This is why you Shouldn’t let Summer pass without Cooking Outside with the Kids

outdoor cooking with kids

There's just something about making dinner out of doors. So, marshmallows at the ready, says Ella Walker.

One thing is guaranteed to ruin the vibe of any summer party, and that’s a parent shrieking across a sun-scorched garden: ‘IT’S HOT – I TOLD YOU TO STAY AWAY FROM THE BARBECUE!’

Usually, there’d be a few expletives in there, a spilled beer, a freshly-bunned burger dropped in the dirt, as well as an overwhelming panic bound up in love and the understandable fear of third-degree burns.

outdoor cooking with kids

Fire and small children can be a stressful mix. But that doesn’t mean it can’t ever be done – and provide an afternoon of fun, bonding and ridiculously good food.

Dawn Isaac, author of 101 Things For Kids To Do Outside (Kyle Books, £14.99), notes that “it’s always more exciting having a sandwich outside”.

And you know what’s more exciting than a sandwich – especially outdoors? A burger. Or a hot dog. And if you speared that hot dog sausage on a twig (OK, a Lakeland skewer) and blackened it over a fire yourself, things are exponentially better. That’s as an adult – just imagine doing it aged eight. Talk about mind-blown.

Chuck in some marshmallows turned lichen-orange as they melt into a tooth-sticking goo, and you just know your kids may never go to bed again. Largely that’d be down to the sugar coursing through their tiny bodies, but also because cooking in the open air – and learning to prep your own food in the process – is quite simply intoxicating. As much so as it is watching the dancing belly of a fire flickering away.

outdoor cooking with kids

“Kids love getting stuck in in the kitchen, so getting them to help with cooking really encourages them, especially when it’s more of an adventure outdoors,” says Genevieve Taylor, grill extraordinaire and author of veggie barbecue book Charred (Quadrille, £16).

Taylor’s all about stretching yourself when it comes to barbecuing too – kebabs, plastic cheese squares and bangers are all very well, but what about cumin spiked falafel burgers, miso grilled aubergine, and sweet potato wedges with oregano? She notes in Charred that “pretty much any vegetable you can think of can be elevated by a little fire and smoke” – and getting kids involved with spicing up BBQ fare is a great place for you to all start.

“Mine have always loved sniffing the jars of spices and choosing what they fancied, which works a treat as they can both be quite fussy,” explains Taylor. “Getting kids used to spices early gets them used to the idea of food from all over the world and teaches them that spices don’t always need to equal heat.”

outdoor cooking with kids

Also, anything that tricks them into taking an interest in vegetables – regardless that it might mean torching them to smithereens over a campfire – must be positive. Think wrangling with butter drenched corn on the cob, or stealth-eating (shock horror) veg on skewers, because if you’ve threaded it yourself, you’re going to have to eat it, right? Even if there are mushrooms hiding amongst the chunks of pepper…

YouTube cook Ian Haste, author of The 7-Day Basket (Headline, £25), says: “My kids eat every single veg there is. If you’ve got them to cook it themselves, they’ve done it, and they’ll try and eat it, because they’re stubborn.”

Add the thrill of potentially-singed fingers, and a few atmospheric stars overheard, and your kids might just scoff everything you brought outdoors in the coolbag.

outdoor cooking with kids

“Fried cheese sandwiches are really popular and so easy to make on a BBQ – you can always leave out any bits they don’t fancy,” adds Taylor. “Getting kids to choose, or at least giving them an element of choice, is empowering and doesn’t mean they feel forced to eat everything.” And talking of cheese, watching anyone – no matter their age – try flame-seared halloumi for the first time is arguably a beautiful (if squeaky) experience.

Halloumi aside, there’s the whole getting into nature, learning new skills and ‘making memories together’ thing too – and memories attached to food have a different kind of vividness to them. Childhood picks them up like sticky burrs (like making flapjacks with your granny, eating jelly for the first time, building a fire in the garden and throwing bananas and chocolate wrapped in foil into the coals…).

outdoor cooking with kids

And of course, wild cooking together means the usual dedicated in-charge barbecue person won’t be all alone wreathed in smoke – you’ll have someone to chat to and share the very tough task of wielding the tongs with. Go forth, and make fire. Just have a bucket of water on standby…

From Crazy Paving to Patios: Gardening Trends Through the Decades

garden trends

As Southport Flower Show turns 90, garden designer and broadcaster Matthew Wilson looks at how tastes and trends have evolved. By Hannah Stephenson.

Who remembers when rock gardens were fashionable? Or perhaps at one point in your green-fingered life you attempted to paint your garden fence sky-blue, or adorn your patio with crazy paving?

These are just some of the trends remembered by award-winning garden designer and TV expert Matthew Wilson, a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time, who will be judging at Southport Flower Show later this month.

And this year mark’s the show’s 90th anniversary – so what better time to glance back at the go-to gardening looks we’ve seen come and go over the years?

Here, Wilson takes us down memory lane with a look at horticultural fads and fashions through the decades…

garden trends

1920s: The rock garden

In the 1920s, rock gardens were the height of fashion. You hardly see them these days, although there are still some designers who produce them.

garden trends

1930s: Art deco designs

As art deco architecture came into fashion, the style often extended into gardens. Exotic plants and evergreens were shown off in simple white-walled plots or within curved brick designs.

A great deal of creative effort was put into the paving, with highly stylised patios and paths.

garden trends

1940s: Grow your own

After the war, rationing continued for many years and the ‘grow your own’ movement was a necessity, rather than a fashion.

Ornamental gardens were dug up to make vegetable patches. Even football pitches were turned into allotments, and London’s Hyde Park had a huge allotment garden.

This trend continued into the 1970s, as seen on TV in The Good Life, and then fell out of fashion – but is very much back on the agenda for very different reasons right now, linked to the concern about the environment, food miles and agricultural additives. It’s come full circle.

garden trends

1950s: Rose gardens

There was a massive interest in rose breeding in the 1950s, with growers trying to produce new and exotic coloured colours. People tried to grow blue roses, which actually cannot exist in nature but have since been grown using genetic modification.

The Royal National Rose Society had more than 100,000 members by the 1970s. People still love roses, but few would have a rose garden that is solely roses and nothing else today.

It was also the start of the British love affair with the well-tended garden lawn, as new weed-killers, mowers and products came on the market, and the 1950s was the decade when the first garden centre opened in the UK.

garden trends

1960s: Mini conifers and heathers

In the late 1960s, there was a trend for mini-conifers and heathers in Britain’s gardens. They were popular because they were fairly low-maintenance and looked good all year round.

“Like many trends, they went completely out of fashion, but I think in the next few years we will start to see a renewed interest in conifers,” says Wilson.

garden trends

1970s: Crazy paving

Crazy paving was big in gardens in the 1970s. It was popular because it gave people a unique design in their garden, often in pink or yellow, and was also cheaper than conventional paving.

garden trends

1980s: Wildlife gardening

The 1980s saw a surge of interest in wildlife gardening, with households encouraging wildflowers to grow in their gardens as concerns grew about the environment.

Chris Baines’ 1985 book, How To Make A Wildlife Garden, shot to the bestseller lists – telling people how to make their gardens a haven for wildlife. The trend of gardening with nature, rather than fighting against it, has continued and is now arguably one of the most important aspects of modern gardening.

garden trends

1990s: The TV makeover

The 1990s was the decade when gardening became prime-time TV, with shows like Ground Force with Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock encouraging householders to give their gardens a dramatic makeover.

Decking and other recreational features became popular, as more people made the barbecue and patio table and chairs the focus of their outdoor space.

garden trends

2000s: Naturalistic planting

The new century saw the popularity of ‘naturalistic’ planting start to grow, inspired by designers such as James van Sweden in the US and Piet Oudolf from the Netherlands.

In Essex, Beth Chatto had created the influential ‘Gravel Garden’, and flower shows began to feature planting schemes that had more in common with meadows than traditional flower beds.

garden trends

2010s: Green gardening

Gardeners became far more conscious of the environment. ‘No-dig’ gardening is a big part of what we do now, and is going to become even bigger. It is a less intensive way of cultivating the soil, that prevents damage to the soil flora and fauna that are so important to plant health.

