30 Apr

Teak Garden Furniture for Your Outdoor Living Space

Your outside space should be treated just like the inside. Your furniture, accessories, and of course, the plants that you choose can really make a difference to how your garden or outdoor space is perceived. Pay attention to the way your garden looks, feels and smells and it will be a beautiful place where you will want to spend time.

Outdoor Style

The world is your oyster when it comes to deciding which style you might like to go for. Britain’s climate means that a whole variety of different plants will grow and thrive here so you don’t have to go for an English country garden style every time.

English Country Garden

An English country garden doesn’t have to be strictly Victorian, instead, try a 1920s feel. Think traditional English flowers such as Forget-me-nots, Geraniums, Pansies and Snapdragons, but paired with art deco style wire furniture and an antique mirror or two. Arrange straight beds around a focal point such as a birdbath or a summerhouse.

Moroccan

Or alternatively a Moroccan style garden is a lovely relaxed place to be, with white walls and trellis style tiles, low tables and cushions for seats. Go for exotic plants in large terracotta plant pots and citrus plants. You can’t forget the essential for Moroccan style, a shimmering water feature. Think of an oasis, with a stone floor and leafy plants. Lanterns, stripy fabric on hand carved furniture and accessories like birdcages all work well to create a North African feel.

Japanese

Clean simple lines make Japanese gardens a place of sanctuary. The use of bamboo as separation and curved lines that mean you can’t see the whole thing at the same time, which adds interest and adds to the sense of mystery. Evergreens are a predominant feature of Japanese gardens as they rely on subtle differences in texture as well as color. A pavilion or tea house can be a feature in your garden where you can spend time entertaining or viewing your garden.

Teak Garden Furniture

Teak Garden Furniture

Cottage Style 

A cottage style garden is a garden that looks overgrown and untended. They are informal and free flowering, with traditional English flowers like roses, lavender and foxglove. Similar to the English country look, it differs in the fact that there is no structure. Homely furniture like teak garden furniture works really well and if it doesn’t match, all the better.  Cottage gardens also include wooden structures like arches for climbing plants to grow over.

So whatever your style might be, make sure it’s reflected in your garden too.

22 Apr

Lovely Tropical Climber: Ipomoea quamoclit

Ipomoea quamoclit, commonly known as Cypress Vine, is a delicate and fast-growing climber from the family of morning glory. Characterized by delicate, finely cut foliage and lovely scarlet flowers, Cypress Vine makes a good climber for growing against fences and trellises.

Ipomoea quamoclit,  Cypress Vine

Ipomoea quamoclit, Cypress Vine/ Image via flickr

Usually grown as an annual bloomer, this twining vine grows quite fast and grows up to 6 meters and produces smooth-textures foliage. Flowers of pink, red or scarlet colors appear in early summer. The fern-like foliage and small attractive flowers give a tremendous look to the plant. When in bloom, Ipomoea quamoclit attracts bees, birds and butterflies.

Ipomoea quamoclit has many common names including Cardinal Climber, Star Glory, Cypress Vine and Indian Pink.

Ipomoea quamoclit prefers partial to full sun and slightly moist soil all the time. The plant seeds itself freely and can become invasive in some climates.

19 Apr

Lovely Landscape Shrubs: Viburnum

Viburnum is a large genus of flowering shrubs and small trees that offer a wide range of plants for landscapes and gardens. In fact, you can find Viburnums for almost all types of climates and growing conditions. Some of the species grow well in warm and sunny conditions and some prefer colder and shady spots. Some species adore landscapes and some accommodated in small gardens and containers.

Viburnum opulus 'roseum'

Viburnum opulus ‘roseum’/ Image by Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen

Gardeners grow Viburnums as exotic bloomers that produce beautiful and showy flowers. Flowering starts in early spring and lasts till mid-summer. Flowering is followed by formation of berry-like fruits that are eaten by birds. Most species of Viburnum are sun loving but they accommodate well in partially shaded spots easily.

Viburnum can be propagated from cuttings or layers. The best use of Viburnum is in hedges, borders or landscapes where these lovely bloomers can be grown in groups for abundant spring flowering.

