There are some lovely trending ideas this Autumn and many of them can be easily incorporated into your home, to give it a welcoming and cosy seasonal look. This season’s colour palette comprises of all the warm autumnal colours including burnt orange, golden yellow and the essential trending shade of dark forest green.

 

The décor and theme for the season is definitely nature-inspired with the aim of bringing outdoors indoors! Following so many long months of the global pandemic, many people have realised the importance of nature for their well being and what better way to celebrate its beauty than embracing the gorgeous array of autumn shades?

 

Here we bring you 10 clever ways to give your home a fashionable new look for Autumn 2021.

1. Incorporate the autumn palette

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There are so many glorious seasonal colours to use

 

In many rooms, simply swapping throws, rugs and cushions can successfully change the character of your home. If you want a more dramatic change, why not paint one of the walls in  your living room one of the trending colours? Muted terracotta brings a truly seasonal warmth to a room and sandstone gold softens the sharpness of some décor. The top trending shade of forest green is certainly dramatic and creates a wonderful cosy ambience, but can make a room feel much smaller.

 

2. Think colour!

 

Layering’ is the buzz word in interior design and this means choosing an assortment of different patterns for use in a room but in similar tones. This design idea works particularly well in a living room as it can inject seasonal colour into a neutral palette – a great example is an assortment of new cushions in various patterns all containing forest green – this will definitely inject a dramatic new feel to your room and can be emphasised with the addition of new lush indoor plants, candles and a throw.

 

3. Think texture!

 

Texture is really important this season and works well with the new bolder fashion colours. Natural textiles are important and can be introduced into a room with wool rugs, throws and cushion covers. Textured rugs for the floor in the season’s autumnal colours work really well too and as well as enhancing the autumnal character, will be great for bare feet on colder days too. 

4. Personalise your home

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Antique treasures can be successfully combined with modern furniture

 

The pandemic has made many people stop and take stock of their lives and to realise what family items they really treasure. Family heirlooms have become very important to many and a clever mixture of old family heirlooms and contemporary pieces has started to appear. A single statement piece of antique furniture can sit comfortably alongside other contemporary pieces.

Silver is the trending metal this season, so there is plenty of opportunity to display old silver photographs, vases, candlesticks and ornaments.

 

5. Consider a statement piece of furniture

 

To help develop the autumnal colours in your rooms you can transform some old pieces of furniture by upcycling them and painting them in one of the season’s new colours. If you prefer you can transform old wooden chairs and tables by staining the wood.

 

6. Add a room divider

 

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Stylish room dividers add character and flexibility to a room

The lockdown certainly made many of us adapt our homes so they could be multi-functional and able to accommodate people working remotely from home, children on distance learning and still provide a leisure area for different generations – quite a task! Many people found that room dividers were perfect for using in open plan spaces to create smaller personal areas and the trend is continuing this autumn. There are many different fold away room dividers on the market to suit all styles of rooms. Alternatively, you can use a single large piece of furniture such as a blanket chest or sideboard to create the divide.

 

Indoor plants have enjoyed a bumper year as they have been so fashionable and if you have the space, a long trough of indoor plants provides an ideal room divider that gives privacy, lets in light and is in the season’s popular colour of forest green! If you feel that you are absolutely hopeless where indoor plants are concerned, consider using artificial plants as they look so realistic and they are impossible to kill!

 

7. Transform your kitchen!

 

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The latest styles for kitchens are rustic and characterful

After several years of sterile looking minimalistic kitchens, the new fashion statement is ‘cottage style’ which certainly has more character! Gone are the pristine white cupboards and these are replaced by darker cupboards in the colour of your choice or dark stained wood. White marble worktops are also being replaced with beautiful stone surfaces with more colour – but must still be kept totally clutter free! The latest ‘must haves’ include large statement wooden tables and attractive features such as old-fashioned scales complete with weights!

 

8. Give your bedroom a makeover!

 

Beautiful snowy white bed linen has been popular for a while now, but this Autumn is being given a softer touch with the addition of soft-coloured, textured cushions and throws and plenty of natural materials for accessories including bamboo and rattan as well as seagrass rugs.

 

Indoor plants and flowers are introducing a lovely natural theme in the bedroom, but choose plants with dark green foliage and white or neutral coloured flowers. Again, if you have problems caring for indoor plants, cheating by using beautiful artificial plants is definitely the winning way!

 

9. Introduce natural fabrics wherever possible

 

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Tactile colourful soft furnishings in natural fibres are the perfect seasonal addition

Nothing beats the introduction of natural fabrics and materials to enhance this season’s nature -inspired fashions. The careful introduction of tactile natural fabrics such as bamboo, cane, sisal and jute can easily transform a room and give it the relaxed ambiance of the seaside on a sunny day which is perfect as winter draws in!

 

If you don’t want to introduce large pieces of furniture into your rooms or don’t have the space, smaller accessories such as lampshades, waste paper baskets and plant pot covers are all really cheap but can develop the theme well.

 

If you are embracing the natural theme, why not think about reducing your global footprint at the same time and scour charity shops, online market places and garage sales to find the perfect pieces second hand?

 

10. Indoor plants are the perfect addition!

 

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Beautiful indoor plants definitely bring nature into your home

 

2021 is proving a bumper year for indoor plants so why not introduce plenty to your home this autumn? Indoor plants are cheap, cheerful and the perfect way to bring life to a room or gloomy corner! Add a plant somewhere new like an empty kitchen windowsill, empty corner of the hallway, on the landing or in the bathroom. Choose the type of plants carefully so that they are the ideal species for your chosen spot. If you are adding plants to your kitchen, why not add a row to the windowsill? What better than an array of fresh herbs that you can quickly snip to add flavour to your meals?

 

This season, why not bring the outside inside? You will be delighted with the results!

