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Understanding the Benefits of Bird Feeding

Understanding the Benefits of Bird Feeding...

Bird feeding is one of the most rewarding activities that you can do for your local wildlife and even for yourself. It is a well-known fact that bird feeding is widely popular around the world as it brings nature and beauty into your outdoor space, as well as having educational benefits to identify with our surrounding wildlife! With the modern world everchanging and climate crisis talks becoming more frequent, it is important that we do everything we can to ensure our wildlife and environment is protected and nurtured through a few simple acts. So, this post will talk you through the ins and outs of how bird feeding is one of these key changes that we can do to make a difference!

Why do people enjoy feeding birds?

Just like many things in life, there will be certain people who might think that bird feeding is not as satisfying as others may say. However, it has been recorded in various studies that we as human beings earn great pleasure to look after our wildlife. With that said, the actual process of bird feeding and finding that desirable instinct to help our wildlife is what makes this activity so attractive to many people across the world. What you may not know however is how bird feeding can act as an organic way to control the pests and insects in your garden! This is a great way to keep any harsh chemicals out of your garden and will also attract more birds and wildlife to your outdoor space.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Bird Feeding

Fundamentally, there are many advantages to feeding birds which contribute to the important changes needed to protect and support our wildlife. One of the main benefits is that it provides birds with a vital source of energy, especially during the winter months. With the correct foods and nutrients, this will give your visiting birds an assured certainty that they will be able to have access to foods that they usually might be deprived of!

However, it is not so much just the visiting birds that are benefiting from the food you put out for them, but also their young. During the winter months, this is especially important as it will allow birds and their young to thrive and have a better chance of making it through to the next winter. Typically, the correct food will provide insulation and warmth during the winter, which will increase the possibilities for birds to reproduce and ultimately have a higher survival rate!

Although bird feeding seems to be highly positive, there are a few consequences that can occur if it is not done properly. Primarily, it is important that large or indigestible foods are avoided as this can cause birds to choke or develop long-term health problems. Birds are notorious at eating anything that appears edible, so it is imperative that you make sure the food you are leaving in the bird feeder is not harmful to their digestive system.

Additionally, food that is left out in the bird feeder can begin to rot or even spoil which can attract rodents and other pests if the feeder is not properly maintained. This can cause detrimental effects to the birds who may eat the rotted food as the dangerous bacteria will poison them, ultimately resulting in fatal sicknesses. Consequently, bacteria can spread to other wildlife, and as a result will cause illnesses amongst other species in your surrounding area. To avoid this, it is recommended to make sure food is changed every few days, as well as regularly cleaning the bird feeder to ensure there is no threat to the visiting birds or local wildlife.

What are the best foods to feed birds?

A lot of research has gone into finding which particular foods are the most beneficial for birds in order for them to live a healthy and fulfilled life. However, when deciding which foods will be the most advantageous for birds to thrive, it is important to consider the seasonal effects upon their bodies. For example, during the winter months, it is recommended that you should put out foods which are high in fats as they can store and conserve this for energy to survive the colder temperatures. This can be found in Black Sunflower Seeds, Nyjer Seeds, breadcrumbs, cereal, and rice.

Alternatively, the summer months require birds to conserve more protein due to it being their moulting season. With the sun being more prominent, it is vital that the hygiene of the bird feeder is maintained as the hot temperatures will perish the food quicker than in the winter. Foods such as mealworms, waxworms, sultanas, bananas, grapes, soaked raisins, and currants are a great source of protein for birds and will help them prepare for the winter months ahead!

Where to buy bird feeders?

At the Garden Furniture Centre, we have a wonderful selection of bird feeders that will be an innovative addition to your garden and to feed your local wildlife! Our Think Outside range of bird feeders are a unique creation manufactured from upcycled metal and are designed by artist Aaron Jackson! Not only do they look fun and stylish, but they provide so much support to your surrounding environment. These small steps are fundamental for our wildlife to survive and to become the healthiest they can be!

So why not have a go at bird feeding for yourself! You might be surprised at how beneficial bird feeding can be and how many extraordinary species of birds there are just outside your door! Be sure to tag us or share on our socials with your best bird snaps!

 

The Perfect Home for Your Hot Tub...

The Perfect Home for Your Hot Tub...

As the months grow colder and the days become darker, the pleasure of sitting in your warm hot tub feels even more special. But you might be wondering how you can make the most out of your hot tub experience, or even where to put it in your outdoor space. Well, at Garden Furniture Centre we offer a wide range of Gazebos and Pergolas which are perfect for protecting your hot tub area, as well as enhancing your garden setting.

But first, let’s start with the main question that is on everyone’s lips is… ‘What is the actual difference between a gazebo and a pergola?’

Well, there are many benefits with having a gazebo or pergola in your outdoor space, and here at Garden Furniture Centre we offer a variety of both to fit all your personal needs! In fact, it is known that gazebos have been around far longer than the pergola. Originally, gazebos date back to 1400 BC where it was discovered that Egyptian gardens had gazebos to provide a luxury for people to sit and enjoy their marvellous views. So, let’s have a look at the main differences that both these products have to offer!

Galaxy and Star Gazer Gazebo

Firstly, it is important to consider the structures of each gazebo. At Garden Furniture Centre, we have our range of Galaxy Gazebos and Star Gazer Gazebos which are perfect for protecting your hot tub in any weather conditions! These gazebos are manufactured to be extremely durable and weather resistant, so there is no need to worry about rust or weather damage affecting the roof or mainframe! Fundamentally, when placing your hot tub underneath, you will not have to worry about being disturbed by the rain as the water will run through the ingenious guttering system and drained out through the legs of the gazebo!

