Get their look: Tropical look courtyard garden

Tropical look courtyard gardencredit

This tropical look courtyard garden is something we could happily live with. Our garden is a of a similar size and is laid with granite setts. We’re never going to have manicured lawns and large, cascading perennial borders. However, it does lend itself to this kind of look – an intimate, welcoming space. Perfect to accommodate relatively small scale beds, some containers & pots, a seating area and perhaps a barbecue.

The garden pictured above is located in a built up part of London – arguably the warmest area of the country. Tropical plants such as bananas and palm trees are easily grown in the capital. Up here in the rainy, frost-prone North they need a little more care & attention.

We love big, showy, architectural plants; they’re contrarily suited to small-scale gardens. Our garden is quite sheltered, but damp & shady in parts too – and often very cold in the winter. Some plants do well… others not so keen.

When we first moved to our current house 15 years ago, we planted a black bamboo in the ground and it’s flourishing – reaching heights of about 20 feet! Other tropical (or tropical-looking) plants that we’ve managed to successfully nurture in our decidedly temperate back garden include Fatsia Japonica, Rheum palmatum and Gunnera manicata.

  1. Phyllostachys Bissetii (Bamboo)
  2. Musa basjoo (Japanese banana)
  3. Canna indica (Indian shot)
  4. Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ (Taro or Elephant ear)
  5. Agapanthus Africanus
  6. Hedychium Densiflorum (Ginger lily)
  7. Dicksonia Antarctica (New Zealand tree fern)

Get their look: Tropical look courtyard garden | H is for Home

4 new gardening trends to try in 2017

4 new gardening trends to try in 2017

Many recent studies indicate that time spent in and amongst nature plays an instrumental role in reducing stress and improving general health & well-being. Fortunately, due to modern advancements, it’s not necessary to go into the woods to spend time with nature. You can do so in the comfort of your own home, office or garden.

No longer are we limited by climate, rainfall, space, and soil conditions when it comes to growing plants. The advancement in modern techniques and technology enables virtually any available space to be transformed into a plant haven. Here are four new gardening trends to consider.

Vegetable seedlings

  1. Growing herbs & vegetables indoors

Indoor gardening techniques and equipment have improved in leaps and bounds over recent years. People are often choosing (or being forced) to live in smaller spaces without large gardens, whilst at the same time the demand for local and organic food has increased tremendously. Hence, many are opting to grow their own herbs, salads and other vegetables such as pak choi and chillies indoors. You can also grow your own herbal plants for infused teas, soaps or medicinal treatments. A windowsill is a perfect site for all this. You might also have a small balcony area that you can dedicate to these plants; or, failing that, grow plants under lights or use aquaponic systems.

Swallow greenhousecredit

  1. Greenhouses

If you do have some outdoor space, it doesn’t need to be large or expansive in order to grow your own food. You can have a Swallow greenhouse installed in your backyard or flat roof terrace. These greenhouses are specifically manufactured to help grow delicate plants that require specific conditions. They are constructed of timber that is heat-treated up to 215ºC, protecting the construction from rotting. Hence, you can be assured of the durability of Swallow greenhouses as they’re built to handle cold and damp weather conditions with ease. If you’re considering installing a Swallow greenhouse in your backyard or other potentially suitable space, pay a visit to the site greenhousestores.co.uk.

Cacti and succulent house plants

  1. Jungle and desert-inspired interiors

A trend that has been gaining momentum recently is grouped collections of house plants. If you browse magazines and interiors websites, you’ll see that many home-owners are using house plants to decorate their homes – arranged in wonderful assemblages of various sizes and shapes. Many have broad, glossy, architectural leaves and others cascade down from shelves and hanging planters. This gives quite a jungle-inspired feel and they’re currently all the rage.

The same can be said of cacti and other succulents. Again, they’re arranged in concentrated collections for maximum impact. Various pot colours & sizes – and using alternative containers such as up-cycled tins can add further interest. When decorating your home, consider these bold and intriguing house plants – for both the natural air purification benefits and to make a real interiors statement.

Click Grow house planting kit

  1. Hi-tech gardening tools

There’s some great new technology on the market for the both the experienced and aspiring gardener.

There is a growing range of apps available for your smartphone or tablet. There are plant identifiers such as the RHS ‘Grow Your Own’ which tells you what fruit & veg you can grow; when to plant and harvest and what pests and diseases you may encounter. There are also a number of podcasts that you can download and watch to improve your gardening knowledge.

