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.

Carol Klein Spills the Secrets of the Top British Gardens – So You can Copy their Success

Carol Klein garden secrets

As her new Channel 5 series Great British Gardens begins, TV garden expert Carol Klein offers tips from the head gardeners who tend them.

Carol Klein garden secrets

TV plantswoman Carol Klein has spoken to head gardeners and owners of four of Britain’s most glorious gardens to find out how they achieve such amazing results – and is now sharing the secrets of their success with the public in her new Channel 5 series Great British Gardens.

Here, she offers top tips from her visits to the gardens – which all open their doors to the public at different times of the year – to help amateur horticulturists achieve stunning results in their own plots this summer.

Carol Klein garden secrets

Great Dixter, East Sussex (greatdixter.co.uk)

Great Dixter is a gardening masterpiece and quintessential English country garden incorporating an historic house, a garden and an education centre.

It is now under the stewardship of Fergus Garrett, who became head gardener in 1992, working closely with Christopher Lloyd until he died in 2006, and the Great Dixter Charitable Trust.

Garrett’s biggest emphasis currently is upon increasing plant and animal biodiversity.

Two top tips Klein gleaned here are:

1. If some of your plants are in pots, rather than space them out, make maximum impact by grouping them together in an attractive arrangement. Incorporate houseplants out for their summer holiday to add extra interest. Go for harmony by putting together plants with similarly coloured flowers or make dramatic contrasts with leaf shapes and zingy colours.

2. Try adding height by incorporating climbing plants into your beds and borders (it’s not too late to sow nasturtiums and sweet peas). Exploiting the vertical space will add an extra dimension. You don’t need a costly obelisk, a few tall bamboo canes entwined with string will be just as effective.

Carol Klein garden secrets

Gravetye Manor, East Sussex (gravetyemanor.co.uk/the-gardens/)

Once the home and living laboratory of one of British gardening’s greatest innovators, Edwardian and Irishman William Robinson, the manor has now become a stunning country house hotel and beautiful garden.

Head gardener Tom Coward and his team have balanced the garden’s historically important heritage with the demands of a modern productive kitchen garden.

Two top tips Klein gleaned here are:

1. Recognise the beauty of so many vegetables by incorporating a few with your flowers. If you haven’t got any, invest in a packet of Rainbow Chard, sow one seed per module and in a few weeks, you’ll have plants big enough to put out and later on you can eat some of them too.

2. Even in a small border, use several of one plant at intervals throughout the border. At Gravetye Manor dahlia Magenta Star is used like this. It brings cohesion to your planting and at the same time leads your eye through it.

Carol Klein garden secrets

Gresgarth Hall, near Morecambe, North Lancashire (arabellalennoxboyd.com/gresgarth/)

This is the country house retreat of Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd and her husband Sir Mark. Lady Arabella is one of Britain’s most renowned garden designers, with a 45-year career designing for the great and the good, and has six gold medals from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show under her belt.

Two top tips Klein gleaned here are:

1. The way you train your climbing rose is just as important as how you prune it. For an abundance of flowers, tie in some of the vertical, upward growing shoots to the horizontal. That will help all the smaller shoots along its length make buds and flowers.

2. Instead of providing a trellis for your clematis to grow up, why not train one through an early flowering shrub so that the clematis can continue the show through till the autumn? Many clematis viticella varieties will rise to the challenge, such as Clematis ‘Polish Spirit’ in deep purple or Clematis ‘Huldine’, pearly white.

Carol Klein garden secrets

John’s Garden, Ashwood Nurseries, South Staffordshire (ashwoodnurseries.com/visit-us/johns-garden/)

Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, this three acre private garden is the brainchild of award-winning plant obsessive John Massey.

It features huge informal borders, island beds, a stunning pool and rock garden, woodland dells and the charming Ruin Garden.

Two top tips Klein gleaned here are:

1. A bit of ‘transparency’ pruning makes all the difference. If shrubs or trees have turned into blobs and their branches are congested, cut some of the wood away to reveal the true nature of the shrub. Shrubs which flower early such as forsythia benefit from having branches cut back after flowering to encourage new growth and improve flowering next spring.

2. ‘Tweaking’ is an important job at John’s Garden. They keep a constant eye out to make sure that each plant can give of its best by cutting back or staking other plants that might spoil the show and ensuring that every plant can shine.

The four-part series of Great British Gardens: Season by Season with Carol Klein starts on June 4 at 9pm on Channel 5.

Father’s Day: 10 Great Gifts for the Green Fingered Types

fathers day gift garden

From new gloves and accessories to the latest high-tech tools, Hannah Stephenson rounds up her top picks for plant-loving dads.

Chelsea garden product of the year

Want to treat your dad to a gardening gift he’ll enjoy on Father’s Day and beyond? Whether it’s a plant, a patio pick-me-up or a shiny new power tool, here are 10 of the best…

fathers day gift garden

1. Tea Plant Fresh-T (£14.90, Lubera.co.uk)

Your tea-loving dad could make his own cuppa from scratch with a tea plant, Camellia sinensis, a shrub which should grow well in British gardens in either a large container or in the border. For best results, plant it in acid soil in semi-shade (use ericaceous compost if you’re putting it in a pot). It grows to around 1m in diameter and the leaves are great for green teas and fragrant tea infusions.

fathers day gift garden

2. EGO Powerload 38cm Loop Handled Line Trimmer (£279 inc battery and standard charger, Egopowerplus.co.uk)

Does your dad huff and puff when he has to replace the line on his grass trimmer? Well, this new tool from EGO can end all those frustrations of fiddly threading, looping and getting it wrong. This new gizmo, using Powerload technology, automatically winds your line trimmer. Just thread the line, press the button and the tool will do the rest. It’s got a lot of power – a 56V Arc Lithium battery gives the trimmer the oomph it needs to tackle the toughest jobs and there’s also a soft start function and constant speed control so your trimming remains consistent. Yes, it’s more expensive than other line trimmers but think of the hours of frustration you’ll be saving your dad.

