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Living the green dream: 13 ways to bring home nature’s most calming colour this summer

Sam Wylie-Harris shops a mix of forest shades.

Calming, optimistic and fresh, the colour green can steer us from summer meadows to manicured lawns, botanical gardens and olive trees.

And when we want to conjure that connecting-with-nature vibe, a variety of plants, green decos and furnishings is the easiest way to achieve that in our homes – and style up a favourite space in the process.

From minty accents to fertile ferns, everything ‘grows’ together with a healthy, grassy palette to play with. These are some of our favourite ways to go green at home this summer…

1. Sophie Allport Home Grown Mug and The Kitchen Garden Mug, £12 each (other items from a selection), Sophie Allport

To turn your kitchen into a cottage garden setting, these sweet illustrated mugs evoke thoughts of vegetable patches, foxgloves and a wall of climbing roses.

2. Gluggle Jug in Woodland Green, £39, Graham & Green

If you’re a Jenny-come-lately to the joy of gluggle jugs, now’s the time to snap up one of these fish-shaped pitchers. Famed for making a gurgling sound – think how much better your Pimm’s will sound and taste – they also make brilliant vases for showing off those pink peonies.

3. Sage Green Linen Table Cloth, £89, Graham & Green

Sage green is cited as the shade of the season and thanks to its versatility (it’s the neutral on the colour chart), it works like a dream in interiors. Made out of stonewashed linen, picture a bowl of avocados and some recycled glass tumblers artfully placed atop this table cloth, to pull it all together.

4. Set of 4 Eucalyptus Green TruGlow Taper Candles, £29.99, Lights4fun (available from July)

Whether it’s a rustic setting with cabbage-green earthenware plates or something more serene, tablescaping with LED tapered dinner candles is so much easier without the worry of wax dripping.

5. Monstera Deliciosa & Helena Rose Pot, £56 (£48 Soho Home member), Soho Home

A collaboration between Soho Home and Leaf Envy, what could be easier than festooning with foliage in your own ‘House’, with their carefully edited selection of real house plants and pots, similar to those you’ll find around Soho House members’ clubs.

6. Onism Moss Green Wallpaper, £85 per roll, Woodchip & Magnolia

Larger than life, if you’re feeling brave, think about creating a wonder wall of wild flowers for maximum impact. The different colour combinations in this delightful paper can be picked up with an accent chair, scatter cushion or decorative piece of furniture.

7. Copper Cube Terrariums, from £69.95, The Urban Botanist

Housed succulents make a stunning edition, especially when your trump terra has been hand-picked by a team of botanical experts. Each copper frame is designed to house a selection of three succulents resting on a bed of gravel, with the option to add lights. We’re in.

8. Small Flagon Table Lamp in Thyme Green Vintage Linen, £135, Loaf

With a clear base and linen shade in Mediterranean thyme green, not only does this lamp sit well next to a sofa in a similar shade, but you can ‘switch on’ to the herb’s medicinal benefits, with the soothing effects of ambient lighting.

9. Lilly of the Valley & Ivy Charity Candle, £49, Jo Malone

Softly scented and blending wellness with whimsy, this gorgeous Jo Malone candle channels Lilly of the valley with cassis, narcissus and cool green ivy notes, such as herbs and foliage. An added bonus, a donation equal to 75% (less VAT) goes towards charities and projects supporting mental health.

10. Magnolia Solar Smarttech Illuminated Plant Pot – Small, £135, Amara

Suitable for indoor and outdoor use with four flash settings, your favourite fern will love basking in the spotlight.

11. Betty Armchair in Olive, from £330, Sofa.com

Fashioned on a mid-century cocktail chair with a curved, padded back, rounded edges and a plush seat, style Betty with hanging grasses and a trug of dried woodland flowers to weave it all together. Did someone say grasshopper cocktail?

12. Garden Trading Rive Droite Bistro Tray Table in Forest Green Steel, £30, and matching Bistro Chairs, £80 for two, Garden Trading (available from June 7)

Practical and space saving, this foldable bistro table with detachable tray and matching chairs will pimp up a patio or tinsy lawn, plus we love the simplicity of steel.

