Click4Assistance UK Live Chat Software

Outdoor Gardening

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

Vegetables You Can Regrow From Scrap

On average, we seem to consume more than we produce. Growing your own food can seem daunting and costly at first – however this is far from the truth. By using your food scraps, you can create food for virtually no money.

The BBC states that an estimated 6.6 million tonnes of food in the UK is being wasted each year. This ethical way of growing plants helps us broaden our relationship with the life cycle of food and nature, helping to tackle the evident food wastage issue.  This blog is going to show you how to grow food from food scraps you would usually throw away!

Some methods require the purchase and use of plant pots and soil. A loose potting or peat-free soil is suitable for most methods.

The following methods are simple ways to reduce our food waste in a productive way!

Green Onions

Green onions are arguably the easiest and most popular vegetable to regrow. All you need to do is the following:

  • When cutting the green top off the spring onion, leave approx. 3-5cm of the white root base.
  • Place this white root section into a jar and fill with water until half of the plant is submerged.
  • Leave in a bright spot and change the water every other day.
  • Harvest directly from the jar when ready!

Leeks

Following the green onion method above, you can regrow your leaks! Although, be patient as they may take slightly longer due to their size. Leave a couple of inches from the bottom and place them in a bowl of water.

Celery

Celery can also be regrown from the base of a mature plant.

  • Cut all celery stems off, leaving 3-5cm of stem at the root section.
  • Place this root section in a bowl with warm water.
  • Place the cutting in a warm and bright position, making sure to change the water every other day.
  • When the celery sprouts new leaves, you can then plant it out into soil.
  • Harvest when the plant has large, healthy looking stalks.

Romaine Lettuce, Bok Choy & Cabbage

Lettuce is as easy to regrow as celery! Lettuce leaves can be regrown from saving the root section at the bottom of the lettuce. This propagating technique works best with Little Gem or Romaine varieties.

  • Cut lettuce leaves until 3-5cm of height is left on the root section
  • Place it in a bowl until the roots are submerged
  • Leave in a bright position and change the water every other day.
  • After two weeks, the lettuce should have sprouted new leaves and roots, when this happens, plant the cutting out into potting soil for prolonged growth.
  • Harvest when the leaves grow to baby leaf size (10cm).

Carrots Tops

Regrowing carrot tops allows for plenty of creative dishes –quirky pesto, soup, or even saute. Simply leave the top of the carrots–with a bit of the carrot attached–in bowl or container with water and place them where they can receive adequate sunlight. Now watch them grow!

Sweet potatoes

We have recently seen a trend of people growing sweet potatoes for their leafy vines to provide botanical decoration. Well, you can also propagate them to create new potatoes! It may take some patience, but Sweet Potatoes are easy enough to grow. Unlike normal potatoes, sweet potatoes, require ‘slips’ firstly; these are groups of stems and roots which grow from nodes on the potato. It is best to start this process indoors between February and April and wait until after the last frost to plant.

  • Pierce the middle of the sweet potato. Add lots of water into a jar and place it in with the facing upwards at the top (this is the pointy end).
  • Leave in a bright spot and change the water regularly.
  • Roots, stems and leaves will begin growing from nodes called eyes on the potato over the next few weeks.
  • When the slips have grown substantial roots and stems, you can break it off the sweet potato and plant into soil indoors, potting it on as it gets larger.
  • Plant them outdoors after the last frost (end of May - June). Growing them in the ground during the summer is advised because the tubers can get quite big!
  • Harvest in the autumn or when leaves begin to turn yellow and die-back.

Potatoes

You know the drill. Simple leave your spud in a dark corner, forget about it, and it’ll just sprout. You can also cut a potato in half, where you will see the dents on the skin, plant the potatoes with the dents facing up in soil.  

Basil, Mint, and Cilantro

Leave about 2-3 inches of the stem. Place the stems upright in a glass of water. When the new roots begin to appear, transfer the herbs into a pot of soil and watch them grow!

Pineapple

Although not a vegetable we thought we would throw this one in!  It just takes a bit of patience – approximately two years to be precise, but we think the thought of your very own pineapples is just too intriguing not to suggest!

Grab hold of the pineapple crown by the leaves and twist and pull. The stalk should remain intact. Expose the stalk by removing some of the lower leaves.