What is more, the roof is cleverly designed with shutters that are equipped with a louvered mechanism, meaning that it can open and close to allow any ventilation or light into the space underneath. With that in mind, it is a perfect way to house your hot tub for privacy, or even to shield yourself from the harsh weather elements in the colder months! Additionally, it provides a brilliant source of shade when you want to relax in the daytime!

However, the main favourite feature of our Galaxy Gazebos is the textilene screens that are an amazing addition for your outdoor space! The main benefit of these screens is that they are brilliant at keeping heat contained and are moisture-resistant, so you can enjoy sitting in your hot tub with maximum privacy. Moreover, these screens project the perfect picture for you to watch your favourite TV shows and films! Simply add the projector to the projector bracket on the louvered roof so you can sit back and relax with full comfort.

 But what about Pergolas?

Now, you might be wondering what makes a pergola so different from the standard gazebo. Well, the main feature difference is that the pergola is a much more modern and sophisticated structure that will catch anyone’s eye! If we look at the structure of a pergola, its appearance is a lot more elegant due to its retractable roof and striking robust structure which can be built on pretty much any surface! With this, you can place your swim spa within the pergola gazebo to ensure you have your own individual space to enjoy with your friends and family!

Additionally, there is a lot more freedom when making decisions to build a pergola as you can choose the size, desired lighting, optional doors, side panels and so much more! The advantage this range has is the simplicity and elegance it evokes in order to fit your own taste, as well as providing protection and shelter for your hot tub or swim spa!

(If you did want to enquire about a pergola gazebo, why not visit our showroom or email our pergola specialist Chris at chris@gardenfurniturecentre.co.uk!)

What benefits do these gazebos have?

Obviously, deciding to place a gazebo in your outdoor space is a very important one. So, you might be wondering what exactly is the benefit of having such a large construct sitting in your garden? Well, it is important to consider how the gazebo will maximise the usage of your outdoor space. Maybe take some time to draw up a plan to think about the size and practical elements the gazebo will offer once in place.

The best way to decide which gazebo is best for you is to imagine which one will suit your setting more; for example, you may want to have a simpler aesthetic to house your hot tub or other garden items, or alternatively something a little more noticeable for your family and guests to compliment! However, whatever gazebo you choose will undeniably benefit any setting you have in order to give you the desired luxury you deserve!

So why not discover our fantastic range of gazebos right here on the website or even pay us a visit at our showroom at Yew Tree Farm Craft Centre in Wootton Wawen! You will be sure to find the perfect home for all your hot tub needs right here at Garden Furniture Centre!

 

 

Lighting Up Your Nights With The Garden Furniture Centre...

When you think about spending time in your garden in the colder months, it does not seem tempting without the beaming summer sun, lighter evenings, or warmer nights with your friends and family. So, you might wonder how you can transform your garden to create that same atmosphere with the unpleasant autumn and winter nights creeping around the corner. Well, at GFC we have a fantastic range of products to get your garden ready to be the warmest part of your winter! Whether your space is large, small, or something in-between, there are several ways for you to make the most of your garden all year round. Listed below are some of our favourite products which are certainly going to make it difficult for you to even notice the bitter winter season!

Our Remarkable Galaxy Gazebo Range

It goes without saying that our stunning range of gazebos will be the foundation for many gardens in the winter months. Our diverse selection of sizes and functionality allows our gazebos to take centre stage in any garden setting! For instance, our Galaxy Gazebo range is undoubtedly going to be the hot topic of conversation when you host your evening soirée. The versatility of the Galaxy gazebo is what makes it so likeable to many of our customers, with the option to add any number of our textilene screens, various heaters and illuminating accessories. But how can these features make your garden light up the night? Well, our textilene screens are made from PVC coated woven polyester, which is the perfect background to project any picture for you to watch your favourite TV shows, movies or the all-important football match! What’s more, you will definitely want to add our Heat and Beat Bluetooth speakers to the top frame of the gazebo so you can dance the night away without having to reach for the blanket! And why not accessorise your gazebo with some of our solar string lights to really make your gazebo glow with the night!

You might also be wondering how our gazebos will perform in the cold and wet weather conditions which we are so familiar with during the end of the year. Well, our Galaxy and Star Gazer gazebos are fitted with a unique louvered roof, operated using a winding pole mechanism to effortlessly open and close the shutters for ventilation and to see the stary night sky. This louvered system is a significantly important part for our gazebos, as this allows you to place firepits, heaters, and even barbecues underneath without any concern of a fire risk. Together with this, you can cosy up on your garden furniture and still feel warm and safe without the bitter cold confining you to your living room! Take a look in the next section on how you can include our wonderful range of fire pits and heaters to ensure you are ready to take on the bitter winter weather!

Fire Pits and Heaters

It is safe to say that the thought of an open fire and cosying up under the blanket on the sofa is what most of us do every evening in the colder months. However, this does not have to be spent inside your living room anymore! Our diverse range of fire pits and heaters are a great asset to your garden to make sure you are just as toasty and warm in the fresh night air. Our staple Athena Flame Heater will no doubt turn a few heads with its lustrous swirling flame and impressive aluminium structure. You can place these just about anywhere in your garden and you will surely be fascinated by its elegant and stylish physique! Why not charm your guests with multiple Athena Heaters around your gazebo or patio to really make your garden the gossip of the evening!

If you are looking to have something a little more versatile, then our fantastic rage of firepits will be the best choice! Our Celeste firepit collection will most definitely create the ideal alfresco setting with its superb steel structure and hand-crafted uniqueness. You can also make the most of your firepit with our Plain Jane range where you can warm up your hands and your stomach by cooking some delicious barbeque treats for you and your family! Just like the Celeste collection, our Plain Jane range will undeniably take the spotlight in your outdoor space, even more so once it begins its natural aging process to give it even more originality!

