys gardening, you can confidently say yes.

Can You Transform Your Garden Into A Winter Wonderland?

For some people, the onset of colder weather and longer evenings means no more time in the garden. For some, that is a good thing - leave it there, and come back to it in March to deal with the mess. For others, it's a shame - because they haven't twigged that the year-round garden is a possibility. Of course, it takes some extra work, and you need to wrap up warm, but your garden in winter can be spectacular.
We've seen before that it's possible to plant the right things and have a garden that's in bloom all year. But what about the rest of the things you do with your garden? One of the things that makes an outside space welcoming is some signs of life out there. And flowers or plants, although they are alive, don't exactly do much. You can't very well enjoy them through the window for four or five months.
So even if a garden is in bloom all year, that doesn't mean you've got a year-round garden. How can you make it a place where you'll happily spend time in winter, without freezing to death in fifteen minutes? Fortunately, it's more than possible.
Step 1: Install A Fire Pit
The name conjures up images of a supervillain in a Hollywood movie, but the reality is, fortunately, a lot more benign. Let's think about fire pits this way: construction sites don't close down for the winter, do they? And manual work, though it makes you sweat, doesn't keep you warm. So workers on their down time stand around a brazier to warm up.
A fire pit in your garden has the same benefits. You can do some weeding, repaint a fence and keep the garden in tip-top condition. When time comes to take a break, a cup of coffee standing by the fire pit can be like heaven.
Step 2: Pick The Right Furniture
An abandoned garden bench in winter has a certain sadness to it. You can't help thinking of pleasant summer days spent sitting there. And sitting there is what a lot of garden furniture does when the mercury drops below ten degrees. All-weather furniture, from or other vendors, allows you to still spend time out there. Position it close enough - but not too close - to the fire pit and you've got a lovely winter garden experience.
Step 3: Make It Welcoming To Little Visitors
Many of us have a bird feeder in our garden to attract feathered friends, but with fewer breeds around in winter they often go ignored. Not all birds fly south when it starts to get chilly. Those that hang around will be hungry, so keep the feeder up and favour more fattening treats. Food in nature is going to be in shorter supply, so giving them a fattening treat like suet will keep them coming back.

Step 4: Winterise Your Pond
In the UK, winter temperatures can get below freezing - especially at night. A lot depends on the depth of the pond, but if you have fish in there, it is essential to stop it freezing entirely. You also need to remove any rotting vegetation, as these can release gases that are toxic to fish. If you have a pond filter, move it closer to the surface, as the bubbles caused will reduce the risk of freezing. And if you can't stop it freezing, it's time to move the fish to an indoor tank.



Ye Olde Garden: How To Get Vintage Style Into Your Back Yard

If you’re like many gardeners, you have a bit of a soft spot for homes that have vintage appeal. There’s something wholly romantic about anything that has a history. But getting that romance to spill out into your garden can be a challenge. Where to start?
The good news is that there are plenty of ideas rustling around for how to do just that. Anybody can now turn up to their local garden centre and start putting together their own vintage garden design. Here are some top tips.

Love Your Roses
Ever since the Wars of the Roses, the rose has been a central emblem in British history. So what better way to bring a touch of the old world to your garden than through the rose. It is the quintessential British flower.
Nothing gives a garden more of a vintage look than a wooden archway, adorned with pale, white roses. What’s more, roses produce a beautiful scent you can enjoy while reading on your garden bench.

Lay Down Rustic Sleepers
If your garden is split up into sections, a great way to section off different areas is to use sleepers. The problem is that many modern sleepers don’t look particularly vintage. The good news is that some sleepers, like M-track sleepers, have a rustic finish. This means that you can lay them down in your garden, even if you’re going for that iconic vintage effect.

Host A Tea Party
You don’t have to redesign your garden to make it more vintage, of course. You can just change what you do in it. A very good idea is to bring your table and chairs outside and have your very own Mad Hatter’s tea party. Set your table up underneath a pergola or an awning. Then dress the table with all the usual trimmings. Don’t forget the cake stand and your mother’s crockery.

Make Garden Buildings Look Pretty
In the past, garden buildings were the preserve of the rich, unless you were penniless, in which case you had an outhouse. As a result, they were beautifully designed and cared for. Outdoor buildings were a retreat, not some vulgar receptacle for your garden tools.

It’s easy to pretty up your garden buildings, like sheds. The first is to make sure that they’ve got a nice lick of paint. Duck egg blue is always a good colour for gardens with plenty of greenery. But you can choose from other rustic favourites, like cream or pastel green. Next, ensure that your outbuildings are beautifully situated. Nothing kills the rustic feeling of a garden more than sheds that are stuck out by themselves on big, concrete foundations. Think about how you can make your garden buildings look nestled away behind rows of beautiful flowers, trees, and bushes.
Accessorise Your Way Into The Past
The great thing about accessories is that they can fit into practically any space, no matter how small. Grab things like church candles, mason jars with tealights and fresh hydrangeas. Make your vintage garden stunning both day and night.

Easy Ways to Prolong The UK Growing Season

The UK might not be known for its fantastic weather, but it doesn’t mean us Brits can’t have success in the garden! The average growing season is now a month longer than it was in the 1990s, but due to our long and cold winters it’s still much shorter than other places in the world. However with the right know-how and equipment it’s easy to prolong the growing season, and achieve more crops. Here are some of the ways you can go about doing it, to get the most out of your garden.

Grow Houses
Growhouses such as greenhouses and polytunnels will absorb heat from the sun, and protect tender and half-hardy plants from the frost over the winter. To go a step further, you could insulate your structure with a layer of bubble wrap, or have heating installed. The temperature you’ll need to maintain will depend on the crops you’re growing so be sure to thoroughly research everything. Having a warmer environment in the garden allows you to keep growing produce right into the year. There would be no chance of this otherwise in the frosty UK winter!

Cold Frames and Hotbeds
Cold frames and hot beds are useful accessories to a greenhouse. Frames are boxes which lie flat on the ground with a glazed, sloping lid. A cold frame is left as it is and will provide protection from frost and a natural greenhouse effect from the sun. A hotbed is a cold frame but with an added heating device. This can be in the form of manure or nitrogen-rich compost. You can take advantage of this natural energy and chemical reaction by putting it where both the fertility and warmth will have the best impact.


Adding a layer of mulch, organic material such as bark, chippings, leaves or compost, is useful over the winter. It adds a protective barrier which helps to keep the base and roots of plants warm and avoid evaporation so that it doesn’t dry out. Mulch prevents soil compaction and also keeps out weeds which will prevent root competition. An easy, inexpensive way to protect your plants and keep them happy right the way through the year.

Cloches are glass or plastic covers which will protect single plants. They 'buffer' temperature for late-ripening crops, reducing the sharpness of early frosts. As well as protecting from the elements, it will also protect against pests. Cloches act as mini-greenhouses and will help to keep your more tender plants protected. Taller cloches promote ripening of aubergines, tomatoes, and peppers. Cucumbers. Wind protection increases growth rates and leaf surface area, and also promotes ‘softer’ growth. This is useful for leafy crops such as salads, spinach, and cabbage where soft growth is desirable. Cloches also offer a favourable environment for cuttings as well as helping to germinating seeds. You can buy specially made glass cloches, or also make your own out of simple materials you’d find at any DIY shop.

Do you have any tips and tricks for extending the growing season

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