Green and Pleasant

Posts in this category focus on gardening and green space advice for those little and not so little green fingers! As a family we love our garden. It really is another room for us to use during the summer months – a play area, somewhere to sit and relax and somewhere to grow flowers and watch the bees. At the same time we know that maintaining a garden and keeping on top of all the jobs can be a time consuming business. Posts in this category are designed to help with simple and time-effective ideas and inspiration for using your garden or any indoor green space to it’s full potential, and also making creative and gorgeous spaces too!

Inexpensive Solar Garden and Patio Lighting Ideas

With spring in full bloom (or should that be blossom?!) and the nights getting shorter, thoughts inevitably turn to sitting in the garden of an evening.

From dusk until late evening, it’s easy to transform your garden or patio with the right lighting. Here are a few ideas which will help spark your imagination to plan that perfectly lit summer garden. As they are solar lights they don’t require an electrician or a big budget either!

Inexpensive Solar Garden and Patio Lighting Ideas

Solar String Lights

For quick and instant appeal, nothing can beat the soft chic light of solar café-style lights strung overhead, and they are so inexpensive, you can use them generously for very little expense. They work draped around conservatories, sheds and outhouses – or strung across a defined area.

Solar Cafe-Style String Lights.
bents.co.uk | Solar Light Bulb Pack

 

Available in various shapes, sizes and lengths, they are a great way to sprinkle a little light across your outdoor spaces. Smaller string lights, like these by Sarah Raven, work beautifully too!

Solar Stakes

Solar landscape lighting can ramp up the ambience of your garden or patio. Generally not enough to light up an outdoor space on their own, solar stake lights and solar crooks work well in conjunction with string lights. Use bushes, a patio or a pathway to provide the focus for your solar stake and crook lights.

Solar Crook Lanterns
ethical superstore.com | Solar Crook Coach Lanterns
ethical superstore.com | Bluebell Stake Light

 

Decorative Solar Lights

Decorative solar lights, including colourful blown glass lights and decorative lanterns, are often not as bright as solar path lights. However, used in clusters and groups they can provide a warm ambient glow and create a stylish decoration for your garden areas.

Solar Cornish Lanterns
ethical superstore.com | Solar Powered Cornish Sea Lantern
ethical superstore.com | Glow Gem Jar

 

Solar Spot Lights

The brightest solar lights available are spotlights, and some can provide light roughly equivalent to a 40-watt bulb. Motion-sensing solar spotlights can be placed in the garden, with the beam of light directed at a tree or landscape feature.

glow.co.uk | Solar Spot Light

 

Finally, remember all solar lights are powered by the sun! Whatever style you choose, they must be placed in an area that receives full sun — preferably eight or more hours per day.

Solar lights are on my shopping list for this year! I have had lots of  inspiration from Ethical Superstore  – do take a look!

Do you use outdoor solar lighting? Which styles do you use?  I’d love to hear your ideas and tips in the comments section below! You can also visit my Pinterest board for more styling ideas.

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Town and Country Garden Style

Spring has finally arrived (even if the weather still seems a little undecided on certain days!) and I’m on a mission to get ahead with our garden this year.

We’ve already had a major tidy of certain areas, and our garden path, patio and flower beds are looking much neater and tidier. I’ve moved a few plants around and tidied and moved some of our pots too! At the moment it’s so far so good!

Town and Country Garden Style

Gardening, especially at the beginning of the gardening year, can be physically tiring and challenging. I’m now on a mission to get fitter and keep on top of the weeds! A few tools of the trade really help me too! So here’s my guide to some super stylish yet very practical garden aids…

1. Garden Gloves

Town and Country aim to bring the very best in style, quality and performance. As well as talking to their customers about what they want from certain products, they look to the fashion arena for inspiration. They keep a close eye on the latest trends in colours, patterns and designs. Their garden gloves are the best I’ve used, and I’m a big fan of their Master Gardener gloves, which I have in several colours!

Master Gardener Gloves | Pink

 

They offer protection against thorns and other sharp objects and have an excellent grip both in wet and dry conditions. The outstanding fit and snug wrist means there is no loss of touch. Therefore, they are now officially ranked the UK’s best selling gardening glove – with one pair sold every minute.

