BBC Countryfile Live 2016

BBC Countryfile Live 2016 – Our Favourite Videos …

BBC Countryfile Live really was a stunning event – despite the traffic!!

Usually we do a full written round up from each event we attend through the year but this time we’re keeping things purely visual for our round up – enjoy!

BBC Countryfile Live 2016 – so many videos and not enough space!

The amount of video footage available online from the event is overwhelming so we’ve chosen a few of our favourites plus one other with very highly relevant ‘local appeal’ to any readers of this that may be located in Warwickshire.

The preview from BBC Countryfile Live Magazine …

Building the giant haystack!

Let’s go walk about …

Farming history through the ages – just look at the original threshing machines in action below …

A bit of fun closer to home as Adam tries to heard his sheep through Stratford-Upon-Avon town centre!

And not forgetting the Trade Stand …

This was upgraded by the organisers for us at the last minute so we ended up with a massive 250 square metres of space – of course we still managed to fill it though!!

The Trade Stand on Ellie Lane at BBC Countryfile Live

The Trade Stand on Ellie Lane at BBC Countryfile Live …

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RHS Tatton Park 2016 – A first Time for Everything!

It was hot and the bubbly flowed at RHS Tatton Park 2016 – in fact it flowed that much that it became too much for a lovely group of women who visited our Trade Stand on Ladies Day …

Too much bubbly at RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

Too much bubbly at RHS Tatton Park Flower Show!

We always aim to please but we can honestly say that no one has ever actually fallen asleep after a glass of bubbly and a relax on our trade stand – just goes to show how supremely comfortable our Pienza Range is!

RHS Tatton Park 2016 – last but certainly not least …

The annual Flower Show at Tatton Park is always our last outing with the RHS throughout the year and it may get slightly less exposure than the likes of Chelsea and Hampton Court but, never the less it’s always a great show.

It has that laid back, down to earth northern feel to it, as demonstrated perfectly by the wonderful group of ladies above!

A few highlights in 2016 …

A showcase for Rising Stars …

The RHS Young Designer competition its eighth outing in 2016 and the standards just seem to get better and better year after year.

It offers three young designers aged 28 and under the unique opportunity to show off their skills at an RHS Flower Show – a dream come true and a spring board to bigger and better things we’re sure.

Why not watch the video below for full details …

The experts reveal …

Certainly not a new feature but something common to all RHS Shows including Tatton Park is the timetable of talks given by well-known experts from across the gardening spectrum.

This year was no exception. One of our favourites was Matt Biggs pick of the 10 newest and most exciting plants from across the show at Tatton park in 2016.

Again, the RHS very kindly ran a video on this …

And finally, few of our favourite show gardens from Tatton Park in 2016 …

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stunning sculptures at Tatton Park

Stags fight it out at Tatton Park

Hampton Court – Rocket Science but not as you know it!

Hampton Court – Rocket Science but not as you know it!

If you’ve read any of our many previous posts from the various RHS Flower Show throughout the year you’ll know that we’re seasoned show-goers now.

And yes, we say it every year but once again it really was a great year at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show.

It’s the largest of the RHS Flower Shows throughout the year in terms of area and the historical setting make sit all the more special for all concerned.

A brief round-up of the highlights from Hampton Court in 2016 …

Hampton Court 2016

It always amazes us how the RHS manage to make Hampton Court a bigger and bigger spectacle year after year.

And, they also manage to make each and every show applicable in some way to the most relevant current affairs in UK society at the time.

And 2016 was no different.

And the other thing we say every year?

Is the fact that it’s impossible to do a round up blog that covers all the highlights from Hampton Court in one single post.

So, once again, we’ll make it personal by giving you an overview of the main highlights and then looking in a bit more detail at our own personal highlight.

Here’s a few of the more memorable treats that were on offer …

  • The Butterfly Dome with many exotic varieties.
  • Feel God Front Gardens – exploring how plants and good design can positively impact a persons health.
  • A Dogs Life Show Garden – with a very special visitor.
  • The Austin Garden with live music provided by Carson McHone.
  • All The World’s A Stage Garden – – to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the Bard.

Further details and much more can be found on the RHS official round up page for those who want to learn more.

But for those purist garden lovers amongst you here’s the official RHS Garden Round up from Hampton Court in 2016 …

And our personal highlight from Hampton Court in 2016?

Rocket Science but not as you know it.

We first covered the Rocket Science initiative in a previous post earlier in the year just before Tim Peake embarked on his now world famous journey to the International Space Station.

The initiative formed part of the wider initiative around The RHS Campaign for School Gardening and involved a huge number of UK schools investigating the possible effects of microgravity, radiation and space travel on seed germination and growth.