Leave the pineapple crown in a glass of water and allow new roots to form, transferring to a soil-filled pot or container once grown. Test the plants strength by gently pulling, should the pineapple have some resist this means you’ve successfully propagated a pineapple and you should move onto pineapple plant care.  

That’s it! There really is something satisfying and gratifying about regrowing half-consumed vegetables and fruit – plus it certainly saves some pennies! We suggest performing these propagating experiments as competitions with your little ones to teach them the values of food and bring them closer to nature.

Have you tried regrowing your own vegetable scraps?

Share with us your experiences!

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!

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.

Top 10 Houseplants For Beginners

Top 10 Houseplants For Beginners...

The Houseplant market has recently seen a huge spike in sales. And it is no wonder as our time spent indoors has increased significantly during the pandemic. Purchasing houseplants is a brilliant and effective way of bringing the out-doors, in-doors. Houseplants are not only known for their air-purifying abilities and the aiding of mental health, but they can also help in really pulling a room together.

For those of you who are considering introducing houseplants into your homes but are unsure of your abilities to maintain healthy plants, we’ve put together a list of the top ten houseplants which require minimal care and provide maximum impact!…

SPIDER PLANTS

This popular species of house plant rose to the top of the popularity list due to its ability to survive extreme conditions – come droughts, overwatering and low or high-light areas, this hardy species will always bounce back. So, if you’re just starting out with house plants – start here! Spider plants are also fantastic air purifiers and without assistance, they will easily sprout spider ‘babies’ – which means more plants for you!

  • Ideally, they like moderate indirect light and moderate watering – mine always seem to be thirsty!
  • There are a few varieties out there – my favourites being ocean and bonnie.
  • They are non-toxic to pets.

DEVILS IVY – OR GOLDEN POTHOS

A part of the pathos family, this plant is not only beautiful with its glossy leaves speckled with yellow, white and light green, but it’s also very hardy. You can pretty much find this one in any supermarket. If treated kindly it will thrive and grow as long as you allow it! Plus, it is easily variegated so you can buy one plant and end up with many more. Choose to grow this on a coconut pole or leave to trail.

  • Generally, they tolerate indirect moderate light but do not like to be overwatered.
  • If you love this variety, make sure to check out the others such as Neon pathos and Marble Queen Pothos.
  • Toxic if consumed.

ALOE VERA

The humble Aloe Vera plant, found in any supermarket, is the perfect houseplant for a beginner. Aloe Vera tolerates most conditions and is a great medicinal plant to have as it acts as pain relief from scrapes and burns when applied topically. Plus, it is unique formation is somewhat impressive!

  • Aloes like being in a bright but indirect location with minimal regular watering.
  • Aloe Vera toxicity level is mild for pets.

SNAKE PLANT

Snake plant, or mother-in-law's tongue, is a must for any houseplant owner. In fact, this plant will grow almost anywhere in the home, tolerating low light areas and minimal watering. Snake plants are usually available in most garden centres and supermarkets. The structural style of the plant pairs perfectly with modern interiors.

  • Snake plants enjoy medium to low light and regular watering.
  • Toxic if consumed.

ZZ PLANT

The ZZ plant has risen in popularity recently and we can tell why! This plant is not only a stunning formation of stem and leaves but also thrives in most conditions. ZZ plants generally do not like to be overwatered and can tolerate low light areas – so perfect for the darker spaces! ZZ Plant. We do not own this image.

  • Water when the top two inches of soil is dry. They don’t mind low light but do not keep in a completely dark room.
  • Toxic if consumed.

AIR PLANTS

Air plants can add a magical touch to any room – I especially love the ‘Spanish moss’ variety. Although Air plants don’t require a substrate such as compost to survive, they do require regular soaking. However, this can be only thirty minutes of soaking a week to make them thrive. The rest of the time they are free to float! Air Plant.

  • Soak the plants weekly for best results.
  • Non-Toxic to plants and humans.

JADE PLANT

Jade plants are slow-growing minimal maintenance house plants – so they are perfect for beginner house plant owners! In fact, these plants are so independent they have been known to survive months without any attention! Although, that’s not something I recommend!

  • Water when the soil is dry and keep in moderate light.
  • Jade plants are toxic if consumed.