There is a big concern these days about water use and the environment, and this is driving the way we garden. Coastal towns are always drier, so building zero-irrigation gardens – for instance, thinking about the right plants for the right place – is also big.

Southport Flower Show runs from Aug 15-18. For tickets and further information, see southportflowershow.co.uk.

Allotment Challenge: 3 Easy Veg for Beginners and 3 Trickier Crops for Seasoned Growers

allotment veg challenge

Choosing the right veg for your experience level can make a world of difference. Hannah Stephenson shares her top picks.

National Allotments Week is approaching (August 12-18), with gardeners being encouraged to share their harvests and exchange tips.

And if you’re relatively new to the grow-your-own scene, it’s always handy to hear about what’s easy and what’s not – and which crops to tackle once you’ve got a bit more experience under your belt.

Here are three easy veg for beginners, and three more challenging crops for the seasoned allotment holder…

allotment veg challenge

EASY:

1. Onions

The great thing about onions is you can be harvesting them from February to September, if you plant different types.

For the quickest results, grow onions from sets (small bulbs), planting summer (maincrop) types in March and April, in well-cultivated, weed-free ground, pushing the sets gently into the soil so the tips are level with the surface. Spacing depends on the size of the set, so for small bulbs, plant them 2.5cm apart in rows 15cm apart.

Just keep plants watered in dry spells and you could have a succession of onions for much of the year. Spring onions can be harvested as soon as they are big enough to use, while maincrops will be ready in August and early September, when the leaves turn yellow.

Top tip: Keep on top of weeding because onions can’t compete. You’ll need to hoe or hand-weed regularly.

allotment veg challenge

2. Swiss chard

This veg not only tastes good but also makes a great ornamental addition, as there are several types with coloured stalks which add vibrancy to any veg patch or potager.

Related to leaf beet, you can sow it from April to mid-July in rows outside, then thin the seedlings out to 15cm apart, allowing 30cm between rows. The only thing you need to do is keep it well watered in dry spells and free from weeds. It should be ready for picking from July to October.

Top tip: Swiss chard doesn’t travel well as the leaves look sorry a day after picking, so use it fresh.

allotment veg challenge

3. Courgettes

These wonderful summer veg, great grilled on the barbecue or sliced thinly in salads, are easy to grow, provided you give them enough space (one plant will fill a large container). Their yellow flowers are also edible and can add colour and mild flavour to salads.

They need to be started off indoors in spring, sowing singly in pots on a windowsill in April, and then hardening off outside before you plant them after the last frost has passed, at the beginning of June.

Prepare the soil by filling a hole with compost and topping it off with soil to create a low mound, so excess rainwater runs away from the base of the plant, helping prevent stem rot. Space them 60cm in each direction and lay mulch over the soil to retain moisture and smother weeds.

Keep them well watered during the warmer months and feed them with tomato feed every week once fruits have formed. You should be picking them from July to October and have plenty to share with your allotment pals with just a few plants.

Top tip: Choose a variety bred specifically for courgette growing, rather than a marrow type where you can pick the fruits when they are small, because your yield will be better. Good varieties include ‘Soleil’, ‘Clarion’ and ‘Parthenon’.

allotment veg challenge

A BIT TRICKIER…

1. Florence fennel

This aniseed-flavoured veg with a swollen white bulb-like base is delicious used raw in salads or roasted in the oven.

It’s challenging because it prefers a Mediterranean climate, so you need to mimic that as much as possible growing it in a warm spot in light, well-drained soil, working in plenty of organic matter and watering it during dry spells.

Its main problem is bolting – when it produces flowers and runs to seed – which will make the bulbous base inedible. This can be caused by lack of organic matter in the planting area, dry soil and sudden swings in temperature.

Start the seeds off indoors in May, sowing three seeds each in small pots. Germination can be erratic, but remove the weakest two, leaving one seedling per pot.

Harden the plants off carefully before planting outside at the end of June, or when there’s a prolonged period of warm weather. Water them carefully – you don’t need much to start with, but don’t let them dry out.

If you want to sow outside, leave sowing as late as you can, probably late June or early July, as Florence fennel will bolt if sown too early or in a cold summer. The seeds should be sown directly into a well-prepared seedbed. It grows quickly and should be ready in late August and September.

Top tip: Cover young plants with fleece at night if it’s chilly, even in the summer.

allotment veg challenge

2. Cauliflower

Now a designer veg, with purple and lime-green varieties as well as the traditional types, have a go with them on the allotment if you fancy something a little more challenging. The main problems are bolting and poor soil.

You can get summer, autumn and winter varieties which you’ll need to sow at different times of the year – the only one which can be started off outdoors is the winter variety, which can be sown in April and May.

The biggest job is really good soil preparation. They like clay soil which isn’t waterlogged. If you have light soil, dig in plenty of organic matter. If you have acid soil, add lime over the winter to give it a pH of 7 and a good boost of balanced fertiliser, working it into the soil before planting.

Water young plants in well but once they’re established, only water if the soil becomes very dry. Too much water will encourage bigger leaves, rather than curds.

To stop them bolting, feed and water seedlings well and transplant them no later than six weeks old. When the curd looks full-size, cut it off just below the base of the head.

Top tip: When small curds appear in the centres of the plants, bend a few outer leaves over for protection from bad weather, snapping them so that they stay in place.

allotment veg challenge

3. Celery

Delicious in salads, as crudites or cooked in stews, celery does, however, need attention to detail when growing. Sowing needs to be done indoors in relatively high temperatures (60-70°F/16-21°C). For the best chance of success, choose a self-blanching type.

Celery needs rich, fertile soil, which has had plenty of well-rotted organic matter worked into it beforehand. Plant the seedlings out in early June, after the last chance of frost has passed, spacing the plants 23cm apart in all directions. They need close spacing as the plants need to shade each other’s stems.

Water in well and keep them watered regularly. If you let the plants get remotely dry or water irregularly, you’ll lose the crop. Give them a liquid feed regularly too using a high-nitrogen feed, and keep them well weeded.

Top tip: Be vigilant against slugs, which can settle in and feed on the central stems, making the celery unusable.

National Allotments Week runs from August 12-18. Visit nsalg.org.uk.

Summer Bedroom Bliss: 10 Cool and Stylish Updates to Snap up Right Now

summer bedroom style

Has the heatwave inspired a bedroom refresh? Sam Wylie-Harris hits the shops.

Just like our summer wardrobes, how you dress the bedroom can make a world of difference to how you feel when the sun’s shining.

And with the current heatwave, this is even more relevant – a bedroom that’s too hot and steamy (read: stuffy and sweaty) won’t do your sleep patterns any favours, resulting in a serious case of morning grouch.

But preen the pillows, buff the bed, lighten the load with a summer duvet somewhere in the region of a 4.5 tog, scent surround (we love The White Company’s Blanc collection) and hey presto, the bedroom becomes a dreamy summer haven.

Especially if you style it up with crisp linens, clean lines and a wash of colour, or brights teamed with tropical themed decos. Style your summer bedroom just right, and you’ll wake up holiday-ready without the need for a getaway…

summer bedroom style

1. Savoy Bed Linen Collection, from £20-£140, The White Company

Keeping it fabulously soft and smooth with a 400-thread-count feelgood factor, loosely tuck yourself into this 100% Egyptian cotton percale bed linen and you’ll feel like you’re on an endless luxurious escape.

summer bedroom style

2. A by Amara Bohemian 300 Thread Count Duvet Cover – Super King, currently reduced to £25.50 from £85 (includes Oxford Pillowcase Pair), Amara

If you really want to hit the refresh button and feel free-spirited, playing with boho-chic blues in an eye-catching Moroccan tile print against a carved Moroccan style bedhead is an easy update. As Sam Hood, co-founder and creative director, Amara, points out: “To make your bedroom feel as bright as possible for the summer season, start with your bed. A fresh set of bed linen not only feels amazing to slide into but it can breathe new life into your bedroom style.”