LED Parasols

Now, you might be thinking that having a parasol up at night is a bit of a strange concept. But with our dazzling selection of LED parasols, you will never want to take it down again! Fundamentally, our Saturn, Calypso and Royal LED parasols not only have an air of style, but also have a sophisticated element of functionality. Their 360-degree rotating canopy and sleek levered mechanism to open and close without any aggravation is what makes these parasols so adaptable. But it is essentially the addition of our radiant LED lights placed elegantly along the rib assembly that takes the limelight! With its cantilever mechanism, you can place this just about anywhere, whether it be over your hot tub, your garden furniture or even as a stylish addition to your gazebo! And why not look at our free-standing Verona LED parasol which comes fully equipped with a USB charging point to make sure you never have to leave your cosy outdoor space. Place this parasol by your dining area, gazebo or patio so you will never have to worry about the dark again! The robust and sturdy structure of all of our parasols will ultimately leave you feeling calm and comfortable to make sure you make this winter the best it can be!

So, there you have it! Why not start the planning to make your garden ready to take on those winter blues! If you feel inspired by this post, please share your garden modifications with us on our socials so we can all see your garden light up the night!

Blog Post By Victoria Sparkes

 

 

 

 

 

Vertical Gardening Ideas For Small Spaces

Vertical gardening is nothing more than using vertical space to grow vegetables or plants. Traditionally, gardeners have done similar things with climbing plants like squashes and beans. However, modern vertical gardening includes non-climbing plants. Vertical gardening saves space, makes harvesting easier and is generally easier to maintain. Although this method of gardening also has its limitations such as needing strong support systems and moisture issues, this method is also much more forgiving and if used correctly, can produce bountiful harvests. Below we have listed a range of vertical gardening tricks and methods you can follow to begin your vertical gardening journey…

Fabric Pockets

Designed for vertical gardening, fabric pockets are suited to this style of gardening and will suit almost all vegetable growing. Usually sold online or in homeware stores, these inexpensive pockets can be found virtually anywhere during the spring and summer months. Simply secure them onto the chosen surface using the appropriate wall mounting screws. Be sure to line the individual pouches with some hard substrate such as gravel before adding compost. Now, get creative with the look!...

Hanging Pots

The simplest and most obvious form of vertical gardening is hanging or balcony pots. However, what most people overlook is the drainage and location of the pots. To provide a bountiful harvest, you need to ensure your pots have adequate drainage holes and are placed in a brightly lit area. You must also ensure your pots are securely fastened as any nasty gales can become disastrous, especially in the UK.

 

Plastic Bottle Planters

Time to pull up the sleeves and get creative! This eco-friendly vertical gardening method is perfect for those who are environmentally aware. Although they may not look as appealing as plant pots, reusing plastic bottles is a great method of upcycling whilst reducing household waste. To turn your bottles into planters, you’ll need to attempt some DIY, by cutting out a section for the plants, drainage holes and introducing some support with string or wiring.

Wooden Pallet Planters

If you have been a member of the gardening community for some time now, you will have noticed the love for reusing pallets – they are like gold dust! This environmentally friendly method is yet again a great method for reducing household waste and saving money. You can often source various sized pallets from distribution or furniture companies for free; all you will need to do is a plan for the transportation to your garden. Herbs or succulents look especially effective in these DIY planters.

Chicken Wire Planter

By simply cutting a triangular shape from the chicken wire, you can begin to form a cone shape planter. By stapling or tacking this onto pallet wood, or a wooden beam, you can complete your planter by introducing moisture-holding substrates such as moss and soil. Hanging plants and fruit such as ivy or strawberries will thrive in this make-shift planter.

Jam Jar Planters

Jam Jars are the perfect herb planters – keeping the herbs sheltered and safe. By reusing your glass jars, once again you will be reducing the amount of household waste produced, whilst saving some precious pennies. We would advise using this method in a sheltered environment only; to avoid water collecting in the jars. Using metal wire to cup and attach the jars to a wall or structure can provide an artsy fun effect too!

Tin Can Planters

Tin cans, like jam jars, are the perfect cheap solution to DIY vertical gardening. Again, we suggest using tin cans for herbs and smaller plants. Ensure you drill some holes at the base for proper drainage to avoid rot. A mere two holes on either side assisted by some garden wire will support your tin cans efficiently.

Piping Planter

As you may have seen, using piping as planters is a popular method of vertical gardening in the DIY gardening community. Industrial piping is cheap, efficient, and spacious – plus there is a variety of sizes and parts to suit your space. By cutting holes in some PVC pipes, you can create glorious vertical or horizontal planters. Some have even gone as far as creating a ‘spiralled staircase’ design. Our personal favourite is the ‘floating’ piped planters made with chains and piping. If you opt for the piping method, ensure to introduce proper drainage. The perfect plants for piping gardens are cabbage, lettuce, beans, and strawberries.

Chest of Drawers Planter

By far our favourite method of vertical gardening is the upcycling of an old chest of drawers! This can create a real feature piece to the garden whilst providing several layers of space for planting. To save further space, you can even just stack and attach the drawers themselves. We suggest planting a mixture of flowers and herbs such as Dwarf Dahlias, Ivy, Pansies, Begonias and Geraniums. Adding a pop of colour to the drawers such as yellow, pink, or blue will help attract insects too.

We hope you found some of these ideas helpful for your vertical gardening journey – and remember, the best vegetables to plant in vertical planters are herbs, succulents, salad greens (lettuce or cabbage), courgette or cucumbers, beans, strawberries, tomatoes, and ferns.

Feel free to share your vertical planters with us on our socials!

Good luck!