PEACE LILY

The peace lily is as peaceful as they sound! Peace lilies are brilliant air purifiers, thrive with minimal attention and look beautiful in any environment. I recently saw some fantastically sized peace lilies in B & Q – it took me all my strength not to buy one! Peace Lily. We do not own this image.

  • Place away from direct sunlight and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
  • Mildly toxic if consumed.

DRACAENA

Also known as the ‘dragon tree’ is a perfect plant for those with busy lives. This plant will tolerate being slightly forgotten about!

  • We recommend low to moderate indirect light and water when the topsoil is dry.
  • Dracaena’s are toxic to pets.

FERNS

There are many species of tropical and subtropical ferns ideal for being house plants, however, I recommend ‘Birds nest’. Ferns like to be kept moist and warm with regular misting and low to moderate light. This makes them perfect for bathrooms and kitchens!

  • Mist regularly, keep the soil moist and place in low to moderate light.
  • Some ferns can be toxic and cause skin irritation.

We hope you’ve found the perfect house plant for the beginning of your houseplant collection… And believe me when I say collection! Once you start, you’ll find it hard to stop! We would love to see your houseplants – so please feel free to tag us on Facebook or Instagram!

Shabby Chic Garden Design

Shabby chic is one of those trends that is truly timeless. It originally emerged as an interior design style characterised by furniture that shows clear signs of ageing or new furniture reimagined with vintage elements.

This distinctive antique aesthetic has become so popular in recent times that it has transcended the interior space. This means it can work beautifully as a theme for your garden as a unique and fun look that can be achieved on all budgets.


A Soft Colour Palette


When considering your shabby chic garden design, the best place to begin is with the furniture. This will act as the main focal point for your shabby chic theme and you can then introduce flowers, plants and other accents to complement the picture. Consider both colours and materials – this theme broadly takes in softer tones such as beige, mint green and powder pink.


Shabby Chic Garden Furniture


Use this subtle, understated and pretty colour palette as a starting point for your shabby chic garden. We love the use of rattan material in your garden furniture as this introduces a vintage feel perfectly.

Our rattan furniture range includes seventy different sofa suites including footstools, coffee tables, day beds and bar sets many of them woven from award-winning outdoor rattan-weave which is hand woven in Indonesia.

You can then add cushions to your chosen pieces to embrace the shabby chic colour scheme of your choice -  lilac and cream will fit beautifully within the theme for a soft vintage look and feel.



 

Shabby Chic Garden Accents


Another thing to consider with your shabby chic garden is the curves and lines of your chosen pieces. This theme lends itself more to curved, soft lines and less to harder ones – think sweeping rounded edges instead of rectangular or square silhouettes.

A parasol is one way to embrace this trend – complement with pieces that recall a bygone era such as a retro love bench, painted bench or carved rustic bench.

If you like the look of teak for your garden aesthetic, we would recommend reclaimed teak as opposed to standard furnishings which are much sleeker and more streamlined, as opposed to the distressed look of shabby chic pieces. Reclaimed furnishings will give a bold dose of shabby chic in gardens of all sizes for a really beautiful effect.


All Fired Up


Another way to create a stylish shabby chic garden design is to use a few key statement pieces to convey the look. A crackling outdoor fireplace is a great trans-seasonal piece of furniture that embodies the warm, cosy and effortlessly shabby chic aesthetic. Complete the look with a love heart wood rack to store your logs – a rack with a rustic finish will do the job nicely.

The detail is also in the accessories when it comes to your shabby chic garden furniture. Choose items with gentle, curved shapes in warm materials such as wood. A hand carved side table in differing shades of mango tree wood is a lovely modern-day antique that fits neatly within the theme. You might also like the Oxy candle holders which have been hand crafted from individual sections of rustic teak root where the natural flow of the grain conveys added decorative effect.

Never forget the value of upcycled pieces for your shabby chic garden. Our range of Indian accessories include a soft bench, antique bench and Jeep table, all of which embrace a retro aesthetic for a strong overall theme.

How to brighten up your garden for spring

Many of us feel gloomy during the dark, grey winter months which is why now is a great time to start thinking about your spring garden. There are many ways to introduce a bit of colour into your garden space and brighten things up in preparation for when the weather grows warmer.