fathers day gift garden

3. EasyHedgeCut 18-45 (£119.99, Bosch-garden.com)

This new cordless hedge trimmer from Bosch is great if your old man has small hedges and limited space. It’s powered by an 18-volt battery, so there’s no faffing with cables, it’s lightweight, and will cut around 160 square metres per battery charge. Each charge will last around 40 minutes and it takes 105 minutes to recharge. The battery is also interchangeable with many other Bosch DIY and garden tools.

fathers day gift garden

4. Garden Chair (From £570, Theposhshedcompany.co.uk)

A comfortable place to sit is an asset in every garden – and now your dad can have a personalised chair to relax in. Thanks to the treated wood and weatherproof design, it can be left out all year round, removing the hassle of storing it away. Available with the engravings ‘Head Gardener’, ‘The Boss’, ‘Dad’s Chair’ or ‘Grandad’s Chair’, the Posh Garden Chair adds a lovely personal touch to the garden. Additional words can be engraved for an extra cost.

fathers day gift garden

5. Master Gardener Gloves (£5.99, Townandco.com)

It’s not only Father’s Day coming up. If your dad wants to join in National Weed Your Garden Day on June 13, you could get him a new pair of gardening gloves just in time. The Master Gardener gloves will enable him to tackle weeding, pruning and a host of other tasks in comfort. They offer protection against thorns and other sharp objects and have excellent grip in wet and dry conditions.

fathers day gift garden

6. Father’s Day Gift Coffee Mug (£14, normadorothy.com)

Make him his morning coffee in his own personalised contemporary, botanical inspired enamel mug, which he can use when he’s outside too – whether taking a break from gardening or venturing further afield on a camping holiday or fishing trip. White with a black curled lip, you can choose your own personalisation and the reverse side can also have wording of your choosing on it.

fathers day gift garden

7. Super Slice Weeder (£29.99, Burgonandball.com and good garden centres nationwide)

Any dad who feels overfaced by the amount of weeding he has to do should welcome the new Super Slice, which has an extra wide head for rapid weeding. It tackles weeds on a range of surfaces, from contemporary garden aggregates to allotments, beds and borders. Hand-forged in Sheffield, the high carbon steel arrow-shaped head is 23.5cm wide, skims just below the surface and slices through weeds with minimum soil disturbance, cutting on the push and pull stroke.

fathers day gift garden

8. Folding Kneeler and Seat (£32.95, Harrodhorticultural.com)

Double up with a luxury kneeler and seat for your dad, which will also fold up flat so should be able to fit in his shed. The seat is sturdy and ideal for perching on at a comfortable height, while the padded foam kneeling pad will provide the support he needs when weeding or working at ground level. It has arm supports for help with getting up too.

fathers day gift garden

9. GoodHome Grill Set (£30, B&Q stores and Diy.com)

If your dad is a dab hand on the barbecue, make the job even easier and more enjoyable by treating him to a hot accessories kit, which includes everything he’ll need for forking, flipping, skewering and cleaning. All the accessories are uniquely designed and made from long-lasting stainless steel with soft grip handles. They come in a handy case for easy storage too.

fathers day gift garden

10. National Garden Scheme open garden visit (Prices vary, Ngs.org.uk)

Whether your dad is an allotment ace, a horticultural hero or simply a cake connoisseur, why not treat him to a garden visit over the Father’s Day weekend?

The National Garden Scheme, which raises money for nursing and health charities through admissions, tea and cakes, has 218 exceptional gardens opening on June 15 and 16. For details, visit ngs.org.uk/fathers-day-gardens/.

Play with the Power of Pink for Punchy Settings at Home

pink house living

Gabrielle Fagan catches up with the The Pink House's Emily Murray, to discover how to harness the prettiest colour of the rainbow.

Once cast aside as ‘girly’, the colour pink is fast shaping up to be the hottest shade for interiors.

Sugary pinks through to snazzy scarlets, pretty peaches and even funky neons are the winning shades on the palette this season.

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking that pink is just for girls. Not any more it isn’t,” declares Emily Murray, creator of award-winning blog, The Pink House, which celebrates the colour in all its hues in her own pink decorated home.

pink house living

It’s been such a success since she started it three years ago (she has more than 60,000 followers on Instagram) that her new book, Pink House Living: For People Cheating On Fashion With Furniture, was a natural follow-on. It’s a brilliant guide to seeing the world through ‘rose-tinted’ decor spectacles.

Stepping inside her home is proof of pink’s magic – she shows me around rooms which ooze personality, thanks to the magical touches of her “all-time favourite colour”.

pink house living

Pink painted walls, a pink kitchen island, neon pink signs, splashes of pink to highlight period features, as well as an array of punchy pink accessories, are just some of the ways in which the colour has a starring role in her schemes.

Yet with her skill and sense of style, she makes it sing – rather than dominate or shock – in her Edwardian semi, and this uber-cool interior leaves you wondering why you’ve never thought of using pink more.

pink house living

The mother-of-two is always hot on the trail of perfect pink homes, and her book features an array of brilliant pink settings from around the world, as well as her own rooms.

Even she’s surprised her own pink passion is so widely shared. “I’d underestimated the power of pink. It turns out it’s incredibly popular on every level and in every way. We love pink,” says Murray delightedly.

“We love it on front doors, on walls and on rugs. We love it on Instagram, in magazines and in fabric charts. We love it in barely-there blush, fuchsia and neon.”

pink house living

For those fearing a pink overload, she stresses that embracing the shade “doesn’t mean I like all my rooms dressed in floor-to-ceiling fuchsia… Even when I have free rein to decorate exactly as I chose, I exercise pink restraint.