Blog post by Lucy Canoel

Top Plants For Birds, Bees And Butterflies

A pollinator garden is a garden containing plants for bees and butterflies specifically. Specific plants are magnets for bees and butterflies, and if planted, you can guarantee these fluttering and buzzing visitors will flock to your garden – who doesn’t love watching these lovely creatures flutter and buzz around on a sunny day? But don’t be fooled, you don’t always need a garden to support wildlife – most plants are happy with windowsill and balcony pots!

Below we’ve listed some plants to inspire you on your journey to creating an insect haven in your outside space, no matter the size. After all, if we look after them, they’ll look after us and our delicate eco-system!…

The most important time for insects is early spring when the insects are just beginning to emerge. So of course, growing spring flowering plants is vital. Below you’ll notice a trend of blue and purple flowers. Did you know this is actually the bee's favourite colour range?...

Alliums and Chives

Bees love all members of the Allium family, which includes chives and onions, which if you didn’t know already, both of which flower!

Chives are a low maintenance perennial herb, once planted they will come back reliably year after year. They also make a lovely ornamental flowers for the front of a border. You can even cut the Chives back once the flowers have faded and they will often produce a second wave of flowers. Chives are also suitable for shade and containers.

Onions

In a process known as bolting, onions can produce flowers. The bees and butterflies love these flowers, so make sure to plant plenty or leave some onions in your garden bed once harvesting.

Sedum

Another butterfly magnet, sedums provide a good bus stop for the bees and butterflies – a mature sedum attracting hoards of butterflies at any one time! Sedums are easy to grow and are long flowering plants, flowering from April all the way through to September.  It is thought, the Sedum flowers are attractive to butterflies even before they are in full flower, perhaps due to the aroma.  

Geranium/Cranesbill

A part of the Geranium family, Cranesbill, or commonly named G. ibericum is just loved by the bees, perhaps because of the colour (blue). Geraniums are low maintenance herbaceous perennials, meaning they will die back over winter and return with fresh new growth each spring.  There are a number of species of Geranium which are all easy and low maintenance.

Cerinthe major

An unusual plant but yet another plant which does not fail to attract bees, Cerinthe major can be grown from seed in the spring and if looked after, is an annual plant, with grey-blue foliage,  and purple flowers. Another favourite factor of this plant is the fact it self-seeds. You can even collect the seeds to hand out to friends and family!

Buddleia/ Butterfly Bush

As stated in the title, this plant gets its name for a reason. Buddleia " Butterfly Bush", which is an easy to grow large plant, attracts plenty of butterflies and pollinators. The flowers are aromatic and if planted in a warm sunny spot, the shrub will soon be smothered with hungry butterflies.

Some Buddleias can grow up to 5 meters, so make sure you do your research on the variety you choose.  Buddleia can also be an invasive self-seeder, so allocating time to prune the flower heads as soon as they have bloomed will help prevent the shrub spreading to unwanted territories.

Monarda / Bee Balm

Monarda is another great easy grow bee magnet and are often proudly showcased within RHS shows. Monarda will grow in some shade, although it flowers best when planted in full bright direct light and a good well-drained spot. Monarda is another herbaceous perennial which will return each year.  However, it does not like confined spaces so it is best to avoid pots and containers.

Oregano

Oregano is a hardy perennial aromatic herb plant, very attractive to butterflies and pollinators. Oregano can grow so thick it can also be used in a topiary effect. However, Oregano is a vigorous self-seeder, so be sure to only plant where you do not mind the spread!  Oregano can also be grown in a container or pot.

Lavender

One of my favourite plants, this therapeutic aromatic plant never fails to attract bees and butterflies. However, lavender can be picky about its growing position, so be sure to take into consideration this is a Mediterranean type plant, and enjoys a warm sunny spot with dry well-drained soil.  Be sure to also consider the variety of lavender chosen as some can be more woody than others. In Uk weather, sometimes lavender does best in containers or pots.  

English Ivy

Hedera Helix or commonly known as English Ivy, once matured can produce flowers and berries which a range of wildlife will enjoy. The nectar and pollen provided by the plant are perfect food for insects such as bees, hoverflies, and wasps. Whereas the berries are loved by birds and animals alike.

We hope this blog post has inspired you in your journey to creating a better insect friendly outdoor space.

Feel free to share your own tips, tricks and shots of your insect friendly garden!

Good luck!

Blog post by Lucy Canoel

Creating Your Glast-home-bury... | Event Series : Part Two

Despite the cancellation of Glastonbury, we are still hoping our beloved festivals will persevere. However, in the event festivals are once again postponed, we feel it is only safe to prepare for a DIY Glast-home-bury experience.  The second part of our ‘Garden Hosting Series’ features how to host your own ‘Festival’. Although this may struggle to compete with Glastonbury, we think you will still have a memory as joyful and precious as attending the real deal! Creating your own Glast-home-bury experience does come at a cost, however we think you will soon forgive yourself once you see the joy it brings...

To create your very own outdoor cinema you will need to combine last week’s DIY Cinema with some new additions…

THE LINE UP - 

Every festival has those quirky encouraging activities in-between performances – from breakdancing dance offs, the best hat award, food eating contests to my favourite, sock wrestling. Putting together a real ‘schedule’ or line-up of the day, which includes live or revisited concerts playing in-between, banquet eating, activities and a ‘closing ceremony’ will really help bring the festival together. We suggest hula hooping. 'giant' cardboard noughts and crosses, DIY ribbon dancing and sack racing! 

Tip - We recommend even replicating one of your favourite festivals printed schedule.

GET CREATIVE - 

It would not be a festival without the glowing guidance of festoon lighting or the copious amounts of colourful bunting! With the addition of festoon lights, bunting, and perhaps even festival flags, your garden will be transformed into a glowing wonderland. A creative flair will also save you some pennies when it comes to decorating on a big scale. With just some cheap hula hoops or embroidery hoops you can create some quirky and lightweight ribbon chandeliers. Using the same reels of ribbon, you can also create a 'ribbon tent' with just some long sticks, pillows, and throws. This 'tent' can also act as the glamping campsite!...