Note: A strategically placed vintage style mirror will catch beams of light.

.

summer bedroom style

3. A by Amara 500 Thread Count Sateen Duvet Cover – White – Double, £80, and matching Pillowcase Pair, £40; Grid Crochet Cushions, £40 each; Multi Circle Print Cushion – Green/Pink, reduced to £40 from £50, crochet throw and accessories from a selection, Amara

White with a pop of colours feels bright and fresh, and craftwork is a really thing this summer, with woven wonders now far more than a basket or espadrille staple – think cushions, rugs, basket boxes and hanging planters.

summer bedroom style

4. MW By Matthew Williamson – Turquoise Bead Embellished Cushion, £26; Orange Velvet Patchwork Cushion, £35; Yellow Pineapple Embroidered Tassel Throw, £100, Butterfly Home by Matthew Williamson – Multicoloured Floral Embroidered Cushion, £40, Debenhams

The flip-side of calming neutrals, rich velvets embellished with sequins, handcrafted trims and tassels can be just as dreamy as beige and ivory – especially with an undertone of gold adding a touch of shimmer to tropical themes.

summer bedroom style

5. Exotic Palm Printed Bedding Set, from £17.50-£29.50, Marks & Spencer

Anything beginning with ‘palm’ usually emanates luxury, or exotic, far-flung destinations and a sun-lounger under the shade of a swaying tree.

Luckily, this leafy jungle palm print isn’t a summer sellout (yet). Within a shake of the sheet, you can almost feel the sand beneath your feet.

summer bedroom style

6. Yellow Full-Height Shutters, from £168 per m2, California Shutters (Bedding, stylist’s own)

“During summer, some bedrooms – particularly south-facing ones – become uncomfortably hot because of the light that streams through all day. Shutters can block this (at times harmful) sunlight, allowing the room to cool,” says Chrissie Harper, customer experience manager, California Shutters.

“In addition to the benefit of temperature control, shutters are also the ideal solution for balancing light and privacy in rooms, where comfort and wellbeing are a must.”

And while buttercup yellow seems perfect right now, this bright hue is not just a summer fling. Think of these as an investment piece that can be fashioned as saffron yellow come the autumn.

summer bedroom style

7. Oslo Blush Bed Linen – King Size Duvet, £185; Set of Two Pillowcases, £45, Graham & Green

Our rose love affair shows no sign of dwindling, whether it’s the sweep of rosy blush on our cheeks, an up-to-the-minute pink pout, or feeling girly in peony. So why not a wash of rose in cool linen for the bedroom, for a bed that feels as fresh as that next glass of Provencal pink?

summer bedroom style

8. Volieres Medium Bird Cage Pendant, £499, Graham & Green

And to crown the bed, we love this whimsy chandelier with decorative birds made from real feathers which have been ethically sourced. Handmade and a unique flight of fancy, each chandelier comes with its own assortment of birds and you can almost hear their tranquil birdsong.

summer bedroom style

9. Porto Ruffle Linen Cushions, £60 each, Graham & Green

Ruffles were among the top 10 fashion trends for 2019, and while we’re working the ruffle-trimmed, tiered dress look, why not use flouncy ruffles as a building block on the bed too? They add interest visually, plus when the heat is on, washed linen is the coolest option.

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summer bedroom style

10. Slumberdown Support Pillow – 2 Pack, £14, Argos

With the ‘secret to a good night’s sleep’ a hot topic on balmy nights, a support pillow could be just the ticket. With maximum support for the head and neck, these are designed to hold your head at just the right position to encourage your spine to be well aligned as you lie down, and help reduce everyday aches and pains.

Want your Little Ones to Love Gardening? Here are the Tools to Give Them a Head Start

children gardening

Former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins helps us select the kit to get your children interested in gardening.

Gardening can be child’s play if youngsters are given the right tools for the job.

Now, former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins, head of organic horticulture at Garden Organic (gardenorganic.org.uk), the national charity for organic gardening, has helped us select some basic pieces of equipment to enable kids to plant and grow seeds, care for them and to encourage them to spend time in the garden.

children gardening

1. Tamper and sieve

“Children will love using a tamper to stamp on the soil to firm it and enjoy getting their hands dirty sieving the soil to produce a light crumbly mix,” he says.

These items will get them directly involved in preparing the soil and help improve seed sowing success and avoid any disappointments.

Good seeds to sow for little hands include sunflower, runner beans and sweet peas.

children gardening

2. Hand trowel

Serious young gardeners will be able to prepare beds for sowing, transplant seedlings and remove weeds with a good set of hand tools. Very young children will just enjoy a bit of digging and exploring the soil to look for worms and insects, which is always a cause for great excitement.

For younger children, colourful garden tools are widely available.

children gardening

3. Watering can

Playing with water – especially in hot summer weather – should encourage children into the garden, so a watering can is a must-have. Buy one with a rose to allow for gentle watering so they can get involved with regularly caring for their plants and make sure that the watering can is the right size and holds the right amount of water for the size of your child, so he or she can easily lift it.

Among the best is the Little Pals Children’s Watering Can Kit which includes a metal watering can, pink hand trowel and spotty gardening gloves (£15.90, Amazon www.amazon.co.uk)

children gardening

4. Compost bin

If you have a compost bin, you can help teach them the importance of recycling kitchen scraps and garden waste. Why not get one they can decorate too, making a lovely fun feature in the garden? They can then use the compost to help their plants to grow.

children gardening

5. Wildlife feeder

Just letting your child fill up your regular bird feeder should engage them, especially when they see birds feasting on the seeds and nuts they have given them.

There are plenty of kits on the market to make your own bird feeder or bird house, or alternatively you can recycle old bits and pieces from your home to give them a fun activity of creating a habitat for wildlife, which will help them feel more connected to the garden and make them aware of the many creatures which use your open space.

Alternatively, invest in a good one for your child such as the Yukon Feeder (£24.99, CJ Wildlife – birdfood.co.uk) which enables three different types of bird food to be placed into different slots, to attract a variety of birds.

children gardening

6. Gardening clothes

The oldest clothes are probably the most sensible ones for kids to wear when gardening but if they are going to get their hands dirty, it may be wise to invest in a pair of junior gardening gloves in their preferred colour.

A good bet could be the Vgo gardening and DIY gloves for four to five-year-olds (£14.98 for two pairs, Amazon)

And don’t forget, most importantly, to get your child to wear a hat on sunny days.

Seek and Hide: 6 Storage Solutions to keep You and Your Rooms Cool and Calm this Summer

summer storage solutions

Don't want to just chuck away all that clutter? Gabrielle Fagan reveals simple ways to get it out of sight.

If you’re feeling hot and bothered this summer, it may not just be the weather.

Look around your home – if it’s overflowing with clutter, and every corner and surface seems to be a magnet for bits and bobs that should be sorted but never are (the school holidays could make it a whole lot worse), this is probably contributing to those raised stress levels.

The good news is, to tackle this oh-so common scenario, you don’t have to turn yourself into a dedicated disciple of ‘Queen of Clutter’ Marie Kondo and rid yourself of every possession you’ve ever owned.

Instead, it’s time to play ‘seek and hide’. This new decor game simply involves hunting down all the ‘stuff’ you want but don’t need to stare at (or stress over) all the time, and then using clever storage solutions to hold, hide, or disguise it.

Check out six smart seek-and-hide solutions, so you can enjoy a cool, relaxing season…

summer storage solutions

1. Step into calm

As a hallway’s the first port of call when you get home, having to squeeze your way past a chaotic collection of coats and tripping over shoes and kit every day certainly won’t make you feel zen.

Slim down that coat rack: Keep out only what’s suitable for the season and store away heavy winter coats and jackets. Check out Lakeland’s brilliant clothes storage solutions including a Vacuum Clothes & Duvet Storage Tote Bag (87L Jumbo), £16.99.

