10 Reasons You Need This Plant in Your Garden Now!

1 LOTS TO CHOOSE FROM

As well as the classic single flowers, there are frilled varieties with double flowers and striking two-tone options if you want to try something a little different. If you can’t decide, then the Aquilegia vulgaris Collection is great for a modern garden, with ‘Black Barlow’, ‘Pink Barlow’ and ‘Blue Barlow’. Height 90cm Spread 40cm, £10/3 bare root plants hayloft.co.uk.

10 Reasons You Need This Plant in Your Garden Now!

2 EASY TO GROW

Very few plants are easier to grow than these beautiful bonnet-shaped flowers. They come back year after year, grow pretty much anywhere and even slugs generally leave them alone! They sow their seeds all by themselves, filling your borders with charming flowers in late spring and early summer. But if you don’t want them popping up all over the place, simply remove the flowers as they fade. Buy plants at the garden centre, or they’re super-easy to grow from seed.

10 Reasons You Need This Plant in Your Garden Now!

3 THEY ADD SPRING COLOUR

Aquilegia bloom in mid-spring, filling the slot when your bulbs have finished but before your early summer flowers get going. They flower for approximately six to eight weeks through April and May.

4 SOME SMELL GORGEOUS

10 Reasons You Need This Plant in Your Garden Now!

The large creamy-white flowers of Aquilegia fragrans have a fine scent that is rare for this species and come midsummer they’ll be dripping with nectar. Plant this variety near a doorway or path where you can most appreciate the delicate scent. Height 60cm Spread 50cm, £6/1L pot kevockgarden.co.uk.

10 Reasons You Need This Plant in Your Garden Now!

5 HAPPY IN A POT INDOORS

For a variety that can be cut and popped into a vase, choose ‘Nora Barlow’ (Height 70cm Spread 45cm, £5.99/9cm pot primrose.co.uk) with its rippled, raspberry-pink and white petals with a slight green tinge. If you plant a pot of aquilegia indoors, these unfussy plants will be content for a few days if you want a pretty Easter table centrepiece.

10 Reasons You Need This Plant in Your Garden Now!

6 BEES LOVE THEM

Aquilegia are popular with bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects at a time in the garden when there aren’t many other blooms around. Each of the five flower petals has a spur with a feast of nectar.

10 Reasons You Need This Plant in Your Garden Now!

7 LIGHT UP A SHADY SPOT

Ornamental aquilegia ‘Munstead White’ has sculptural tiered flowers of pure green- white, which will add a luminous pop to a partly shady corner. Height 60cm Spread 45cm, £4.95/9cm plant sarahraven.com.

8 PICK AND MIX COLOURS

They come in a range of colours from delicate pastel pink, cream and pale blue to stronger colours such as deep purple, red and yellow. You can also get dark, chocolatey aquilegias that look almost black, so there’s one to suit every colour scheme. Garden designers love the stunning ‘Black Barlow’ with its intense deep purple almost black double flowers like pom-poms. Height 90-100cm Spread 60cm £599/9cmpotted plant dobies.co.uk.

10 Reasons You Need This Plant in Your Garden Now!

9 PRETTY FOLIAGE

Rosettes of lacy, pale-green, scalloped leaves form soft domes from which the flower stalks rise, ranging from 10cm to over a metre tall.

10 NO PRUNING NEEDED

Put away your snips once the flowers have finished, the plant dies back, ready to grow afresh next spring.

 

Upcycle Unloved or Broken Crocks into Unique Garden Decorations

Dig out a chipped cup that’s lingering at the back of a cupboard, a cracked plate that never gets used or a broken-handled jug you’ll never get round to mending, and use them to create some unique features for your garden. Old china is perfect for outdoor use, as it’ll survive all weathers, and it will bring a pretty burst of colour and pattern to your plot. If you haven’t got any old china for these projects, you’ll find lots of choice at charity shops or boot fairs for a few pounds – just make sure you don’t smash up a valuable piece of Ming or Minton! So why not put aside a couple of hours this weekend to get creative and turn a little corner of your garden into a chic china gallery? Don’t forget to post your pictures on our Facebook page.

Upcycle Unloved or Broken Crocks into Unique Garden Decorations

PRETTY POTS

China cups make great containers for dainty but delicious strawberries.

YOU WILL NEED

Old china cups Masking tape Fibre tip pen Drill with small masonry or ceramic drill bit Multi-purpose compost Small bare root fruit plants, we used strawberries, £7.99/5 primrose.co.uk.

Upcycle Unloved or Broken Crocks into Unique Garden Decorations

WHAT TO DO

Cover the base of each cup with masking tape and use the pen to mark a cross in the centre. Carefully drill a hole in the bottom of each cup where the cross is, then remove the masking tape. Turn upright and fill each cup three-quarters full with compost. Add the plant, fill with compost and gently firm down. Water and position in a sheltered, sunny spot.

TABLE TOPPER

This is so easy to do and looks amazing!

YOU WILL NEED

Large, medium and small plates Large and small jug Handful of small pebbles or gravel Cut flowers and foliage .

Upcycle Unloved or Broken Crocks into Unique Garden Decorations

WHAT TO DO

Place the large plate on your table, and stand the large jug in its centre. Half-fill the jug with pebbles/gravel to weigh it down. Place the medium plate on top of the jug, add the smaller jug and half-fill with pebbles/ gravel. Place the small plate on top. 3 Drizzle water onto each of the plates and add the blooms and foliage.

China cup and saucer Masking tape Fibre tip pen Drill with small masonry bit Strong wire, 3 x 80cm lengths Decorative beads Strong glue S-hook, £1.99 ironmongeryworld.com.

Upcycle Unloved or Broken Crocks into Unique Garden Decorations

WHAT TO DO

Cover the rim of the underside of the saucer with masking tape and mark three crosses on the outer edge. Drill small holes where the crosses are, then remove the masking tape. Feed each piece of wire through each hole, doubling them up so they’re approx 40cm long. Thread the beads onto each length, twist and tie at each end then tie all three ends together. Use the glue to fix the cup at an angle to the saucer. Add the S-hook to the wire hanger, fill the cup with bird food and hang in the garden.