2. Garden Tidy

I absolutely love their Limited Edition Garden Tidy. It is ideal for collecting grass cuttings, weeds and other garden waste. It pops up to full size (69cm high by 58 cm diameter with a capacity of 182 litres) and folds flat for easy storage. As a result, it is light and easy to carry, even though it is made from a tough water-resistant material. I now use it all the time and wouldn’t be without it!

Garden Tidy | Limited Edition Grey

 

3. Master Gardener Bypass Secateur

No gardener can be without a good pair of secateurs! These chrome plated carbon steel blades have a comfort grip handle for ease of use, with built in safety catch. They easily cut branches and stems up to 2cm thick.

4. Eva Cloggies

Perfect for when you want to pop out into the garden for a few minutes but don’t want to get fully changed into your wellies! I love these cloggies, perfect cushioning, comfort and surprisingly lightweight!

Eva Cloggies | Pink

 

Happy gardening!

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A special thank you to Town and Country who kindly sent me their Garden Tidy for review. 

Designs on Houseplants

I must admit that when it comes to being green fingered, I’m not always that lucky! I have much more success in my garden than I do inside my home! Having said that, I love houseplants! They are having a real revival at present and there are many super stylish ways to show them off!

For today’s blog post I thought I’d share with you some houseplant design inspiration. There are some amazingly creative ideas out there, and I’m keen to try a few myself!

Designs on Houseplants

My Pinterest board provides lots of inspiration, but here are a few of my favourite highlights…

Create a Small Vignette

I’ve previously extolled the virtues of creating small and interesting vignettes, and houseplants work well too! Grouping houseplants looks really effective and is beneficial to the plants, too. Keeping plants in close proximity to each other boosts humidity. This helps the plants stay healthier and thrive a bit longer between watering.

Image from ‘Fall for DIY’.

 

Think Vertical

Vertical gardens are becoming increasingly popular both inside and out! They are perfect if you are looking to add a wall feature. Palettes and old cupboard draws work well as they can be filled with various mosses, air plants and succulents. Air plants are the simplest and easiest, because they require no soil. Succulents require very little soil, so using shallow containers isn’t an issue! To maintain the plants simply spray with water as required!

Ladders can achieve a similar effect when propped up against a wall.

Image from ‘Organic Daily Post’
Image from ‘Burkatron’

 

Terrarium Style

Terrariums come in many shapes, sizes and styles. You can hang them or buy a table-top design.That’s what makes them great plant containers for just about any space. They also look super chic and can work in any interior design scheme, from country cottage to urban chic!

Image from ‘Garden Pics and Tips’.

 

Add A Little Detail

Whatever plants you choose or use, you want to show them off to their best advantage.This means thinking not only about where you display your plants to their best advantage, but also what you put them in! Containers come in all different shapes, sizes and colours – don’t be afraid to experiment and find something which suits the plant and the location it’s in! Even terracotta pots can look quirky and interesting!

Image from ‘What Olivia Did’.
Image from ‘Growing Spaces’.

 

Whatever you choose, and however you display it, have a little fun! And remember, houseplants are great for purifying and refreshing the air we breathe. They are also great for balancing humidity and improving concentration!

Happy styling!

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LikeThat Garden App

Today I’m thrilled to launch a new series of posts on some of my favourite apps. I tend to be quite selective about the apps I use, as I really don’t want to load too many onto my phone and then forget to use them! However, every so often I find a new app which I love and so I thought I’d share one or two of them with you each month! This month it’s the LikeThat Garden app.

LikeThat Garden App

As you know, I love flowers and photographing them is my passion! They often fill my Instagram feed and I recently wrote a post about how to photograph them to their best advantage. I enjoy growing flowers in my garden, it’s lovely to be able to wander outside, pick some and bring them into the house to enjoy and use for my photography.

likethat-garden-app
Identify unknown flowers instantly!

 

I am working hard on a cut flower garden for the summer and enjoy wandering around garden centres and parks and open spaces for ideas and inspiration. Garden centres are great for finding and being able to identify new plants, but what do you do if you’re out and suddenly see something in a park, garden or public place with no helpful label to identify it?