What on earth is all that about you might be asking?

Well, as the RHS explain on their website …

“Before Tim [Peake] embarked on his Principia mission to the International Space Station, he flipped a coin to decide which colour packet would contain the space seeds, and the answer has been a closely guarded secret …”

Until now!

“The seeds in question are 2kg of rocket seeds (Eruca sativa) which were sent to the International Space Station (ISS), ahead of Tim, on 03 September 2015. They remained on-board for six months until they returned to Earth with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly on 03 March 2016. The seeds were then packaged into the coloured packet, determined by Tim’s coin flip, and 2kg of rocket seed that had remained on Earth was packaged into the other.

Throughout April and May this year, over 8,500 schools and educational groups grew the seeds alongside each other to investigate the impact of microgravity, radiation and space travel on seed germination and growth.”

Read More on The RHS website

And what does this have to do with our favourite highlight from Hampton Court?

The Space Themed Scarecrow competition, of course!

Space Scarecrows at Hampton Court Flower Show

Space Scarecrows at Hampton Court Flower Show

Space Scarecrows at Hampton Court Flower Show …

“Schools were challenged to use plants and recycled materials to create their space scarecrows. Children were encouraged to let their imaginations run wild, taking inspiration from all things space, from aliens and UFOs to British astronaut Tim Peake’s current space mission.”

The imagination and creativity that went into the various school designs was truly fantastic and the area set aside for it at the show really did add a touch of the sublime to the event as a whole.

Check out the winners here.

And finally …

Any round up from Hampton court wouldn’t be the same without a few pictures from our Trade Stand.

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Outdoor Cushions Top Tips

Outdoor Cushions – Top Tips for that perfect look all year …

Perhaps we’re stating the obvious here but Outdoor Cushions should be the focal point for any type of outdoor furniture – whether it be a sofa set, dining set or simply a garden bench – they add the character and crowning detail.

They are crucial to the furniture’s success in your outdoor space and, we appreciate, you want them to remain that way.

What you don’t want is a set that look tired and worn after only six months of use or, even worse, a set that you retrieve from the shed after their winter break only to find they’re all mouldy and unusable.

So, we’ve put together your very own little checklist of what to and look for before and after you buy any piece of outdoor furniture that come with a set of cushions.

Sumptuous Outdoor Cushions on the Apple Day Bed

Sumptuous Outdoor Cushions on the Apple Day Bed …

Outdoor Cushions – before you buy …

Every retailer of outdoor furniture will tell you that their cushions are …

”… fine to be left outside all year round.”

However, as with anything you buy, outdoor cushions do not always do what the retailer says they do on the tin.

Therefore, you need to scrutinise the information on offer before you buy and do your research to avoid disappointment on, or months after, the delivery day.

The Fabrics:

A couple of things to remember here:

  1. There is a difference between water resistant and water repellent.
  2. Long words do not necessarily denote quality.

This is where search engines like Google come in very handy – take your time and put the long fabric names into the search bar to find out more details and be sure in your own mind that you really are buying the highest quality.


Olefin Cushion Fabrics like those found on our Montana Range of Sofa Sets.

And, if a retailer advertises water repellent cushions they should really be able to back this up with videos and/or pictures that demonstrate this fact – take our Casablanca Range, for example.

The Fillings:

Again there are fillings and there are fillings when it comes to outdoor cushions.

And the fact is that the filling in any cushion that isn’t water repellent is going to get wet in the UK climate – probably on a regular basis.

So again listen to what the retailer has to say, whether it be verbally or in writing on a website or in a sales brochure, and then do a bit of your own digging to verify this.


Look for those retailers who offer a resin fibre sandwich filling as these allow water to pass through and dry very quickly – all our outdoor cushions have a resin fibre filling for exactly this reason.

UK Fire Retardant Regulations:

This is a legal requirement for your safety and those around you but you’d be surprised how many retailers don’t adhere to this – so please do check and insist on this.

As a quick heads up, all our cushions do comply with UK Fire Retardant Regulations and this means that, the first time they get wet you may find a slight white residue appears on them – this is simply excess fire retardant solution, is perfectly normal, and can be removed by putting the covers through a light wash in the washing machine.

UV Stabilisers:

These are also a must really as they prevent the fabric colour dyes from fading in direct sunlight over time – there’s nothing worse than a tired, shabby looking cushion.

High Spec Outdoor Bench Cushions

High Spec Outdoor Bench Cushions …

Outdoor Cushions – after you buy …

Obviously, it is not a good idea to leave your outdoor cushions outside all year – the chances are you will not be using them over the winter period so it is definitely a good idea to have a proper place to store them.