Upcycle Unloved or Broken Crocks into Unique Garden Decorations

MODERN MOSAIC

We love this surrealist-style face pot idea from mosaicist Kaye Gilhooly @thegoddessofcolour.

YOU WILL NEED Thick nibbed waterproof marker pen, black Large square terracotta pot Craft tile nippers, £5.95 amazon.co.uk Pieces of china GorillaWeld 2-Part Epoxy, £5.49 ebay.co.uk Putty knife/grout spreader ✽ Mapei Waterproof Fix & Grout Tile Adhesive, £7.28/1.5kg toolstation.com Damp sponge and sandpaper SRP Spray-On Tile and Grout Sealer Aerosol, £11.95/500ml amazon.co.uk.

Upcycle Unloved or Broken Crocks into Unique Garden Decorations

Draw Snip t p g nippers and lay them on the pot to fill the face Dab glue on the back of each piece of china and stick in place. Allow to dry. Repeat this process on the three remaining sides of the pot, then add more pieces of nipped tiles around the rim. Leave to dry. Spread the grout all over the surface of the mosaic pieces. Make sure the rim is grouted too Clean the grout off the surface of the china pieces using the sponge. Leave to dry for around 30 minutes, then buff to remove any excess. Spray with the grout sealer. Once completely dry, use the marker pen to colour the grout around the face shapes to highlight them.

Upcycle Unloved or Broken Crocks into Unique Garden Decorations

BUG HOTEL

Give a plain wooden buy a chic china upgrade, suggests Instagrammer Laura McKellar @lauramckellarmosaics.

YOU WILL NEED

Mapei Waterproof Fix & Grout Tile Adhesive, £7.28/1.5kg toolstation.com Putty knife/grout spreader Insect/bug hotel – try Wilko Insect House, £5 wilko.com Broken pieces of china SRP Spray-On Tile and Grout Sealer Aerosol, £11.95/500ml amazon.co.uk.

Upcycle Unloved or Broken Crocks into Unique Garden Decorations

WHAT TO DO

Apply a thick layer of the grout on one side of the roof and fix half the china pieces into place in your chosen design, then repeat on the other side of the roof. Allow to dry and then spray all over with he grout sealer.

YOU WILL NEED

GorillaWeld 2-Part Epoxy, £5.49 ebay.co.uk Broken pieces of matching china Old terracotta pot Putty knife/grout spreader Mapei Waterproof Fix & Grout Tile Adhesive, £7.28/1.5kg toolstation.com Damp sponge and sandpaper SRP Spray-On Tile and Grout Sealer Aerosol, £11.95/500ml amazon.co.uk Plant, we used a bedding begonia.

WHAT TO DO

Dab the glue on the back of each piece of china and stick to the outside of the terracotta pot in the design of your choice. Allow to dry. Use the knife to spread the grout all over the surface of the mosaic china pieces. Make sure the rim and bottom edge are grouted too. Gently clean the grout off the surface of the china pieces using the damp sponge and smooth the rim and edge of the pot. Leave to dry for around 30 minutes, then buff to remove any excess. Spray with the grout sealer. Fill with compost and add your plant.

Upcycle Unloved or Broken Crocks into Unique Garden Decorations

TEA CUP CANDLESTICKS

How pretty are these for evening drinks on your patio?

YOU WILL NEED

Two china cups Wax Church Candles, £1.99/2 therange.co.uk Garden twine Leaves or sprigs of herbs.

WHAT TO DO

Turn a cup upside down. Light a candle and carefully tip it so a little melted wax drips onto the base of the cup. Quickly stand the candle on top, holding it in place for a minute until the wax hardens. 2 Repeat step 1 with the other cup and candle. 3 Tie a length of twine around each candle, tucking in a piece of foliage or herb sprig. 4 Arrange on your table and light the candles.

YOU WILL NEED

Black marker pen and gold pen Bird MDF Laser Cut Craft Blanks, from £1 The Fairydust Craft Shop, ebay.co.uk Pieces of china GorillaWeld.Part Epoxy, £5.49 ebay.co.uk. Putty knife/grout spreader Damp sponge and sandpaper SRP Spray-On Tile and Grout Sealer Aerosol, £11.95/500ml amazon.co.uk Drill with small screwdriver Piece of ribbon.

WHAT TO DO

Draw a bird design on the MDF.Stick the china on the MDF. Allow to dry. Use the knife to spread the grout all over the surface of the mosaic china pieces. Clean the grout off the surface of the china. Leave to dry for around 30 minutes, then buff to remove any excess. Outline the shape of the bird’s wing and the beak using the gold marker pen. Draw an eye using the black pen. 6 Spray with the grout sealer. Allow to dry then drill a small hole in the top of the bird, feed through the ribbon and tie. Hang in your garden. You can buy this mosaic ready-made by Diane, £20 chinapetals.co.uk

Add a Splash Of Colour to Your Plot With a Bright Block Paving Path

This in the garden. So forget y follow this blue brick path to enlightenment! Paths are essential in most gardens but they don’t have to be dull. Use them to add dynamic, flowing links between different areas of the garden, and make them part of the essential journey throughout the garden, helping to lead the eye to other secluded, hidden or even secret areas. Make your path a feature in itself, and it will forever entice you to explore your garden, however small your plot. While straight paths will add rigidity and formality, gentle curves create a sense of relaxation.

Add a Splash Of Colour to Your Plot With a Bright Block Paving Path

But don’t go over the top with your curves; a squiggly snake-like path not only looks messy and over-busy – it’ll take you ages to walk anywhere! Most bricks that are suitable for paths come in muted, natural tones, but it’s easy to transform them using a specialist paint, adding a splash of vivid colour. And the sky’s the limit to how much extra spectacle this will introduce to the garden’s overall rainbow of tones. Choose a colour that matches and sets off the surrounding planting for a tranquil look and feel, or go for a wildly contrasting palette to enliven otherwise subdued tones. We’ve gone for blue, as it’s the colour of the moment this summer, and jumped on the outdoors trend for all things ombré for good measure!