Tip - Using old glass jars with candles inside will also work!

DINING ALFRESCO - 

Choose your location of the ‘dining hall’ and get decorating! A festival food tent is something other worldly, so grab some ambient lighting, flowers, bunting, an outdoor stove, hot plate, or warm up the BBQ and set the scene! Although you may want to replicate some festival classics such as breakfast burritos or mac and cheese, cooking is optional and ordering from a local street food restaurant or picking up some ready-made goods will suffice. Using natural decorations such as flowers, wood, feathers, and candle lit jars adds to the outdoor festival aesthetic. The use of an old wheelbarrow or bucket can also assist in keeping those cherished refreshments cool. For a fully immersive experience, we love the idea of including a ‘festival’ style menu along with name place holders.

MOVIE TIME -

In our previous post to this series, we assisted you through creating your own immersive outdoor cinema experience, which will now come to some good use! Grab a projector, speaker, white sheet, pillows, and snacks to create your very own outdoor cinema. A ‘show time' of certain movies can also be included in your schedule.

Tip - Use DIY signage posts throughout the ‘site’ to mark areas, such as ‘Cinema’. You can do this with some wood or cardboard and a lick of paint!

SET THE STAGE - 

Although a no live band may be off the cards, you can still include the addition of a ‘stage’. Using some old pallets, or LED tiles, you can create a ‘stage’ area where the kids are free to ‘perform’. Creating a ‘backstage’ area with a prop station including bought or DIY prop creations may also provide some amusement and creativity. An outfit competition springs to mind... 

KEEPING TOASTY - 

Those who have witnessed the rolling fog during the early hours at festivals will know that even during the height of summer the air can become glacial. Therefore blankets, heaters and firepits will be needed. Place your blankets in a 'help yourself' basket for an authentic festival feel. If you crave the roaring glow of an open fire at festivals, we have a range of firepits which may just do the job. If you opt for an ambient firepit, a quick check of the wind direction and distance from any of the surrounding ‘areas’ goes without saying – We wouldn’t want you to fail the festival safety inspection!... 

Tip - Set up a 'smores' station including jars of marshmallows, crackers and chocolate, plus skewers, for a delicous and toasted snack! 

PLAY THE ROLE -

So, as festival tradition goes, grab your most colourful outfits, glitter up and throw on anything that lights up – it’s time to take a trip to Glast-home-bury! If you are truly committed to the experience, you can even hold a fancy-dress ceremony at the beginning of the festival. To do this, make sure to pick a theme, set some criteria and choose a time frame to allow for costum making beforehand. Creating a 'glitter' or 'face paint' station may also come in handy for the forgetful...

Tip – You can purchase or create your personalised tickets and wristbands. Create a ticketing and security area at the ‘entrance’ for a real experience of festival delight!  

We hope you have all the success with your Glast-home-bury!

Please feel free to send us any pictures of your set ups.

Good luck!

Blog post by Lucy Canoel

Creating An Outdoor Cinema At Home... | Event Series : Part One

Even though most of the entertainment doors have now opened, as a nation we are coming up with more and more inventive ways of how to stay entertained within the safety of our home.  As a result, we'll be putting together a short series on hosting events at home - from building an outdoor cinema to creating your very own glast-home-bury!

I have recently noticed there seems to be a viral trend of people setting up their own outdoor cinemas. And I have to say, they are quite impressive set ups! So, we thought we would put together a simple guide on how to create your very own outdoor cinema - complete with the essential ticket checking and rustling snacks. Whether it's just for us adults or for the whole family, this activity can be enjoyed by all…

THE TECHNICAL STUFF…

To create your very own outdoor cinema, you will need either a projector or television screen. Although you may think that projectors can be pricey, in fact there are many decent projectors on the market today with a very small price tag; some even starting from £30! Given that you can use the projector time and time again, you can always see this as an investment!

Once you have the projector, you will need a 'screen'. You will also need a speaker if your projector does not come with (non-robotic) one built in. Obviously, all projectors are different so be sure to read the features carefully when choosing your projector, as some can be wireless, others can be HDMI only and whilst some may have speakers included, others may not. For the screen, a simple white sheet attached to two stakes or strung across a hardy clothing line will suffice. Once you have the screen and projector sorted, you will need to ensure the audio, whether built in to the project or not, works effectively too. As stated, this depends on which projector you have chosen.

TIP: Its important to take into consideration the device you stream the film from. If this is a laptop or iPad, you may need to have an extension cable leading out of the house to keep it charged up... Just the little things people tend to forget! 

Hopefully now you will have the technical stuff down so we can move onto the fun part…

SEATING AND COMFORTS –

Image not our own.

 

One of the most memorable parts of a trip to the cinema is the hit or miss cinema seats… One visit you can be placed right in front of someone who decides your seat is their personal footrest, the next visit you can find you are the only viewers for miles – well for rows! Having a cinema at home however, you can have guaranteed comfort and the best views. 

Choosing the seating and the comforts that go with the movie is almost as important as the movie itself. Now, the obvious choice would be an outdoor lounger or day bed. Some may already have one, for those who do not, do not fret as we have plenty available! Personally, we think buying an outdoor day bed is completely justified for an event like this!... For those who are looking for something with a dual purpose of perhaps both dining and lounging, we also have a large range of luxury outdoors sofas. Take our Timber Corner Sofa… It is big enough for the whole family to sink into, yet it can also accommodate for your alfresco dining needs…

However, placing an outdoor blanket down with some cushions is completely acceptable too! Foldable or inflatable seating would be a great alternative also. 