“For me, the key to making the most of this joyous colour – for I fully believe that pink has an amazing power to make people happy – is using it in moderation.”

pink house living

In the living room, her dream was fabric walls, saturated colours, pattern clashes, loads of luxe and plenty of pink.

“My aim was to turn a north-facing space into a cosy place for cuddling up in the evenings, but with a rock and roll twist.”

She’s achieved it with a “pink ‘play’ neon sign – a copy of my own handwriting – made to order”, as well as a cocktail bar created from a corner cabinet upcycled in green and gold leaf. Hidden LED light strips give it the impression of glowing from within.

pink house living

For those who fancy taking the plunge, she advises: “If you want more colour at home (it doesn’t have to be pink) simply choose your favourite shade and go for it.

“Make a scrapbook or Pinterest board of settings with colourful decor which naturally attracts you. You don’t need to design the whole room at once – start with a piece of art or wallpaper and then slowly add further changes, so a room develops.”

“There are so many ways to use pink,” adds Murray. “You can accentuate a particular architectural feature, piece of furniture or art work, and sometimes simply use it to allow another gorgeous colour to shine.”

Pink House Living: For People Cheating On Fashion With Furniture by Emily Murray, photography by Susie Lowe, is published by Ryland Peters & Small, priced £19.99. Available now

pink house living

13 Fab Floral Finds to Spruce up your Space for Summer

chelsea flowers inside your home

Channel some RHS Chelsea Flower Show magic with some blooming marvellous home accessories. Sam Wylie-Harris reveals her pick of the bunch.

Fashions and trends may come and go – but year in, year out, the world’s most famous horticultural event never fails to spark us all to have a spring fling and take inspiration from its fabulous flowery displays.

We’re talking about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (May 21-25), of course. Whether or not you can make it to the gardening extravaganza in person, embracing blooms in home styling won’t be a challenge – and there’s a vivid landscape to pick from.

“We’re seeing more adventurous colour and fabric selections coming through when it comes to upholstery, and our love of florals continues to flourish,” says Vanessa Hurley-Perera, chief product officer, Sofa.com

“These bold choices are increasingly popular for accent pieces, such as armchairs, footstools and cushions,” she adds. “Long gone are the days of matching three-piece suites and itsy-bitsy prints – customers are plumping for larger designs and brilliantly bold tones.”

Check out our 13 favourite floral finds to shop now…

chelsea flowers inside your home

1. Snowdrop 2 Seat Sofa in Periwinkle Chelsea Bloom, £1640 (other items from a selection), Sofa.com

“For SS19 we’ve developed a new floral fabric, Chelsea Bloom, in Periwinkle (Blue) and Petunia (Pink), which features large blooming flowers against a dark background,” says Hurley-Perera. “The dramatic design appears to have almost been hand-painted onto your sofa, and works beautifully amongst our rich and vibrant colour scheme of super soft velvets.”

chelsea flowers inside your home

2. Millport Pair of Small Fabric Scatter Cushions, currently reduced to £55 from £75, Furniture Village

You can never have too many cushions, especially when pretty pink sprigs are planted among the greenery.

chelsea flowers inside your home

3. Feather Juju Wall Decoration, £85, OKA

Very swish, this feather deco in the shape of an exotic flower deserves a Best in Show. And if you really want to transform a wall, you could frame a mirror with a bloom on either side.

chelsea flowers inside your home

4. Gold Birdcage Tealight Holder, currently reduced to £39 from £79, Furniture Village

The joy of this whimsy deco is that you can dress it up to suit any scheme. If your space is a pop of colour, mix’n’match bright tealights. Otherwise, keep tealights white and tie a silk ribbon through the loop, or – even better – drape some faux greenery along one side of the cage.

chelsea flowers inside your home

5. Portmeirion Botanic Garden Plate (8 inch), from £15; Teapot (2pt), £66; Teacup and Saucer, £18.50, Portmeirion.co.uk

Throwing a garden party? When it comes to floral-inspired teas, sometimes you just can’t beat the classics. We’ve been foraging for the celebrated Botanic Garden range for 40 years; the collection offers endless possibilities with its iconic designs.

chelsea flowers inside your home

6. Yankee Candle Salt Mist Rose, £23.99, The Yankee Candle Company

Yankee Candle are celebrating their 50th anniversary with 16 limited-edition fragrances. We love Salt Mist Rose, which first came to light in the Nineties, and is characterised by ‘the beautiful scent of delicate roses by the sea’.

chelsea flowers inside your home

7. Set of Six Peony Glasses, £69, Graham & Green

Versatile and very pretty, these coloured tumblers are etched with blooms and will be the toast of Happy Hour.

chelsea flowers inside your home

8. Bentwood and Rattan Flower Chairs and Table, £850 for the set, Raj Tent Club

Ideally, this terrific trio is best suited to a conservatory, but would look just as striking in a sunny corner or bedroom setting. Especially with a trendy succulent resting on the table.

chelsea flowers inside your home

9. Morrisons Flourish Jug, £14, Morrisons

This gorgeous jug imbibes a meadow of wild flowers.

chelsea flowers inside your home

10. Pack of Twenty Boho Floral Napkins, £3.95, Graham and Green

A favourite with party planners, you don’t need to be a flower child to prize these quirky napkins.

chelsea flowers inside your home

11. Flower Market Everyday Bowl, £59, Amara

With a lovely vintage feel, you can almost sense the exotic fragrance resonating from this beautiful bunch.

12. Morrisons Flourish Duvet Cover & Pillowcases Sulphur Meadow Bouquet, from £16; Ditsy Bedspread, £27; Bumblebee Cushion, £8, Morrisons

This new Flourish range brings the countryside one step closer to home with its blousy florals, ditsy prints and sweet wildlife illustrations which feel like a breath of fresh air.

chelsea flowers inside your home

13. Face Imprint Plant Pots and Vases, available in White, Green and Taupe, £10.95-£17.95 each, Graham and Green

As if these quirky plant pots aren’t eye-catching enough, they could give your favourite house plant a new lease of life.