Colourful Spring Flowers


One way is to choose bright and beautiful spring blooms that are designed to flourish from March onwards. Daffodils, crocuses, pansies and tulips are lovely spring-flowering plants all of which work well when planted in abundance. This will really make an impact to create a gorgeous colourful border garden. Hyacinths are another popular choice that come in a whole range of softer and bolder colours to reflect the essence of springtime.

If you fancy mixing up textures and heights, the iris is a late-spring flowering plant that will stand tall in the borders for an elegant aesthetic. For a gorgeous and more unusual spring plant, alliums also stand high for a gorgeous complement to brightly coloured flowerscapes.

Away from the lawn and flowerbeds, add some more colour around your spring garden with azaleas and rhododendrons crawling up the wall, flowering fruit tree blossom, lilac trees and rugged clematis. The latter is just one example of how you can add colour with a more masculine edge instead of traditional pretty florals.


Colourful Furniture for your Spring Garden


Brightly coloured garden furniture is another great way to brighten things up for spring. We suggest choosing a selection of investment pieces that have been designed to stand the test of time in both style and durability. And colourful doesn’t have to mean overbearing.

We like the fresh springtime look that comes with rattan furniture such as the Fiji Chill Sofa which has been crafted using UV and colour stabilised rattan for a non-fade quality, Bearing in mind that the British springtime can often witness wet weather, the Fiji range includes pieces made using thermal bonding of the fibres to make them tough even when wet.


Using Colour in Garden Design for Small Spaces


 

If you prefer a more chic, minimalist aesthetic with your spring garden but still want splashes of colour, cushions and other accessories are a great way to achieve the look. When you’re considering garden design for small spaces, this is also a good way to go in order to avoid a cluttered appearance. Our Fiji 2-seater sofa shows how colour can be used in a more subtle way – the Montana Dining Armchair is another good example of colourful accents that will uplift your spring garden.

If you prefer a real statement piece – or perhaps you plan to use your garden for entertaining guests and socialising throughout the seasons – the Montana Apple Day Bed is a glorious piece. Handwoven to look and feel like natural water hyacinth, it features a retractable drinks table for added luxe and is super-easy to maintain year-round thanks to high water resistant qualities and olefin fibres designed for optimum outdoor use.

We hope that this post has inspired you in your spring garden design and provided some useful ideas on how you can blend the live elements of your garden with some beautiful furnishings to create your desired aesthetic. For more ideas and to browse our full range, click here to visit the Garden Furniture Centre shop.

The "How to" of Small Garden Design

Just because you have a small outdoor space doesn’t mean that you need to be limited on design options. In fact, smaller gardens have plenty of advantages because you can really be creative without spending too much money or putting your space at risk of appearing overly cluttered. From furniture to plants and colour schemes, this is our rundown of the very best ways to design for small outdoor space…


Make it Liveable


Many people mistake the mistake of compromising on the social aspect with small garden design. But you want your space to feel welcoming and be able to enjoy spending time in it regardless of the size. To this end, create a dedicated space for alfresco dining and drinks which will have the effect of making the garden appear bigger.

There are plenty of small-space-friendly furniture solutions – a folding dining table works great for very small spaces as you can pop it away when it’s not needed. You can also stack up furniture for the same effect. If you’re looking to use the area less for dining and more for casual drinks, a round bar table will also fit seamlessly into a small space.

Add Colour


Whether it’s with your plants or your furniture, adding splashes of colour will make all the difference with your small garden design. Colour adds interest and draws the eye to different parts of the garden for a lively atmosphere. Colourful accessories such as cushions or garden furniture with a jazzy pattern also have the same effect.

We love this retro bar set with colourful chairs which works beautifully within a small garden design thanks to the colours and the flexibility to line the furniture up against a wall for a neat, space-saving aesthetic. This is also a good way to make the most of a sociable space by keeping furnishings and large plants at the edge of the garden, leaving the central area free for socialising.

This retro cross-back 4-chair set is a great alternative with chairs in yellow, green, pink, blue or white to suit your chosen colour scheme. It’s also a great way to enjoy plentiful seating solutions with maximum comfort and without taking up lots of space. To make even more of your small garden design, mix up furnishings in bright and contrasting colours.

Balance out the Colours


While we recommend adding a mix of colour to your garden furniture, we’d advise the opposite when it comes to plants and flowers. Too much colour in the decorative aspect can be overwhelming within a small space so choose one key colour and mix up the tones, e.g. cooler and warmer shades of blue. This will avoid making the garden feel too busy or oppressive.


