Monthly Archives: July 2019

Garden Lighting – Fun Ways to Light Up Your Outdoor Space

Lighting up your garden is a really fun way to make it usable long after the sun has set. It also gives you a chance to be creative, and there are so many different styles and lighting products to choose from, you are likely to find something that really compliments the aesthetics of your garden. We have selected a few ideas and products that you may want to consider for your outdoor space.

Spotlights

Sandstone path with uplight lighting on Laurel hedge - © GAP Photos

Sandstone path with uplight lighting on Laurel hedge – © GAP Photos

Spotlights built into paving slabs look simple and modern, and really showcase the surrounding planting as dusk gives way to darkness. Used around the edge of a patio or pathway, they subtlety light the way without taking up any room. While potentially more expensive than other gardening lighting options, they should be seen as an investment. As many are solar-powered, they will light up on their own, meaning the hard work is already done for you and all you need to do is relax and enjoy your evening.

Home-made candle lanterns

Home made garden lanterns - © GAP Photos/Victoria Firmston

Home made garden lanterns – © GAP Photos/Victoria Firmston

Candle Lanterns are very straight forward to make, all you need is a glass jar and a candle to safely light up your garden table. Candles are very atmospheric and look fantastic in the garden to create a relaxed vibe. You can get creative and decorate the glass jars with patterns and styles to fit in with your style.

Firepits

Secluded seating area with a dry stone slate wall and propane fire pit emitting purple light - © GAP Photos

Secluded seating area with a dry stone slate wall and propane fire pit emitting purple light – © GAP Photos

Another contemporary feature that fits well with a modern, minimalist garden. These fire pits are built into the table and make a fantastic conversation starter, and a natural area for people to gather together and socialise around. Of course, not all firepits have to be this modern – a more rustic variation can be made quite easily in a different part of the garden. However, this particular table and built-in firepit looks particularly stylish with the modern outdoor seating around it, as well as looking very useable.

Hanging glass lanterns

Glass lanterns hanging in an apple tree at night with rustic table beneath - © GAP Photos/Maxine Adcock

Glass lanterns hanging in an apple tree at night with rustic table beneath – © GAP Photos/Maxine Adcock

Colourful lanterns look fantastic hung in trees, as shown here, or draped along fences. You can have fun with different colour themes for different times of the year, for example, this warm colour combination of red, orange yellow and green works in autumn and into Christmas to bring a bit of festivity to your garden. If you cannot supply power in your garden, you can always look up solar-powered options.

A good old mixture

Small town garden with paving slabs in grass beneath arch with lighting -  Wolverhampton, Staffs - © GAP Photos/Jerry Harpur

Small town garden with paving slabs in grass beneath arch with lighting – Wolverhampton, Staffs – © GAP Photos/Jerry Harpur

The use of lighting in this narrow garden creates a very magical and immersive feeling, as the candles glow among the planting. Staggering the candles at different heights in the foliage heavy borders gives a relaxed vibe. The additional torches by the arch and attached to the fencing give a little more splendour, but still keeps the style uniform.

Biodegradable Plant Pots – The Options

Reducing plastic waste is on the forefront of many gardener’s minds. The gardening industry is guilty of promoting one use plastic. However, in recent years new products have started to appear that address this issue, one being the growing variety of biodegradable plant pots. We decided to look into more detail about the pros and cons of these, as well as make-shift pots you can create at home.

Coir and Coconut Fibre Pots

Young runner bean plants growing in biodegradable pots - © GAP Photos/Nicola Stocken

Young runner bean plants growing in biodegradable pots – © GAP Photos/Nicola Stocken

These biodegradable pots are now widely available in garden centres and online, and while a more expensive option compared to plastic pots, as they are essentially one use, they do have numerous benefits. The main benefit is that they are perfect for starting seeds, as the seedling’s roots will push through the sides of the pot, meaning less root disturbance and greater success when planted in the ground. They are fairly sturdy and can withstand a few rounds of watering before they should be planted out. The main drawback is that they dry out quickly, so need to be watered quite regularly. Like toilet rolls, they are also prone to moulding when used in humid environments such as propagators.

Bamboo and Rice Plastic Alternatives

Watering transplanted Viola seedling in a biodegradable flower pot made from Bamboo and Rice material - © GAP Photos/FhF Greenmedia

Watering transplanted Viola seedling in a biodegradable flower pot made from Bamboo and Rice material – © GAP Photos/FhF Greenmedia

These pots are quite new to the industry, and are made of bamboo and rice materials, although they appear at first glance to be plastic. They are strong and durable like plastic, come in different colours and will eventually break down, although this process can take as long as three years. For this reason, they can be reused, and are a good option if you would like to start plants off under shelter, or keep a while before you plant them out. As these pots take a long time to break down completely, it is probably best not to plant them underground, as you may well get a pot-bound plant, as the roots will not be able to penetrate the pot sides as with other biodegradable options. If you like to grow young plants on and are keen to reduce your plastic use, investing in some bamboo and rice material pots might be a good option for you.