Open Day Invitation To View New Homes In Eversley Hampshire

We’re on site tomorrow Saturday 4th May between 10am and 3pm, so this is an ideal opportunity to view the stunning new homes by Aspire in Eversley Hampshire.

map

The site is easy to find by using postcode RG27 0PA and / or having a look at the map below. Telephone our Hartley Wintney branch on 01252 842100 for further help.

Prices from around £600,000 to £1.2m.

Invite to view new houses in Eversley Hampshire

Kate Humble on Throwaway Culture, Polluting Plastics and What we can Learn from Rwanda

Luke Rix-Standing chats with Kate Humble about the challenges facing the environment, and finds her in polemical form...

With six years of Springwatch, three seasons of Lambing Live and a succession of BBC nature programmes under her belt, Kate Humble has become an ever-present face on the greener bits of British television.

She’s the perfect person with whom to sit and chat about the world, because over the course of her career, she’s seen most of it. She got her first taste of adventure aged 19 with a nine-month, solo trip across the African continent, and she’s barely paused for breath since.

Naturalist, naturist, and former president of the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), Humble is under no illusions about the state of the planet. She is, to put it mildly, not best pleased about it.

What exactly is ‘throwaway culture’?

“We’ve got into a terrible habit of buying things and throwing away the packaging. Plastic pots, coffee cups – and almost everything we buy for our homes. Obviously some is necessary, but a lot isn’t.

“I’ve been very lucky and travelled to lots of different parts of the world – some countries which, some might say, are not as developed as the UK. But they certainly don’t generate the amount of waste and rubbish that we do

Do you think it’s a particularly British problem?

“No, I think it is a developed world problem. We’ve become a society that seems to value convenience over everything else, and with that comes a lot of waste.

“I went to Rwanda a couple of years ago – a country with an astonishingly brutal history – and there was something about it I just couldn’t quite put my finger on. Then I realised that it’s the cleanest place I’ve ever been.

“The President has banned plastic bags – you can’t use them, you can’t bring them in, they’re just banned – and this in a country that suffered a genocide 25 years ago! It’s so sad that somewhere rubbish-free is so startlingly noticeable, but if they can do that, why can’t we?”

What is the impact? How do you quantify the damage?

“Well, there’s the terrible reality of landfill. There is only so much land and we’re filling it with rubbish. All the stuff that can’t be recycled sits in the Earth and gradually breaks down, and all the chemicals seep into the soil.

“Rubbish that gets dumped in the sea ends up on beaches, and we’ve all seen the effect that has on wildlife. The turtles that have died because they’ve got plastic bags stuck in their gullets, the heartbreaking shots of albatross chicks that are starving because they’ve got plastic beads in their stomachs.

“We need to have a whole cultural shift in the way that we behave. The thing that really makes me furious is that we know how damaging this is. If there are still human beings on this planet in 200 years time, which I slightly hope there aren’t, they’re going to look back at our generation and go, ‘What the f***?’

“It’s really bad for us – we’re poisoning the very environment we rely on. Shouldn’t that matter enough? Apparently not.”

So, how would you go about countering it, and creating this cultural shift?

“Just get rid of humans – my husband is terrified that the world will one day wake to find me as their dictator! Joking apart, we are making changes and I don’t want to get too gloomy, but we’re not doing things fast enough and we’ve all got to commit.

“Do I really need to buy something in a plastic pot? Can I buy coffee in my own recycled mug? Can I reuse this packaging? Do we need to buy endless new clothes every season? No, we don’t – there’s plenty in your wardrobe that’s still nice. I’m wearing a pair of knickers I don’t even want to tell you how old!

“You can be really happy without loads of stuff. Nature is remarkable at clawing its way back every time we do something catastrophic, but there will come a point where it won’t be able to fix things any more. We’ve got to take some responsibility.”

Some have argued that the focus on individuals takes the spotlight off companies and governments. Do you think there’s a problem there?

“I do, but a lot of these big businesses are dependent on us, as consumers, for their very existence. Without doubt, it’s consumers – ordinary people – who have pushed the plastic revolution onto the political agenda.

“Of course big companies should do more, but they will do more if we say, ‘Right, we’re not going to buy from that big company any more’. We do have power as individuals and we should absolutely exercise it.

“Some of us, myself included, have been banging on about plastic for 20 or 30 years, so it’s weird that it’s suddenly come into the public consciousness now. There’s been programmes and films and startling images before. I mean it’s brilliant – hooray – but strange.”

Any idea why that might be?

“I don’t know, but I do think that in times of political turmoil, life feels uncertain. Young people are getting to the end of their school days and thinking ‘what does the future hold for me?’

“We’re seeing a slow realisation that its in our hands, and climate change has begun affecting all of us, regardless of where we live. Maybe, just maybe, some consciousness is creeping in. Now we need to do something about it.”

Kate Humble has recently helped launch the Dettol Trigger Project, to inspire people to make small changes to reduce household waste and trigger a cleaner world.

Hanging Basket Masterclass: Here’s how to Make the Best Flower Display in 8 Easy Steps

best hanging baskets

It's time to create a riot of colour with hanging baskets. Hannah Stephenson tries a masterclass to learn the secrets of success.


So often my hanging baskets end up looking lacklustre and forlorn, with gaps where filler plants should have gone, holes in my moss liners and a lack of regular watering.


However, expert Nathan Syrett, assistant plant manager at Squire’s Garden Centres, has been running hanging basket masterclasses at its Stanmore store for a number of years, and offers the following advice to hanging basket hopefuls (including me)…

best hanging baskets

1. Choose the right materials and plants

Go for the biggest basket you can, as this will hold more compost and require slightly less watering than smaller baskets. Metal-framed baskets are ideal, but you will have to line them.