 

 

 

The golden days of Autumn are now here and as  the growing season ends, it is the perfect time to collect seeds ready to plant next year. If you have never tried collecting your own seeds, now is the time to give it a go. Collecting your own seeds is satisfying and saves you money too. Some gardeners feel that it is an advantage to have seeds from the plants that do well in their garden as over time, the plants may well have adjusted to local growing conditions so the seeds will be stronger and thrive better..

 

autumn the seasaon for gathering seeds

Artichoke flower head

Seeds are stored by different plants and trees in different ways including berries, capsules, cones and pods. The seeds are usually ready for collecting about two months after the plant has finished flowering. Collect the seeds carefully and only gather them from strong, healthy plants. With a few exceptions (such as hellabore), most seeds cannot be planted straight away as they need time to mature.

 

There are two types of seed that can be collection. Dry seeds from flowers, shrubs and trees and wet seeds that are collected from over ripe fruit.

Here are some 10 tips for successful dry seed collection:

 

1. The best time of day to collect dry seeds is first thing in the morning on a dry day.  If there has been a rainy spell, leave it a couple of days to ensure the seeds are dry.                                                                          

autumn the season for gathering seeds

Rea seeds are easy to prepare

 

2. Don’t be tempted to collect the seeds until they have ripened. Immature seeds will not germinate. Having said that, a few seeds are best gathered when they are green and immature and these include anemone and calendula.

 

3.The sign that seed pods are mature is that they will have changed from green to brown, red or black in colour. If the pods have not opened on their own, gently squeeze them to release their seeds.

 

4. If you are collecting seeds from a seed head, cut the seed head off its stalk using a sharp knife. Carefully place the seed heads on a tray and place the tray on a sunny windowsill to dry.

 

5. Some types of seed head do explode to disperse their seeds, so it is a good idea to check them each day. Alternatively you can store the seed heads in a paper bag in case they explode or shake them over a tray to release all the seeds.

 

6. If the seeds you have collected have chaff on them, clean this gently off them as this can cause the seeds to rot.

 

7. If you enjoy growing vegetables, it is easy to collect seeds from many different vegetables including broad beans, runner beans, squashes and tomatoes.

 

8. Before you pack the seeds away, make sure that they are in perfect condition.

 

9. Once you have gathered and checked each type of seed, put them in individual envelopes, clearly marked with their name and the date you collected them.

 

10. The envelopes must be carefully stored in a sealed container with some silica gel for absorbing any moisture. Place the container in a cool, dry place as the seeds will last longer. The ideal temperature for storing seeds is 5- 6ºC. Some seeds, such as walnut, oak and magnolia need to be stored in a damp environment such as in a plastic bag with damp sand.

…and 5 tips for successful wet seed collection:

 

1. If you are collecting the seeds from aubergine (eggplant), peppers, courgette (zucchini), pumpkin and squash, simply remove the seeds, rinse them in water and then spread them out on kitchen paper or newspaper to dry.

A pumpkin contains plentiful seeds

 

2. Some wet seeds benefit from fermenting first. These include tomatoes and cucumbers. To ferment the seeds, place them and their pulp in a bowl, add enough water to cover. Cover the bowl with kitchen film and leave for 3- 4 days.

 

3. After this time, the seeds will look mouldy. Pour off the water, rinse the seeds in clean water and then spread on kitchen paper to dry for 7-10 days.

 

4. Once the wet seeds have been completely dried, they can be stored.

 

5. Wet seeds should be stored in clearly marked envelopes that are placed in an airtight container with some silica gel to remove all moisture. Keep the seeds in a similar cool dry place to the other seeds you have collected.

 

Swapping seeds with your friends is definitely a good way to increase your collection, but there are also seed swapping groups . ‘Seedy Sunday’ is the largest and longest running group that runs events all over the UK- https://seedysunday.org/

The Next Door app is another fun way to meet like-,minded people for seed and plant swapping and even borrowing garden tools! https://nextdoor.co.uk/login/

If you would like some further guidance about collecting seeds, take a look at these websites –

https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/how-to-collect-and-save-seeds/

https://www.growveg.com/guides/saving-seeds-from-your-homegrown-vegetables/

In recent years, bamboo has become very popular in the modern garden – both as a plant and as practical and attractive material for a range of garden furniture and accessories.

Give your garden some Zen

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Bamboo is perfect for leafy privacy

 

Bamboo is certainly a popular choice as a plant as it is a tall, leafy, fast-growing evergreen that can be used as screening and also to add a Zen character to a bare corner of the garden or an al fresco dining area. The important thing to do some good research to ensure that you buy the right variety of bamboo plant and to ensure that you get a variety with very limited growth. It is worth carefully monitoring your chosen bamboo as many varieties grow fast and furiously and will soon take over your chosen area – and more besides.

To achieve the same results without all the challenges of growing bamboo, many home owners plump for artificial bamboo, this ensures that their bamboo always looks its best and doesn’t make a takeover bid on your whole garden!

There are many other great ways to add style to your garden with bamboo:

 Add a bamboo stick screen

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A bamboo screen are versatile and can be decorated with lights and hanging plants

 

You will see bamboo screens fixed to balconies on flats, across net fencing in front gardens and in corners to hide wheelie bins! Screens made from bamboo sticks are cheap, practical and provide both privacy and camouflage really well. Bamboo screens can be used to divide your garden into different areas such as a children’s play area and vegetable patch.

Screens made with long thick pieces of cane are an excellent way to disguise a plain garage wall. Simply attach securely to the bare wall and it will add a lovely informal character to an al fresco dining area – especially if it is decorated with hanging containers with colourful flowers and trailing plants plus a string of fairy lights.

Or edge your pathway

 

You can use rolls of short lengths of bamboo to decoratively edge your pathway and these can be easily obtained from local garden centres. If you enjoy DIY projects, you can cut large holes in the top of thick bamboo poles about one metre in length.. Place the bamboo at regular intervals along the path and feed white ‘nautical style’ rope through the holes to link the bamboo. This feature is a clever way to highlight garden steps too.

Make the bamboo a feature.