Keep shoes on a rack and label drawers on a storage chest (Polaroid pictures work well for younger children), so everyone knows exactly what goes where to encourage order rather than dumping.

2. Make a screen star

If you’ve ever felt panic at unexpected visitors suddenly arriving and seeing mess everywhere, a screen is the perfect fast cover-up solution.

These can be easily moved around to hide ‘clutter spots’, as they’re brilliant for masking a cluttered corner or untidy collection of clothes, and crucially can be folded away when not in use.

They can also work as flexible room dividers, allowing an open-plan space to be used for a multitude of purposes. Another bonus: They’re a great way to introduce texture, colour and pattern to a room and you can also use them for display, maybe as picture board for family photos.

summer storage solutions

3. Sit and store

Multi-tasking seats with hidden compartments can be just the solution to get clutter off the floor. They could be the perfect home for magazines, toys, or all that debris that seems to accumulate on the top of a coffee table. Simply lift the lid, sweep away and store! A coffee table which incorporates storage is another way of keeping its top clear and tidy.

Dress windows simply with blinds – less bulky than curtains – and choose a neutral shade or white to make a room feel more spacious and airy. Sweet Dreams Placid Roller Blind, from £21.96, English Blinds.

summer storage solutions

4. Sideboards of style

Designers are proving that while storage is necessary it certainly needn’t be dull, by creating pieces which are practical and also sleek and stylish. Sideboards can soak up a huge amount of possessions.

summer storage solutions

5. Sweet dreams storage

A calm, serene space for sleeping is essential, so that you relax and rest well. A headboard with storage is genius because it allows you to keep distracting clutter tucked out of sight, and can be a boon if you’re tight for space and haven’t got enough room for bedside tables.

Under-bed storage drawers can also be super-handy for stowing away bedding or out-of-season clothes that you don’t need to access for a while.

summer storage solutions

6. Magic makeover

Turn that rush to get ready into a pleasure by bringing order to make-up (sort it out first and discard anything more than a year old, which is probably past its use-by date) and jewellery.

10 Ingredients you can Forage to Pep Up Cocktails- According to an Expert

foraging for cocktails

The country's leading urban forager shines a light on wild herbs and plants to jazz up your garnish, and much more, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

Since the dawn of time we’ve been foraging for wild foods to use in drinks and as medicine.

To really get a taste for the year-long bounty around us, how about delving a little deeper for sprigs and slices to add a quirky twist to a classic cocktail?

However, you don’t need to run to the hills, go down to the woods or take a jaunt to the seaside to scout for wild ingredients if you want to make a variation on a much-loved tipple.

Founder of Forage London and author of The Edible City cookbook, John Rensten wants to give city dwellers the chance to enjoy and discover some of the wonderful wild foods that grow all around us – some of which can be used in cocktails, as he recently demonstrated on a guided foraging walk for Bushmills Irish Whiskey.

To steer you through the urban landscape, here are Rensten’s top 10 foraged ingredients that can be used as part of your cocktail repertoire…

foraging for cocktails

1. Lime blossom

“Used fresh it gives sweet notes of melon and a hint of cucumber. Great as an addition to a mint julep,” says Rensten.

2. Hogweed bitters

“Tastes like bitter orange and numerous other dried spices all rolled into one. Works really well in place of Angostura bitters when making an Old Fashioned.”

foraging for cocktails

3. Fig leaves

“When crushed and made into a syrup, these taste like coconut. Great for giving depth to a Gimlet or adds extra coconut flavour to a Pina Colada.”

4. Crab apples

“Some sweet/sharp varieties work well instead of orange peel in an Old Fashioned,” when dried says Rensten.

5. Sumac

“Has strong citrus elements but less sour than lemons. Can be used as part of a Whiskey Sour.”

foraging for cocktails

6. Magnolia blossom

“Tastes a lot like ginger with additional bitter notes. A magnolia blossom syrup would work really well as part of an Agave Ginger Rita,” suggests Rensten.

7. Dandelion root

“Tastes like nutty coffee but is caffeine free. Roast [the roots] first and grind, then use as part of an Irish coffee.”

8. Sorrel

“Has a tart/sweet lemon meets apple flavour. Can be used in place of lemon juice when making a Tom Collins, with gin, or a John Collins, with whiskey.”

foraging for cocktails

9. Quince

“Another great substitute for lemon because of its intense citrus taste. Can be used as part of a Whiskey Sour.”

10. Nettles

“Cook gently with water and sugar to make a nettle syrup, to give an interesting twist to a [bourbon based] Southern Spell,” says Rensten – wear gloves when you go harvesting to mind the sting.

7 Bright Design Tricks to Maximise Light in Your Home

brighten your home

From curtains to decluttering and mirrored furniture, Luke Rix-Standing reveals nifty ways to give any home that dreamy light and airy feel.

Ask any interior designer: Light is one of – if not the – most important consideration in the layout of a home.

Quite apart from being essential (cooking in the dark is not advised), light provides the framework for a home’s aesthetic, and the foundation for its – to use a technical term – ambience.

It doesn’t matter how well you’ve feng shui-ed your cellar – if it’s lit by a single, flickering bulb, it’s still going to feel like the set of a horror movie.

Here’s how to make your home the brightest and best it can be, from streaming sunbeams to energy-saving LEDs…

brighten your home

Make a proper plan

Most people know that when it comes to light sources, more is usually merrier. But the result is that homeowners load up expensive fixings without taking care of even the simplest practical alterations.

For immediate improvement, a short recce goes a long way: Look at the location of your windows, what they’re illuminating, and what you want them to illuminate. Take a note of where the sun comes from in each part of the day, and if any rooms seem particularly drab and gloomy.

With your stock-take complete, move furniture that might be blocking a window’s view, and clear out cluttered windowsills. If you have several electric lights covering a space usually bathed in sunshine, rejig your room rather than spending a fortune adding to it.

Consider moving obstacles outside your home too. If your climbing hydrangea has launched a hostile takeover against your windowpanes, it’s time to call in the garden shears.

brighten your home

90% light, 10% dark

Assuming that you do, in fact, have windows, your next key point should be colour. Pure white surfaces can feel a little cold, but off-white or light cream is a shoo-in for walls and ceilings when cultivating a brighter feel.

Soft hues absorb far less light than dark ones, and for the most radiant rooms you should look beyond the masonry. Consider pastel-coloured cupboards, pale wood furniture, or light-hued decorations. There’s nothing wrong with a black leather sofa, or some statement, patterned wallpaper, but they won’t necessarily help your rooms retain light.

Aesthetically, many designers opt to add in darker trimmings. Cushions, knick-knacks and other smaller furnishings look great in dark grey or navy, and provide contrast without significantly sacrificing light.

brighten your home

Lots of mirrors

If you’re looking to increase your intake of natural light, mirrors are perhaps the most literal way of doing so. They reflect light that would otherwise be absorbed into the wall, and hanging one opposite a window sends daylight bouncing round the room.

Wall-mounted mirrors are a go-to for grooming as much as for decor, and fashion-conscious bedrooms often boast something free-standing and full-length. Next level homeowners could employ mirrored furniture – mirrored tables, mirrored wardrobes, even a mirrored chest of drawers.

Large mirrors give the illusion of a much larger, lighter space, and if the room feels bright and breezy, so too will its reflection.

brighten your home

Window dressing

Your windows are your main allies in your fight for light, so you’d be wise to give them plenty of tender loving care.

Blinds are a good bet for a light-heavy home, leaving the window entirely exposed when open and creating lovely lines of light when down. They can’t produce blackouts, so are less advisable in the bedroom of a light sleeper.

Light linen or cotton curtains are similarly appropriate – and can be hung in layers to more closely control the flow of light. Heavier, thicker fabrics like velvets and brocades are generally more accustomed to blocking light, while wide-slat shutters are flexible and channel a Mediterranean feel.

brighten your home

The lighting of the lamps

Natural light tends to gobble up the headlines, but artificial light is where the buck stops.