Day 1 PAINT THE PAVERS

Before you start, measure the area first to work out how much block paving you need (most standard pavers measure 20 x 10cm).

YOU WILL NEED

Driveway Block Paving, £18/m2 diy.com Acrylic Primer Undercoat, £13.99/2.5L screwfix.com Paint roller or paintbrush and tray Pegs and string Rubber mallet Spirit level Spade Garage Floor Paint, £27/5L taindustrialpaints.co.uk

WHAT TO DO 1

Give all the paving blocks a coat of undercoat to ensure the paint takes. Use a paint roller or paintbrush – you don’t need to treat the bottom of the pavers. While you wait for the primer to dry, mark out where the path will go using pegs and string, hammering the pegs into the ground with a rubber mallet. Make sure the sides are parallel. Dig out the route of the path, making sure it’s level both along its length and width, tamping down the soil so it’s firm. To get the path flush with the ground, dig deep enough to allow for a 10cm layer of sand, a 2cm layer of mortar, and the paver (a standard paver is 5cm deep). The primer will be dry by now, so apply one or two coats of floor paint to the top and sides of the pavers, and leave to dry. To get the ombré look, just mix white paint into the coloured paint.

Day 2 LAY THE PATH

Pavers are quick and easy to lay, so this is the fun bit!

YOU WILL NEED B&Q

Sharp Sand Bulk Bag, £40 diy.com (enough to cover approximately 4.8m2 at 10cm deep) Rake Blue Circle General Purpose Cement, £4.02/25kg diy.com Spade Rubber mallet Spirit level Bolster chisel and lump hammer.

WHAT TO DO 1

Place a 10cm-deep layer of sand on top of the soil in your trench. Level it out and firm and consolidate with the back of a rake. Mix one part cement to four parts sand and a little water to make your mortar. Keep the mix fairly dry; check the consistency is right by making a depression in the mix with a spade – it’s correct if this is easy to do and the mortar holds its shape. Add a 4cm-deep layer of mortar over a section of the sand (it’s easier to add mortar and pavers together in sections). 4 Starting along one edge, position the pavers onto the mortar. Using the rubber mallet, gently tap the pavers down into the mortar – aim to sink them 2cm into the 4cm- layer of mortar. Lay the spirit level on them as you tap to ensure they’re level. 5 The path will look better if the joints between the pavers in each row are staggered, like a brick wall. To get this effect, you’ll need to use half or square pavers at the ends of every other row. You can either buy square pavers or cut oblong pavers with a bolster chisel and lump hammer. 6 Leave the mortar to set for at least 24 hours before you use your path.

 

Need a Fast Facelift to Get Your Garden Looking good? Plant these Flamboyant Blooms Now!

W hen the big fat buds of oriental poppies burst open to reveal their colour-saturated, satin petals, it means summer is here at last. From crimson and apricot to saffron and cerise, often with velvety, jet-black splodges at their heart, these fantastic blooms come in the most sumptuous array of tones. There are lots of different species, which means you can choose just the right height, colour and form to suit your garden style, but all have the signature floaty petals when they burst into flower. And they’re a doddle to grow! If you want to add a bold splash of red, you can’t beat the exuberant ‘Beauty of Livermere’ (Height 1.2m Spread 60cm, £5.99/9cm pot, crocus.co.uk).

Need a Fast Facelift to Get Your Garden Looking good? Plant these Flamboyant Blooms Now!

Tall and strong stemmed, they’ll bloom through early summer and, although they tend to be quite short-lived, they make up for it with each plant producing lots of flowers. If you’re loving the trend for dark-hued flowers, the rich, deep pink, tissue-like petals of ‘Plum Pudding’ (Height 75cm Spread 60cm, £9.99/12 plug plants, thompson- morgan.com) bloom for longer than most oriental poppies, often from June through to August. Or, if you want to create a more ethereal look, there are endless pastel shades in the softest creams, pinks and peaches. As well as an enticing mix of colours, there are all sorts of textures, too, with rumpled, crinkled and ruffled blooms aplenty. And, even after the blousy flower show is over, you’ll have stunning seed heads to enjoy – leave them on and you’ll have lots more poppies to enjoy next year, too.

PICK A HEALTHY PLANT

Widely available in supermarkets and garden centres, you can buy oriental poppies as potted plants, plug plants or loose roots. You can also sow them from seed. If you’re buying a potted plant, look for plenty of healthy green foliage and sturdy stems. Avoid anything that is floppy! When you bring the plant home, pop it in your conservatory or a sunny porch for two or three days, and gradually move it outside once there’s no danger of frost.

KEEP IT ALIVE

Oriental poppies like a sunny spot with deep, fertile soil that’s well-drained. So, if your soil is on the heavy side, dig in some horticultural grit (£2.99/5kg, crocus.co.uk) before you plant them.

HELP THEM THRIVE

Mix in some general-purpose fertiliser granules when you plant your poppies to get them off to the best start. You’ll need to support them to protect them from the elements – just pop a support in when you plant. Although the seed pods are gorgeous, the plant will be stronger if you cut it back once it’s finished flowering.

GATHER THE SEEDS

Spread out poppy seed pods on newspaper in a warm room and leave them for a couple of weeks. The seeds are dry once you hear them rattle in the pod when you shake it. Store in paper bags for scattering in the garden next year.

ADD ROMANCE

The shimmering silky petals of oriental poppies flutter on a summer breeze to add a delicate touch to your planting scheme.

FILL A VASE

After cutting your poppy stems, plunge the ends of the stems into boiling water for a few seconds, then transfer to a vase of tepid water. This will help keep them fresh for longer.