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bamboo is great for garden furniture and as a backdrop

A really attractive way to transform a dull area in your garden is to build a raised flowerbed in the shape that suits the area and plant a real or artificial bamboo plant and a solar powered spotlight to highlight it at night – this design idea looks very attractive across a long bare wall or fence with three or four bamboos planted at regular intervals. Cover the soil with stones in your chosen colours and style (check out your garden centre for a great choice) and fix a solar powered light to highlight each bamboo. Alternatively, you can create an attractive reading corner with a backdrop of bamboo and an inviting looking seat!  The easy-care solution to having live bamboo in your garden is to choose the perfect artificial bamboo plant – none of your friends need ever know!

https://www.scottishbamboo.com/Using_Bamboo_in_Garden_Design.htm

Choose stylish bamboo furniture & accessories

Bamboo furniture is a great choice for your conservatory as well as your garden. Choosing some stylish bamboo furniture will enhance your garden. Most items are supplied unvarnished so that they will weather over time. If you would rather that your furniture does not, you will need to varnish it with a varnish suitable for external conditions. To keep the furniture looking good, regularly warm it with warm soapy water.                                                         

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Hang some fun insect houses made from bamboo

There is a good selection of bamboo chairs and low tables as well Japanese-style day beds. If you enjoy al fresco dining, a set comprising of bamboo table and chairs is perfect and can be complemented by a large bamboo sun umbrella, bamboo garden beacons andeven a set of bamboo coasters. You can develop the ‘bamboo theme’ with cushions and table mats in bamboo designs.

If you are planning a water feature for your garden, a bamboo water spout – ‘kakehi’- is a fun idea especially if matched with a stone basin (‘chozubachi’). This idea certainly creates interest even in limited spaces, such as on a balcony/verandah. Alternatively, you can create an interesting feature using a bamboo water spout for a stream or koi-filled pond. Other clever ideas include bird boxes and insect houses made from bamboo. 

Get creative with bamboo in your garden!

There are some really clever ideas for your garden made with bamboo and these range from unusual side gates to melodic wind chimes and garden lights. Bamboo really is a versatile and natural resource – no wonder it is so popular!

If you have a vegetable garden, bamboo poles are perfect for making growing frames and teepees for your cucumbers, tomatoes and beans. If you enjoy growing fragrant sweet peas, passion flowers and other climbers, once again, bamboo poles are ideal for making a trellis for supporting the plants. Bamboo can also be used for creating bird feeders and plant holders. For great inspiration –

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Add a bamboo water spout or fountain

https://www.woohome.com/diy-2/top-21-easy-and-attractive-diy-projects-using-bamboo 

https://blog.foreverbamboo.com/using-bamboo-in-your-garden/

If you are looking for a new style for your garden that will set it apart from others, bamboo is the perfect answer as it is very eco-friendly. It is a really versatile material and whether you choose just a statement piece or a whole new theme, bamboo will definitely boost your garden design, in a lovely natural way. Unlike other materials, bamboo is easy to cut and is pliable and can be used for all types of DIY projects.

Bamboo is so trendy and affordable why not give your garden a boost in style this autumn?

 

Bamboo is proving a popular trend for interiors again in 2021 as it is inexpensive, simple to use, very stylish and eco-friendly. Bamboo evokes a natural feeling of summer on a tropical island and is instantly relaxing! No wonder it is popular! If you would like some inspiration on how to add bamboo style to your home, read on!

1. Clever ways with bamboo fencing.

 

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Bamboo adds a relaxed vibe to rooms

Bamboo fencing is great for the garden, but can also be used very effectively in the home, office areas and In your home, you can use a bamboo partition to divide your lounge and dining area, to introduce a luxurious ambiance and make an eye-catching focus. In the bathroom a bamboo partition can be used to separate the shower area or toilet. A bamboo partition can also be successfully used to divide a children’s bedroom to give them both their private space.

 

To achieve ‘the look’, the bamboo can be set in concrete in long plant troughs and when the concrete is dry, a layer of natural pebbles can be poured on top to conceal the concrete. Choose lighter coloured bamboo poles to lighten a darkly coloured area.

 

2. Invest in some bamboo blinds

 

To continue the island feeling evoked by bamboo, add some bamboo blinds to the windows or choose some curtains with bamboo-print fabric. If you are not overlooked you can make an innovative plant display out of three or four pieces of bamboo of the same length, with a piece cut out to fit a  small plant pot. The bamboo is then hung vertically at equal distances and suspended from just above your window. The holes can be filled with small trailing plants or fresh herbs.

 

3. Decorate a bare wall

 

A clever way to add character to a bare wall is to line it with bamboo as this will totally transform the room and there is something about bamboo that makes it very soothing. It is best to use split bamboo canes as these have one flat side which makes it easier to fix them to the wall. For a large area, bamboo panelling is very effective and can be used on the ceiling too. Bamboo comes in a variety of colours from light natural bamboo to shades of dark mahogany – your choice!

 

4. Add a bamboo framed mirror

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Give mirrors, pictures and family photos a new look!

!Adding a large mirror to a plain wall always transforms the room as it reflects light, making the room brighter. You can buy such a mirror, but it is not difficult to use some split bamboo to make a frame and of course this works for wall pictures and photographs too.

 

5. Choose the perfect colour theme

 

Bamboo creates a natural feeling in any room and this is easy to mirror with your soft furnishings. Armchairs and sofas in cream, terracotta and green are perfect and cushions with palm tree designs or leafy patterns develop the theme. Watch out in charity shops, eBay and similar, for a large bamboo chair. This is the ideal choice and you will find it surprisingly light, sturdy and comfortable. Alternatively if you have a colour scheme you love in your home, get out the paintbrush and paint your bamboo to match!

6. Choose a bamboo coffee table

 

There are a variety of bamboo styles of tables that are perfect for your home or a waiting area at work. Some coffee tables have glass panels and others are made from slatted bamboo which is smooth enough for a tray of drinks.