FOOD AND DRINKS –

Whilst some of us may go just for the movie, others go for the butter drenched popcorn and Tango Ice-blasts. To be a real cinema experience, the incorporation of rustling packets is a necessity. Microwave or hob butter popcorn, M&M’s and Pick’n’Mix, are luckily all available at your local supermarket - Tango Ice blasts not so much. 

However, we also suggest introducing other food items to really elevate the experience. Finger food which requires little or no preparation like miniature pizzas, burgers and French fries would go down a treat! You can even produce a fitting paper menu and give them out to your ‘customers’ – any leftovers can be snacked on later!

TIP: We suggest serving these with cinema style food accessories, like miniature popcorn boxes, napkins, and paper straws to really add to the cinema feel. You can purchase these at various places online.

LIGHTING –

We have all been there, stumbling down the dimly lit cinema steps trying to locate where the stairs stop and the path to the exit starts…

The addition of ‘aisle’ or overhead lighting is also advisable – they have these in the cinema for a reason! Using fairy or string lights work perfectly, however the use of candles and re-used glass jars is as affective. Our string lights are the perfect lighting for this occasion and may even give you slight ‘festival’ feelings by adding some extra ambience.

HEATERS, FIRE PITS AND CANDLES –

Being outdoors during the nights of spring and summer in UK can still be glacial. Therefore blankets, heaters and firepits will be needed. We have a range of heaters and firepits which may just do the job. If you opt for an ambient firepit, a quick check of the wind direction and distance from the ‘screen’ goes without saying.

TIP: We all know we can become a mosquito magnet outside at night, by introducing the use of citronella candles you can save your skin from the invasive pests.

PLAY THE ROLE -

With the addition of fake ‘tickets’, an ‘usher’ and an introduction before the beginning of the film may help transform the evening.

Tip – Use free online templates to create your personalised tickets. Use a holepunch for ticket stamping for a more immersive experience.

PERMANENT OUTDOOR CINEMA –

If you find the night a success or you are already looking for a permanent outdoor cinema room or area, our gazebos and screenhouses are the perfect canopy. In fact, we even advertise the Galaxy Gazebo as this due to their very practical screens which can be using to project upon! You can find all of our gazebos and screenhouses online. If you would like to see them in person, you can also visit our showroom in Warwickshire.

Now you have got everything sorted, here comes the hardest part… Choosing the movie! We would advise choosing your movie wisely – but if you really have trouble deciding, making the movie night a regular occurrence could help with the issue!...

We hope you have all the success with your outdoor cinema night, or shall I say, nights!

Please feel free to send us any pictures of your outdoor cinema set ups.

Good luck!

Blog post by Lucy Canoel

The Art Of Houseplant Propagation

During the lockdown, houseplants sales increased substantially – in fact, according to ‘Patch’, an online plant retailer, their sales increased around five hundred per cent during the lockdown. However, buying fully established house plants can cost a pretty penny. Propagation is a way to increase your plant collection for free, plus it’s super simple. Below we have put together some general advice that will assist your new journey into the art of house plant propagation.

So, you’ve probably heard the term before, but just so we’re all clear – propagation means to grow a new plant from a small piece (or cutting) of another. This is different to growing plants from seed, or ‘splitting’. But remember, not all plants are suitable for propagation.

Choose your plant

Choosing beginner-friendly plants will allow you more wiggle room for mistakes, so choose wisely! We recommend the popular ‘Golden Pothos – or Golden Ivy’, ‘Swiss Cheese Plants – Monstera Deliciosa’, Spider Plants or Succulents for beginners, as these are super simple to propagate. Choosing any plant from the Pothos variety, such as the mentioned Golden Ivy, Marbled Queen or Satins, will provide you with a new plant in a much shorter time frame than others due to their quick growth rates.



Cutting

When cutting your plants, make sure your equipment is cleaned after every plant. This diminishes any chance of cross-contamination of diseases or pests between plants. Making sure you have sharp scissors is also essential as blunt scissors can result in damage to the plant.

Where you cut the plant is vital. Again, this depends on the plant type. Some species will form ‘offsets’ to the sides of their main form – these are essentially ‘babies’ from the mother plant. Plantlets are also referred to as ‘babies’ as they also grow from the mother plant. Stem and cane cuttings, however, are just that – cuttings from the mother plant. Leaf cuttings are like stem cuttings, but of course from the leaf itself. When you have performed stem, cane, or leaf cuttings, it's best to leave a gap in between cutting to planting.

Pothos plants require the cane to be cut to propagate – about an inch below the ‘nodes’. Whereas Spider plants are propagated from their plantlets and Succulents from their leaves.



Rooting Methods

Some cuttings may need the help of ‘Root Hormone’ to help stimulate root growth. Root hormone can come in a range of forms – powdered, gel or liquid. It is best to do a quick google search beforehand. Pothos, Succulents and Spider plants usually do not require this. After cutting and applying the hormone, you will need to choose your rooting method – water, LECA clay pebbles, Perlite or soil. Who knew there were so many choices?! Choosing your rooting method depends on which plant you have chosen to propagate – Pothos and Spider plants will do well in water, whereas Succulents tend to thrive better against soil and moss.
Top Tip – Play with the different rooting methods and define one which works for you!

Neglect

cuttings will need more care and attention than your fully established houseplants. This could mean changing the water every few days or adjusting the placement if it is a cloudy or sunny week. Completing neglecting your plants will increase your chances of propagation failure, so keep on top of it!
Image not our own.
Timing

Plants, unless kept warm and artificially lit all year round, will assume a ‘hibernating’ state or ‘dormant' in the winter. Therefore, we do not recommend propagating in the winter. The best time to propagate is during the spring and summer months, where feeds, watering and light are at their highest. This will make for strong propagation. Propagating is a waiting game, so be patient.