The Parrot Flower Power plant monitor is a little device that you stick into your plant’s pot (either indoors or out) and it monitors and analyses the growing conditions. It sends you alerts to your smartphone via an app to let you know if the plant needs more or less light, water, warmth or even if it needs to be re-potted!

If there are rooms in your house that get little natural sunlight, you may find it a challenge to grow plants successfully. This dilemma has now been solved. There are now planting kits that come with integrated LED lights to ensure that your plants get all the light they need.

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Price Points: Strawberry pots

Strawberry pots | H is for Home

Our summer fruit harvest has been pretty good this year. We have a few strawberry plants that have produced lots of fruit – and now, dozens of runners between them. We don’t want to just cut them back and waste them. Also, you shouldn’t just keep the same strawberry plants, growing on the same plot (or in the same soil) year after year, as they accumulate viruses – and crops diminish.

About three years is the optimum life for a strawberry plant apparently, so we’re going to propagate a few over the coming weeks. We had a look at what the venerable Monty Don had to say on how to go about it – and it’s incredibly easy. You can never have too many strawberry plants because you can never have too many strawberries!

Here’s a trio of different strawberry pots – from less than a tenner to over £50 – which we’ve found that would be perfect for our allotment and garden…

  1. Large 45-litre plastic herb / strawberry planter / grow bag: £7.95, Amazon
  2. Terracotta strawberry pots: £35.00, Etsy
  3. Terracotta strawberry planter: £64.99, Crocus

Take to the stage!

Top of trestle staging | H is for Home

We’ve recently been sent this wooden trestle staging by First Tunnels, a polytunnel and garden structure firm based in Barrowford – not that far from us, over the Lancashire border.

Wooden trestle staging | H is for Home

We’ve been in need of a potting station on our allotment, however, we thought we’d have a dry run and assemble it in the garden before taking it down there.

Bottom shelf of trestle staging | H is forHome

In fact, we needn’t have worried about a tricky construction. No tools, nails, screws or allen keys were required – job done in 30 seconds flat! The kit came in a single piece; all that was needed was for the folded, hinged legs to be stabilised with a metal pin on either end and the under-shelf slid under.

Detail showing hinge of trestle staging | H is for Home

The trestle staging is made of planed, tanalised pine – First Tunnels is FSC certified which means all the wood they use is responsibly sourced. It’s not just ideal for the allotment; it can be used in the garden, conservatory, potting shed, greenhouse, garage or boot room.

Detail from wooden trestle staging | H is for Home

It’s 6ft wide and the under-shelf is useful for storing tools, pots and watering cans whilst the top is the perfect height for sowing seeds and potting on. The structure is very sturdy – it can easily support heavy things such as tomato grow bags and bags of potting compost.

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Price Points: Tomato supports

Tomato supports | H is for Home

A couple of months ago, we planted out a few packets of tomato seeds, including some that were sent to us by Heinz. Fast-forward to June and we have about 3 dozen plants that are fast outgrowing their pots and need to be planted out on our allotment.

Last year’s crop was very disappointing; some of it was down to the weather, but if I’m being truthful, they were a little neglected and were in dire need of some tomato supports.

We’re really impressed by the plant halos (#2). They’ve had lots of good reviews and it’s claimed that they can boost your yield as it encourages two sets of roots to develop.

We didn’t really think about using tomato grow bags on the allotment, the tomato plants have always gone into beds – in which case frames #1 or #2 would work well. However, if planting into the ground isn’t an option – or you’ve had good results with grow bags, there’s currently an offer on a set of halos with an eco-friendly reusable grow bag for £17.00. We don’t have a greenhouse ourselves, but we might actually try one on a windowsill to test and compare results.

  1. Tomato support cage: £7, Wilko
  2. Tomato plant halos (set of 3): £10.95, Harrod Horticultural
  3. Fold-a-frame: £19.99, Suttons

Price points: Terrarium

terrarium choices | H is for Home

Terrarium? Terraria? Terrariums? Which is the correct plural term? Following on from last week’s cactus lights round-up, today we’re looking at the real thing.

We don’t have that many house plants, but we seem to be able to maintain our little collection of cacti and succulents. A terrarium is the ideal micro-climate for housing these kind of plants; keeping them in this way makes these low-maintenance plants almost no-maintenance!