STAR OF THE SHOW

While usually grown in the ground, oriental poppies are also happy in containers, and you can pack plenty in. Choose a deep pot as poppies have long roots, and use a mixture of John Innes No 3 (£3/10L, wilko.com) and a peat-free compost such as Sylvagrow Sustainable Growing Medium (£5.95/15L, sarahraven.com). Stand the container on pot feet as those roots will rot if they’re too damp.

Plant These Giant Jaw Dropping Orbs in Your Garden Now and Enjoy a Specatular Show Come Summer

With its huge architectural stems crowned by umbrella-shaped luminous green or dusky purple blooms, angelica turns heads like nothing else! These breathtaking plants reach up to a stately two metres tall, and their fabulous exploding flower heads will grab the attention of whoever steps foot into your garden. The flowers appear in summer with some varieties lasting into autumn, turning into sculptural seed heads that are just as attractive. These gigantic seed heads help them to spread around, so, if you buy just two or three plants this year, you’ll probably get some free ones next summer if the conditions are right. They like shade and rich soil, so this is a really useful plant to brighten up those tricky, not-so-sunny spots.

Plant These Giant Jaw Dropping Orbs in Your Garden Now and Enjoy a Spectaular Show Come Summer

PICK A HEALTHY PLANT

In its first year, angelica is a simple rosette with a small stalk, then it grows much larger in its second. Look for healthy leaves and a firm stem, avoiding limp or floppy growth. Angelica archangelica (Height 2m Spread 1.2m, 7.99/1L pot, waitrosegarden.com) is the most widely available variety, and it’s great for a modern garden, with pretty leaves, pink flushed stems and crowns of lime-green flower heads in early summer.

KEEP IT ALIVE

Get a few things right to begin with and angelica is easy to grow and very undemanding. Choose a full or partially shady spot, where the soil is moist, as angelica isn’t drought-tolerant and you’ll need to keep it well-watered. Give it plenty of space, too. Angelica is a biennial plant, which means it flowers in the second year, then dies. But because it has lots of seeds that happily sow themselves without any help from you, it continually makes new plants. So, for the best show year after year, make sure there’s room for plants in their first and second years. Young plants are a tasty snack for slugs and snails, so you might need to protect them with a cloche.

Plant These Giant Jaw Dropping Orbs in Your Garden Now and Enjoy a Spectaular Show Come Summer

HELP IT THRIVE

Angelica likes the soil to be deep, moist and fertile. For strong and healthy plants, sprinkle Rootgrow Mycorrhizal Fungi (£11.50/360g, sarahraven.com) into the base of the planting hole to boost the root system and water in well after planting. In addition to self-seeding, there is another easy way to add to your display. In the autumn of the second year, cut back the stems and dig up the plant, dividing the roots using a sharp knife. Repot each into compost or directly into the soil where you would like them to grow, and you’ll end up with a flourish of plants next summer.

GO BIG OR GO HOME!

Purple angelica is a stunning plant with deep plum flowers that bees love. The red-tinted stems look good, too. This one is a late flowerer, with the ruby-red heads appearing in August and September (Height 1.8m Spread 1.2m, £6.99/9cm pot, waitrosegarden. com). Purple-flushed Angelica syvestris purpurea ‘Vicar’s Mead’ is another dark-stemmed beauty that can reach up to two metres. It has dark purple leaves and dusky lavender flowers (Height 1.5-2m Spread 75cm, £5.95/9cm pot, sarahraven.com).

Plant These Giant Jaw Dropping Orbs in Your Garden Now and Enjoy a Spectaular Show Come Summer

GET FREE PLANTS!

It’s easy to dig up angelica, slice up the roots and pop into pots to make new plants.

 

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

REVAMP A METAL TABLE

Mirror nature and bring new life to an old metal table with stencilled floral motifs. Use spray adhesive to hold the stencils firmly in place to get precise edges to your chosen pattern. Bostik Fast-Tak Repositionable Spray, £5 paperchase.com.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

STRIP IT BACK

Take on the trend for all things industrial and remove peeling paint back to bare metal. Brush away loose flakes using a wire brush first, then apply a stripping solution using a paintbrush, scraping the paint away with a putty knife. B&Q Paint & Varnish Remover, £3.80 diy.com.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

STENCIL ON SLATS

Budget bistro chairs needn’t be bland! Give yours a little colour and character by painting the frame and individual slats in a range of complementary shades. Leave some plain, adding a few different stencilled patterns to the rest. Ta-da! Tärnö Chair, £10 ikea.com.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

REVIVE NATURAL FIBRES

To bring dry, cracked or split rattan and bamboo back to life, use a paintbrush to apply boiled linseed oil until your furniture will no longer absorb it. Wipe it clean with a soft cloth, then leave it to dry and harden on the furniture before using. Gloss Boiled Linseed Oil, £6 diy.com. Bamboo Conversation Set, £125 wilko.com.

ADOPT THE BLUE TREND

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

This summer’s big colour story is blue, and it will instantly transform a tired bench or table. Use a wire brush to remove peeling paint, wipe clean with warm soapy water and leave to dry. Apply two coats of paint, allowing to dry completely in-between applications. Cuprinol Garden Shades in Coastal Mist (bench) and Pale Thistle (chairs), £11 wilko.com.

TRANSFORM A PLAIN PARASOL

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

This project takes a little time but is well worth the effort. Create a colourful display using laser-cut upturned bunting stencils – find a selection at The Stencil Studio (thestencilstudio.com). Choose a range of bold fabric paints, and stipple on the stencil and around the triangle edges. You’ll need a narrow table to work from – a console table works perfectly here. Place the fabric of the parasol over the table with the pole underneath, in-between the table legs. This will give a flat base to stencil on – simply rotate the parasol segment by segment as you work. Högön Parasol, £35 ikea.com.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

Use a selection of colourful washi tape, winding it around the chair back and legs, and criss-cross it across the seat. Add some washi tape tags, too, and finish with a faux flower. Instant cheer! Washi Tape, £5/24 theworks.co.uk.