Newspaper Pots

Sweet pea plants grown in newspaper pots - © GAP Photos/Gary Smith

Sweet pea plants grown in newspaper pots – © GAP Photos/Gary Smith

If you own a pot maker, you can create a whole batch of these in an afternoon (once you’ve read your newspaper of course). There are obvious benefits to these pots, the main one being that you are finding a way to repurpose an object you already have used. As you are creating the pots yourself, you know that there have been no additional transportation costs involved to deliver them. Newspaper also breaks down in wet soil quite easily, so plants are unlikely to become pot-bound. There is an obvious drawback to using newspaper to make biodegradable pots. They are fairly flimsy, and will not last long if watered regularly above the ground. For this reason, they are best used for quick-germinating annuals that can be planted out promptly.

Toilet Rolls

French Beans, 'Purple Teepee' growing in empty loo rolls, UK May - © GAP Photos/Gary Smith

French Beans, ‘Purple Teepee’ growing in empty loo rolls, UK May – © GAP Photos/Gary Smith

Saving toilet rolls for planting seeds such as peas and runner beans has been a trick used for years. Again, the benefit of using these as seed pots is that you are repurposing an item you have no further use for. They are perfect for seeds that need to be planted quite deeply, but you can always cut them in half for smaller seeds if you wish. They will erode quite quickly when sufficiently wet, and you can plant them straight out in the ground when the seedlings are a good enough size, reducing waste and root disturbance. An obvious drawback is that you need quite a few, as you would only sow one seed per toilet roll. Another drawback is that in a humid environment, for example a propagator, they can start to mould before you have the chance to plant them out.

Why Plant Flowers and Vegetables Together?

Often vegetables and herbs are kept away from ornamental plants in the garden, and sometimes there are practical reasons for doing this, for example if you want to keep your vegetable garden strictly organic, but like to use non-organic fertilisers on your ornamentals. However mixing vegetables and edibles together can create really ornamental borders and has other added benefits.

Companion Planting

Flowers mixed in with vegetables to attract beneficial insects and aid pollination. Tagetes patula 'Durango Bee' - French Marigold with Mustard 'Oriental Pizzo', Radish, Dwarf bean 'Orinoco', Lettuce 'Lollo Biondo', Ruby chard 'Vulcan' and Tropaeolum minus 'Ladybird' - Nasturtium - © GAP Photos/Graham Strong

Flowers mixed in with vegetables to attract beneficial insects and aid pollination. Tagetes patula ‘Durango Bee’ – French Marigold with Mustard ‘Oriental Pizzo’, Radish, Dwarf bean ‘Orinoco’, Lettuce ‘Lollo Biondo’, Ruby chard ‘Vulcan’ and Tropaeolum minus ‘Ladybird’ – Nasturtium – © GAP Photos/Graham Strong

Companion planting takes many forms, but it generally it involves combining certain plants because they work well together. Many crops rely on pollinators, such as bees and butterflies for successful yields of fruit. By planting flowering plants between your rows of crops which are attractive to pollinators, you greatly increase the chances of success. In addition, many beneficial flowering plants, such as marigolds, have a strong scent that confuses nearby pests, and spares your plants from their clutches.

It adds a cheery pop of colour

Tulipa 'Ballerina' growing with lettuce and Euphorbia characias subsp.wulfenii 'John Tomlinson' - © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Tulipa ‘Ballerina’ growing with lettuce and Euphorbia characias subsp.wulfenii ‘John Tomlinson’ – © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

The sight of vegetables growing together in a garden is a very attractive one, however bright colour is not often a feature until later in the season. These orange tulips pop against the lettuce growing around them, and provide some much-needed height and vibrancy to spring borders and vegetable plots.

It saves space

Mixed hanging basket with Beta vulgaris 'Feurio' and Petunia sophistica 'Lime Bicolor' - Two-Tone Petunia - © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Mixed hanging basket with Beta vulgaris ‘Feurio’ and Petunia sophistica ‘Lime Bicolor’ – Two-Tone Petunia – © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Many do not have room for both vegetables and ornamental borders, so why not combine them. Even if all you have room for is a hanging basket, you can still have the best of both words. Here, Petunia flowers tumble down the side of a hanging basket while the dark red leaves of a swiss chard create a proud and edible centrepiece, which can be harvested from as and when is needed.