Various water-retaining liners include coir and sphagnum moss, although you can even cut up an old woolly jumper to line a basket, which will soak up the water and keep in the compost.

If using moss (which you can buy at garden centres), use long strands of it laid laterally across the inside of the basket, working from the bottom, so the moss does not escape out of the holes.

Build the lining up in circles until it reaches the top of the basket, and lift it up to make sure you can’t see any gaps.

best hanging baskets

2. Make a reservoir

Cut a small circle of plastic from your compost bag to make a reservoir in the bottom of your liner, to hold just enough water to keep the compost moist, while still allowing free drainage at the sides.

best hanging baskets

3. Add your compost

Multipurpose compost, preferably the sort which has added plant food, is ideal, although you will still have to feed your basket plants during the summer, bearing in mind how many of the nutrients will be washed away when you’re constantly watering. When you reach the top of the basket, firm the compost down so there are no air holes.

best hanging baskets

4. Choose your plants

If you want your basket to be admired from all sides, choose one larger plant to put in the centre, such as an upright fuchsia or geranium, and select around five other plants to place around it.

These could range from trailing petunias and calibrachoa, to bacopa, lobelia, nemesia, diascia and helichrysum, although there are many other suitable plants available.

best hanging baskets

5. Position the tall and the small

Try positioning your chosen plants on top of the compost before planting, so you can decide which looks best where. Make sure your gaps are even when placing the outer plants.

Usually the tallest plant will go in the centre, surrounded by the lower trailers, which need to be planted closer to the edge, but if your basket is going to face in a particular direction, put the biggest plant at the back and the lower trailers in front of it.

To minimise any damage when planting, remove each plant from its pot and use the pot alone as the planting template, easing it down into the planting hole to make it the right size. Then your plant will slot right in.

Cover it with the compost you removed to make space for the hole. Repeat using the plant pot template until all your plants are in.

best hanging baskets

6. Hang it up

Hang up your basket on a wall bracket or other hook or frame (some hanging baskets are really heavy, so make sure your bracket is secured tightly and is strong enough to take the weight).

best hanging baskets

7. Be waterwise

Water your basket well using a watering can rose. That way, the water will seep into the compost to reach your plants, rather than running straight through it.

best hanging baskets

8. Keep it healthy

Keep your basket well watered. In the height of summer you’ll need to do it twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Feed your basket bedding plants regularly with either plant food or tomato food, following the instructions on the packet, and deadhead often to encourage further blooms.

Squire’s Garden Centres are holding Large Summer Basket Masterclasses on Friday, May 17. Tickets cost £25. For details visit squiresgardencentres.co.uk

Tool School: 5 Clever Gardening Gadgets for Spring and Summer

new technology for the garden

Get yourself some high-tech help with these time-saving technological innovations to make life easier in the garden.

The swallows have returned, tulips and wallflowers are blooming and Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan have warmed up their binoculars.

Gardeners can finally look forward to some fair-weather gardening during spring and summer.

So now is the time to invest in some new high tech gadgets to smarten up your outdoor space and make this season a fruitful one.

new technology for the garden

1. Flymo 1200 R Robotic lawnmower and charging station, £599, for stockists visit flymo.com/uk

If you live in the city and only have a small piece of grass to mow, but don’t have time to do the basics, this new Flymo robotic lawnmower may be for you.

It operates via sensors around your borders and when its charge is running low, it will know to return to its charging port before you have to carry it there.

This efficient, Lithium-Ion battery powered device is capable of effectively mowing a lawn area up to a maximum of 400m2, negotiating itself around trees and fences.

new technology for the garden

2. Chester Up & Down Solar Wall Light, £29.99, thesolarcentre.co.uk

Give your outdoor space some extra green credentials with this solar-powered wall light. All energy comes from an accompanying solar panel – no need for any fiddly wiring – resulting in a soft, warm, naturalistic glow. Sleek, waterproof, and wrought from stainless steel, this little lamp turns on automatically once darkness falls.

new technology for the garden

3. iGrill 3, £94.99, weber.com

Bid farewell to underdone or charred BBQ meat. Owners of a gas-powered Weber Genesis II, Genesis II LX, or Spirit II barbecue can invest in this weatherproof digital thermometer, which monitors the ‘doneness’ of up to four cuts of meat at once and sends its data straight through to an app on your smartphone.

new technology for the garden

4. Hozelock Cloud Controller Set, £142, johnlewis.com

This gadget allows you to control garden watering from your mobile, anywhere in the world. After attaching the controller to your garden tap, use the accompanying app to remotely set a watering schedule. The app will let you know if the weather changes back home, so you can pause watering if it turns wet or step it up when a heatwave strikes.

new technology for the garden

5. Dynamic BT Ear Protectors, £85, stihl.co.uk

If you like listening to music, and dislike having your eardrums savaged by the drone of your hedge trimmer, these Bluetooth ear protectors might just be for you. Each unit hosts a set of speakers that can connect wirelessly to your smartphone, playing for 38 hours on a single charge.

Everything you need to know about Joe Perkins new Facebook Inspired Chelsea Flower Show Garden

Joe Perkins connected Chelsea garden

As a father-of-three, garden designer Joe Perkins is well aware that social media can lure young people away from the great outdoors.

Enter Beyond The Screen, Perkins’ Facebook-sponsored show garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, within which he’s going to reveal how online and offline worlds can come together.

Visitors may think the Facebook garden, set in a 10x10m plot in the ‘Space to Grow’ category, is going to be high-tech, with state-of-the-art screens and speakers popping out from behind the flora and fauna. But Perkins’ vision is very different.