CREATE A COLOUR CONTRAST

Inject new-season style into a tired table and chairs with modern paint tones that clash and contrast. Here, Giddy Green and Flamingo Pink are perfectly at odds! Protek Royal Exterior Range, £16/1L protekwoodstain.co.uk.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

PAINT METAL FURNITURE

Let garden colour spill over from pots and planting and dare to be different, updating furniture in dramatic tones. Clean with soapy water to remove dirt and oil, then use fine sandpaper to remove flaking paint and create a smooth surface Wipe down and spray on multiple light coats of PlastiKote Twist & Spray, £8.35 amazon.co.uk.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

REUPHOLSTER A DECKCHAI

Fabric on garden chairs doesn’t weather well, but it’s easy to give otherwise-fine furniture a re-think and save it from the scrapheap. Simply remove the fabric and use as a template to create new covers.

SIT PRETTY

Macramé is having a moment this summer, and this heritage craft is the perfect way to bring a dated lawn chair back to life. Rip away the old seat webbing and then weave some magic with colourful nylon craft cord and a chunky crochet hook. Search ‘Macramé Lawn Chair’ online for a simple step-by-step tutorial.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

TILE A PATIO TABLE

Make strides towards sustainable living and breathe new life into a coffee table that’s destined for the dump. Use off-cuts of old tiles or unwanted samples to transform a tabletop for just a few pounds, using tile adhesive and a little grout. An afternoon project to be proud of!

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

WAX LYRICAL

If your metal garden furniture is looking a little weary, spruce it up using some car wax, which will help moisture easily run off the surface. Protect all the non-metal areas, then spray on Halfords Spray Wax, £5 halfords.com. Rope Lounge Set, £250 wilko.com.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

RESTORE WEARY WOOD

Wooden garden furniture goes grey over time, but it’s so easy to bring it back to its former glory. Apply Ronseal Hardwood Garden Furniture Restorer (£19/1L, diy.com) using a paintbrush, then work it into the surface using an abrasive scrubbing pad or stiff bristle brush. Rinse off then allow to dry. Wooden Arbour, £162.99 wayfair.co.uk.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

GET THE OMBRÉ EFFECT

Ombré is still on-trend this summer, and it perks up a chair for just a few pounds. Choose one colour and then pick out tester pots in tonal shades, adding one to each slat of an old chair. Protek Royal Exterior Range, £1 per tester pot protekwoodstain.co.uk.

 

Jane Scott is a Renowned floral Designer Her Stylish Simple ideas are Beautiful Easy to Create and Don’t Cost a Fortune This Month She Makes a Hand Tied Bouquet

T here are all sorts of delightful spring flowers at our fingertips in April. The hours fly by as I fill bud vases, jam jars and milk bottles with these seasonal blooms. However, there are times when things need to be a little more formal – a dear friend’s birthday, a special anniversary and, the ultimate of floral occasions, a wedding. When you need to dial up the sophistication, it’s time to turn to the trusty hand-tied bouquet. These structured, orderly bunches have shaped the floristry world for years because, with their vase ready style, they make the perfect gift. Granted they look pretty tricky to make, but with a little planning, preparation and patience, they really aren’t that difficult to put together! Follow my step-by-step guide and you can’t go wrong.

Simple ideas to Make a Hand Tied Bouquet

Use flowers that are in season. I’ve gathered together tulips, daffodils and hellebores and, for a touch of glamour, lilac roses. Cut 2cm off all your stems. Remove leaves or thorns that sit below the point they’ll be tied together, called the ‘binding point’. Arrange them in piles on a table. With a firm grip, hold two stems of foliage and a rose in one hand – these will go on to form the centre of your hand-tied bouquet. Now it’s time to add your first tulip, do this at a 45-degree angle. The cross of the stems becomes the binding point for your bouquet.

Simple ideas to Make a Hand Tied Bouquet

Check that your bouquet looks even and balanced, adjusting the position of any stray flowers and gently easing up any that have slipped down during the process. Double check that you have an even spread of blooms, and now you’re ready to bind your spring bouquet. Tie the binding point tightly using twine. A few laps and a double knot ensure nothing moves. Next, cut the stems to the same length. I cut mine fairly short as I’m putting them in a dumpy vintage jug, but trim a little bit at a time until you’re happy. And that’s it – your handiwork is ready to display! Continue to add flowers and foliage at the same 45-degree angle and in the same direction. Make sure that there is an even spread of each flower throughout the bunch. Make sure to turn the bouquet every now and then to ensure it looks good from all angles.

 

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

Painting and spray-painting are great ways to create a unique container – you can choose just the right shade and texture to suit your planting scheme. And a little bit of expert know-how will help you get the best results.

PREPARE YOUR PLANTER

Always clean your container thoroughly first to create the best surface for the paint or spray paint. Run the container under water and scrub lightly with a dish-washing brush or pot bristle brush to remove all the dust and dirt. Terracotta pots can build up a crusty white residue over time, due to salts and other chemicals that are often found in tap water. This is not an ideal surface for painting, so give it a more thorough clean first (see panel on the right). Check that your container is completely dry before you paint it, especially terracotta pots, which readily absorb moisture. Put your containers in the sun to speed up the drying process. You can also use a paint primer first, which lays a good foundation for the paint, gives a smoother finish and improves the paint’s durability. There are primers suitable for different materials, including metal, wood, terracotta, stone and even plastic.

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

WHICH PAINT?

Buying paint, especially for larger containers, can be expensive, so purchase some tester pots first to see if you like the colour and effect it creates. You can use a wide range of exterior paints on wooden containers such as troughs, boxes and crates. Try ordinary exterior emulsion and oil-based gloss paint. For metal containers, it’s best to use gloss paint or a proprietary metal paint. Terracotta pots can be painted with non-toxic acrylic or emulsion paints or spray-painted. Concrete or stone pots can also be painted with emulsion or a specialist masonry paint suitable for exteriors. There are also outdoor stains available for wooden containers. Note that these are affected by the colour of the wood you’re staining. Always place your container on a dust sheet or newspaper first to protect your working surface.