7. Bamboo shelves are practical

 

Bamboo shelving is not only fashionable, but also very practical. You can find three and four tier shelf units and to keep things tidy, you can add natural woven or hessian baskets. The shelves will prove useful in any room in your home and your bamboo theme can be developed by dedicating one of the shelves to a display of seashells and driftwood.

8. Bamboo is perfect for towel rails

 

Bamboo is the perfect material for creating a versatile towel rail for use at home in your kitchen or bathroom or at work. The idea is simple and very practical. As well as traditional styled towel rails, the new ladder style works really well when space is tight. These are straight forward to make too

9. Add some other bamboo accessories

 

There are plenty of bamboo products on the market because bamboo is environmentally friendly and is a sustainable crop. Amongst the accessories you will see are over-sized lampshades, stools and magazine racks. If you are adding a bamboo screen to your bedroom, a bamboo headboard will complement it perfectly. If you enjoy DIY projects, you will find some inspirational ideas online:   

10. A pot of bamboo for the finishing touch!

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Bamboo trees come in a myriad of sizes

 

This year, indoor plants are big news and what better idea than adding a pot of bamboo to your home or office? You can buy small single bamboo shoots and several in a container can look good on a mantelpiece. You can get larger displays of several pieces of bamboo that are eye-catching for a desk or coffee table, but why not celebrate bamboo big time with a huge leafy tree? You can place your tree to add interest to a dull corner or as a dramatic feature and focus to your room.  

To ensure that your bamboo always looks in perfect condition and maintains its size and shape, why not choose a pot of artificial bamboo? A large pot of leafy bamboo will bring instant colour and life to any setting and looks perfect in one of this season’s natural textured or metallic pots. Why not give your home a new look, with the garden vibe of bamboo?

 

  • Next month we look at ways to use bamboo creatively outside in your garden – and its not just as a plant trellis! 

 

 

 

 

 

All gardeners know the benefits of adding nutrients to the soil to grow plants, vegetables and herbs. Compost is also good for indoor plants too. One popular source of nutrients is compost which can be bought in bags from garden centres or can be quickly and easily made in your garden –  for a fraction of the price.

In a nutshell’ the art of making compost is to place organic materials and waste in a container, mix them with water – to keep them moist – and to turn the pile regularly so that the bacteria thrives and aids the de-composure. The result is a rich, soil-like material that will give your garden a really nutritious boost!

Making compost is an eco-friendly hobby to have as it is an efficient way to recycle much of your kitchen and garden waste into something very useful. Compost making is not smelly or time-consuming and in fact, very satisfying. It is really invaluable to regularly ‘feed’ your garden with compost, which is why it is often referred to as ‘black gold’. by gardeners. Why send your kitchen rubbish to a landfill site when it can be easily converted into the ‘king of nutrients’ for your garden?…

10 steps to successful compost production!

1. Choose your style of composting

You can either make a small compost heap in the back corner of your garden or if you prefer the tidier approach, you can buy a compost bin or use a pallet box. An old plastic dustbin is ideal too.There are certainly many expensive versions of composting bins on the market, but in reality, there is no need to spend much – if anything – at all.

2. Decide on the location of your composting

Ideally, if you are not using a container, you need to make your compost pile on a piece of flat, well-drained soil that enjoys plenty of sunlight.

3. Prepare your compost heap.

Making a compost heap is a little like making a layer cake! At the bottom of your compost heap put a generous layer of twigs. Cover this with a thick layer of dried leaves. Next you have to make layers of nitrogen-rich and then carbon-rich scraps. Ideally the heap should end up about one metre tall, but if this isn’t possible, ‘small is beautiful’!

4. Make defined layers of two types of waste

To successfully make compost, you need to layer your compost heap with waste from both of the following two lists in equal quantities.

Nitrogen-rich materials include:

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Dead leaves, flowers and twigs are great for composting

Green leaves

Dead flowers

Garden waste

Vegetable peelings and cores

Fruit peel

Coffee grounds

Old tea leaves

egg shells

Carbon-rich materials include:

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All your vegetable peelings and most fruit skins can be put to good use

Dead leaves and pine needles

Paper towels, napkins and egg cartons

Dried grass cuttings and straw

Shredded newspaper

Lint from the vacuum cleaners

Small pieces of cardboard

Dead indoor plants

5. There are some kitchen waste items to avoid

Certain materials are not ideal for the compost pile especially as they go rotten and attract flies. These include:

Never add citrus peel as it is not good for composting

Onions and garlic (these repel the insects necessary for compost making)                                                         

Citrus peel (this also repels insects)

Meat and fish bones

Fat, oil and grease

Any milk products

Scraps of cooked foods

Metals

Glass

Pet excrement

Charcoal

Any toxic substances

6. Continue to build your compost heap

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Keep as much of your kitchen waste as possible for the compost pile

Build up the layers to use all your scraps and add to your compost heap as often as you like – but continuing to layer in equal quantities . It is really useful to keep a bag of dried leaves for the carbon-rich layer. In the kitchen, near the sink, you can keep a small box for peelings (nitrogen-rich) which can be regularly added to the compost. A good compost pile needs to be one that can can be easily and regularly turned.

You will find that your compost heap will keep shrinking in size as the scraps in it decompose.

7. Help your compost

To get good compost more quickly, there are a few key tips to follow. When you add dry materials, always add some water as the compost pile needs to be kept damp – rather than dripping wet. If there has been no rain for a few days, water your compost once a week.

Test to know whether your compost is damp enough and whether you have the correct ratio. This can be done by digging into the middle of your compost heap – the the middle should be warm/ hot. If you take a thermometer reading it should be 54- 65ºC (130 -150F).

8. Regularly turn your compost heap

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Turning your compost regularly will produce quicker results

Once a week, or whenever you add new materials to your compost heap, give the pile a really good mix ensuring that you reach down to the lower layers to mix in new material and also mix the outer edges into the centre of the pile. Turn your compost so that the hot core is moved to the outside and a new core can begin work. This helps the compost to develop and also helps eliminate any odours as it aerates the compost.

