Decorative Features, How To, Indoor

If you’re working from home it’s essential that you keep your working space as lovely to work in as you can. The work environment has a significant effect on motivation and productivity. Here are our top tips on making your home workspace work better for you. 

Add Houseplants

 

Adding a natural touch is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your working life. Houseplants purify the air, remove toxins from the space and create a more pleasant space to work in. They also don’t take up much space, and some even thrive in low light or humid areas – great if you are working from your kitchen or conservatory. 

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Use Mirrors to add light. 

Mirrors are a great way to lighten up your space and make it feel bigger. Outdoor mirrors can look really nice when brought indoors, and they tend to be more decorative and strong. Put your mirror opposite a window or where it will reflect natural light and your office will feel lighter and roomier. 

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Be creative with screening.

If you have the time and are looking to get that ultra-modern office look it might be worth looking at garden screening. Artificial foliage screening creates a no-maintenance living wall in your space that adds a touch of the outdoors that you’d only find in the most high-end London offices. Want a slightly more textured or feature background for your video calls? Then consider some bamboo or willow screening – it really gives a great look. 

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Think about water features

An indoor water feature has a lot of health benefits: purifying and humidifying the air and fills your space with the relaxing sounds of running water. Their use in the home is often overlooked, but they will only benefit your workday and they come in so many styles that you will definitely find something to suit your style. 

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For more on how to improve your home working experience why not take a look at our guide here. 

We would love to see what you have been doing with your home office, why not show us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

Garden Design, How To

Lots of people have been working from home this year, and some big companies have made the change permanent. With hybrid working looking more likely in the future we need to start building workspaces in our homes. But, those with no spare rooms or a busy home might find this a bit difficult, so why not look to the garden. A garden office separates you from the distractions of the home and if you don’t have the budget to buy a brand new one why not look to what’s already in your garden. Here is everything you need to know about converting a shed or summerhouse into a great garden office. 

Image thanks to SHARON D

Step 1: Make your space suitable. 

Before you start buying materials and making changes to any outdoor building you should take a good look at it first to make sure it is a suitable place to work. You will be spending a big part of your day in it, so it needs to be comfortable, secure and protected from the weather. When surveying your space think about: 

  • Weatherproofing – your new office needs to be completely watertight, and some older sheds might not be. This is the first thing you should do and it is easy to do with a few simple steps: 1. Line the floor and roof with DMF, 2. seal any large gaps with a silicone sealant and you should have a nice dry place to work.

 

  • Electricity – a lot of office spaces will need computers, printers, fax machines and extra lighting in the winter. This means you will need a mains connection and always consult an electrician. You shouldn’t need planning permission unless you live in a listed building.

 

  • Heat & insulation -in the winter you want to work in a nice, toasty office. A smaller space can be easily warmed up with a heater. If you want to go a step further you can install some insulation and plasterboard for a higher-end look.  

 

  • Wifi and internet – this can be a tricky one if you have a big garden, but as long as you have a wired mains connection, the internet can be yours. You can buy a plug-in powerline adaptor quite cheaply that turns your electric cables into wifi boosters. 

 

  • Lighting – good lighting is the key to productivity. A combination of natural light in the day and good artificial light in the afternoon is key. If your shed or summerhouse has windows then one is already sorted. When putting artificial lighting in your home you have a few options, install a light fitting or buy a lamp. Whichever you choose make sure to choose a cold white over a warm white as they are better for concentrations, and always consult an electrician before installing light fittings. 

 

Step 2: Arrange your workspace.

Once your shed or summerhouse is ready to go it’s time to set up your office, and how you do this will depend on the size of your space. 

Small  – A basic office without all the bells and whistles, but there will be enough room for a chair and desk with all the space for your basics. 

Medium – Offers you more flexibility when it comes to the layout. You can add bookshelves and larger printers or equipment.

Large – Gives you the most flexibility. Y. Allows you to store all of your paperwork and equipment and may allow for workspace for multiple people. You can also add furniture for meeting or break spaces. 

Step 3 – Decorate

Make space your own. Consider adding some houseplants or pictures to make it a place you want to work. 

For more ideas on decorating your new workspace see our guide

Don’t have a shed or summerhouse already? 

 

If you don’t have a suitable building to convert into an office, then why not start from scratch. A small purpose made studio office is ideal for most sized gardens, but if you want something different you can see our whole range of outdoor buildings to find something you’ll love. 

 

 

Flowers, Gardening, How To, Plants

The-best-hanging-basket-plants

Able to be filled with a mix of plants throughout the year, hanging baskets are a wonderful tool for ornamenting the outside of your home. Unlike plants growing in the beds of a garden, they are less likely to suffer from harsh weather, soil problems, or worrisome pests. However, with so many varieties available, you may feel unsure on which plants to buy. Why not read on for a helpful guide on choosing the best hanging basket plants? 

How many plants per hanging basket?