Small Garden Design on a Budget


A busy design is a great opportunity to show off your creativity with a unique effect across smaller spaces. Vertical shelving is one popular option where you can decorate with potted plants and fun accessories across a trellis or ladder. Mix up plants with different heights to create the illusion of space and maximise interest - think climbers beside low-lying colourful flowers,  busy shrubs and evergreen trees.

Break up the Landscape


We’ve already touched upon the importance of creating different areas of interest in your small outdoor space. Utilise the principles of Feng Shui and add a water feature, line a bench up against the wall for a comfortable multi-use space, create a dedicated dining space or add a hammock for a relaxing, chill-out area. Making the most of the many different uses that your garden can offer will really make the most of the area available. If you can, add a pathway through the middle of the garden with details such as crazy paving to add interest and maximise your space.

Lutyens Bench

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to design for small outdoor space. It’s just about using your imagination and knowing your options!

Best Plants for Moist Soil

While autumn and winter in the UK inevitably mean a lot of rain, it’s safe to say we experience a fair bit of wet weather all year round. By understanding which are the best plants for moist soil, we can make sure that our garden flourishes throughout the seasons.

As different parts of the garden will receive more moisture due to their exposure to the elements, e.g. open flowerbeds compared to spots of soil sheltered by trees, we need to understand how to utilise the best plants for moist soil so we can make the most of every area of our garden.



Below we have gathered our selection of those plants that simply love the wet weather so that your outdoor space will grow and thrive on even the wettest days…

Tropical Temptations


If you want to transform a dark, dreary landscape into a tropical paradise, cannas are a great choice featuring brightly coloured flowers and large leaves. With the option of taller or dwarf plants, they work well for any garden space for a neater, ordered look or a more adventurous, busy landscape.

Lythrum is another gorgeous, vibrant option that flourishes in wetter conditions with spiky pink flowers that turn red in autumn and always brighten up the landscape. We also like helenium, a bright and fiery flower that works well in damp soil. This is also a super versatile option - let the flowers grow and flourish or trim them back for a neater look that some people prefer during the wetter seasons.


Best Plants for Damp Shade


Moist soil and damp shade often go hand in hand in our gardens, so this part is all about finding those plants that thrive in such conditions instead of simply exist. Hostas are one such example which evolve beautifully with the seasons. In cooler months, they show up as green leaves trimmed with yellow while the summer welcomes purple flowers. They are super easy to grow but make sure to check the type of hosta you purchase before going ahead, as some work better in damp conditions than others.

If you’re looking for more low maintenance plants for damp soil, persicaria is a great option. It’s also super long flowering for maximum impact. Presented in various shades of pink and red with a lovely, delicate aesthetic, it works great as a herbaceous perennial plant in damp soil and part shade.

Certain varieties of iris also work well in moist conditions. The Siberian Iris works beautifully in damp soil to produce deep blue-purple flowers and vibrant, slender green foliage in abundance towards the end of spring. The yellow flag iris is another bright and beautiful option that will flourish and bring a touch of beauty to any style of garden, although it does need careful watch as it likes to spread.

Foxglove is a good biennial flower that grows in sun or shade; astilbes is a ferny, unique flower with broad leaves which stands nice and tall and works best in shady, damp areas. Japanese Primrose is a spring-blooming perennial that likes wetter conditions while cardinal flowers and their gorgeous red blooms are most comfortable beside water, such as a stream or pond.


Garden Furniture for Wet Weather


It’s par for the course that as we’re speaking about plants for damp soil, we also need to think about preparing our gardens for wetter weather in terms of furniture too. Invest in some versatile rattan furniture or sleek teak furniture whose oily nature makes it naturally resistant to all weather with a lovely smooth finish that won’t rot, warp or split.

You should also invest in some garden furniture covers that can be thrown on at a moment’s notice to create a close, protective cocoon against dirt, grime and extreme weather and keep your furniture in the best condition. All seams on our garden furniture covers are taped for extra strength and long-lasting quality. We also add water repellent treatment and UV Stabilisers to the fabric during the manufacturing process.
© The Garden Furniture Centre Ltd. 2022. All Rights Reserved.