Category Archives: Plant focus

Using Lavender in the Home

Freshly picked and bunched garden Lavender arranged on a vintage garden sieve - © GAP Photos/Gary Smith

Freshly picked and bunched garden Lavender arranged on a vintage garden sieve – © GAP Photos/Gary Smith

By this point in the summer, Lavender blooms are in full swing, filling the garden with perfume and attracting all the local pollinators. Why not capture that essence of summer and harvest some of the flowers now? There are so many ways they can used in the home, be it culinary, decorative or medicinal. You can dry them or use them fresh, depending on the individual project. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Lavender sachets

Lavender sachets - GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Lavender sachets – GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

One of the most traditional ways to use dried lavender is to stuff pouches or envelopes with the scented dried flowers, which are then used to perfume parts of the home, traditionally drawers. This makes a really thoughtful gift and is a very natural way to fragrance an area. The smell of Lavender is also thought to be relaxing, so tucking these scented pouches, envelopes and sachets under pillows is another common habit.

Decorating Gifts

Gift box with a small bouquet of dried Lavandula ( lavender ) - © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Gift box with a small bouquet of dried Lavandula ( lavender ) – © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

A little botanical snippet of flower, seedpod or foliage adds a really interesting touch to gift-wrapped presents. The best thing about using Lavender is that you can use it all year round as Lavender dries beautifully, giving you a constant supply.

Wreaths

Heart of dried Lavandula (lavender) on balcony railing - © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Heart of dried Lavandula (lavender) on balcony railing – © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Wreaths aren’t just for Christmas. Wire or gently wrap lavender stems around a wreath frame of your choice for a scented decoration you can hang on the wall. It is best to do this while the flowers are fresh so the stems are still flexible. This arrangement should last for ages as the flowers will naturally dry while in position.

Decorative touches to dining tables

Lavender wreath round glass cutlery holder - © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Lavender wreath round glass cutlery holder – © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

This is another really fun way to decorative a dining table for a special occasion in the summer, especially in mid-summer, when you are more likely to eat outside. Lavender is really versatile, you can use the whole stem or cut off the flowerheads and individually wire them into decorations. We love the simple ways lavender can be used to decorate place settings and other tableware to make everything a little prettier.

Wrapped around candles

Glass decorated with Lavandula ( Lavender ), blue ball candle, white tablet - © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Glass decorated with Lavandula ( Lavender ), blue ball candle, white tablet – © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Either fresh or dry, lavender can be used to add a little something extra to your candles. Wrapped in mini posies to adorn a t-light holder, or used in a very contemporary way to fill tall glass vases. And think of the perfume that will be released as the candles gently warm the lavender.

Turn it into Art

Pressed flowers on paper - © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Pressed flowers on paper – © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Create a textual and abstract piece of art with dried rosemary and petals from other summer flowers. This could be a really fun project to do with kids too.

Flavouring sugar

Glass jars containing Lavender Sugar made from Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote' flowers - ©  GAP Photos

Glass jars containing Lavender Sugar made from Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ flowers – © GAP Photos

Lavender is actually a herb and can be used in cooking. Gently perfume some sugar by mixing the individual dried flowers into it before storing in an airtight container. Don’t forget to label it in case you forget what you have used. This is a lovely idea for a gift too.

Homemade cosmetics

Still life with Lavandula - Lavender, oils, soap, dried flowers - © GAP Photos/Sarah Cuttle

Still life with Lavandula – Lavender, oils, soap, dried flowers – © GAP Photos/Sarah Cuttle

If you are clever enough to make soap or other cosmetics, Lavender is a classic ingredient due to its perfume and other herbal properties. Start harvesting and drying it now so that you have ample supply through the year.

5 Easy Steps to Grow Runner Beans

Woman using a hat to collect Runner Bean 'Wisley Magic' - © GAP Photos

Woman using a hat to collect Runner Bean ‘Wisley Magic’ – © GAP Photos

Phaseolus coccineus, or Runner Beans, as they are more commonly known, are a regular feature of many vegetable gardens. Here are five steps to grow these high yielding and easy to grow climbing beans.

1. Sowing the seeds

Planting runner bean seeds - © GAP Photos/FhF Greenmedia

Planting runner bean seeds – © GAP Photos/FhF Greenmedia

As the plants are tender, it is best to wait for late spring or early summer if you are sowing directly in the ground. If you are keen to get started, sow in large pots, deep seed-module trays or root trainers in mid spring, and keep in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill until it is time to plant them out.

2. Create the support

Securing final wall canes to roof section with twine - © GAP Photos

Securing final wall canes to roof section with twine – © GAP Photos

The sight of climbing beans twirling themselves around bamboo canes is a lovely sight in summer. You can either make a simple bamboo cane wigwam, which also looks very ornamental. Or you can be a bit more adventurous and create a more elaborate framework. When you plant your beans out, do loosely tie the beans to the supports to give them a helping hand, and give each plant its own cane.

3. Water and feed

Adding Blood, Fish and Bone feed to beans - © GAP Photos

Adding Blood, Fish and Bone feed to beans – © GAP Photos

Make sure to keep your young plants well-watered, especially during hot weather. It is often advisable to water in the evening so that the moisture does not evaporate from the soil surface during the day before it can reach the plant’s roots. Use organic feeds such as blood, fish and bone to promote strong growth.

4. Watch out for pests


Like most plants, runner beans do attract pests which can do damage to your plants. You can deter birds by hanging cds up in the framework. The reflective surface and movement spook them so they keep away. Be sure to protect young plants from slug damage. Runner beans are also vulnerable to infestation from pests such as blackfly. You can either squash the pests with your fingers when you see them, or attract their natural enemies such as ladybirds to come and feed on them. You can also buy various sprays to keep bugs in check, but make sure they are organic and safe to use with vegetables.

5. Attract pollinators to ensure good pollination and higher harvests

Flowers and vegetables in raised beds including, Marigolds, Lettuce, Sweet peas and Runner Beans - © GAP Photos/Gary Smith

Flowers and vegetables in raised beds including, Marigolds, Lettuce, Sweet peas and Runner Beans – © GAP Photos/Gary Smith

Runner beans rely on pollinating insects such as bees. Without their presence, flowers are not pollinated and pod formation is unlikely to occur. Therefore, why not plant lots of beneficial plants which naturally attract pollinators around your runner bean plant supports in a sunny location for a mutually advantageous pairing.

Succulents!

Mixed succulents in three metal pots displayed in metal tray with gravel surrounded by seaside items - © GAP Photos

Mixed succulents in three metal pots displayed in metal tray with gravel surrounded by seaside items – © GAP Photos

If you are on Instagram, you may be familiar with a new succulent trend which is gaining lots of popularity. It even has its own hashtag #succiepotinapot . Here at GAP we have had lots of fun recreating this design style and we’re really excited to share the results.


All you need are your succulents, succulent compost, gravel for topdressing and two different sized pots that complement each other. You can create all kinds of different styles; the possibilities are endless. Why not create a sea-side theme with galvanised containers, shells and driftwood, or more traditional look with terracotta? We also suggest using a dark gravel or topdressing to really make your succulents pop.

These containers will last for ages as they are, as long as they are kept in the right conditions. Remember that many succulents are tender, so need to be kept protected from colder temperatures. They also should be sheltered from the rain. A sunny porch or sheltered patio are ideal locations for these pots in the warmer months.

Have fun creating!