Among many species and hybrids, popular varieties include:

Viburnum x burkwoodii: Large white or pink flowers with strong fragrance.

V. davidii: Shrubby plant often growing into a small tree; makes a good specimen plant.

V. carlesii: Beautiful reddish foliage and slightly fragrant flowers of pink color.

Viburnum opulus: Known for large snowball flowers.

18 Apr

Choosing the Right Lawnmower

Purchasing a lawnmower can be a bit daunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for with so much choice on the market, so below is a comprehensive overview of prices, types and things to look out for when choosing a lawnmower.

We’ll cover choosing the right lawnmower for your garden from cylinder lawnmowers to rotary lawnmowers and petrol to electric; along with tips to keep your lawn healthy and your neighbours envious. Things you need to consider when buying a lawnmower is what power source is best for your garden; electric, petrol or battery and the size, shape and surface of your lawn.

How to Choose the Right Lawnmower

Electric lawnmowers are popular in cities and small towns for their discrete engine noise and lightweight design. An electric lawnmower is likely to set you back from about £40 – £50. These are ideal for medium size lawns or anything smaller, however the majority of electric lawnmowers are mains power operated, which may be restricting for people with larger gardens.

Petrol lawnmowers have the key advantage of being cordless which is a lifesaver for homeowners with large gardens and makes extension cables a thing of the past. Another advantage is that petrol lawnmowers are significantly more powerful than electric lawnmowers, ideal for tackling out of hand gardens; however, this comes at a price starting at £80 for a basic petrol lawnmower and you can expect to spend over £250 on a higher end product.

Rotary lawnmowers are the most common type of lawnmowers that buyers usually opt for and range from roughly £200 depending on size and brand. Rotary lawnmowers are wheel based and have a rotating blade, chopping the grass as you push it along. These are ideal for medium and large gardens; however they are typically mains powered so this can be restricting depending your access to a mains socket. For lawns larger than 1/2 acre it would be worth considering buying a riding lawn mower.

Hover mowers are popular in the UK and are similar to rotary lawn mowers but they glide across the grass on an air of cushion, as opposed to having wheels. Typically they don’t come with a grass collector, which makes them light and portable. Hover mowers start at £30 and can creep up to £200 for a top of the range mower, complete with a grass collector. Hover mowers rotary blades are ideal for small gardens and uneven surfaces. Flymo offer a large range of lightweight and powerful hover mowers, Flymos found here.

Cylinder lawnmowers if your lawn is 50 sq m then a hand cylinder lawnmower may be suitable for your lawn, which start from around £30 and increase in price for electric and petrol powered machines. Cylinder lawnmowers have sharp metal blades rotating and one stationary blade, cutting the grass like scissors as you push it across your lawn. If you’re considering a push lawn mower the quality of the blades is important so it’s worth looking for ones which are self-sharpening. Perfect for small gardens, however you may need something with more power if you have a longer or rougher grass.

Tips

When buying a lawn mower it is important to check that it is comfortable to use. Most lawnmowers on the market have adjustable handles so you can suit it to your needs. Many petrol and electric lawnmowers are heavy which can be an issue if you need to lift your lawnmower and move it up and down steps in the garden. Bosch lawn mowers from Argos include a range of foldable lightweight electric lawn mowers for compact storage.

17 Apr

Ornamental and Unusual Succulent Shrub: Alluaudia procera

If you are looking for a striking, unusual and low-maintenance ornamental plant, consider Alluaudia procera – a really striking succulent shrub that can be used as outdoor as well as indoor ornamental plant.

Alluaudia procera

Alluaudia procera/ Image by Natalie Tapson

Alluaudia procera or African Ocotillo, as it is commonly known among gardeners, belongs to a small genus of succulent shrubs that resemble Fouquieria and Crown of Thorns in their structure and growing habit. A typical Alluaudia produces a tall central stem covered with spines and small deciduous leaves. From the central stem appear stout vertical branches. Small white or yellow flowers grow along these branches in large clusters. Leaves usually fall in winter and come back during warm and humid summer. Alluaudia procera can grow up to 3 meters tall indoors and as tall as 18 meters in its native habitat.