9. Admire your compost!

After 2-4 months your compost will be ready and will be dark brown and crumbly like soil. It is important to check that the compost has finished decomposing before you start using it. There will be a thick layer at the top of your pile and this can be removed. Keep turning the remaining compost to continue the decomposing.

10. Use your compost for a healthy garden

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Compost is nutritious for flowers, plants, herbs, trees and indoor plants

Sprinkle your lawn with compost a few times every year to feed it.

Place a thick layer of your compost over flower beds and around the base of all your trees and shrubs to give your garden valuable nutrition.

When you are digging your flowerbeds, mix some compost in with the soil.

Add plenty of compost to your soil in the spring if you are planning to grow vegetables.

Always add compost when planting or transplanting flowers, plants, trees and shrubs. When you are digging a hole for the plant, half fill the hole with a 50/ 50 mix of compost and soil.

* If you want to see the compost -making procedure in pictures, log onto:

https://www.younghouselove.com/younghouselovedotcompost/

https://greenerideal.com/guides/how-to-make-your-own-compost-the-ultimate-guide/

And a real extra bonus!

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Compost will definitely help you grow better vegetables

Super boost your plants by making some compost tea. Steep some compost in water for 2-3 days at the ratio of 30:1. Strain the mixture. Use this nutrient-packed liquid as fertiliser for your plants and trees – you will be delighted with the results!

Why not give your garden a special treat this year – get composting!

The number of garden birds like sparrows, robins and blackbirds is declining each year in most countries because of habitat loss. In the UK, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and other environmental organisations are encouraging home owners to make their gardens ‘bird-friendly’ to help increase the bird population. We have 10 ways to make your garden bird-friendly this summer and to help stop the decline in the number of birds in your area?

Even if you do not have a garden, you can still create a small area for wild birds on your balcony or terrace and there are special bird feeders on the market that can be fixed on windows and windowsills that are particularly ideal for elderly people.

It is fun to create a haven for wild birds and it is a great project if you have children and are wondering how to fill their school holidays! Making your garden bird-friendly will teach them a valuable lesson about caring for the environment and nature and will definitely give them a great new interest as they spot the different species of birds enjoying time in your garden. (https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/creating-a-wildlife-friendly-garden/)

Here are 10 of the many things you can do in your garden:-

 

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A natural area provides valuable nutrition

Create a natural corner at the bottom of your garden. Let the grass and weeds grow naturally there and plant some wild plant seeds. Although this area will contrast sharply with the rest of your tidy garden, it will be perfect for the birds! It is best to choose a part of the garden that is well away from where your children play or where you enjoy al fresco meals as these activities could disturb the birds.

Packets containing a mixtures of wild plant seeds can be bought in most garden centres and these are ideal as the variety of plants that will grow are particularly rich in berries, nectar and seeds and these are all really nutritious for the birds. As well as attracting wild birds to your garden they will attract butterflies, bees and dragonflies too – what a bonus!

 

Plant thick climbing plants as the birds will like to be able to hide among the foliage. Don’t be tempted to have any trees cut down as they are valuable for wildlife and will attract woodpeckers and owls. Fruit trees are ideal for wild birds too as they will enjoy pecking the fruit – so make sure you pick what you need first!  Shrubs with berries are a valuable source of food for wild birds too.

 

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Sunflowers not only add colour to a dull corner, they are good for wild birds too

Plant some bright yellow sunflowers as these usually attract bees, caterpillars and other insects. Sunflower seeds are important for birds to eat. Asters and cornflowers are not only pretty in the garden, they also provide a good supply of seeds for wild birds too. Honeysuckle not only looks and smells gorgeous in the garden, the birds will enjoy the nectar too.

 

Don’t ‘dead head’ all your flowers as soon as they have finished blooming, as these seed pods are much appreciated by the wild birds and are very nutritious for them.

 

Don’t get rid of all your garden rubbish! Dead leaves can be swept up, but put them in a pile in the natural corner of your garden along with any decaying wood as these will soon become rich in insects and will provide food for the birds.

 

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This must be the top way to make your garden bird-friendly!        

Install a bird table, but make sure it is well away from where you sit in the garden as the birds could be put off by your presence. If you have cats, make sure the bird table is high enough for them not to reach. Effective deterrents to use for cats include planting prickly plants like holly around the base of the bird table stand or encasing the bottom part of the stand in plastic to make it slippery – large plastic water bottles can be easily adapted for this and are perfect.                                                                                                                            (https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/feeding-birds/all-about-bird-tables/making-a-bird-table/) 

 

 

Wild birds need food, water and shelter in your garden to find it attractive. Pick up a bird bath in the summer sales, eBay, Gumtree or similar. Ensure that it is always full of fresh water as birds love to clean they wings as well as drink. Ideally, place the bird bath in a place where it will catch rainwater. It will need a regular clean and the best way to do this is to wash it in nine parts cool water, one part white vinegar as this will get rid of limescale. You may need to give the bowl a gently scrub and then rinse it in clean water, before replacing it in the garden.

 

Install a small fountain in your garden. It isn’t only people that enjoy the sound of running water, birds are really attracted by the sound too – especially migratory species.

 

Make or buy a nesting box and fix it somewhere cats cannot reach. It is a good idea to do this well before springtime so that your local birds will know where it is located.  (https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions/how-build-nesting-box-birds)

 

Don’t use any pesticides in your garden as insects are an important source of food for the birds as well as frogs, bats and even dragonflies. You will enjoy a garden much richer in wildlife, but interestingly, the insects will still be kept well under control – the natural way!

 

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Enjoy wild birds in your garden all year round

Within a short time you will soon enjoy seeing more wild birds in your garden and may well spot Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Goldfinches and even Wrens.