13. Heating & Plumbing London Pure New Wool Picnic Blanket – Mint Green & Yellow, £125; matching Waterproof Outdoor Cushion in Pure New Wool, £44.50; ‘Keep Your Cool’ Champagne Bucket – Yellow Leather Strap, £85, Heating & Plumbing

Heating & Plumbing have done all the hard work for you and foraged three vital ingredients to make your garden party a chilled – and cosy – celebration. And you can always branch out and hang the champagne bucket from a pretty parasol to enjoy the first sip, and toast those slow days of summer, in the shade.

6 ways to get your garden party-ready for summer

Award-winning garden designer Chris Beardshaw offers tips on planting, lights and show-stopping centrepieces. By Hannah Stephenson.

With lockdown restrictions easing, there’s likely to be a lot of entertaining going on in back gardens throughout summer.

So, is your garden party-ready – where guests will be able to sit in comfort, savour the beautiful plants around them, and enjoy the atmosphere late into the night?

Of course, your own home-grown cut flowers will always pretty up a table, while sprigs of lavender or other herbs could add a scented accent to your place settings.

“All the research shows there’s a generation of gardeners, who have been exposed to the opportunity of getting outside, growing plants and experiencing the green world around them as a result of being locked-down,” says award-winning garden designer, Chris Beardshaw.

“One of the ways to keep that focus going is to provide opportunities in our gardens for increased socialising and increased sharing in the garden. People can enrich their garden without it becoming hardcore gardening.”

Beardshaw, who is supporting Readly, an online subscription service to consumer magazines including major gardening titles, offers the following tips…

1. Plant a riot of colour

“Plant up containers of colour. Take any container – basically if it has a hole in the bottom and you can put gravel and compost into it and stick it somewhere with light, you can grow something,” says Beardshaw.

“Choreograph those containers – perhaps with colour coordination, or with particular design approaches which suit the rest of your garden or your interiors or particular passion – so you get that instant colour creating a wow factor.

“Of course, the best range of plants to use for this are the annuals, the live-fast die-young plants, and short-term perennials such as dahlias and chrysanthemums, or perhaps bulbs like galtonias and leucanthemums. They create a chic, stylish look.”

2. Make a floral ice bowl centrepiece

“If you have two bowls which are interlocking (one smaller than the other), you can pour water between the two, then put it into the freezer and as it starts to freeze, layer on the petals like geraniums, cistus and nasturtiums as a veneer, and then keep topping up with water between the two bowls.

“When your guests arrive, you remove the inner bowl (by filling it with warm water), upturn the bigger bowl and you then have a complete iced bowl decorated with petals.

“You could fill it with fruit or ice cream as the entertaining takes place. It’s a great summer centrepiece.”

3. Create ambience

“Make sure you’ve got cushions and blankets and throws, which really extend internal furnishings into the great outdoors. Corral seats around a firepit or under a parasol, where people can feel a bit more at home and a bit more willing to sit outside later in the evening and listen to the way nature is putting itself to bed, and maybe owls and other creatures making themselves heard.”

4. Wow guests with wildlife

“Choose plants which are more biodiverse and wildlife-friendly, with more open flower, things like cistus for instance, anthemis, the wonderful daisy flowers, an advertising hoarding for insects.

“Angelica is also very good, along with alliums and astrantias, where you have cluster flowers that are bringing in insects. You’ll not only see beautiful butterflies but also night-time moths.”

5. Enjoy home-grown party food

“Growing your own is a fantastic experience of gardening, with the rich flavours and satisfaction you get, and you’ll also have a knock-on admiration from anyone you invite in, as they munch on your lettuce or rocket, or fresh strawberries warmed by summer sunshine. Your guest will be in love with your dining style forever.

“If you are growing produce in containers, go for short-rooted varieties. So if you are growing carrots or beetroot, go for the dwarf types; if you are growing salads, go for the cut-and-come-again varieties, where you can harvest them and they’ll keep growing back relentlessly.

“If you do have a glasshouse, conservatory or porch, you can grow things like peaches. A home-produced peach is like nothing else. You might not get many of them, but they are sweet, juicy and delicious.”

6. Add subtle lighting

“In my own garden, we don’t shy away from subtle lighting. We have old-fashioned festoon-style lightbulbs, which are solar powered and have little LEDs in them.

“They hang from some of the trees, shrubs and bushes to give a moonlight wash, a subtle extension of the internal lighting of the house.”