We believe that five plants per 30cm basket is best, as it allows plenty of space for each plant to grow (which is necessary for a bountiful arrangement). You can add more plants if you wish, but for summer baskets especially, it is good to cultivate your plants early on. As such, more space is always better. Popular summertime plants such as Fuchsias and Geraniums can also be quite vigorous, so will take up greater space. 

How long do hanging baskets last?

Hanging baskets are typically made to last for a single season. However, particular varieties, such as Pansies belonging to the ‘Cool Wave’ series, will flower ceaselessly from autumn to summer. Nonetheless, you may want to switch up your baskets to achieve looks that are unique to each season. This guide will therefore suggest the best hanging basket plants for both summer and winter. 

The Best Hanging Basket Plants for Summer

The-best-hanging-basket-plants

Petunia Surfinia

Sporting pretty, often dual-toned blooms, Petunia Surfinias are a favourite for adorning driveways and patio spaces with a graceful display. Despite their unfortunate introduction to botany in the 1500s (where they were considered demonic!), Petunias have become one of the most popular bedding plants around. 

Unlike regular Petunias, Petunia Surfinias don’t need to be deadheaded, so are perfect for the less attentive gardener. Thirsty plants, they should be watered when the top two inches of soil becomes dry to the touch. In very warm weather, don’t be afraid to water them twice a day.

The-best-hanging-basket-plants

Begonia x tuberhybrida

Highly floriferous, Tuberous Begonias are treasured by gardeners for their rose-like blooms. Their generous flowering period (spanning from June to October) also makes them invaluable for sustaining floral interest when gardens quieten down for the colder months. 

Flourishing in cooler conditions, and tolerant of a little more shade, Tuberous Begonias are well suited for the English climate. One of our favourite varieties is Solenia ‘Orange’, as it has sturdy branches that withstand strong winds, which will neither be weighed down by their abundant flowers. Aside from having orange flowers that are fitting for autumn, this variety is also resistant to mildew.

The-best-hanging-basket-plants

Fuchsia

Discovered by Charles Plumier in the late 1600s, Fuchsias will always make striking additions to pots and flower beds. When planted in a hanging basket, their trailing bell-shaped flowers create bold vertical interest, but for the most prolific display, why not combine them with Petunias or Pelargoniums?

Flowering repeatedly until autumn, Fuchsia ‘Annabel’ will add a distinct touch to your garden with its blush-white flowers. 

The Best Hanging Basket Plants for Winter

The-Best-Hanging-Basket-Plants

Primula ‘Woodland Rose’

With heart-shaped petals gathered around a vibrant yellow centre, Primula ‘Woodland Rose’ is reminiscent of the classic Primrose. Flowering in January and February, it is a great plant for incorporating some romantic colour into your winter garden. It pairs particularly well with white Viola varieties, and harmonises beautifully with the unique foliage of Cineraria ‘Silver Dust’. To keep your Primrose flourishing, remove any spent flowers and dead leaves that appear.

The-best-hanging-basket-plants

Pansies

Admired by gardeners for their intricately marked blooms that resemble a face, Pansies are a great way to add charm to your garden. With a low growing habit, Pansies also make manageable hanging basket plants. Nevertheless, their flowering period (lasting as long as eight months) is arguably their most noteworthy quality. Why not embrace some fiery tones with Pansy ‘Fire’? Or alternatively create a cooler theme with Pansy ‘Marina’?

The-best-hanging-basket-plants

Cyclamen

With unique, butterfly-like blooms, that stand atop their silver variegated leaves, Cyclamen are a classic winter plant. Their upright habit proves a welcome change from the trailing blooms of Geraniums, Fuchsias, and Petunias. As such, they are ideal for neater schemes. Why not plant Cyclamen with Ivy to enjoy a basket filled with handsome foliage?

When watering Cyclamen, you should take care to not water them from the top, as this can risk rotting. Instead, try to water at the base of the plant, which helps the water travel directly to their roots.

Hanging Basket Plants: Common Questions

The-best-hanging-basket-plants

How often should you water hanging baskets?

When the soil of your basket becomes dry to the touch, your plants are ready to be watered. Come summer when the weather warms up, you can comfortably water your hanging baskets once a day.

Can you plant bulbs in a hanging basket?

Dwarf bulb varieties (such as dwarf Narcissus) will complement your hanging baskets towards the end of the season. You could start off a winter basket with Cyclamen and Pansies, and plant your dwarf Narcissus bulbs underneath. As winter concludes, the Narcissus can take centre stage to mark the beginning of spring.

How do you stop hanging baskets from drying out?

To help your basket retain moisture, it should be no smaller than 30cm, and be lined with coco liner. Coco liners are excellent at retaining water, and are also environmentally friendly.

Can you use bin liners to line hanging baskets?

Yes, bin liners are suitable for a hanging basket. They aren’t as sightly as a coco liner, but if you poke some holes in, they will do the job.