It’s a coastal garden for young people, featuring plants from around the world that can withstand salt-laden winds and harsh weather. Euphorbias, agaves and maritime pines are among the plantings.

Joe Perkins connected Chelsea garden

“I’ve got plants from Mexico, the Balearics, India and the US, but the point is, they all share this tolerance of particular conditions, so they have these shared interests – which brings me back to the community groups on social media.”

Other elements of the garden include water, a copper canopy and a dramatic rock formation.

“The coastal element for me is all about connection. The oceans connect us all geographically, water connects us physiologically and as a landscape, it’s evolving, just as online communities are constantly shifting and evolving,” he explains.

There’s a copper canopy which references back to connectivity (copper is a conductor), the parallel being that social media is a conduit for global interaction.

He’s also using vertical layers of rock to show that geological forces have transformed the landscape, just as social media has changed the social environment in which we live.

Joe Perkins connected Chelsea garden

Perkins, 42, who runs his own garden design business in Brighton, has been involved in many Chelsea show gardens over the years, but this is his first solo project. He approached Facebook with a design plan, and they were quick to jump on board.

“My inspiration is a very personal one. It’s drawn from my experience of having family holidays on the Atlantic coast of Spain. My wife’s family is from the Basque country and I’ve taken my three young boys there every summer for years.”

His aim is to show how our worlds – both online and offline – collide, and he hopes the Facebook garden will spark debate about the value of social media.

“It’s about having a proper discussion around how we can use it better, and recognising the difference between how we should and shouldn’t be using it, and how we can be responsible.

“Social media is about global connection and the possibilities it’s opened up for us to connect with people all over the world, and join like-minded people in community groups, on Facebook in particular. In the UK, there’s something like 1.5 million gardeners on Facebook.”

Joe Perkins connected Chelsea garden

Facebook is partnering with the community charity Groundwork, which works with disadvantaged young people throughout the UK, on the project. Some of Groundwork’s young ambassadors will be helping to build the garden, and getting involved with moving it into the community once the show’s over.

“While you can argue that young people have less inclination to go out and engage with nature, you could equally argue that they’re doing a lot of positive stuff online, and a lot of that involves gardening,” Perkins says.

Joe Perkins connected Chelsea garden

On a personal level, Perkins’ sons’ introduction to social media isn’t too far away, with the eldest aged 12 and the youngest aged eight.

“That’s really why I wanted to explore and open up the debate about what we should be doing as parents. How can we help young people, and what do they themselves think about the time they spend online? Many people of my generation feel that time spent online is negative, but what do younger people think?

“Independent research has found that young people feel a lot of the time they spend online is productive and positive, because they engage in community groups, community projects, shared interest groups and keeping in touch with friends and family. That can reduce loneliness, help engagement and actually get stuff done in the real world.

“Obviously, the negatives are mental health and wellbeing, and all the headlines we’ve read about. But social media isn’t going away, so let’s look at what’s good about it, talk about what’s bad and see if we can actually produce a healthy discussion about how we can move forward.”

And what if the only thing you see your teenager doing in the garden is taking a selfie, unaware of the real beauty that lies around them?

“By doing that, young people are broadcasting our fantastic industry around the world,” he says.

“Look at the big UK growth in interior plants. It’s clear from social media that young people are very interested in plants and how they can use them to decorate their houses. If you can make gardening cool and desirable, that can only be a good thing.”

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from May 21-25. For details visit rhs.org.uk

Maldivians are Planting a Community Spirit by Going Farm to Fork

Maldives farm to fork

On a remote coral island in the Maldives, Hannah Stephenson discovers a rural community which has turned its sandy landscape into a farming haven.

Maldivian farmer Ali cuts open a heavy, juicy watermelon from his plot of land, proudly presenting us each with a slice, juice dripping, still warm from the sun.

Standing on his small farm in Meedhoo, an island within the Addu Atoll, the southernmost group of islands in the Maldives – next stop Antarctica – you could be a million miles away from the luxurious five-star resorts complete with picture postcard white beaches, aquatic lagoons, over-water villas and swaying coconut palms synonymous with these islands.

Walking past a corrugated shack, which doubles as his shed, Ali proudly shows us his farm, which looks a bit like a huge allotment.

Watermelons and honeydews are ripening on the ground in the sun, many of which serve the discerning clients at the nearby deluxe Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa on neighbouring Villingili Island.

Maldives farm to fork

Ali is one of 50 farmers on Meedhoo who have helped form a cooperative to clean up their land and make it more productive, in partnership with the Shangri-La group, and tourists are now being offered the chance to see how this partnership is working in a new farm-to-plate experience.

Since the tourist boom of the 1970s, hotel-islands (there’s only one resort hotel or complex per island in the Maldives) were originally developed with the aim of keeping Western visitors separated from the Muslim localities.

But trends are changing and, despite the continuing political unrest of this nation, tourists are growing more curious about local communities and their cultures, seeking more authentic travel experiences.

The location of Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort is not only ideal for the luxurious fly-and-flop break, where tourists can boast that they’ve crossed the Equator, spotted turtles, seen manta rays and prolific pods of spinner dolphins or enjoyed a round of golf, but being close to the other islands which form the Addu Atoll also allows easy access to an insight into local life.

 

Maldives farm to fork

Once you’ve had a few days to wind down and admire the glorious vista of the turquoise Indian Ocean, the sublime white beaches and the sumptuous accommodation, you may want to sample a true taste of Maldivian life.

A 10-minute speed boat trip takes us to Meedhoo Island, which spans 2km x 2.5km, where we are presented with garlands of frangipani and bougainvillea by beautiful Maldivian children dressed in traditional Dhiveli libaas, dresses with ornate necklines made from traditional weaving, watched proudly by their hijab-clad mothers.