Before you store them:

Please ensure that both the fabrics and the fillings are 100% dry – and we mean bone dry – before you store them away. Any moisture left in the fabric or filling is highly likely to cause rot to occur giving you that nasty shock when you come to use them the following season.


Buying a Cushion Box.

However once again do check that these are suitably robust, inner lined and have some ventilation as well.

Of course, we also do a fantastic range of Teak and Rattan Outdoor Cushion Boxes!

Ventilated Teak Cushion Boxes

Ventilated Teak Cushion Boxes …

Alfie and Dave in the Poppies at Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Remembrance and Reflection at Chelsea Flower Show in 2016 …

You no doubt will have heard this hundreds of times before in literally every single thing you read about Chelsea Flower Show year in, year out but …

“Chelsea really was a spectacle this year!”

We have had a Trade Stand at the Chelsea Flower Show for the last four years and we can honestly say it hasn’t failed to impress more and more year on year.

And 2016 was no different.

It’s the highlight of the year for everyone who contributes to the event and preparations sure for all concerned sure as hell do start early.

The Road to Chelsea Flower Show in 2016 …

We had 120 square metres of Trade Stand to think about this year and planning started just after the Chelsea Flower Show in 2015, believe it or not.

We knew we needed to pull out all the stops particularly as a visit from the Queen was due as a part of her birthday celebrations.

After much deliberation we decided on a Chelsea Mews theme for our Trade Stand in 2016 and so the planning began in earnest.

It’s by far the most complicated stand build of the many shows we do each year meaning we needed a full week before the show for the set-up.

The pictures below give you an idea of the effort we put …

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After arranging over £2000 worth of flowers and using enough construction materials to build a permanent garden building we’re finally ready to put in the real work as the proceedings begin.

And things get off to a flying start on Press Day when The Telegraph pounce on Alfie The Union Jack Cooler just as our very own Debs is reaching for the fizz …

Debs and Alfie in The Telegraph news feed

Debs and Alfie in The Telegraph news feed … (image courtesy of REX).

And this sets the scene for the rest of the show as swathes of people descend on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea and subsequently our Trade Stand as well.

The atmosphere is electric throughout with a buzz quite simply unlike any other – at times the 120 square metres of space we had was literally bursting at the seams as people took time to rest their weary feet the various pieces of luxury garden furniture available …

And guess who’s back?!

For the fourth year running it was great to see Dave the Chelsea Pensioner again.

He’s certainly become a regular highlight on our stand at Chelsea Flower Show over the years and it’s always great to see him with his charm for the ladies and general sociable nature.

Dave the Chelsea Pensioner in the Apple Day Bed with the ladies

Dave the Chelsea Pensioner in the Apple Day Bed with the ladies!

And it really was a special moment to see him and Alfie entertaining an audience in the 326,000 poppies laid out on the main thorough fair that leads up to the hospital itself.

An audience in the poppies with Dave and Alfie

An audience in the poppies with Dave and Alfie …

Thanks a lot Dave – you really are a diamond! See you next year.

But of course, the Chelsea Flower Show certainly isn’t just about us …

At the end of the day it’s the world’s most prestigious flower show and the true spectacle are the many horticultural exhibits each year.

This year we got in early and managed to get loads of fabulous pictures on the Sunday as the various designers were putting the finishing touches to their exhibits.

We include a small selection below but you can view the full spectacle that got a great reaction on our Facebook Page.

show-garden-5 show-garden-4 show-garden-3 show-garden-2 show-garden-1

Many thanks to Bizzy from our Showroom in Warwickshire for taking the time out to snap these fantastic images!

Chelsea Show Gardens in the News in 2016 …

BBC News …

Not only do they broadcast live from the show each evening but they also run some great news features that sum up the atmosphere and theme of the event each year.

One of our favourites from the BBC News Feed this year was, ‘Chelsea Flower Show: Maths, medicine and ‘a little madness’ which included the show garden by Matthew Wilson – ‘Gods Own Country – A Garden for Yorkshire’ …

maths, medicine and a little madness at Chelsea Flower Show 2016

the, ‘contemplative area – based on inspiration from York Minster’s East Window, which is the largest single expanse of medieval stained glass in Britain.’

The Telegraph:

It would be impossible to highlight all the vat swathe of news that they report in any given year but one of our favourites this year was their piece on the M&G Garden that combine the ‘ancient and modern’ so effectively.

M & G Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2016

M & G Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2016 – image courtesy of The Daily Telegraph …