 

 

Flowers, Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To, Plants

A-guide-to-jasmine-plant-care

Noted for their sweetly scented blooms and exquisite foliage, Jasmine plants have been long adored by gardeners. Flourishing in both sun and part shade, Jasmine varieties can enshroud a trellis with a floral blanket, be pruned into a decorative hedge, and even be grown indoors. Despite such versatility however, Jasmine plants still warrant vigilant care. Whether you are considering getting a Jasmine plant, or already have one, this guide covers everything you need to know on Jasmine plant care. 

How to Plant Jasmine

Before you plant your Jasmine, you should seek a warm, sheltered site that receives full sun or part shade. Different species of Jasmine may prefer one or the other. For example, Winter Jasmine is better suited to a south east or north west aspect, while Summer Jasmine will thrive in a sunny south-facing aspect. 

If you are planting your Jasmine straight in your garden, opt for an area with moist, well-drained soil. If the soil appears too rich, add some grit to the planting hole to boost drainage. It is also important that your Jasmine is planted in fertile soil, so we advise you to supplement with compost or well-rotted manure. Taking no more than a handful, sprinkle some compost or manure in the planting hole. By doing this, your Jasmine’s roots can enjoy a steady supply of nutrients. 

A useful thing to know about Jasmine plant care is that an attentive, watchful approach is always best. Jasmine plants are low maintenance and typically don’t fall victim to pests and disease. However, it is essential that you establish their desired habit of growth early on. 

To train your Jasmine to climb up a wall or fence, angle a cane so that it’s leaning on a trellis. Once your Jasmine has reached a height that matches this structure, it can continue to climb upwards. This is caused by arising chemical changes which result in their stems intertwining with the trellis. 

If you are planting your Jasmine in a pot, a cane can again be used to promote a tall, upward habit. Depending on the look you wish to achieve, a compact, bushier look can be created by regular pruning. 

How to Care for Jasmine

A-guide-to-jasmine-plant-care

Once your Jasmine has been planted, you should apply a high-potash feed once a week in summer. This will encourage healthy foliage and flowers, and additionally mitigate any risks of pests and disease. Nevertheless, be cautious when feeding, as too much can result in overly lush growth (and a higher amount of nitrogen hinders blooming). Your Jasmine plant should also be watered regularly during its growing season, and come autumn, it is beneficial to mulch around the base of your Jasmine. This can be done with well-rotted manure, leaf mould, or compost.

A crucial part of Jasmine plant care is pruning; this promotes healthy growth and maintains a desirable shape. It also deters bothersome pests (particularly infestations that are caused by animals). 

It is best to prune right after your Jasmine has flowered, as this allows maximum time for the vines to establish new growth for the next year of flowering. As young Jasmine plants are shy bloomers, you should avoid pruning too drastically. Try to spare as much of your plant as possible (there’s no harm in letting your young Jasmine plant grow a little freely). We simply advise that you:

  • Remove any stems that appear diseased or dead (if older appearing stems are no longer showing signs of flowering, they can also be removed). 
  • You can also remove heavily tangled stems, and carefully separate lightly tangled stems to maintain manageability. 
  • Remove stems that are growing away from your desired direction, or shorten them to create a compact appearance. 

Jasmine Plant Care: Common Questions

A-guide-to-jasmine-plant-care

Does Jasmine need a trellis?

In order to climb, your Jasmine plant will need a supporting structure. This is most commonly a trellis. Jasmine plants cannot climb a wall, but when trained to a trellis, they can grow up to two metres in a single season! If you do not want your Jasmine to climb, it will happily grow in a pot. Why not have it as a house plant to enjoy the heavenly scent indoors?

Do Jasmine plants lose their leaves in winter?

Jasmine plants can either be deciduous, or semi-evergreen (if they are growing in milder climates). It is probable that your Jasmine plant will lose leaves at some point, and this shouldn’t be a cause for concern. If your Jasmine’s leaves are beginning to dry up and fall off however, you are likely under-watering. 

Can I propagate my Jasmine plant? 

Yes, your Jasmine can propagated from hardwood cuttings taken in wintertime. To do so, collect 15cm cuttings from the stem tips of your Jasmine plant (each one should be cut below a leaf). You can also propagate your Jasmine by planting any seeds it produces. 

When should I plant my Jasmine?

You can begin growing Summer Jasmine in spring or autumn, and Winter Jasmine in autumn or winter. The care for both Summer and Winter Jasmine will be the same (but always factor in their differing flowering periods). 

Should I deadhead my Jasmine plant?

Yes, it is wise to remove any spent blooms from your Jasmine plant. The flowers can be pinched off, but why not use them for herbal tea making or fragrant floral arrangements? 

Is Winter Jasmine a Shrub?

Winter and Summer Jasmine are of a different species. Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) is classified as a winter flowering shrub, while Summer or Common Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) is recognised as a vine, and flowers from summer through to autumn.