Let’s divide it into three stylistic varieties. Ambient lighting diffuses evenly through a room, and is usually the starting point for a larger scheme. Think ceiling lights, perhaps integrated with lamps on floors or tables.

Naturally, ambient lighting isn’t strong on contrast, so try some accent lighting to help instil separation. Accent lighting is brighter and much more directional, ensuring centrepieces like dining room tables get the focus they deserve.

Make sure these lights are not so concentrated that they behave like spotlights. You don’t want to channel a the sort of aggressive glare normally reserved for police interrogation rooms.

Finally, consider task lighting – very strong light sources marshalled for specific purposes. Think downward-facing desk lamps that can illuminate a keyboard clear as day, or a row of bulbs as floodlights for a worktop. There’s no point illuminating the corridor with pixel-perfect high-def, if your closet is so dimly-lit all your darker clothes merge into one.

Keep these principles in mind when allotting wattage in your home, and where possible try before you buy. Road-test bulb brightness, or better yet employ a dimmer switch.

brighten your home

Wash your walls

No, not with soapy water – in this context washing your wall means to splash light across a surface, creating the illusion that the whole room is aglow.

Consider vertical light fixings, that send a warm light upwards and downwards, creating a sheet-like glow across a wall. It’s better to bathe an area with one effective light source than pepper it with unattractive fixings.

brighten your home

Structural changes

For those with the time, inclination and, most of all, the money, there are plenty of home improvements that can turn dingy dungeon to gleaming greenhouse. Some are obvious – more and bigger windows, glass patio doors and so on – but others are slightly less intuitive.

Skylights are an oft-neglected sub-genre of window – the light comes straight from source and can often spread across an entire floor space.

Thick-set, dark-coloured doors can keep natural light from reaching the heart of your home, so consider glass panelling even on doors that don’t open into the air. Next-level homeowners can go one better by embracing a more open-plan layout throughout their dwelling.

Though not traditionally a light-emitting surface, even the floor can play its part. Opting for polished, well-finished hardwood, ceramic or stone can keep light ricocheting off your interiors like an underfoot mirror.

Summer in a Glass: 9 Super Thirst-Quenchers to Enjoy in the Great Outdoors

super summer drinks

Crown your movable feast with an eclectic mix of refreshing spritzers, canned cocktails and seasonal serves, says Sam Wylie-Harris. As summer heats up, there's a lovely casualness that shapes our drinking rituals. Just as we reach for our wicker baskets and holiday wardrobe, the fashion for fruity libations and breezy spritzers strikes just the right balance and radiates all the right vibes.

super summer drinks

At the drop of a hat, summer seasonal serves – such as strawberry scented beer, canned bubbles and low abv wines – feel as natural as switching our glassware for faux stemware, sage for mint, topping our hampers and cooler bags with a festival blanket and making sure there’s enough ice for the second round.

Whether you’re packing a picnic, heading to the seaside or entertaining al fresco at home, these top drops hit just the right spot…

super summer drinks

1. M&S Cocktail Cans: Aperitivo Spritzer, Peach Spritzer, Cherry Spritzer and Vermouth & Tonic (£2 each, 5.5% abv, 25cl, Marks & Spencer stores)

What’s not to love about these new canned cocktails in four fab flavours, channelling lots of fruity fun. The Aperitivo Spritzer has a core of fragrant orange bitters, the Peach Spritzer screams sweet, ripe peaches, Cherry is sweetly refreshing, while the Vermouth & Tonic boasts a tincture of herbs.

super summer drinks

2. CIROC Summer Watermelon Vodka (£32.40, 70cl, 31dover)

Nothing signals summer like this classic tropical fruit, especially in a flavoured vodka. Introducing CIROC Watermelon Spritz: CIROC 40ml Summer Watermelon Vodka, 20ml lemonade, 40ml soda, 10ml cranberry juice. Serve over ice in a tall glass and garnish with a lime wheel, fresh watermelon wheel and sprig of fresh mint.

super summer drinks

3. Lanson Brut NV Champagne Wimbledon 2019 Neoprene Jacket (£25, Tesco stores)

Champagne of the Championships, a whopping 25,000 bottles of Lanson were popped open at the famous two-week tennis tournament last year – and if you want to soak up the atmosphere but don’t have tickets, a stylish garden party and hamper full of grand slam treats makes a winning combination. The limited-edition racket-themed cooler jackets are specially designed to keep the bottle chilled for up to two hours and will cheer you through the summer season.

super summer drinks

4. Black Cow English Strawberries Vodka (£27.95, 70cl, The Whisky Exchange)

Another flavoured vodka newbie, this blush pink is infused with pressed strawberries to lend a sweet, fresh, strawberry note and makes a fun summery cocktail when it’s mixed with ginger ale. Meet Ginger Blossom: 35ml Black Cow Vodka & English Strawberries topped with ginger ale and garnished with English strawberries and a wedge of lime.

super summer drinks

5. Camden Town Brewery’s Strawberry Hells Forever Lager (£6 for 4 x 33cl cans, 4.6% abv, Sainsbury’s)

Still room for more strawbs in your punnet? How about a swift half of strawberry beer? Camden Town are kick-starting the first of their ‘Seasonal Hells’ with this summertime lager brewed with strawberries. Crisp with a faint hint of the summer fruits on the hoppy finish, it’s tart, tastes refreshingly good and should appeal to those looking for new taste experiences. Released every quarter, the one-off beers are inspired by the seasons.

super summer drinks

6. Graham’s Blend No 5 White Port (£21.25, 75cl, Master of Malt)

We’ve been dubbing a P&T the new G&T for a while now, and it only takes a mini heatwave to appreciate how remarkably refreshing a bone dry, white port and tonic is. A delicious aperitif that also bridges the gap between a white wine spritzer and vodka and tonic (at 19% abv), serve on the rocks, top with tonic (Double Dutch have recently launched their premium mixers in cans) and garnish with a slice of lemon and sprig of fresh mint. Serve with salted almonds, olives and petiscos (Portugal’s answer to tapas).

super summer drinks

7. Co-op Own-Label Low Alcohol Sauvignon Blanc, Garnacha Rose and Cabernet Tempranillo, Spain (£3 each, less than 0.5% abv, Co-op stores)

The trend for ‘low or no’ shows no sign of slowing, and these latest additions to Co-op’s low and no-alcohol range are perfect for sipping in the sunshine.

The red is fun and fruity with a brush of blackberry fruit, the rosy pink offers raspberry and strawberry flavours, and the white shows an exotic citrusy note. Perfect for sangria (without a fuzzy head the next day), hold the brandy and sugar and mix with soda water, orange juice and sliced fruit.

Note to self: Check out the crystal-look, oversized acrylic wine glasses and flutes (£4.49 each), tumblers (£3.99) and jug (£14.99) at Lakeland.

super summer drinks

8. The Uncommon White Bubbly, England (£4.99, 25cl, Waitrose stores)

A must for posh picnics, we love this quirky can with its quintessentially British design, formalwear and bowler hat. A lightly sparkling dry white made from bacchus grapes (similar in sorts to sauvignon blanc), it’s naturally low in sugar and offers fizz fanatics a crisper, dryer alternative to prosecco.

super summer drinks

9. Wine Chat Malbec, France (£18, 2.25L, Sainsbury’s)

From beach to bar, a brilliant BBQ, picnic or al fresco red – this box has two finger holes so it’s easy to carry and we love the cute label – this French malbec is brimming with bright blueberries and ripe raspberries, feels fragrant, fruity and juicy and finishes with soft tannins. Pairs perfectly with French bread, saucisson, cheese and dips.

3 Themes for Al Fresco Feasting: Love Island, Festival and Country Cool

al fresco dining

Little beats a lingering outdoor meal in summer. Gabrielle Fagan reveals three ways for setting the scene in style. There's something about eating outdoors. A generous helping of fresh air and (hopefully) sunshine can magically make even the simplest meal taste delicious.

al fresco dining

That’s all to the good, because summer’s no time to be slaving over a hot stove indoors – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a little time and trouble over the table.