Meedhoo is clearly new to tourism. Only a few years ago, the small beach on which we are standing was a rubbish dump awash with plastic bottles, rusty cans and other debris, a makeshift landfill from its 3,500-population.

Today, thanks to the work of concerned members of the community who formed an NGO to clean up their island and educate adults and children in all matters of eco-friendliness, there’s not a plastic bottle or bag in sight. Adults and children still take part in regular beach cleans three years on and a local waste management company removes the rubbish.

Here, female tourists are politely asked to wear attire which covers their shoulders and knees in respect of the Muslim faith.

Driving on the sandy road past 900-year-old Koagannu, the oldest cemetery in the Maldives, we come across an impressive school hidden behind bright blue walls, while a peppering of stylish gated houses in subtle shades of lemon clash with nearby tired, older buildings with corrugated roofs and fading pink painted walls. Traditional houses used to be made of corals but, of course, that doesn’t happen anymore.

Maldives farm to fork

By the look of things, tourism has clearly helped some prosper on Meedhoo but has been slower to transform life for others.

With a population of 3,500 to feed, farming has always been big here but now it’s bigger. On one farm, we walk past deep troughs of leafy Chinese cabbages, huge banana trees and beds of yam, whose voluminous leaves are known as elephant ears, and are asked to remove our shoes before entering a large greenhouse filled with rows of lofty cucumber plants bearing dangling ripening fruits.

It’s one of four greenhouses made possible through a $15,900 (approx £12,200) loan in 2013 from the Shangri-La group to the cooperative, which has helped increase farming production massively, so much so that Meedhoo and its neighbouring islands in the atoll now provide the resort with around 15% of its fruit and vegetables. The farmers paid back the cost of the greenhouses within 10 months, which was deducted from the resort’s weekly supply.

Hot Maldivian chillis, papaya, bananas and a variety of salad leaves are flourishing on the cultivated land. Fragrant frangipani, bougainvillea and other flowers grown on the island also serve the resort.

Maldives farm to fork

So how can they grow such rich produce on a bed of coral sand?

Rotten leaf matter on the island is broken down to make soil richer, although compost also has to be imported from Sri Lanka and India to beef up the terrain, while great tanks gather rainwater for the crops.

And while problems of whitefly, thrips (an insect) and mites sometimes threaten the harvest, the biggest challenge for farmers is the changing weather patterns resulting in a longer rainy season, says the community environmental officer Mohamed Kamir.

But efforts are being made to expand the types of crops which may be able to cope with changing weather conditions.

Earlier in the day, we visited the resort’s own chef’s garden to pick vegetables and herbs to use in our dishes at dinner.

There’s an abundance of mint, dill and basil, as well as gourds, aubergines, courgettes and spring onions, Chinese cabbage and rocket, all of which provide some of the resort’s needs.

If the chef’s garden cultivates a new variety successfully, it will teach the Meedhoo farmers how to grow and care for the plants, so that they can expand their own crops.

So, as we sit down to our delicious farm-to-plate dinner in stylish settings on Villingili later that evening, featuring locally-caught wahu carpaccio, meaty tuna with lemongrass veloute with some of the herbs and vegetables we picked earlier in the chef’s garden, and fruit cocktail with mango soup courtesy of the farmers of Meedhoo, nothing could really taste sweeter.

Maldives farm to fork

8 Cracking Ways to Set the Scene for Easter

easter decorating

Planning some Easter entertaining? Gabrielle Fagan reveals simple decor displays and finishing touches to bring the occasion to life.

It’s time to get all your chicks in a row for Easter, with some truly egg-cellent decor!

A holiday gathering will be much more memorable with a cheerful springtime table setting, with plenty of seasonal touches to bring it to life – from pretty hanging eggs on a tree, to colourful wreaths and, of course, a sprinkling of cute, decorative creatures, be it bunnies or chicks.

Style it out and that setting’s sure to be Insta-worthy, promises Rebecca Stanton, a stylist and visual merchandiser at Dobbies.

“Easter decorating includes some of my favourite styling elements, including pretty pastels, blooming bouquets and fresh foliage,” she says. “A mix of candy-coloured decorations will bring a table to life, especially with the addition of miniature chicks and Easter bunnies to set the tone for the occasion.

“Nothing says springtime like a bunch of gorgeous tulips, helping bring a touch of the outside in,” Stanton adds. “Frankly, you can never have too many flowers!”

easter decorating

1. Branch out for that finishing touch

Time was, decorated trees were just for Christmas – but they’re rapidly becoming an essential ingredient for Easter decor too.

“Within the home, an Easter tree is an eye-catching statement piece which can be dressed up or down, depending on your style,” says Lisa Rutherford, stationery and seasonal events buyer at John Lewis.

“They’re becoming ever-more popular. A small collection of hanging eggs can look beautiful and under-stated. If a full-sized tree isn’t for you, consider a smaller table-top tree version, or just a simple collection of branches in a vase with a few ornaments for a mini display.”

easter decorating

2. Keep it cute

Hop to it and gather a collection of chicks and bunnies, which children will love but can also be all you need to pay a subtle nod to the season.

Hang several on a wire across a window frame or mirror (double the visual impact), or hang individually on cupboard handles or from a pendant light above the table.

easter decorating

3. Crack a top table display

“A meal, and the table setting, is at the centre of many Easter celebrations,” says Rutherford. “It’s worth investing in the ingredients for a scheme which you can use again. Consider following a colour scheme – yellow or zingy green are both top choices for a crisp, fresh look.

“Whether you want something fun and functional, maybe a grass table runner and a line of tiny pots of faux daffodils, or a little more sophistication using pastels and muted florals, your table offers a space to be creative and playful. It doesn’t need to be over-elaborate to be successful.” John Lewis has a Talking Tables Grass Table Runner, £18, and Artificial Daffodils in Kraft Wrap, £4, which would be ideal.

easter decorating

4. Treat the table

Splurge on a few new pieces of Easter-inspired homeware to give a table setting a lift, or to decorate a mantel or shelf. They may be just the finishing touches you need.