If you do decide to build a bird table to feed the birds, it is important to keep it well supplied all year round, as the birds will view it as a safe refuge, where they can always find food. Seeing many more wild birds in your garden is definitely a win-win situation as the birds will enjoy visiting your garden and you will feel as though you are definitely doing your part for the local environment…. .

 

 

 

If you live in a flat and the only outdoor space you have is a balcony – no problem! Following the Covid pandemic and the need for private space, balconies are now being given plenty of attention – and rightly so! Balconies can be easily transformed into lovely outdoor spaces for relaxing and entertaining and with some clever thinking, you will be able to display indoor plants too that will help create the right relaxing ambiance- and without taking up too much space.

Why not use some great balcony garden ideas to give you a gorgeous new outdoor space- one that you would never know is right in the middle of town!

Choose your colour scheme

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colourful balconies are appealing

A colour scheme for your balcony will make it look very chic and this can be developed with chairs and cushions, rugs, flowerpots and even your choice of flowers! Grey is a really popular colour this year and can look particularly smart for your balcony- especially if you opt for plants with green and grey foliage or ones with only white flowers.

Soft natural shades look really good with plenty of wood and rattan for chairs and even plant pot covers. Blue is another popular colour this year and work very well on balconies with a nautical theme.

Floor first!

You may be happy with the tiled floor your balcony has as it is quick and easy to sweep and mop, but why not soften the look by adding a colourful striped rug or practical rattan runner? Wooden decking works well on balconies, especially decking tiles, as these are easier to fit. Wooden flooring, either hardwood or a laminate, will transform the space and can be in natural wood colour or painted blue or grey.

Some people cover their balcony floor with astro turf grass to develop the idea of a ‘mini garden paradise’.

Add some furniture & decorations

 

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Transform your balcony into a restful oasis

The choice is yours! Would you like a chic iron café table and chairs for impromptu coffee with a friend and al fresco meals, or a soft sofa for relaxing moments with a small table for placing glasses of wine or your favourite book? If you are still working from home, you can opt for a stylish wooden table and office style chair for work plus a comfy armchair for restful times!

If space is limited, a traditional wooden bench looks good – and very inviting when decorated with scatter cushions and a throw. Several large floor cushions or wicker stools are other fun ideas and if your balcony is really small, folding chairs and a table give you extra versatility. You will also find other great ideas on on https://www.digsdigs.com/45-cool-small-balcony-design-ideas/ 

A wall clock is always a useful addition and a barometer or wind chimes are fun to hang on the balcony. A small bird table fastened to the railing is another option. Ornaments can be used to emphasise the theme of your balcony such as a rustic country style or smart nautical. If you have a larger balcony, a stone garden statue can look good, surrounded by plants.

Clever ways to decorate with plants

Indoor plants are the ideal way to create your own leafy oasis! Choose your plants carefully- depending on the amount of sunlight you get on your balcony. It is also worth remembering that many of the plants will need to live indoors during the winter months. If your balcony is not going to be ideal for indoor plants, a collection of artificial plants will look equally good – especially if they are mixed with some good tempered flowers such as geraniums! Another fun choice for really sunny balconies is to grow a citrus tree such as a lemon or miniature orange tree. If you would prefer to add some shade to your balcony, a clever way is by using artificial bamboo plants.

Colourful annuals such as petunias can be purchased cheaply from garden centres and supermarkets and will certainly help transform your balcony. If you would like to grow some vegetables, you can grow them successfully in grow bags, long narrow plant troughs or a couple of large flowerpots.

If your balcony is large enough, you can build a raised flowerbed along the length of the balcony at the front – this definitely makes gardening easy! You can used recycled wood from old crates to make the container and then the wood can be stained or painted in your chosen colour.. To save money on soil- as it will take a large quantity to fill It-, carefully fill the bottom third with plastic boxes or empty bottles and top with soil before planting with flowers or herbs.

Be creative with your plant display!

Because there is limited floor space on a balcony and priority must be given to furniture, here are some clever ways to enjoy plants and flowers in a limited space:

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Tiered shelving is a great space saver and perfect for plants and vegetable growing

Several conical woven planters grouped on a bare wall can look dramatic when filled with leafy ferns and spider plants. Alternatively, a few colourful pots on ropes, hung at the same height just in front of a bare wall completely transforms it! Metal plant pot covers are trending this year and can look really smart – especially if they are filled with flowering plants or those with colourful foliage.

A really eye-catching design is to attach a long piece of driftwood high on a bare wall – high enough that you can suspend a line of matching macramé hanging baskets at regular intervals. Alternatively, three or four, matching planks of wood, that have been stained or painted, will give a completely new look to a bare wall and an interesting collection of planters can be attached to the wood at different heights. This is a great way to grow your own herbs and you can tie a large luggage label with a description of the herb to each planter. Another option is to fix a piece of trellis fencing to the wall and hang assorted planters at different heights.

To add vibrant colour to a small piece of wall, suspend two flower-filled hanging baskets at different heights.

If you have a window sill on your balcony, this is another ideal spot for growing an assortment of herbs in small matching pots. If you have really limited space, look out for tiered shelving that you can fill with plants. If you only have a spare corner, look out for a corner tiered unit as this works really well.

Add colourful plants to the balcony railings…

Invest in some plastic railing planters that will sit on the railing or some window boxes with large hooks that will fit snugly over the railing. The ideal flowering plants for these are colourful trailing petunias and scarlet geraniums.

If you would like to add privacy to your outdoor space, consider hanging lightweight rattan blinds from the ceiling above the railing or a series of hanging pots at the same height – with each filled with a leafy fern or training plant.

… And some lights

 

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Pretty lights are perfect for lazy evenings

If you are planning to relax on your balcony in the evening, you will need some soft lighting. Tea lights placed on every flowerpot or several candle lanterns will create a golden cosy ambiance. A string of fairy lights look pretty too or a large table lamp.

