Category Archives: Style notebook

Simple Ways to Give Your Garden Entertainment Space an Update

As the weather warms up, we all want to spend more time outside. For those of us that like to socialise and relax in our gardens, late spring is a fantastic time to start thinking about ways to make our gardens more user-friendly. You don’t have to put in a lot of time, money or energy either – here are some simple ideas to try this weekend:

1. Give your garden furniture a makeover

If you already have some garden furniture, but it’s looking a bit drab, why not give it a makeover rather than buy a new set? Go to your local hardware shop and buy some colourful outdoor paint. On a dry, sunny day, simply give your furniture a buff with some sandpaper before layering on a coat or two of paint in the colour of your choice to give an instant update.

2. Think about fun alternative seating

If you are hoping to create a relaxed vibe in your garden, then consider adding some low-level seating amongst your plants to really help you unwind in your garden. Bean bags, stools and pouffes are fun and sociable, and give a contemporary feel to a garden.

3. Make an outdoor bar

Here is a fun idea for a garden DIY project that you will use throughout the summer – a pallet bar. Pallets are inexpensive and very on trend, and give gardens a modern but low-key style. This is perfect for days when you are having a garden party or barbeque, and you’re after a stylish outdoor drink station. Quick tip: build the bar in a shady spot so drinks stay nice and chilled.

4. Add some lighting so the party can keep going into the night

This is an exciting and super easy way to make your garden even more usable and stylish. There is a huge range of garden lighting available on the market now, and so many are battery operated or solar powered – so no need to worry how far the nearest plug socket is. Try winding some fairy lights through a tree, or drape some lanterns along a fence. Or you could add some uplighters beneath your architectural plants to give extra oomph as the sun goes down.

5. Incorporate fragrant plants and aromatic herbs to the space for a more sensory experience.

Some plants are just a pleasure to be around. Thyme has a wonderful scent, as does Lavender and Jasmine. Ornamental grasses lend a lovely texture and look beautiful when caught in a breeze. So why not plant up a container of sensory plants and keep it right by your entertaining space, or consider planting for texture, movement and perfume in nearby borders.


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!

These Flowers Bring all the Bees to My Yard

We tend to associate pollinators with the heady days of summer and vibrant blooms, but in fact many species of bees actively forage for food all year round, even in winter when pollen and nectar sources are particularly scarce. Bees and other pollinators are key to productive gardens, and many plants rely on them for pollination. If we didn’t have bees, we would be without many of the fruit and vegetables we take for granted.

As we approach spring, ravenous queen bees will be looking for substance so they can produce the next generation of worker bees. As these hardworking insects keep the food on our plates, why not return the favour and make sure you have a range of pollinator-friendly plants to keep your local bees happy throughout the year. Below we have highlighted five plants loved by bees, which give beautiful blooms and come into flower early in the year.

Galanthus nivalis - snowdrops - © GAP Photos/Christina Bollen

Galanthus nivalis – snowdrops – © GAP Photos/Christina Bollen

Galanthus nivalis – Snowdrop
Snowdrops are best planted in partial shade, so do well under deciduous trees. Plant snowdrop bulbs in the autumn or ‘in the green’ when they have finished flowering.

Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimis 'Tricolor' AGM - © GAP Photos/J S Sira

Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimis ‘Tricolor’ AGM – © GAP Photos/J S Sira

Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimis ‘Tricolor’
Crocus also come into flower particularly early, usually when the rest of your garden plants are still in winter slumber. The beautiful buds will lift the spirits in late winter, opening to offer plenty of food to passing bees. Mass plant the bulbs in drifts in sunny locations.

Ribes sanguineum 'Pulborough Scarlet' - © GAP Photos/Rob Whitworth

Ribes sanguineum ‘Pulborough Scarlet’ – © GAP Photos/Rob Whitworth

Ribes sanguineum
This flowering currant is particularly ornamental and the rich pink flowers appear in spring. Fantastic as a feature plant in a border, but can also be used as a hedging plant.

Erica carnea 'Pink Spangles' and Erica carnea 'White Glow' - © GAP Photos/Pernilla Bergdahl

Erica carnea ‘Pink Spangles’ and Erica carnea ‘White Glow’ – © GAP Photos/Pernilla Bergdahl

Erica carnea – Heather
Another winter-flowerer, these pretty perennials give the added bonus of being evergreen too. As with all heathers, it prefers acidic soil, so use ericaceous compost if you’re soil leans more alkaline.

Hyacinthoides non-scripta - Bluebells - ©  GAP Photos/J S Sira

Hyacinthoides non-scripta – Bluebells – © GAP Photos/J S Sira

Hyacinthoides non-Scripta – Bluebell
Bluebells are perfect for woodland gardens, or giving the traditional country cottage feel to a border. They prefer semi-shade and moist soil. It is easiest to plant the bulbs in autumn or in late winter/early spring, as long as the soil is workable.