Because of its unusual shape, Alluaudia procera makes a nice specimen plant especially when grown in small groups. The plant grows well when provided with bright sunlight, and well-drained porous soil. The plant does not need much watering and is able to survive long spells of drought.

Alluaudia procera is easily propagated from cuttings.

11 Apr

Compact, Evergreen Tropical Shrub: Breynia disticha, the Snow Bush

Breynia disticha or Snow Bush, as it is commonly known among gardeners, is a compact and evergreen shrub from tropical climates across the Americas, Africa, the Indian Sub-continent and Australia. However, it is easily cultivated in colder climates as well.

Breynia disticha

Breynia disticha/ Image by Forest & Kim Starr

Breynia disticha makes an excellent plant for borders where it grows as a small shrub (up to 4 feet) and produces beautiful foliage of green, white and pink colors. The colorful foliage, ease of cultivation and the ability to grow in a wide range of climates make Snow Bush a useful plant for landscapes as well as indoor and outdoor containers. It can also be used as colorful evergreen hedge or as a dwarf shrub for filling unused spaces.

Tropical Snow Bush

Snow Bush growing as hedge/ Image by Forest & Kim Starr

Breynia disticha prefers filtered sunlight, rich soil and slightly moist soil. The plant grows quickly and is cultivated from softwood cuttings or suckers. Flowers of Snow Bush are inconspicuous but the foliage is quite attractive and colorful throughout the year.

08 Apr

Spring Gardening with Carmen Johnston

As the weather starts to slowly warm up, it is time to get your gardens filled with the colorful blooms of spring. And this spring, Carmen Johnston, the Southern Living® Plant Collection’s Garden Lifestyle Expert, brings a lot of stuff to decorate your garden.

Southern Living® Designer Series Container Gardens

Southern Living® Designer Series
Container Gardens

Southern Living® Plant Collection provides gardeners with innovative new plants designed to solve specific landscape challenges and to excel in Southern gardens. Each plant in the collection is the result of years of plant evaluations, plant trials and research. You can choose from a variety of shrubs, bulbs, grasses and tropical trees for your garden or as a lovely gift to gardening enthusiasts.

Carmen will speak this Spring to audiences across the country teaching easy gardening tips for both everyday and experienced gardeners. Carmen is also doing a series of events at Home Depot demonstrating how to use the new Southern Living Plant Collection Designer Series Container Gardens.

For more information, decorating tips, and how-to-articles, visit, Southern Living Plants.

08 Apr

[May 11 – May 12, 2013] WNPS Native Plant Sale and Celebration

Largest collection of native plants for sale at Mercerdale Park, Washington.  Come buy or just look and learn.

Abundant FREE parking, ask the experts, books on gardening and more, propagation workshop, talk on Native Mason bees, other environmental groups, NEW!! planted decorative containers for patios, balconies, decks, the garden and Mother’s day.

Schedule: Sat, May 11, 10:00 PM – Sun, May 12, 4:00 AM

For more information follow:

Twitter @WNPS_PlantSale,

Facebook: wnps_native_plant_sale_­news

08 Apr

Bold and Beautiful, Echium Mr. Happy

Mr. Happy’ – perfect name for a plant that blooms so generously and joyfully. A hybrid of Echium wildprettii and E. pininan, Echium ‘Mr. Happy’ is a beautiful plant that produces a large mound of lovely pink flowers in summer. When in full blooms, the plant attracts bees, birds and butterflies.

Echium wildprettii and E. pininan, Mr. Happy

Echium ‘Mr. Happy’/ Image by anniesannuals.com

When grown in the ground, Echium ‘Mr. Happy’ can grow up to 15 feet and spread across 2 feet with a large bulbous base. A mature plant often forms a group of rosettes with silvery-green foliage. Though not commonly found on local nurseries, ‘Mr. Happy’ makes an excellent accent plant in a garden or landscape design. The plant is quite easy to grow and hardy enough to survive spells of drought. Therefore, it is often found growing in xericapes and rock gardens.

‘Mr. Happy’ can be grown under full to partial sun and in almost any soil that provides good drainage. The plant, however, is not suitable for growing in containers.