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

How to clean a terracotta pot Got an old pot encrusted with white residue?

Here’s how to get it looking like new, ready to paint.

1 Use a dish-washing brush or pot bristle brush to clean as much dirt and old potting mix from the inside and outside of the pot.

2 Soak the pot in a solution of water and white vinegar. You’ll need about 250ml (1 cup) of vinegar to every 750ml or 1 litre (3 or 4 cups) of water. Submerge the pot in the solution. The vinegar will start working on the crusty build-up.

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

3 After about 20–30 minutes, see if you can wipe or scrub off the residue. Leave for longer, if necessary, and use the brush to scrub firmly to remove the residue.

4 Finally, put the pot in the dishwasher on the quick wash cycle. This will clean and disinfect the pot ready for planting. Alternatively, scrub the pot in warm soapy water and rinse well.

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

WHAT TO DO

Start by applying a base coat using a household paintbrush or try a foam brush for a smoother result. Apply second and even third coats, depending on the type and colour of paint you’re using, as well as whether you want any of the container to show through. You don’t need to paint the bottom or inside of the container, although you can paint the top inch or so that won’t be covered with potting mix. To spray-paint a container, work outdoors or in a well-ventilated space.

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

Hold the can about 30cm from the surface and spray in a steady back-and-forth motion. Slowly rotate the container as you spray. Try to keep the spray can the same distance from the container to ensure an even coverage. Wait a few minutes before applying a second or third coat, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the container to dry thoroughly before planting up. This may take some time, especially if the container is made of terracotta. To avoid the paint chipping or cracking, you can apply a matt or gloss varnish to seal the paint, following the manufacturer’s directions.

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

JUST ADD PLANTS

There is a useful phrase to remember when you are designing a container scheme: ‘thriller, filler and spiller’. This can be helpful when you’re working out the design for a container and how to compose your plant combinations. For example, if you have a large container, you might want some tall plants at the back to provide height (the ‘thriller’ or focus plant) and then some shorter plants to fill up the middle area of the container (the ‘filler’ plants). To finish the planting, you could choose plants that trail over the sides (the ‘spiller’ plants).

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

It is important to ensure that all containers have a drainage hole or holes in the bottom. Most plants dislike sitting in very wet soil, so excess water needs to be able to drain out of the container to prevent the potting mix becoming waterlogged. Although most containers already have drainage holes, recycled items such as metal buckets or wooden crates probably won’t. However, it is easy to make holes in these with a hammer and heavy-duty nail Just turn the container over and hit the nail hard with the hammer to make a series of holes in the bottom. You can also use an electric drill to make the holes. Containers made from stone, terracotta or ceramics cannot be treated in this way. Planting up an upcycled container.

 

These Exotic Eye Catchers Will be The Biggest Trend of All This Summer and it’s Easy to Ensure They Survive in Your Garden

Succulent: it’s such a juicy and luscious- sounding word! And it means ‘rich in desirable qualities’, which perfectly sums up this year’s biggest and best garden plant trend! Succulents have already become the must-have plant for indoors, and their hardy cousins are now topping the most-wanted list for outdoor style, too. They’re surprisingly easy to grow, and lots survive outdoors year-round. Thanks to their increasing popularity among us lazy gardeners, there are now over 3,000 different types available in the UK so there’s plenty of choice to create the right look to suit your plot, like in Joanne’s garden, see p48. You can do all sorts of creative things with succulents and now’s the perfect time to plant them and get ahead of the trend for summer.

These Exotic Eye Catchers Will be The Biggest Trend of All This Summer  and it’s Easy to Ensure They Survive in Your Garden

NEED TO KNOW

One of the most popular hardy succulents is ‘sempervivum’. Roughly translated from Latin, it means ‘always alive’ and refers to the fact they are tolerant of low temperatures and drought and need very little care – just the sort of plant we like! Also known as houseleeks, back in olden days, they were grown on the tops of houses to ward off evil spirits – and not, as some think, to fill the ‘leaks’ in the roof. They also go by the name of ‘hen and chicks’, which alludes to their habit of making lots of baby plants.

WEIRD AND WONDERFUL

Sempervivums are shaped like rosettes and have roots that grow out of the bottom. These exquisite rosettes range in size from an itsy-bitsy 1cm across to absolutely huge – up to 15cm! The leaves come in stunning colours including yellow, orange, pink and red, and are thick and fleshy because they’re full of water to survive long spells of hot, dry weather. The edges of the leaves have tiny, sharp teeth, although you’ll probably need a magnifying glass to see them! Some varieties are covered in a network of silky threads with star-shaped flowers resembling alien lifeforms. One sempervivum will produce lots of offspring, forming a mat of more rosettes but, once this mother plant has flowered, it will die and the remaining offspring will create their own roots and become mother plants in their own right.

These Exotic Eye Catchers Will be The Biggest Trend of All This Summer  and it’s Easy to Ensure They Survive in Your Garden

CREATE A TALKING POINT

Known as the cobweb houseleek, Sempervivum arachnoideum has cobwebby threads and plantlets that hang down like spider legs. Pop it on your patio table for a great conversation starter!

PLANT A STATEMENT POT

You’ll need three pots of different sizes for this display. Starting with the largest pot, cover the drainage hole with a large stone and fill three-quarters full with a gritty compost mix. Sink the next size pot into the compost and fill three-quarters with polystyrene. Pop the third and final pot on top and fill three-quarters with a gritty compost mix, and add some succulents. Top the middle pot with gravel. Add succulents and slate to the largest pot, filling in any gaps with gravel. Water the plants sparingly until just damp.

These Exotic Eye Catchers Will be The Biggest Trend of All This Summer  and it’s Easy to Ensure They Survive in Your Garden

STYLE UP A SHED WALL

Succulents only need shallow compost, so will be happy to grow anywhere, even in a length of old guttering! Spray paint it first and drill a few drainage holes in the bottom before fixing to your wall.

