Triple temptation: Garden Furniture

As the completion of our kitchen comes to an end, the outside space is also getting underway. As our kitchen is above full height cellars, the ground floor level is about 1m above the garden. So we can step directly out instead of going up and down stairs, we are building a deck that the bifold doors open onto and I’m keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that it is finished this week.


IKEA Harmano Garden suite, £179 // John Lewis Madrid outdoor furniture £1475 (for what is pictured) // Palermo right-hand corner sofa, Next £699

Having spent so much money on everything else, garden furniture just isn’t in the budget right now, but I’m loathe to have an empty deck, or be unable to enjoy the rest of the summer months (hello maternity leave!) after working so hard on this space. I had been browsing at outdoor seating options for this area but they are all so expensive – we are looking for a sofa style seating solution, as our main outdoor dining area is planned for further down the garden. I was on the point of saying blow it (with another maxed out credit card flashing before my eyes,) as I fell in love with the NEXT Palermo range, then Pete spotted this IKEA set when we were there buying a spare bed. We couldn’t believe the price and snapped it up – The cushions are a bit thin, but I’ll simply buy some different foam pads and perhaps recover them. For the price, we couldn’t say no and it doesn’t matter if it’s not a long term option.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy: Plan to revamp your garden

This weekend saw me out in my new garden for the first time. I’m characteristically so fed up of the doom and gloom in January that I want to get outside a lot. So far I have been waiting to see if any bulbs would sprout up in the garden heralding spring but there were a fair few leaves around so I decided to get out and rake them up, and after finding that there were in fact no bulbs to be seen, a quick trip to B&Q rectified that with trays of primroses and ready to grow bulbs.


Image credit: Lawson Photography

I am chomping at the bit to get the new garden planned and am bursting with ideas but waiting on the devastation that will be unleashed when we start the work to the kitchen and outdoor deck area. Adding to that we plan to knock down the double garage and create a dining area there, so 75% of the garden will be changed. As a result, I thought today would be a good time to share some pictures of my old garden, something I have never shared on the blog before and to also tell you that the old house is featured in this months Good Homes magazines – on the shelves now!

I was contacted early last year by a freelance journalist who suggested I send in my home to a magazine but I was a bit slow in getting my act together. Fast forward almost 6 months later and I realised that we were running out of time and it would be a lovely momento of a house I have been very happy in. Laura and Peter Lawson kindly agreed to come round and shoot the house and Good Homes said they were interested. I’m so happy with the images and I’ll be sharing more here soon but in the meantime do go and buy the magazine – I have to confess, I’m not a regular Good Homes reader but I was thrilled to be featured in the ‘Bold & Bright’ issue and felt it couldn’t have been more suited to my style – I’ve got so much inspiration for the new house from it already!

Anyway, back to the garden!


Image credit: Lawson Photography

When we moved in the garden was a typical terraced concrete yard with some bizarre attempt at decking outside the back doors that covered about ⅔ of the ground and was edged by stair bannister railing! One of my biggest priorities coming from a flat was to create an outside area and so we paid a handyman £100 to come with a pickaxe and bash up the concrete and take away the decking. Best £100 I think I have ever spent!


Image credit: Lawson Photography

One of the things I loved about the garden was that it was walled, which worked to our advantage in the summer as the walls held and radiated the suns heat back in to the garden, long after it had sunk beneath the houses behind. However the walls also created pockets of deep shade that needed careful planting. We couldn’t maintain a lawn in that space (nor could we store a lawnmower!) so we opted for gravel with a patio for outdoor entertaining.


Image credit: Lawson Photography

The patio flags came from a local builders yard and came in packs that made a 2m square patio area. We bought 2 and instead of arranging them squarely created an irregular edge and used a few spares to make a stepping stone path to the back gate. After the concrete came up we were left with an uneven mud pit and spent a weekend levelling it, creating some planting beds around the edges with a victorian style rope edging tile, underlaying the gravel area with weed proof membrane, laying the patio and making 2 steps down from the house.


Image credit: Lawson Photography

After that the planting was a work in progress. It started off with a lot of flowers and some favourite shrubs but found the flowers high maintenance in such a dry garden (made worse by them being close to the wall,) and some of the shrubs grew too big. Over time I chose different plants – shrubs like the hydrangea which provided summer colour without leaving a hole in the border come winter, montbretia (crocosmia) for structure and an olive tree suited to the warm dry conditions. I also made the most of the walls but growing clematis, climbing roses and a rampant clematis montana around them. It ended up pretty wild but felt like a little oasis.