Placement

Generally, cuttings like to be placed in a warm and indirect brightly lit spot where photosynthesis can take place. Placing them in a dark pot will prevent the roots from growing. Whereas placing the cuttings in a spot too sunny may result in yellow or brown leaves. We recommend also using clear containers, such as glass jars, for your cuttings.

Top Tip – We recommend setting up a ‘propagation station’ where you can keep an eye on your cuttings all at once. You can buy some cheap ladder shelving online for a more ‘aesthetic’ look!

Growth

After around two to three weeks, you should see some white roots emerge. For Succulents and cacti’s, this tends to take a little longer. As a rule, you should wait until roots are at least an inch long or three quarters the size of the leaf cuttings, before attempting to pot. If your cutting has failed to grow any new roots, we recommend restarting the process with a new cutting. If your cutting has more than one node, you may be able to trim the cutting until it is below a new node and restart the process.

So, let’s get propagating! We would love to see your ‘propagation station’…

Following this guide, we hope you successfully propagate your plants. It’s a great hobby and money saver! We will be releasing a new post every other week or so, so make sure to follow our blog!

You can tag us on our socials – Don’t be shy!

Activities To Do With The Kids This Spring

Activities To Do With The Kids This Spring...

Apart from the obvious choice of an Easter Egg hunt in April, we have put together some unique Easter & Spring themed outdoor activities for the entire family to enjoy whilst the ‘rule of six’ restrictions are still in place…

Build An Insect House

So, by now we all know the importance of looking after our little beasties in the garden. One way to aid our local wildlife is to build them their own little ‘house’ within the garden. Just by using scraps of wood, twigs, pinecones, bamboo stakes and bark, you can provide hundreds, if not thousands, of cosy nesting places for your local bees, butterflies, and ladybirds. You can even finish it off by creating a ‘wild garden’ using wildflower seed packets – the creative possibilities are endless!

We think even adults will find this activity satisfying… Plus this is something you can revisit time and time again to observe how the wildlife will use your creation.

  1. Choose materials and size of the house – Forage from the garden – leaves, wood chippings, bark, old logs, bamboo canes and terracotta pots.
  2. Start by building the ‘main frame’ with some wood, non-toxic wood glue or nails. and Placing the frame flat onto the ground. Nail or glue together.
  3. Alternatively, create a ground-based hotel by simply leaving it in situ.
  4. We would advise then adding wire or mesh to the ‘back’ to hold in the stuffing, perhaps even closing it off with wire completely after filling! Then simply get busy filling in the spaces! We advise using a range of sized materials and textures to encourage a variety of wildlife.

Don’t forget to build a roof! – Even bugs hate getting wet.



Building A Natural Tipi

This one is certainly designed for anyone with green fingers and a creative mind! By using just natural items such as bamboo stakes, string or twine and some runner bean seeds or climbing flowers you can create a natural ‘tipi’. This shelter is not only cost-effective and eco-friendly, but it is somewhere for the kids to play during the warmer spring and summer days. Once fully established, you can also stylize it with fairy lights, lanterns, a comfy rug, and some cosy blankets for cooler evenings.

  1. All you need is some runner bean seeds, compost, twine/string, bamboo or wooden poles, and some strongly scented climbing flower seeds! Oh – and some patience!
  2. First, determine size and location – hopefully somewhere sunny.
  3. Mark the tepee ‘footprint’ with string.
  4. Then amend the soil ready for planting, adding nutrients into the mix.
  5. When you are ready, pop the tepee poles in place and tie the top ends together so they stand by themselves. Then tie your way down the poles to create a sturdy ‘web’. Remember to keep a doorway in mind!
  6. Finally, plant your seeds, cover, water and wait!

Keep checking on the growth; redirecting or supporting the plants as they grow!



DIY Bird Treat Creations

The choir of the birds chirping away in the morning is a true sign the seasons are changing. Creating your own birdseed creations with your kids is a fun way to help your local birds thrive throughout spring whilst keeping your kids occupied! Who doesn’t love saving a few pennies AND keeping your kids busy?…
All you need is five simple ingredients – stale or slightly toasted bread, peanut butter, birdseed, cookie cutters and pipe cleaners or ribbon. And remember, this DIY is designed for kids in mind!

  1. Begin by cutting out the middle of the bread with a cookie cutter.
  2. Pop a pipe cleaner through where you want the bird feeder to hang from, making sure to twist the ends together. Alternatively, you can also use string or some funky ribbon, string, or shoelaces!
  3. Then, spread the peanut butter over the shape.
  4. Dip the bread into some birdseed.

And voila! It really is as easy as that! You can encourage the use of plastic tools for greater creative thought, allowing them to create their own shapes and character silhouettes.



Building A Fairy Or Dinosaur Land

During this strange time, spending time outside is important for our mental and physical health. Using the time spent outside to help design and build your child’s very own fairy or dinosaur house will encourage their love for nature whilst keeping their creative minds active. With just some gathered items such as terracotta pots, pebbles, stones, wood, moss, and flowers, you can help them create their very own dreamland – in miniature form of course. The best part is, is it is completely free- or at least it can be! We suggest helping them visualize their creations with some crayons and paper beforehand.

  1. A container to house their creation. An old plant pot, tire, or even just on an area out of harm's way.
  2. Just like a regular house, begin with a ‘base’. We suggest pebbles, moss or just some soil! We love the idea of ‘paths’ made with pebbles.
  3. If they want a fairy house, we suggest using a terracotta pot with a drawn-on door. You can also buy cheap fairy houses online.
  4. Add the foliage and greenery! Let them get creative – pluck some wild-grown flowers or foliage. Just be careful the plants are not dangerous. We would advise choosing rooted greenery, so the land continues to evolve.
  5. Add accessories – by adding some small logs and a picket fence made from lollipop sticks you can transform the look! For Dino land, we suggest making a ‘pond’ with an old shallow bowl.
  6. Add your characters – using existing toys let them bring their lands to life.