By giving a setting a real sense of occasion, maybe opting for a theme, you’ll not only make it memorable but you could ramp up the fun – a few drinks could turn into a party and a supper into a celebration.

“Having lunch and supper parties outside is one of the real joys of summer,” enthuses interior designer, Joanna Wood. “I really like using unusual nature-inspired dishes in the shapes of leaves, and I like to work to a theme and pick a different one each year.”

This year she’s creating her own ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ al fresco setting, to give a patio area a theatrical touch. “A theme allows you to be creative and you can incorporate flowers, candles and maybe floating flower heads with tea lights for evening parties,” she says. “It’s all about a bit of imagination and planning that will result in something you can enjoy for the whole season.”

So turn the tables on dull dining and instead experiment with one of these three themes: Love Island style, a fun festival vibe, or a little slice of calm with country cool…

al fresco dining

Dine like a Love Islander

If you envy those fit reality TV show residents in their sun-drenched Mallorcan villa, create your own sizzling Mediterranean hotspot. It could be perfect for leisurely meals and chilling (romancing optional!).

Group potted palms, ferns and other tall foliage around simple seating. Low benches or boxes made comfy with foam rectangles wrapped in bright fabric will do nicely. Finally, inject another zip of sunshine colour with outdoor rugs and cushions. Then sit back and enjoy the banter!

Mix a decor cocktail and pick up on Love Island style with slogans and beach style accessories – pool blue and flamingo pink rules!

al fresco dining

Go full-on festival

Festival season’s arrived. No tickets – no problem! Simply give a table setting a boho, laid-back vibe, turn on the sound system, and have your own personal ‘feastival’ – without the mud, wellies or sagging tents.

This look i all about personality – pops of colour, mismatched china, and lots of freshly cut flowers and foliage. Don’t take it too seriously – there’s no room for formality here – just give it a bit of hippy-dippy character that makes it kick-off-your-shoes relaxing.

Feel free to pile on the paper lanterns and garlands – use solar lights for when the sun’s gone down – and add jewel-coloured glassware for a dash of glamour.

John Lewis is a brilliant destination for homeware that will ramp up al fresco style, including a brilliant range of tableware and furniture. Their Croft Collection Garden Dining Table Bench, £220, is ideal, while a Camden Garden Bistro Table and Chairs Set is currently reduced to £63 from £79. A Sol Pouffe – Multi, £120, makes a great finishing touch.

al fresco dining

Conjure country cool

The beauty of a rustic scene is its simplicity. All that’s needed are a wooden table and chairs, a linen runner and napkins, and plenty of lanterns and candles. Don’t forget to cater for chilly nights by putting a throw or a blanket on each chair.

“I live on a farm in the glorious West Country, so I really enjoy the chance to make the most of time outdoors with friends and family. And come the summer months, there is nothing I love more than a picnic or eating al fresco,” says Liz Earle, founder of Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine (lizearlewellbeing.com).

“Picnics and meals outdoors are a great way of enjoying the great outdoors and making the most of nature’s beauty, but they don’t just have to be daytime affairs. There’s nothing nicer than lingering over a meal on a sultry evening and pretty lighting will transform a setting.”

Battery operated tea lights, which will twinkle into the night, are a pretty and safe way to add enchantment, Earle says.

“Perch them atop jam jars or logs to give them a bit more height, or use them in hanging glass lanterns above a table to turn it into a focal point,” she suggests.

The closer you get to echoing your indoor taste outside in your garden ‘room’, the more successful the result will be. Opt for accessories that would look just as good in a living room as on a terrace.

al fresco dining

9 Expert Tips to Transform Your Greenhouse from Messy Junkyard to Rustic Retreat

updating your glam greenhouse

Hannah Stephenson reveals how to banish the greenhouse clutter and create a horticultural haven instead. If you're tripping over compost bags, battling with broken pots and spent seed trays and can't find a tool in sight, your greenhouse may be in need of a serious makeover.

updating your glam greenhouse

Smart gardeners can create a space that’s not only useful for growing plants but acts as an extension of their home – a stylish, comfortable bolthole through the warmer months and beyond, with the help of a little furniture, cushions, wall art and some nifty tidying accessories.

Where to start with your makeover? Follow this greenhouse guide for inspiration, including tips from garden styling pros and Richard Baggaley, director of The Greenhouse People (greenhousepeople.co.uk)…

updating your glam greenhouse

1. Create a potting corner

To prevent clutter in your greenhouse, carefully plan your layout and segment the space into purposeful areas. Create a potting corner next to where you grow your fruit and vegetables to make planting more efficient and to save space.

This area needn’t be dull. Place seed packets in a brightly coloured tin to store them safely and add a pop of colour to your greenhouse. Rather than leaving tools in a chaotic heap, a row of hooks will keep everything off the floor and neatly stored.

updating your glam greenhouse

2. Be bold with plant choice

The greenhouse needn’t just be a space to nurture seedlings. Exotic and tender plants will thrive in the warm environment and brighten up the space.

Fill your greenhouse with a range of desert and succulent plants like cactus, agave and crassula. These easy-care plants flourish inside a greenhouse and are very on-trend.

If botany is more your style, orchids are among the most beautiful and exotic greenhouse plants. They require a high level of humidity though, so store your misting bottle nearby to keep your orchid healthy.

Tom Barry, managing director of Hartley Botanic (hartley-botanic.co.uk), adds: “Architectural tropical and subtropical species are still very popular with both homeowners and gardeners alike.

“These plants look dramatic and add height within a greenhouse which works well when combined with bench-level succulents and cacti. For colour, and to add an exotic look, orchids in pretty ‘sweet shop’ colours can be grown in individual pots.”

updating your glam greenhouse

3. Create a cosy nook

Acclaimed author and botanical stylist Selina Lake (Selinalake.co.uk), who styled for Alitex (Alitex.co.uk) at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, suggests you update tired items such as old chairs, metal furniture or plant pots by adding a pop of colour with paints. A simple bench can be turned into a sumptuous day bed with a mass of comfy cushions.

updating your glam greenhouse

4. Use insect designs

Entomology, or the study of insects, is the new botanical trend, adds Lake. Get the look by having a go at drawing bugs on greenhouse windows using a chalk pen.

Add prints and posters in frames or clipped to bare walls and use a wire washing line for another display.

updating your glam greenhouse

5. Go for a natural look

‘Upcycling’ is the word on everyone’s lips – and for a good reason. With items sourced from second-hand shops, or even junkyards, it’s easy to go boho on a budget. Simple changes like a lick of paint on wooden furniture or changing the handles on drawers can have a huge impact, says Baggaley.

In line with environmental issues, forgo plastic items for furniture and accessories made from natural materials such as metals, rattan and bamboo.

updating your glam greenhouse

6. Find space to sit

Baggaley advises: “Add comfort to your glass-walled structure with seating and soft furnishings. Textiles will instantly soften the space and make it feel inviting.

“Be aware that these will fade under the concentrated sunlight, so shop for items with a vintage-inspired design or are second hand to accomplish the shabby-chic look.”

updating your glam greenhouse

7. Make use of mirrors

Add mirrors inside your greenhouse to reflect light and the sight of your beautiful plants, Baggaley says. Careful placement will give the illusion of more space but do consider what it will be reflecting. Try to reflect the leafy interest in your greenhouse, rather than watering cans or plastic pots.

updating your glam greenhouse

8. Use your greenhouse as a gallery

To add further interiors-inspired touches to your greenhouse, wall art is a great option to make the space ooze personality and feel more like a home.

Get creative and create your own works of art to display. You could decorate a canvas with cuttings from garden magazines, known in the art world as ‘decoupage’, for garden inspiration as well as decoration.

updating your glam greenhouse

9. Create a herb haven

Drying herbs in a greenhouse is ideal as they dry quickly under the concentrated sunlight, add scent to the space, and look decorative.