SUCCULENT SUCCESS

If you’re looking to buy a succulent that will grow, live and be happy all year-round in your garden with minimal TLC from you, then make sure it’s a hardy sempervivum (see our pick of the best on page 55). These sempervivums are perfectly happy in temperatures plummeting to -40°C and there are lots of fabulously different varieties to choose from. The secret to year-round sempervivum survival is to make sure it doesn’t ever get waterlogged. Plant it in compost that will drain freely – buy a specialist succulent mix or just add one-part horticultural grit to three-parts John Innes No2 Compost – and ensure the planter has plenty of drainage holes. Although they’ll grow happily in pots, a shallow trough or bowl is better as it allows them to spread. Adding a layer of grit on top of the compost will help protect plants from wet and rotting.

POT PLANTS

These Exotic Eye Catchers Will be The Biggest Trend of All This Summer  and it’s Easy to Ensure They Survive in Your Garden

If you’re prepared to move your pots under cover into a sheltered spot through the worst of the winter, then a world of choice opens up. As well as those tough sempervivums, there are lots of succulents that don’t really like the cold but love living outside in warm months. Cater for their winter whims and you can grow echeveria (the popular indoor houseplant) and aeonium (also called the tree houseleek, which can grow into the most amazing rosette-filled mini-tree). They’re absolutely fine living outdoors for most of the year, but need moving to a dry, frost-free spot before the weather turns cold. But then ignore them – it’s best not to water them through the winter.

 

CREATIVE IDEAS

There are so many cool and clever ways to use hardy succulents in your modern garden. If you’re getting creative, stick with sempervivums they need very little attention and by that we mean they love dry soil, minimal watering and a bit of neglect, so you can plant or display them pretty much anywhere. Planning your hanging baskets for this summer? Then swap the usual lots-of-effort and expensive bedding plants for a collection of flowering and trailing succulents that will bring joy all year-round instead. Plant a shallow, concrete-look bowl with sempervivums top-dressed with white gravel to bring a chic interior feel to your patio table.

These Exotic Eye Catchers Will be The Biggest Trend of All This Summer  and it’s Easy to Ensure They Survive in Your Garden

And don’t stop there! Create a succulent chandelier for your pergola: just take a few pots of green rosettes, pop a battery-operated tea light in the middle of each, tie string around each pot to make hanging loops and fix to the centre struts of the wooden structure. Sempervivums will happily grow when planted in a vertical frame, too. You’ll need a box frame (try amazon.co.uk, approximately £16). Remove the glass, drill a few drainage holes in the back of the frame, then line it with a hole-punched bin liner. Add a mix of compost and grit to the depth of the box and firm down. Fix a piece of chicken wire over the frame using a staple gun. Poke in your sempervivums, filling as much of the compost as possible so when you stand the frame upright, none falls out.

START A COLLECTION

Chick Charms (try yougarden.com, £19.99) is the brand name of a collection of varied and colourful succulents including (1) ‘Gold Nugget’ (2) ‘Bing Cherry’ (3) ‘Appletini’ (4) ‘Key Lime Kiss’ (5) ‘Cotton Candy’. Show them off at their best in matching concrete pots – try Round Cement Flower Pot, H11cm, £2.50 each hobbycraft.co.uk.

UPCYCLE TINS EASY IDEAS

Shiny Golden Syrup tins complement the matt greenery of succulents – just make drainage holes in the bottom of each tin using a hammer and nail.

CORSAIR

Add a pop of colour with these green and pink rosettes that turn red in summer. £3/9cm pot craigiehallnursery.co.uk.

JOVIBARBA HIRTA

The lime-green rosettes of ‘Emerald Joy’ look chic in a black pot topped with black gravel. £4.45/6-9cm bare root plant surrealsucculents.co.uk.

SILVER SUEDE

The soft, green leaves of this echeveria turn silvery, edged in pale lilac, during winter. £7.99/10.5cm pot waitrosegarden.com.

‘DYPSY

This stunner has deep burgundy leaves edged with silvery hairs, perfect for the current dark plant trend. £3/9cm pot craigiehallnursery.co.uk.

GOLD NUGGET

An unusual plant with flaming yellow, orange-tipped leaves. It looks amazing in a sunny corner. £9.99/10.5cm pot crocus.co.uk.

MINT MARVEL

Practically impossible to kill, this beauty has pretty red-tipped leaves and grows into large clusters. £7.99/10.5cm pot crocus.co.uk.

YOU WILL NEED

Large shallow planter with drainage holes, or small pots for individual plants @ Handful of grit/gravel Handful of Succulent Compost Mix, £5.94/1L surrealsucculents.co.uk.

WHAT TO DO

Fill the bottom of the planter with a layer of grit or gravel. Fill the planter with the succulent compost mix. Use your finger to make a hole in the compost. Pop a plant into the hole, filling it with compost so all the roots are covered, then firm the compost down around it. Add a rose to a watering can and water sparingly, so the top of the compost is just damp. 5 Position the planter in a bright, sunny spot in your garden. How to plant outdoors.

Succulents are the go-to garden plant this year they’re easy to grow, come in a myriad of colours and are very versatile. Hardy succulents also give year-round satisfaction as they don’t die or fade away in winter and most varieties offer up pretty blooms in summer. And with this house number in a pot idea, you can create a display that will make all your visitors smile!

YOU WILL NEED

Large pot with drainage holes – use the largest pot you can as the plants will continue to grow Crocks Succulent compost Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’ x 3 Small houseplant fork or spade Sempervivum ‘Pixie’ x 3 Small white chippings.

WHAT TO DO

Cover each drainage hole in the pot with a piece of broken terracotta to prevent the compost falling through and blocking it. Fill up the pot with the succulent compost to within 2cm of the rim. Carefully tip the sedums out and plant around the outer edge of your pot. Each sedum will have little offspring, which will root and soon create a bushy effect. With your finger, draw the shape of your house number in the compost. Carefully take the sempervivums out of the pots they came in, remove any excess compost to expose the roots and then cut off each rosette using a sharp knife. Use these to fill the number shape, gently pressing down the compost around each one. Sprinkle the chippings around the plants – as well as stopping the plants getting too wet, they’ll help the number to stand out. Put a rose on a watering can and water until the compost is just damp.