Easter Egg Hunt

An Easter classic and one that never disappoints! You know the drill… Hide some eggs around the garden (or the house if the weather doesn’t permit) and hold a competition to see who can find the most. You can make the egg hunt more challenging by adding clues!
Image not our own.


Following this guide, we hope you can inspire your kid's creative minds and their love for nature.

We will be releasing a new post every fortnight or so, so make sure to follow our blog!

We would love to see their creations – so please feel free to tag us on Facebook or Instagram!

House Plant Care Tips

House Plant Care Tips...

Are you a new plant parent or have you just recently realized your plants may need a little more TLC than you originally thought? Well, we’ve got you covered! We’ve put together a little (but detailed) care guide on general house plants below. This guide will not only help you keep your plants alive but hopefully help them thrive!…

Please keep in mind that each plant has its own specific needs and you should really keep this as just a general guide, ensuring to research your specific plant’s needs.

LIGHTING

As a rule, most house plants require bright filtered light. The further back from your window, the lower the light levels. However, it is important to remember direct sunlight through the glass can cause scorching and browning of the leaves. Plants such as cacti’s and succulents will thrive indirect light. However, most house plants enjoy bright but indirect light. Some plants can also thrive in low light conditions – such as ZZ plants, dragon trees and sansevierias.
During the winter light levels fall and this is where repositioning your plants to a brighter spot closer to the windows can be beneficial; just make sure it is not too cold by the window. If your home is as dark as mine, you can always invest in some artificial lighting…


Top tip – To ensure all your leaves get their share of light, simply turn your plants every few days.

HUMIDITY

Most houseplants thrive in warm rooms and even temperatures all year round. During winter, move plants to rooms that are not overheated during the day, but maintain the required minimum temperatures. Avoid placing plants near open fires, radiators, in draughts, or on windowsills on frosty nights.
Tropical plants require a humid atmosphere. Certain areas of your home will be naturally more humid than others, for instance, bathrooms and kitchens. How quickly the compost dries out is a good measure of how dry the air is. So, it is best to make use of these areas for your more humidity-loving plants – Alocasia, Philodendron, ferns.

For areas that are not so humid, invest in a humidifier or regularly mist your plants. However, it is important to note that some plants do not like misting as this can cause mould and fungi. Misting is best done with tepid water in the morning. Rainwater or water that has been boiled is best as it will not leave white deposits over your plant's leaves. Better yet, place on a tray of damp gravel or expanded clay granules – or anything soluble. Grouping plants together will also help to create a humid micro-climate around their leaves.


Top tip – If you are worried about the temperature and humidity of your house, invest in a digital Thermo Hygrometer; you can find them for as little as ten pounds on amazon.

FEEDING

A few signs to know that your plant needs a feed is pale leaves, slow growth and lower leaves falling off. Plant food is generally made up of nitrogen and phosphates with other trace elements which are generally present in most compound fertilizer’s.
Knowing when to feed your plant is important. The spring and summer is the best time to feed your plants, however, some plants just cannot cope without a feed during winter. If your plant is in a very poor condition then it may be needing a feed. If not then feeding is only generally carried out over the growing season, i.e., spring and summer, about once to twice a month. You can use a liquid feed or slow-release fertilizer. If you have just re-potted your plant, then you have a couple of months before the food within the compost runs out. Only feed as much as is stated on the feed.


Top tip – If you’ve got a few plants on your hands, you can time your feeds to coincide with each other. There are some great reminder apps out there for house plant feeding too – such as ‘florish'.

WATERING

Watering correctly is the key to owning any houseplant. Overwatering can lead to the dreaded root rot and the slow killing of your plant, whereas watering too little can cause the plant to wilt. However, speak to any plant enthusiast and they would prefer a drought-ridden plant to a root rotten plant anyway!
Generally, popping your finger into the soil of the plant and seeing if the top two inches are dry is the best way to check it needs watering. If the compost sticks to your finger, you do not need to water; unless it is a plant that likes to keep relatively moist such as spider plants and ferns. To ensure your plant drains well and does not get root rot, use plant pots with drainage holes and a water tray/well. Watering from the bottom can also help prevent pests and improve root growth.

PRUNING AND TRAINING

Pinch back shoots of young plants when in active growth to encourage branching. Trailing plants usually benefit from this treatment. Ferns especially like being pruned down and often come springing back. Most leafy, mature foliage plants need no pruning.
Many houseplants, except for orchids and palms, can be renovated by cutting the old or damaged foliage back to base or by pruning to a healthy bud in spring. But make sure to not cut anything green off as this will cause browning. Water and feed well to aid recovery.


Top tip – Remember to use sharp pruning scissors and to sterilize in-between pruning each plant to avoid spreading disease or contamination.

PROBLEMS

One thing an experienced house plant parent will look for when searching for their new plant ‘children’ is pests and diseases. To check before purchasing can save a lot of hassle, time, and money. However, admittedly we can get carried away with a deal just too good to pass up and end up skipping the thorough inspection process! Make sure to check your houseplants for pests and diseases such as aphids, red spider mites and scale insects before introducing them to your existing plants.

One way to reduce the invasion of pests to your plants is to isolate your new plants from the other for the first 48 hours of purchase to avoid spreading pests or diseases. Whilst isolated, shower over your plant to remove any unwanted free riders and gently mist with houseplant pest killer or a mix of neem oil and water. Make sure to continuously check for common signs of pest such as spotting on the leaves, sticky substances on the leaves, mould, or dusty appearance.

Following this guide, we hope your house plants stay healthy & continue to grow! Feel free to tag us on Facebook or Instagram.

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