Lavender, sage and thyme retain their fragrance when dried – just try to keep them out of direct sun. They dry quickly, so check periodically and package for storage as soon as they are crisp.

What is Horticultural Therapy and Who can Benefit from it?

garden therapy

Studies have found that gardening and garden environments can offer a host of physical and mental health benefits. Hannah Stephenson finds out more.

garden therapy

Getting outside among plants and nature can work wonders for the body and soul – and garden designer Michelle Brandon is a firm believer in the benefits of a good gardening fix.

Brandon has helped people affected by stroke, ADHD and mental illness, having worked with organisations including the national horticultural therapy charity, Thrive (thrive.org.uk).

She’s preparing a show garden – The Forest Will See You Now – for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Festival, depicting how nature and forest environments can help alleviate many of the 21st century illnesses so many of us face.

Ahead of the show, here, Brandon tells us more about horticultural therapy and its benefits…

garden therapy

What is horticultural therapy?

According to Thrive, social and therapeutic horticulture (STH) uses plants and gardens to help support both physical and mental health. It can help people to mix socially, improve their communication and thinking skills, learn practical skills and give them the confidence to become more independent.

Therapists use gardening tasks and projects, or just the garden environment itself to build skills according to people’s individual need, working to goals. “There needs to be an aim, whether it be growing or just sitting and taking in the view,” says Brandon.

garden therapy

Who can it help?

Everyone from children to pensioners. It can be great for children and adults with learning disabilities, people with mental health issues or who’ve been affected by conditions like stroke and dementia, as well as children with ADHD.

It can be used for therapy or rehabilitation programs for cognitive, physical, social, emotional and recreational benefits, thus improving the person’s body, mind and spirit. It is also used to reduce feelings of isolation through the chance to connect with others, and a feeling of wellbeing through simply being outside and in touch with nature.

“The outcome you are looking for is a positive emotional change,” Brandon says. “And nurturing – whether it be growing something, sowing seeds, or just sitting enjoying the space – creates those positive emotions.”

garden therapy

How does it work?

It may be through a garden project, where the patient is referred and funded by their doctor, social worker or care professional. Alternatively, it could be done through gardening at home, perhaps starting with something simple such as sowing seeds or planting bulbs in pots.

“Nurture is a strong positive action, the process of the person taking responsibility for something, which in their life has been taken away from them. It’s about creating positive emotion.”

garden therapy

Can you get horticultural therapy on the NHS?

Schemes may be available in some areas of the UK, although it’s not nationwide. Some clinical commissioning groups include horticultural therapy as part of a social prescribing policy in their areas. Some NHS settings offer STH as part of treatments for patients, for example in mental health and stroke recovery. It has existed within NHS settings throughout its history however, often within occupational therapy.

“At the moment, we are at the beginning of seeing many more people accessing Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) and other green care projects, such as care farms,” says Damien Newman, Thrive training, education and consultancy manager.

GPs have for some time been adopting various forms of “social prescribing” – referring patients to non-clinical activities in a bid to help improve their physical or mental health. “A doctor might recommend an introduction to a garden project. Green prescriptions are being increasingly used,” says Brandon.

Who can be a horticultural therapist?

Many horticultural therapists working at garden projects in the UK have completed specialist training programmes in social and therapeutic horticulture at Thrive. They may also hold other professional qualifications in areas such as horticulture, health and social care, teaching, occupational therapy or nursing.

garden therapy

Is it regulated?

Horticultural therapy is not regulated in the UK (iStock/PA)

No. Most horticultural therapy is carried out in groups in organisational settings, and these organisations will have their own internal regulatory systems in place.

“There’s no national body of registered horticultural therapist professionals,” says Brandon. “But a lot of occupational therapists are involved in horticultural therapy, and they have their own governing body. Horticultural therapists often work for established charities such as Thrive, which would require training and monitoring.”

Thrive holds a database of projects that use horticulture with people accessing health and social care and other STH projects.

Social Farms & Gardens (farmgarden.org.uk) holds a database of more community-focused projects, although many will also be being accessed by people experiencing the challenge of ill health or disability. Often this helps people find good local projects and, through them, understand what is accessible more locally.

Could horticultural therapy help people with are simply stressed too?

Yes. Many STH projects are open to anyone and community gardens are just that, focused on community and the way gardens bring us together.

Community gardens as a whole are very welcoming settings, and near enough all will have members who are experiencing loneliness, bereavement, job loss, stress and other experiences related to mental health.

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Festival runs from July 2-7. For details, visit rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-hampton-court-palace-garden-festival.

Rose Wines are Blossoming -8 of the Prettiest Pinks for Summer Soirees

perfect summer rose wines

The rose revolution is gathering pace - and pink is the new prosecco, says Sam Wylie-Harris. Nothing signals summer like a gleaming glass of rose. And chances are, if you're a serious rose lover, you'll be dipping into a pretty pink palette come rain or shine.

Far from frivolous, Provencal pinks, with their pale assets, have been basking in the spotlight for some years now. But with a wealth of styles joining the glitzy line-up, quality at all price points, and supermarkets proffering a shimmering array of roses, there’s never been a better time to think pink.

There couldn’t be a more exciting time to quench our thirst for ‘barely there blush’, with a string of new releases blossoming onto the wine scene.

Sainsbury’s have a growing range of premium rose wines and Louise Lynch, product developer for beers, wines and spirits, notes it’s the style of choice for many customers over the summer months, with sales increasing by 30- 40% in hot weather.

Ready to paint the town pink? Here are six more refreshingly dry styles to embrace…

perfect summer rose wines

1. Exquisite Selection Sud de France Rose 2018, IGP Pays d’Oc, France (£5.99, Aldi)

It’s not new on the shelves, but in the hands of talented winemaker Jean-Claude Mas, this juicy, fruity, vibrant rose always tastes youthful and fun, with its pretty strawberry aromas and a flush of bright berry and cherry flavours offering an appealing, mouth-watering finish.

perfect summer rose wines

2. Rose Mediterranee 2018, France (reduced to £6 from £7 until July 3, SPAR stores from June 13)

At the softer end of the pink spectrum, SPAR’S new rose is a delicate style and offers faint florals with savoury, summer fruit flavours and a thread of fresh acidity. It’s not hugely concentrated but has a lovely, stony freshness if you want to drink in a Riviera lifestyle – and goes down a treat with a well garnished salad nicoise.

perfect summer rose wines

3. Cavit Terrazze della Luna Pinot Grigio Rosato 2018, Italy (currently reduced to £8.99 from £9.99, North and South Wines)

Here we have a pale, baby pink that’s fresh and fruity with a lovely roundness to the soft yellow apple and pear notes, with a smooth, silky palate and a ripe, crisp, finish. Very appealing and delicious as an aperitif, with shellfish, or shavings of Parmesan cheese as the winemaker suggests.

perfect summer rose wines

4. Cotes de Provence Saint Victoire Rose 2018, France (£12, Marks & Spencer stores, or by the case online)

A beautiful ballerina pink that’s suave and elegant with a bouquet of dried berries, floral accents and candied citrus fruits, plus cherry, plum and ripe citrus supported by moderate acidity. There’s an alluring silkiness that lets the flavours shine through.

perfect summer rose wines

5. Domaine Du Grand Cros, Le Grand Cros Rose 2018, AOP Cotes de Provence, France (£14.50, Berry Bros & Rudd)

Fragrant with aromas of freshly crushed berries and exotic fruits, a hint of mango lends a touch of richness to the fresh, round palate, with some herbal notes in the mix and a creamy note adding extra elegance with plenty of freshness on the finish. Brilliant with Provencal staples such as bouillabaisse (fish stew).

perfect summer rose wines

6. Fleur de Mer, Cotes de Provence Rose 2018, France (£16.50, The Bottle Club)

The nose has dainty floral aromas, leading to a textured, silky palate with white peach, cherry and the merest hint of watermelon, fresh herbal notes and a delicate mineral core followed by crisp acidity. Refreshingly delicious, Fleur de Mer looks good, tastes good, and makes you want to run to the lavender fields of Provence.