No matter how small your balcony is, you can transform it into an attractive outdoor room which you will love for quiet moments and your friends will enjoy visiting too! If you are fearful that you will not be able to enjoy your new retreat because of winged insects, we have a clever idea to solve this problem too! Hang very fine netting for the entire width of your balcony from the ceiling above the railing, down to the railing and secure it tightly. Not only will you not be bothered by any insects, no birds can mess your balcony or leaves get blown onto it – leaving you just to relax and enjoy your new oasis with a long cool summery drink and a good book….

Use every available space

Even if you are living in a modest-sized flat or house or working in a tiny office, with some creative thinking and smart ingenuity, you can make space for some flowers and indoor plants. If you do manage to find room for indoor plants you will be able to experience all the benefits that come with them. Indoor plants can lower stress levels and because they purify the air, if you have one in your bedroom, you will find yourself sleeping better too. We suggest 10 clever ways to have indoor plants in small spaces…

You will find several of our display ideas that will really work for you – which is great! Before you buy the indoor plants, it is worth assessing exactly which type of plant will be happiest in each location. Sometimes because of lack of space, you cannot offer the plant optimum growing conditions, so it is best to choose good-tempered, easy to care for plants. If you feel that the growing conditions will be a challenge to any indoor plant, why not opt for beautiful artificial plants? The secret to success is that if you are planning to display the plant in a place that is quite shadowed and gloomy, choose an artificial plant in a species that normally can thrive in such a spot and in doing this, friends and family will never suspect that your plant is artificial- clever thinking!

1. Create a living room divide

A fun way to divide up your living space is with a live living wall. This can be as simple as some garden trellis set into a large rectangular planter, Choose interesting plants with different coloured or textured foliage. Alternatively, you can hang plant covers on the intersections of the trellis and pop in a variety of interesting trailing plants.

2. Small tiered shelves

Cheer up bare walls with shelves of plants!

These are ideal when you don’t have too much space on a desk or shelf and are a fun way to display a collection of different plants. In the kitchen, this idea is perfect for displaying an array of herbs on the windowsill. The shelves look lovely in wood but are easy clean if they are in white plastic. The plants can either be in flowerpots with drainage sauces or in flowerpots popped in a pot cover. These can be in a uniform shape and colour, or an eclectic selection of different sizes and shapes in shades that mirror the colour scheme of the room

3. Baby succulents look great in tiny pots

A group of small terracotta pots each filled with a tiny succulent can look really cute. This year’s trending pot containers are glazed square plant containers, which work really well as they can easily slot next to each other to take up the minimum of space.

4. Hang a plant in a bird cage!

If you don’t have too much floor space, be creative and use the ceiling! A small metal bird cage filled with a leafy plant like a Spider Plant or Boston Fern looks really good and add colour to the room, you can paint the cage in a colour to match your chosen scheme.

5. Wall mounted looks great!

You can make your own wall planters by attaching rustic basket pot covers to squares of wood that you have painted with wood stain or in your chosen colour. Don’t forget to place plastic plant saucers in the bottom of the pot covers to ensure that no water runs down the wall when you water the plants. Another fun idea is to attach a section of garden trellis to your wall – either wood stained, or painted to complement your colour scheme. Clip planters containing a fun variety of plants on all the intersections of the trellis.

6. Add a row of hanging baskets!

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Hanging baskets can cheer up a bare wall and look great in front of windows

These can make an interesting feature if you have a large bare window. Suspend a collection of similar hanging baskets at different heights and fill each with an interesting leafy plant such as different ferns and a spider plant -if the window gets plenty of direct sunshine, choose your plants carefully.

7. Grow herbs on your kitchen door!

Use every available inch of space to enjoy your indoor plants! Use a lightweight plank of wood, cut to size and painted to match your colour scheme. Attach smart metal plant pot covers at regular intervals and pop in pots of fresh herbs – for fun, add luggage labels to each pot, describing each herb.

8. Buy some hanging glass planters

A row of stylish round glass planters instantly adds interest and colour to a dull wall! Hang the planters from the ceiling, just in front of the wall and fill them with good- tempered flowering plants such as kalanchoe or chose leafy plants with coloured or textured leaves.

9. Jazz up a dull corner!

Invest in a tiered corner unit and fill it with a variety of interesting and eye-catching plants..Choose your plants carefully so that they have different colours and textures to make your display look interesting. Display them all in pot covers that are in toning covers- but a variety of textures to add interest.

10. Add a terrarium

A large bottle containing a handful of plants can look really dynamic! You can buy some snazzy ready made ones that even have optional lighting and because of humidity they only need to be watered every couple of weeks. It is great fun to create your own terrarium and not as difficult as you think! Alternatively, you can grow several cacti or air plants in an opened topped bottle and these can look very dramatic.

https://www.kew.org/read-and-watch/how-to-make-terrarium

Whether you have a tiny office, cramped reception or small home, it is possible to add plants to your space – and you will definitely feel better for having done so!

Bonsai trees are growing in popularity. They first appeared 1,500 years in Ancient China where they were called ‘Penjing Trees’. The miniature trees were exchanged as gifts among the rich. Five hundred years later, Buddhist monks took the idea to Japan. The Japanese developed the art of cultivating and caring for Bonsai. Today the hobby is growing. People all over the world, are fascinated by the idea of owning such a beautiful type of tree and are discovering the magic of the miniature world of Bonsai trees.

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The miniature world of Bonsai comprises of evergreen, deciduous and flowering trees

Bonsai is both the art and science of growing beautiful miniature trees and shrubs in ornamental pots. Bonsai trees come in many different varieties, some suitable for indoors and others outdoors like the Juniper Bonsai. There are evergreen and deciduous varieties and even flowering Bonsai. Some species such as the Ficus group are relatively easy to care for, whilst others are notoriously challenging.

