Springtime is usually seen as the season to give your home an overhaul, but for us, this part of the year is merely the precursor to the most inspirational season of all – summer. Whereas spring is the time to get things tidy and to give your home a thorough cleaning, summer presents the opportunity to create an entirely new design on the clear canvas of a newly spring-cleaned home.
Sometimes, all it takes is a new coat of paint on walls, doors and ceilings to completely refresh the look of your home, and we love any opportunity that allows us to go wild with different colours and shades. The summer palette is all about light, breezy hues which relate to the colours we’re currently seeing during the sunnier days of the year. Create a continuous stream of light which carries through the windows and into your living room, bedroom; and, in fact, any other room in your home by painting walls in a sunshine yellow. If you prefer the textures and patterns wallpapers can provide, opt for lighter shades with intricate patterns rather than papers with huge block designs. The more delicate the design, the more summery the feel.
It’s long been known that natural sunlight is a fantastic mood enhancer, and so you should ensure you make the most of summer’s lighter, brighter days by ensuring your bedroom captures as much natural light as possible. Swap heavy curtains that served their purpose during the winter for lighter, translucent drapes to maximise the amount of sunlight that enters the room. Treat yourself to brand spanking new furniture and take a look at the Bedstar range of wooden beds in white which will bring a fresh summery look to your bedroom. White furniture will really brighten up the room, so look out for wardrobes and drawers in a glossy white finish to complete your bedroom in a contemporary, seasonal style.
Adorning your home with blooming house plants is a fantastic way of having a constant reminder that summer’s here, even on the not-so sunny days. Select colours and species that make your heart sing, and of course, ones that match your carefully considered colour scheme. Decorate your kitchen windowsill with herb pots to add fragrance to the room and extra flavour to your cooking. Plants are extremely versatile in that they can perk up any room in the home, and you should feel free to mix and match the types of plants you place around your home. Pet owners should be aware that some plants are toxic to animals, so do research which ones are safe to be around your little critters.
We’re on summer time – the nights are getting shorter, the days are getting longer. The earth is warming up, it’s time to get some seeds sprouting. Some seeds can go straight out into open ground or outdoor pots & planters. Many other seeds are a little more delicate and need a helping hand. Windowsill propagators are the perfect tools for the job.
This week, I’m finding it hard to choose the best of the three, each has its own plus points. The cheap Jiffy comes with biodegradable ‘pot strips’, so there’s no need to disturb the fragile little roots when planting out. The mid-range Marshalls offering comes with trays that can hold up to 48 cells, so pricking out won’t be necessary. The Super 7 has a heated tray which means that seeds will germinate earlier, more quickly and more successfully. Quite an asset if your windowsills are as cold as ours!
- Jiffy 20 strip windowsill propagator: £6.00, Suttons
- Windowsill propagator kit: £14.95, Marshalls
- Garland Super 7 windowsill propagator: £25.99, Keen Gardener
Did you watch any of the Chelsea Flower Show last month? Were you lucky enough to visit in person? We were glued to the screen on every day. We were in agreement that Dan Pearson’s garden should win best in show.
However, it was the flower marquee that effected the most ‘oohs’ & ‘ahhs’ from us. The colourful, perfectly poker straight lupins; the bright, almost radioactive daffodils; the delicate lilies and all the exotic & alien-looking blooms shipped in from around the world.
The sights made us feel slightly inferior about our own outside area. Our flowering dolly tubs that began flowering way back in January have now just about gone over. We’re now thinking about what perennials we can add to extend the colour and structure beyond June.
As we’ve said in the past, we love planting bulbs and seeds that can just be left to flower, die back and reappear again even bigger & stronger the following year. Here are some perennials to plant in the summer that we have our eye on.
- Chinese lantern ‘alkekengi‘ – 200 seeds: 99p, eBay
- Himalayan blue poppy ‘meconopsis baileyi’ Hensol Violet – 40 seeds: £2.99, Thompson Morgan
- Foxglove ‘digitalis’ Woodlanders Mix – 500 seeds: £1.99, Marshalls Seeds
- Teasel ‘dispacus fullonum’ – 160 seeds: £2.49, Suttons
- Noble lupin collection: £14.99, Crocus
Last autumn, we did some forward planning.
It was November to be precise – and we went to our local garden centre and chose a selection of spring bulbs.
We had two of these lovely old galvanised dolly tubs originally used for washing clothes. They make such great planters in terms of looks and the fact that they don’t shatter after a frost.
Their large size & depth also provides the necessary space to have layers of bulbs which allows a succession of flowering and gives continued interest over many months.
The first green shoots appeared in January when the snowdrops popped their noses above soil level.
Snow drops in the snow – an exquisite sight!
They were followed in late February by the crocuses – a wonderful shot of colour after a long, drab winter.
April saw the daffodils in their prime…
…and the tulips arrived in May.
It’s been a real success – starting with the simple beauty of snowdrops and ending with a gorgeous mix of colour, scent and forms. Here’s a list of the bulbs we planted if you’d like to try it yourself. After each layer, add a little extra compost to cover the bulbs before adding the next layer:
Bottom layer (planted first) – Tulips Triumph Mistress of Darkness
Layer 2 – Narcissus Spring Fragrance Mixed
Layer 3 – Crocus Vernus Mixed Colours
Top layer (planted last): Snowdrops Single
Lots of the plants in our garden are in need of potting on. In the past couple of years, some of the plants have become pot-bound, crying out for a bit of leg room. We used to have lots of lovely terracotta pots but after a couple of harsh, cold winters most of them have cracked and shattered.
Little by little, we’ve been replacing the terracotta with more hardy galvanised versions. We’re in the market for quite a few more metal planters. We love vintage dolly tubs but they can be quite dear – some fetching about the £50 mark.
Galvanised metal planters looks great in groups of different sizes and shapes and some have lovely corrugated patterns. Here are some of the best ones we’ve found.
- Fallen Fruits balcony zinc rectangular planter: £13.99, Wayfair
- Two aged zinc troughs – £45, Cox & Cox
- Single galvanised pot: from £2.99, Crocus
- SOCKER plant pot: £6.50, IKEA
- Galvanised iron planter: £7.95, by Ella James on Notonthehighstreet
Our potatoes have been chitted & planted out, the first of our veg seedlings have sprouted, it’s time to start thinking about getting some tomatoes started.
Our garden (and allotment for that matter) is really shady, a definite no-no for sun-worshipping toms. The sun only hits our back garden from around 1pm, and only at a height of 4 foot and above. We have a tall south-facing fence so we’ve decided to try growing tumbling tomatoes along it. We have a couple of hanging baskets and just bought some hanging grow bags.
Mark Ridsdill Smith aka the Vertical Veg Man recommends ‘Cherry Cascade’ for hanging baskets. In a Telegraph gardening trial ‘Hundreds and Thousands’ came out tops. After some research, we’ve come up with this short-list of tumbling tomato contenders.
- Tomato ‘Tumbling Tom Yellow’ (10 seeds): £2.25, Marshalls
- Tomato ‘Gartenperle’ (25 seeds): £1.49, Crocus
- Tomato ‘Cherry Falls’ (15 seeds): £3.19, Mr Fothergill’s
- Tomato ‘Romello’ F1 hybrid (6 seeds): £3.99, Thompson & Morgan
- Tomato ‘Hundreds and Thousands’ (8 seeds): £3.99, Suttons