The LikeThat Garden App is just perfect! Simply take a photo of the flower or plant, upload it to the app and wait a few seconds for it to identify and name your flower – perfect! It really does work well provided you have taken a clear photo, and you are then instantly able to identify your flower via high resolution photos and detailed species name and descriptions. I have tried and tested the app several times and the results have been impressive!

I can’t wait to do some flower spotting this spring and summer and I’d love to hear from you if you use or have been using the LikeThat Garden App!

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Stacks of Flavour

As many of you will know, I’m a little obsessed with gardening! Although I have a relatively small garden, I love filling it with flowering plants in an attempt to make my own cut-flower garden. The added benefit is I now enjoy the fruits of my labour with lots of beautiful flowers for my photography and styling.

gardening
From our garden…

 

Like many families, we have also become keen ‘Grow Your Own’ gardeners, and our children are wonderfully enthusiastic about growing their own fruits and vegetables. There is nothing nicer than watching my son and daughter venture out into the garden to harvest their very own strawberries and cherry tomatoes, picked freshly, eaten quickly and grown organically!

French Beans
Herb Crate

 

My journey along the whole ‘Grow Your Own’ movement started with a gift from my husband, the brilliant Crops in Pots book, which showed me how easy it was to grow your own fruit and vegetables in a relatively small space. Since then we’ve dabbled quite a bit with growing things in pots!

Stacks of Flavour

I do, however, love the look of vintage crates, so when Stacks of Flavour contacted me, I just had to have a look! For Stacks of Flavour it’s all about making fresh, flavoursome, home-grown fruit and vegetables accessible to everyone, no matter what their gardening experience or how tiny a space they have.

stacks-of-flavour
Ready to harvest…

 

Their vintage crates look wonderful, and can be personalised for free! They would make great Christmas gifts for someone who’s ready to take the plunge and have a go at growing their own food, and harvesting it in as little as 8-10 weeks! The crates are stackable, so prefect if your available space is at a premium.

There are lots of options available, we really like the Speedy Leaves collection (perfect for impatient children!) and the cleverly named Pizzabox with the world’s first fully blight resistant tomato (so you really can’t go wrong!) which is ideal for cooking or salads, with a classic combination of basil and oregano.

Do pop over and take a look at Stacks of Flavour, they have plenty of ideas and a really user-friendly website which gives you lots of step by step planting and growing guidance via useful videos and pictures.

I’m going to add them to my Christmas ‘To Give’ list, and possibly make a few hints about getting one too!

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Bee Friendly Gardens

In the last 80 years our bumblebee populations have crashed. Two species have become nationally extinct and several others have declined dramatically. Bumblebees are familiar and much-loved insects who pollinate our crops and wildflowers, so people are rightly worried.

These are the opening words on the Bee Conservation website, and they are sobering words indeed. We are all aware of the crisis our bee population is in, and the work of this trust and other ‘bee friendly’ organisations is critical to their, and our, survival.

bee-friendly-gardening
How bee friendly is your garden?

 

The Bee Conservation Trust has a vision for a different future in which our communities and countryside are rich in bumblebees and colourful flowers, supporting a diversity of wildlife and habitats for everyone to enjoy.

Bee Friendly Gardens

As a gardener who loves flowers I have been trying to do my bit as well, and thought I’d share some tips on how to become more bee friendly too!

1. Ensure you plant flowers which are rich in pollen from early spring right through to late summer.

2. Opt for flowers which are generally open in shape and style so the pollen is quickly and easily accessible.

3. Avoid pesticides and ‘bug killers’ as these can harm bees, even if it wasn’t your intention to do so.

4. Spread the word – share this post, your ideas and maybe even plant seeds and cuttings with those around you locally!

Your local garden centre will be able to help you, and I have started to use the #beefriendly hashtag on my flower pictures on my Instagram feed too! The Bee Conservation website also has a super Bumble Kids section you might want to explore…

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Plantabox Crates

Spring is well and truly here, and I just love it! The days are getting longer, the evenings are lighter and my garden has come alive with new growth and flowers… Everything seems vibrant, colourful and fresh – and its really made me want to spend as much time as possible in the garden!

plantabox-crates
My garden, coming into leaf and bloom…

I recently received two medium personalised Plantabox Crates for my children, and they are now out of their boxes and waiting to be planted! We’ve been to the Garden Centre and both children have chosen their plants – I’ll do another post in a week or two showing the boxes planted and looking beautiful! (We’ve had a couple of minor frosts in the last week and are waiting for guaranteed frost free nights!)