Many plant enthusiasts are apprehensive about caring for a Bonsai tree, but it is not too complicated to master but can be time-consuming because the process involves nurturing the tree and keeping it in its miniature size while also making it as aesthetically appealing as possible by shaping it. There are fundamentals to master too, as the size and shape of the pot the tree is planted in, the level of humidity and temperature can each make a big difference.

Why are Bonsai trees so expensive?

All Bonsai trees are more expensive than other plants. Their larger price tickets reflect their rarity, the age of the Bonsai and how much expert care has been needed to nurture it  – and of course, there are transportation costs on top of this. If the Bonsai tree has been nursery grown, it is often not ready to sell until it is 6- 7 years old and many are much older and will have taken many hours of care by experts.

 

Older trees are more expensive because they look so spectacular with their gnarled and twisted trunks. At the top end of the price range are Yamadori Bonsai. These trees are ones that naturally grow in miniature in the wild, but are incredibly rare to find. The most expensive of all is the Japanese Pine – often up to 800 years in age and priced at over one million dollars. As well as buying the Bonsai, you will need to buy an array of miniature gardening tools and fertilisers.

 

Where can you display a Bonsai

 

In the last ten years, Bonsai trees have become popular around the world. Spot the Bonsai in hotel and company receptions and also on office desks. If you buy an outdoor variety, it can become a stunning focal point of your garden.

 

What care does a Bonsai need?

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Each Bonsai has so much character and history

Caring for a Bonsai can take years to master which is why many people find it so challenging and rewarding. The Bonsai will need regular watering and pruning as well as certain light conditions, levels of humidity and nutrition. Unexpected pests and disease can present problems too.

Taking care of a bonsai tree is different from attending to the needs of just about any other type of plant.  Bonsai owners are disciplined, well- organised and patient. Dedication to the idea of creating a beautiful miniature tree is key!

Are there certain Bonsai suitable for beginners?

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It is fun to create the perfect shape for your Bonsai

The best Bonsai for beginners is Ficus. This attractive indoor evergreen Bonsai has a thick knotted trunk and dark glossy leaves. Ficus is a tolerant and resilient Bonsai and can grow in spaces with low humidity. The Ficus is easy to shape and will forgive you if you forget to water it!

 

The Chinese Elm is another good choice as it is an attractive semi-evergreen with numerous small leaves that can be placed outside in the warmer months and can survive a frost. This Bonsai does need regular pruning, but it is easy to create and maintain an attractive shape. If you would like a deciduous Bonsai, a Japanese Red Maple or Cherry Bonsai are both good choices for beginners. For further inspiration about which Bonsai trees are best for beginners, log onto:

https://www.bonsaitreegardener.net/bonsai-trees/best-beginners

 

How can I have a Bonsai without all the effort?

 

Bonsai are always fascinating

Does having a Bonsai tree appeal? Do you feel that realistically you not have the ideal growing conditions or the time to dedicate to nurturing one? The perfect answer is to cheat a little! An artificial Bonsai trees is impossible to tell them from a real Bonsai! Why not enjoy discovering the miniature world of the Bonsai tree without a single fallen leaf?

 

 

 

First impressions really count! Your company, restaurant or hotel reception is the first place visitors see and it is important that it conveys the right message to them. Your reception should be attractive and welcoming and importantly, reflect your company’s unique character. The reception area should also project a feeling of professionalism and efficiency as well as trustworthiness. If you are planning a makeover for your reception area, think about the style that will suit you best. Our ideas tell you how to create the perfect reception area.

Extending a warm welcome

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How to create the perfect reception area – add a large indoor plant!

A welcoming reception area is important when you have a doctor’s surgery or dental practice and want to put your visitors at ease. This type of character for a reception works well for hotels too and any business where people matter and you want to establish a good relationship with them.

Choose warm, muted colours as these are more relaxing than stark and clinical white. Furniture should be comfortable too. If you choose fabric covered seating, make sure that the fabric is stain resistant so that it will be easy to keep them looking good. Add some relaxing touches such as paintings on the walls, lamps and plenty of  large leafy indoor plants.

A relaxing character

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A relaxing and calming design

Stylish reception areas with smart furniture, no clutter and the emphasis on natural materials are a popular style for beauty salons and spas. This style exudes serenity and zen and also works well for companies as it can prove both relaxing and inspirational. Soft muted colours such as cream, browns and greens all work well and are enhanced by soft  lighting. Mellow wooden furniture in a minimalistic style is ideal and large abstract wall paintings that mirror the colours of nature will also accentuate this style. Bring the outdoors inside with some extra large indoor plants or a dramatic wall display of numerous trailing plants. If you do not feel particularly ‘green fingered’, you can invest in some quality faux plants as the carefree alternative.

Exude luxury                                     

 

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use luxurious floral displays

If your company specialises in prestigious goods or your hotel or restaurant is appealing to those with plenty of money, your reception area needs to be very stylish and reassuring to your customers that are the elite and are going to get truly excellent service throughout.

Your style should be carefully chosen pieces of beautifully made, quality furniture such as a leather Chesterfield with some unusual accents in polished metal such as occasional tables or wall lights. Add drama to the area with bold colours and large painting. Mirror these in a large arrangement of beautiful fresh flowers.

Be dynamic in your style

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Your reception can have fun appeal too!

If your company style is fast moving, enthusiastic and trendy, this is a fun style to mirror in your reception area. Showcase your company’s colours with a feature wall in the main colour with either your logo or inspiring slogan. Seating and accessories should be in any other company colour. Furniture styles should be smart and in practical styles. Plenty of natural daylight is perfect, but if not, excellent lighting will prove practical and energising.

Changing the look of your reception area can be relatively easy and the three main points to focus on are to maximise on space, use colour effectively to help create your chosen style and thirdly, to ensure that your chosen lighting is of the right style and in the right location. Your bright new reception area is definitely the best way to define your company’s character – along with a warm personal welcome to everyone who steps through the door.

For further inspiration, take a look at –

http://www.smbceo.com/2016/11/29/how-to-choose-the-right-furniture-for-your-office-reception-area/