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The Great Outdoors - Part One.

The summer (and this amazing weather) can’t help but get you thinking about the great outdoors. Whether it is going on a country walk, a picnic or just relaxing in your own garden, there is nothing like being out and about when the sun is shining. At my house, any decorating has taken a bit of a back seat to getting the garden sorted (apart from painting the front door, perfect weather for that, although the paint was drying in my tray!). My garden is quite small, on two levels, the higher being a patio. The lower level has AstroTurf, left by the previous owners which I initially hated but has “grown on me”! Having a nice green lawn when all the other grass around is sun baked is actually quite nice. The garden is very green, a few flowers here and there, but I am definitely more drawn towards grasses, ferns, bamboos and trees. Green is a very soothing colour, which is why being outdoors in nature makes you feel so good. Also, a great colour to bring into the home be it using accessories, paint or plants. Muted, natural tones are particularly relaxing in a bedroom for a good night’s sleep and I love having a bathroom full of plants for a jungle feel! I am certainly not a plant expert but I know what I like to look at which is how I choose my plants and it is my poor husband who is then given the task of working out if they will survive and keeping them alive for me!

Last weekend I was on the hunt for some inspiration at the RHS Tatton Park Flower show. I have never been to a flower show before, I have always liked the idea of Chelsea but what I have heard about the amount of people puts me off a little. I went on the last day and it was very relaxed, you were able to see the show gardens easily and the site wasn’t too big. The gardens were an interesting collection taking inspiration from walks in the woods, jungles, bee friendly spaces and even a gin garden! For someone with quite a compact garden, the designs highlighted just what is possible in a small space, a lot more than you would originally think. There were two that I liked the most when thinking of my own garden the first “Jungle Fever” by Pip Probert. I think it appealed to me because it had a lot of elements that I already have like paving, grasses and leafy plants so it seemed familiar, but also some elements that have been ideas on a list for my garden like the wooden structures that create walkways and shelters, as well as places from climbing plants. And most importantly, banana palms! Which I will be adding to my garden once I find the perfect one and work out how to keep it alive over winter!

The second garden was called “Calm in Chaos” by Bowles and Wyer. Ferns galore! The idea for this garden is that it is an escape from city life and is meant to mimic a woodland trail. Their information leaflet states, “Green space is proven to have a positive impact on our mental and physical well-being”. Again it had lots of layers of grasses and leafy plants and amazing colours of the bright limes contrasting with dark, purple black. The upright wooden struts lead you around the space but also add some regimented, straight lines among all the vegetation. It is amazing to think that these gardens that look so established have only been planted a few days before!

Whatever outside space you have, it is easy to grab a few plants that you like to look at and give it a go. I'm not sure it this is what “real” gardeners do, I have no doubt there is a lot more planning involved, but I definitely go for aesthetic above all else and it's a good a reason as any, you need to want to be in your outdoor space, just like your home so if it looks pleasing then you’ll enjoy your time there. Several of the gardens at Tatton used reflective surfaces like pools of water and mirrors. I have used mirrors in my own garden which make you feel like you have doubled the amount of plants you have but can also give the illusion of your space being larger than it is. They can also screen your garden from neighbours for more privacy. I don’t have any soil borders to plant anything so I have lots of pots, which would work even if you have a really small amount of outdoor space like a balcony or even just on a window ledge. And of course, potted plants indoors will bring some outside in and you can have fun matching your pots to your decor or going for a contrasting orange pot to give your leafy plants some zing! If you really struggle looking after plants, (first try a succulent or two, fairly hard to kill and look lovely) instead have some accessories with bold leafy prints to give a similar feel to the real thing. Garden inspired room design to follow in part two! Also try checking out the BBC coverage of Tatton on the iplayer for more information on the gardens I have mentioned. My photos don't really do them justice!


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