Visit readly.com/gardening for more information.

How to get your community involved in wildlife pursuits this summer

Encourage your neighbours, friends and relatives to connect with nature for 30 Days Wild, urges The Wildlife Trusts.

How can you reconnect with nature? It could be taking your breakfast outside to start the day, listening to the birds, reading a wildlife book or photographing a ladybird.

Connecting with wildlife and reconnecting with families and friends in the process is hugely important, says The Wildlife Trusts (wildlifetrusts.org), organisers of the 30 Days Wild campaign throughout June, in which gardeners and the wider public are being encouraged to carry out one ‘random act of wildness’ every day for a month.

You may want to start simple – putting out a birdbath, or stacking up some logs in a forgotten corner for insects – or you could join the campaign trail, writing to your MP to ask for more local action for nature and wildlife.

Ian Jelley, director of living landscapes for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, explains: “The whole premise of 30 Days Wild is about people engaging with nature more often. People individually can make a big difference to the species on their doorstep, but also need to take collective action to help bring our wildlife back.”

Encourage neighbours

“The key is to share enthusiasm and what everyone can enjoy if you all work together. As a charity we have been trying to do more landscape-scale conservation where more people work together. If people are inspired by people they know and live near, it’s really powerful,” says Jelley.

Share experiences

“We moved into our house in November, put in a trail camera and discovered we had a hedgehog in our garden and I started having a conversation with the neighbours, asking them if they had hedgehogs in their garden.

“A hedgehog moves through quite a large area when it’s feeding, so it needs access to gardens. One of the challenges is that a lot of gardens are fenced or have a wall, so hedgehogs can’t access the gardens so easily,” he says.

“Talk to neighbours to see if they can help create a corridor by cutting a small hole in the bottom of their garden fence. Then the neighbour can share stories of what the hedgehog was doing in their garden and it starts to feel like it’s a community pet, with shared responsibility for looking after its welfare.”

Connect through social media

“There is a 30 Days Wild Facebook group which is a great example of how people from all walks of life share their experiences of wildlife, ask for help in identifying something, or support each other with practical ideas on how to make space for nature,” explains Jelley.

“Technology is a brilliant way of recording wildlife, but it’s also a brilliant way of celebrating it. There are loads of different groups on social media platforms who are sharing stories of what they’ve encountered and asking questions about species.”

Join or set up a community group

“If you have a shared community green space within an urban area, there is an opportunity to influence that to help wildlife,” he notes. “We work with social housing providers to help them manage their land. Often these providers will engage the residents that live there and ask them what they’d like to see – to accommodate what is good for wildlife, but is also interesting for people.

“You might get involved in creating a wildflower meadow. It doesn’t have to be a huge field. You can create a wildflower meadow in a raised bed or a pot or at the side of a shrubbery.”

You can get all generations involved too. The charity suggests recording some older community members talking about their most treasured wild memories as part of a wild time capsule project.

Create neighbourhood competitions

Challenge the next village along to build the best bug hotel, for instance, the charity suggests.

Think about doing less

“Sometimes with wildlife, it’s actually about doing less. If you’re cutting back verges or hedges less often, you are providing more natural conditions for wildlife. Engage with decision-makers and people who manage the green space around you, which is a powerful community influence.”

Donate wildlife-friendly gifts

Donate nest boxes to a local school, business or care home, which will not only give the recipients a connection to nature, but encourage neighbours and friends to do the same, to cast the natural network wider, The Wildlife Trusts suggests.

Learn from allotment holders

“[Allotments] are fantastic places for wildlife. They are a lifeline for species like slow worms and other reptiles that rely on compost heaps and the conditions allotments provide,” says Jelley.

“Allotment holders are often very knowledgeable about the need for bees and butterflies, to grow the crops they are trying to grow.”

Access specialist groups

“There are specialist groups around the country for all sorts of different things. The Wildlife Trusts can help signpost people to them. If people don’t know where to start, contact your local wildlife trust to find out what’s happening in your area,” says Jelley.

“The local trusts will often be running activities and events, but are also the facilitators of more specialist groups, such as those who are interested in bats or dragonflies or whatever. They are keen to pass on that knowledge and to help newcomers learn about stuff on a basic level.”

For more ideas and to join in the fun at 30 Days Wild visit wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild.

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