Preview New Detached House For Sale In Hampshire

Preview new house for sale McCarthy Holden Estate Agents Hampshire

This is a preview of plot 11 at Winchfield View by Sunningdale House Developments, one of the most exciting high quality individual new homes collections to reach the market in 2019.

There are 11 new build home and 8 distinctive house designs, all built to a high specification. today were going to take a closer look at plot 11 which is expected to be available on the open market on June 14th with an anticipated guide of £695,000.

Plot 11 is a show house, so take a look at the video tour above and be impressed!

kitchen family dining room McCarthy Holden Estate Agents Hampshire
new homes McCarthy Holden Estate Agents Hampshire

The interior at plot 11 is extremely well designed, with the awe-inspiring kitchen / dining and orangery room on the ground floor creating an outstanding space that will take your breath away.

The stunning kitchen, is fitted with Siemens appliances including a single oven, combi oven/microwave, a four-burner gas hob, integrated Stainless Steel cooker hood, integrated fridge/freezer and integrated dishwasher.

Also on the ground floor there is a fine living room, a cloakroom, entrance hall and stairs to the first floor.

luxury new home bedroom McCarthy Holden Estate Agents Hampshire
new home bedroom McCarthy Holden Estate Agents Hampshire

On the first floor there is an impressive master bedroom with a luxury en-suite.

Bedroom two included a built in glass fronted cupboards and bedroom three is well positioned overlooking the orangery and rear garden.

The luxurious family bathroom is also on the first floor.

New Homes bathroom McCarthy Holden Estate Agents Hampshire

Location wise, this Sunndingdale House Development will take some beating, with the village of Hartley Wintney less than two miles away with its high street full of individual shops, a renowned cricket green, a golf club and a lovely village pond.

Hartley Wintney McCarthy Holden Estate Agents Hampshire

And for buyers who need to commute to London, what better than having Winchfield Railway station about half a mile away.

guards London McCarthy Holden Estate Agents Hampshire

To arrange a viewing when plot 11 is released to the market, contact the selling agents on 01252 842100.

And if you need a market valuation and appraisal of your current home simply call your nearest McCarthy Holden branch or go to our home page and click on the valuation tab.

7 Decor Updates to Make your Home Sizzle with Style this Summer

summer style trends 2019

Want to transform your rooms into super sunny spots? Gabrielle Fagan reveals some mini decor projects and best buys.

summer style trends 2019

Your home’s interior can be as sunny as you like, no matter the weather – all it takes is a few simple, budget-friendly updates and best buys.

Indulge in the sweetness of the season with sugary shades and accessories; transform your outlook with exotic prints and a mural; change your view with blue-sky window shutters reminiscent of Mediterranean scenes; turn up the heat with tropical foliage (real, faux or palm print will do the job), and last but not least, create your very own ‘hot spot’ for essential chilling on sunny days.

Be inspired and put your own spin on the suggestions – and your space will brim with personalised style all summer long…

summer style trends 2019

1. Scoop up style with ice-cream shades

“We’re all naturally drawn to certain colours and tastes. Why not choose a paint colour that reminds you of your favourite flavour ice cream?” says Sue Kim, senior colour designer, Valspar. “If you’re really brave, go for them all, in a perfect palette of ice cream colours. Choose sugary shades like Strawberry Parfait, Blueberry Mash, Pineapple Crush, Pistachio Cookie and Peach Syrup.”

If you really want to transform your home landscape, splash out on an exotic beach scene mural. Wallsauce’s Acapulco Wall Mural, from £32 per square metre, could have you reaching for the sunglasses and swimsuit.

TIP: If a medley of sweet shades is just too rich for your taste, add one or two as ‘pops’ of colour set against an overall dominant neutral, such as Coconut Juice (Premium Blend v700 Walls & Ceilings, £28 for 2.5L), suggests Kim. Alternatively, choose one shade for a furniture up-cycle project, or for doors and skirting boards for a smart update (use Valspar’s Premium Blend v700 Wood & Metal).

summer style trends 2019

2. Sweet tooth decor

Follow that ‘sweet’ theme with fun stools from Andrew Martin, that look as though you’ve bagged a handful of pick ‘n’ mix. As a ‘healthier’ choice, add a couple of apple ornaments – a five-a-day decor delight.

summer style trends 2019

3. Create a ‘hot destination’ wall

“Bring instant sunshine to a room, no matter what the weather outside, with summer- themed prints,” suggests Omar Obaid, co-founder of art print specialists, Abstract House.

“Photos of dreamy beaches you’ve enjoyed can transport you back to happy times and conjure nostalgic memories, while images of those tropical destinations on your bucket list could inspire you with hopes for the future. Research has also shown that just looking at pleasing art can lift mood and reduce stress.”

TIP: The best way to unify a frame set for a gallery wall is to choose a quality wooden frame in a single colour, advises Obaid. Co-ordinate artwork by colour, tone and subject, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different layouts. A simple trick to help you visualise the artwork display is to lay all the frames on the floor, and swap the pictures around until you find the perfect fit or your favourite shape.

summer style trends 2019

4. Change your view

“If your home could use a seasonal pick-up, windows are a great place to start,” says Susan White, design director at Hillarys. “Whether the light in the room is natural, artificial, reflected, muted or diffused, it can have a major influence on our mood and feelings. Shutters are widely regarded as the ultimate window dressing both from a style and security point of view, allowing plenty of light and air to filter in, and they have a perfect summer feel.

“They can be a boon for allergy sufferers, because as long as they’re wiped down regularly they’re less likely than swathes of fabric to attract dust mites,” she adds. “Tier-on-tier styles, where the top half operates separately from the bottom, offers privacy while still allowing light to flood in from the top.”

TIP: Summer brings longer days and shorter nights, so fitting a blind with a dim-out or black-out fabric is a good solution for restful sleep, especially in children’s rooms. Many Hillarys fabric blinds, roller, pleated, vertical and Roman, have special sun-reflecting features (Blackout Roller Blind from £108).

summer style trends 2019

5. Turn it tropical

“We’re great fans of the sultry colonial aesthetic – tropical birds, hibiscus flowers, fresh palms and bright ferns are key elements in creating this look,” says Georgia Metcalfe, founder and creative director, The French Bedroom Company.

“This on-trend look combines perfectly with furniture of all styles from classic to contemporary, for a style that is reminiscent of holidays, summer, jungle-freshness and nature – all things that make our hearts sing!”

summer style trends 2019

6. Let it grow

“Fresh green foliage and plants are the ideal way to bring an outdoor, summery feel to a room, and living wall planters have to be one of our favourite finds in recent years,” enthuses Claire Bishop, from garden centre specialists, Dobbies.

“They were incredibly popular at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show and the finished look is hugely Pinterest-worthy. A ‘vertical garden’ gives you a statement focal point – you could have a kitchen herb garden or a leafy living room jungle feature – and because they come in sets of three ‘pockets’, they can be tailored to suit your space.”

TIP: “These are quick and easy to fit and simple to use, even if you’re not very green-fingered, and as they’re vertical they take up little space,” promises Bishop. “Simply water the top row of the living wall and this will cascade down to water every pot.”

summer style trends 2019

7. Conjure a summer spot

Rearrange furniture for summer and position it to take advantage of any sunlight coming into a room, so you have your very own corner where you can stretch out and bask on hot days.

“We all like a special place at home where we can kick back, put our feet up and enjoy lazing on summer days,” says Charlie Marshall, founder of furniture company, Loaf.

“Colour choices play a big part in the atmosphere of a room. While light, pastel tones always work well, recently there’s been a big move towards zingier, bright statement shades – yellow, orange and pink – as people become more adventurous about decor. Demand for yellow upholstery is up 64% this year, and this colour’s brilliant way to give a room a visual lift and can’t fail to cheer a space on a dull day.”

TIP: Turn an awkward space – a corner or under a window – into a mini-retreat by building a simple wooden bench. Make it comfortable with foam seat cushions covered in your favourite fabric.