Plantabox Crates

plantabox-crates
Pretty in pink…

The medium personalised wooden crate planter is easy to move around, and my children see it as their own perfect mini garden! The crate is 40cm x 31cm x 14cm, professionally treated and coloured, made of sustainable FSC pine and can be personalised with 20 characters per line.

plantabox-crates
Forget-Me-Not Blue…

It includes a planting liner and came via secure tracked delivery – the process from ordering to receiving couldn’t have been more straightforward and efficient! The packaging was brilliant too!

I can’t recommend Plantabox enough! Do pop over and take a look at their website, there are lots of lovely things to choose from, and they make great gifts!

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Grow Your Own Cottage Garden

During these wet and windy grey January days it’s lovely to think ahead to spring and summer, and to all the lovely flowers which will be appearing in our gardens, parks and open spaces soon.

I was recently given a super lovely gift by my husband, a Kew Royal Botanic Gardens ‘Grow Your Own Cottage Garden’ box.

grow-your-own-cottage-garden
Grow Your Own Cottage Garden
Grow Your Own Cottage Garden

This gorgeous box contains all you need to start growing a complete cottage garden. There are nasturtium, poppy, cornflower and sweet pea seeds. The kit contains peat free compost and the planting trays are cleverly made out of the box itself, nothing is wasted! There are recycled plant labels too!

The Kew Gardens Grow Your Own range also a Chilli Garden, and Italian Salad Garden and Herb and Spice boxes too. Some of their range can also be purchased from John Lewis.

grow-your-own-cottage-garden
Grow Your Herb and Spice Garden

They have also produced some very clever Pocket Pouches which I’m going to try! The pouches, developed especially for Kew, have a selection of their most popular plants which can be grown easily in the smallest space.

Ideal for families who want to grow their own but don’t have the space.

grow-your-own-cottage-garden
Pocket Pouches and Grow Your Own Boxes

I had a lovely time planting up the first of our trays with my daughter. She choose to plant the Cornflower and Sweet Pea seeds. We will let you know how they progress!

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Spectacular Seedbom Flower Fun!

As I mentioned previously, we have some major building work scheduled for this summer, and I’m determined we get to sit, relax and enjoy the fruits of our labours!

I do love gardening (when I get the time!) and visits to garden centres, country parks and time spent in our own garden has meant both my children are quickly acquiring an interest in growing things and in nature generally.

I’m really pleased about this and want to develop it further… and I’ve found a brilliant seedbom flower project which should do just that!

Spectacular Seedbom Flower Fun!

Some time ago I wrote about a super company called Little Cherry who provide eco-friendly party suppliers, a wonderful find! They have a big range of great eco-friendly products, including seedboms!

Seedbom Flower Fun
The Seedbom Range

Seedboms contain specially selected seeds, handmade in the UK from recycled, organic, eco-friendly and biodegradable materials. The packaging is produced from 95% pre and post consumer waste, is printed using vegetable based inks and is glue free.

They can be thrown into your garden, plant pot or window box. – it’s as simple as soak it, throw it and grow it!

Seedbom Flower Fun
Soak It, Throw It, Grow It!

As our garden is going to be ‘disturbed’ this summer, we opted to use a couple of large garden pots – my son has planted a bee pollinator beebom and my daughter a cornflower one! They are both so excited, and we can’t wait to see the results this summer!

My Instagram Seedboms!

I’ll certainly be buying a few of these… they’re brilliant for small gifts and party bag items: fun, creative and eco-friendly all at the same time!

I’ll keep you posted on our seedbom flower fun, and on another project from Little Cherry – more on that next time!

Carol x

P.S I’ve just started a Little Green Fingers Pinterest Board for more ideas, why not check it out!