Image credit: Lawson Photography

I added the final touches just last summer, rearranging the furniture to move our bench (a wedding gift from my mum) to create more seating on the patio, added the festoon lights (from IKEA) and some cushions (from Next) a bird box with a copper roof from Homesense and my favourite succulent, also from IKEA.


Image credit: Lawson Photography

The back gate was our only bug bear as it was practically rotting off the hinges but we opted not to replace it before we moved as we didn’t use the exit onto the alley anyway. As the plants overgrew it I liked to think it gave a bit of a secret garden appearance 🙂

So readers, I would love to hear about your garden improvements and any changes you have planned for this year. If there’s anything you want advise on, feel free to ask!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Dream Destination: Jollydays Glamping

This week, my mind just hasn’t been where it should be, and it’s only Tuesday. How I’m going to make it through to Friday heaven only knows, but what we all have to look forward to is the long bank holiday weekend. Yay for three lie-in’s and enjoying the last bit of summer before the September season finally arrives.

No sooner had I realised it was a three day weekend, then I started dreaming of what we could do with it. The first thing that sprung to mind was a trip away and it lead me to thinking that I should share this find with you: Jollydays luxury camping. I love camping, although I am picky about my conditions 😉 I like good weather and for it not to be too cold at night. I like cooking outside and I like staying up late having candlelit conversations with wine. I like stepping right outside from my bed and sniffing the air.

But I also like style, pretending I’m in the middle of some idyllic life where we all move outside for the summer and live off what we find in the woods and buy at the village shops. Am I the only one who thinks about these things?


Of course if you’re a total camping virgin or are slightly groundsheet-phobic I like that Jollydays has another option – the Deluxe Tent and luxury lodge tents with kitchen huts, showers and french windows. I love it.

Jollydays is just outside York towards the North East (see map) and because of the fires, makes a great getaway regardless of season. For more information see their website.

I’d love to hear if any of you have been glamping and if you can recommend anywhere for my first experience!?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Pots of Winter Colour

This morning I thought I’d share a little project I decided to get around to 5 years in to living in our house, although it’s more specifically a garden project.

Every year, there’s so much effort put into dressing up the summer garden with pots of colour and things can get quite drab and lifeless come the winter months, so I decided to make a winter pot. It wouldn’t make much sense (I don’t think) to do this on the scale you might do with summer colour, as you won’t be in the garden to enjoy the end results, and for that reason this pot was made for my front door step. Now it brightens every morning up for me as I leave the house and smartens up the entrance for visitors.

I headed to my local B&Q for the plants for this project and actually picked a couple up in the bargain department looking slightly below par. Once any dead leaves are picked off and they’ve had a good soak, they’re right as rain.

I chose 2 cyclamens (the flowers above, one pink and one white) one ornamental winter cabbage and some ivy. Look for a mix of plants with toning colours – my theme here was the fabulous shades of pinks, purple and silvery foliage. Also look for a variety of heights of plant to give interest. One of my Cyclamens was taller than the other and the trailing ivy helps with this, but you could also choose a mini-conifer or evergreen bush for height, depending on how big your pot is.

You’ll also need a pot ( – I recycled one which held some pretty sad looking geraniums after this years terrible summer) and some compost to fill it with if your pot is new.

After that it’s really easy….

Fill the pot with compost, or if it’s being reused, remove enough soil so that when the plants are placed into the pot, their soil is level with about an inch below the rim of your pot.

Remove the plants from their pots and arrange them, switching them around and trying different positions until you like the effect. It always looks better when they’re quite tightly packed in together.

Now add the rest of your compost. Make sure you really stuff it down the sides of the pot with your fingers, around the edges and in-between the plants so there are no air pockets which the roots of the plants won’t like.

Then give it a thorough soaking with your watering can and enjoy.

Cyclamens don’t like damp, so water thoroughly if it hasn’t rained in a week or so but don’t over-water – you need good drainage from the bottom of the pot so they don’t get waterlogged. They will keep flowering all the way through the winter if you remove the dead flowers every few days. I also purchased the hanging basket shown above from B&Q to add to the effect 🙂

So will you be making any additions to your garden this year or brightening up the front step?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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