 

Now We can Live Outdoors as Much as We Want to

This garden is now so bright, it’s hard to imagine that it was ever the dark, uninspiring space that Amy and Fraser Claxton were first faced with when they bought their Victorian house in Dulwich, London, back in 2014. “When we first moved in, the garden was very bland with no colour,” remembers Amy. Uncared for, the north-facing garden was heavily overgrown. “There were Amy’s dream garden came together in just three months cobwebs everywhere and it always seemed to be so dark out there. It wasn’t a pleasant place to be,” Amy recalls. Having moved house because they needed more space, it seemed criminal to not be able to use the large, 13.5m-long plot. But work had to wait until the house renovations were complete. “We did the house up first, and then turned our attention to the garden,” says Amy.

3 Best Outdoor Design Inspiration

And with a stunning new kitchen complete with bifold doors that throw the house open to the outside, the pressure to transform the garden into a useable space was on. Amy and Fraser started their search for a suitable designer. Having lived in the same area for 13 years, the couple recognised a garden designer’s branding that they’d seen on various vehicles. “We wanted a designer with knowledge of how to work within The Dulwich Estate. This is a conservation area so there are stricter laws in place for planning and building,” says Amy. That designer was Kate Eyre of Kate Eyre Garden Design (eyre-design.co.uk) and, as soon as they met her, Amy and Fraser knew she was the right person for the job. The garden presented quite a challenge. “It was a bit of a mess!” admits Kate. And Amy and Fraser had high expectations for a design that would transform it into an open, modern outside living space for themselves and their three children. The family love being outdoors, whatever the weather, and enjoy eating and entertaining al fresco, so it was important that the garden included a variety of seating areas that could be used in spring, autumn and winter as well as through the summer, day and night. It also needed to cater for the needs of the family pets: a sausage dog called Slinky, a lizard named Zuko and turtle Leroy.

GARDEN GYM GOALS

Amy and Fraser wanted to build a huge garden room to be used as a gym, so the overall design had to include and work around it. “When we spent two years living in Madrid as a family, we got used to spending even more time outside,” says Amy. “We also got used to having a gym there, so we wanted to have some workout space here too.” Measuring 4.7 x 3.6m, the garden gym would take up nearly 15% of the available ground-space. “The building had to be placed a metre away from all boundaries to meet the planning restrictions and so it didn’t encroach on the neighbours,” says Kate. The positioning of the gym left a narrow strip at the rear of the garden, running alongside the building. Rather than use it as a f ti l space to store bikes or firewood Kete The positioning of the gym left a narrow strip at the rear of the garden, running alongside the building. Rather than use it as a f ti l space to store bikes or firewood created a lovely nook with seating and a fire pit, ensuring the garde could be used year-round. “I love that area at the back it’s just so cosy,” says Amy. “And now that the planting has matured, it feels really private. In winter, we toast marshmallows, and I take myself off down there all year-round for a nice gin and tonic after a hard day.

3 Best Outdoor Design Inspiration

The lighting makes being out there any time of the day or night possible and enjoyable.” The gym also made good use of the plot’s shady aspect. “The garden faces north, which did make the design a little bit tricky,” explains Kate. “The back of the plot gets no sun at all until at least midday, but this means there’s a nice shaded area to hang out in.”

LIVING SPACE

Another major challenge was the metre drop in height between the kitchen and garden. Kate’s solution was to build a good-sized deck leading directly from the kitchen, creating an outside living area and kitchen, reached via a sweep of wide steps, which felt separate from the rest of the garden. The expanse of wood is broken up with a huge planter, its walls painted a dark grey to complement the timber decking and cedar trellis. The fencing around the terrace was raised. “Because the deck is so high, we had to think about privacy and consequently raise the boundaries to compensate,” explains Kate. The outdoor kitchen area sits on the terrace right outside the kitchen doors, tucked behind huge planters. It’s clad with the same timber as the trellis fencing to tie into the rest of the garden and floored with porcelain paving to create a distinct zone. The paving is easy to keep clean and unifies this outside living area with the house interior, and plenty of weatherproof storage ensures there’s no clutter. “The outdoor kitchen was such an important feature,” says Amy. “We had Fraser’s Big Green Egg ceramic barbecue (£995, big green egg.co. uk) built in.”

3 Best Outdoor Design Inspiration

PRETTY PLANTING

To select a colour scheme, Kate created mood boards for Amy and Fraser to look through. “They went for a simple palette of white, purple and blue,” says Kate. “It’s really relaxing on the eye because we limited the plants to a repetition of just four or five different varieties. It’s a really simple and effective approach and looks great in the dark grey planters.” The containers run down the left-hand side of the garden, stopping just before the gym and firepit area, and are filled with easy-to-grow, low-maintenance blooms. Although the colour scheme is simple, a variety of strong shapes brings lots of interest. Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ is the star of the show with huge, round white flowers in summer, with a supporting cast of blousy echinacea ‘White Swan’ lasting well into October. A purple punch is provided by geranium ‘Rozanne’, which spreads into beautiful trails so it’s perfect in large planters, and the tall elegant stems of Verbena bonariensis. The quirky, spiky blooms of echinops ‘Veitch’s Blue’ add a sophisticated blue hue. A leafy backdrop to show off all this flowery loveliness is provided by pittosporum ‘Variegatum’, an evergreen shrub with silvery grey-green foliage edged in white, and golden Mexican feather grass. “We are so happy with the results, especially now that the plants have matured a bit,” says Amy. “We gave Kate a free rein – we just loved her ideas so no compromise was necessary. I turned 40 last July, so I had a big party, which meant I got to use the garden to host 70 friends. I can’t wait for this summer, when the plants will be even bigger and we get to entertain out here more and more!”