If that’s beyond the budget, with all those chocolate treats to pay for, simply fill a clear glass bowl full of eggs (traditionally, real eggs are hard boiled and dyed with food colouring) and place in the centre of the table, or opt for a simple spring bouquet from the garden.

For a quick fix: Use a ribbon or twine to tie a hanging decoration to each napkin and personalise with a label displaying each guest’s name.

easter decorations

5. Hunt down style

Easter wouldn’t be the same without an egg hunt – after all, you don’t want to be responsible for making the Easter bunny redundant! Pop up a sign, scatter some artificial eggs, and have chocolate treats as prizes.

easter decorating

6. Bring in nature

Nature’s waking up after winter, with blossom and new growth galore – a beautiful feature of the season. Reflect that indoors too, with floral wreaths and garlands (faux ones are so good nowadays, it’s hard to distinguish them from the real thing). Hang on a door or wall, or use as a table focal point.

easter decorating

7. Create a stunning centrepiece

What you need:

4 birch branches; twine; seasonal flowers and foliage (such as eucalyptus, ivy, mimosa or forsythia); six decorated Easter eggs or Easter chocolates; two large cup hooks.

How to do it:

  • Lay the four birch branches on a large flat surface and loosely arrange them parallel to each other, with a gap of approximately 3-4cm between each.
  • Wind twine several times around an outer branch. Leave a length of 3-4cm of twine and then wind around the next branch and so on, until you get to the far side and the branches are all connected. Do this 20-30cm in from each end of the display.
  • Gather your chosen foliage and flowers together in two loose bunches and bind their stems. Lay each bunch on top of the birch branches with the bound stems overlapping in the middle. Tuck the bound ends into the opposite bunch to hide untidy ends.
  • Tie lengths of twine to your Easter eggs, ready for hanging. Hang your birch branches and foliage from the ceiling with cup hooks and twine, then tie on your Easter eggs in varying positions and at different heights. Tweak the arrangement of the foliage or add more, once the centrepiece is in place, to achieve the look you want.
easter decorating

8. Enter into the spirit of Easter

Don’t confine decoration to inside the house – wreaths hung on a front door, or a tub of spring flowers in a porch makes an attractive, welcoming touch, and will hint at more decor treats inside.

How to Make your Home an Instagram Hit in 6 Simple Steps

Restoring Landsdowne's Kristine Hall shares her styling secrets for 'decor-gramming' success.

If you love your home, you want to show it off – which these days, of course, means posting fab shots on Instagram.

Some of us are apparently so keen to win those likes that we’ll even cheat with ‘fake’ posts! In a survey for the Ideal Home Show, one in six people confessed to having posted an image of someone else’s home and pretended it was theirs. Plus, 18% of the 18-24-year-olds quizzed said they wouldn’t buy a house if they didn’t think it would impress on social media.

That might be taking the trend to extremes, but who doesn’t want Insta-worthy interiors?

Interior designer Kristine Hall, who set up her design and styling company after documenting her own decor project, Restoring Landsdowne (restoringlansdowne.com), knows all about making a space an Insta-hit. Hall’s calm, pared-back Scandi-inspired style is a favourite with decor-grammers (at current count, she has over 44k followers).

Want to steal her secrets? Here, Hall, who will giving advice at the Ideal Home show, shares six simple steps for conjuring an utterly Instagrammable home. Let the posting and boasting begin…

Instagram your home

1. Create a feature with paint

“Paint is the easiest and most affordable way to refresh a space and give it the wow factor,” says Hall. “Go a step further and use it to define an area, an architectural feature, or create character in an otherwise bland room.

“Painted half-walls are bang on trend, but you can also add drama by painting your window frames black (bonus – it makes greenery outside really pop). Alternatively, define a ‘headboard’ shape in paint on the wall behind a bed. Anything goes, and this is big on impact and low on commitment.”

INSTA TIP: Look out for lozenges – the shape, not the sore throat remedy, says Hall. This pill-like form is popping up in all things interiors, from tables and mirrors, to dinnerware and lamps.

Instagram your home

2. Show your bed some love

“Treat your bed the way you treat your wardrobe: Buy separates that coordinate and mix them up,” advises Hall.

“Avoid a ‘matchy-matchy’ look by choosing bed linens in different shades, which complement each other and your room. Mix block colours with contemporary Scandi prints, cottons with velvet or chic wrinkly linens, and add texture with chunky throws and cushions.

“If you think it’s hard to get out of bed now, just wait until you’ve finished piling on those lush layers.”

INSTA TIP: Take it nude! Ultra-fashionable grey has had its (very long) moment in the Insta-spotlight, Hall declares, and colours are moving in a warmer direction. Earthy neutrals, like sand, oatmeal, jute and tan, are the way to go.

Instagram your home

3. Mix old with new

If you’re thinking of redecorating, don’t go overboard and make the mistake of simply adopting a whole style straight from one retailer, warns Hall.

“You don’t want your home to look like it was dragged-and-dropped direct

from a furniture showroom (no matter how lush the showroom in question might be),” says Hall.

“Instead,” she adds, “make the most of what you already have, and elevate the look with a few pieces that are more of-the-moment, so it retains your personality.

“That doesn’t mean holding on to a past-its-sell-by-date flat-pack bookcase or hated heirloom. Bring in new pieces by all means, but before you do, think creatively about what you already own that could be re-purposed, re-positioned, repainted, or recovered. Bear in mind that previously unpopular ‘brown’ furniture is truly enjoying a revival.”

INSTA-TIP: There are so many trends on Instagram and Pinterest, it’s easy to get carried away and constantly want the ‘latest’ look. “It can be more successful to make regular small purchases,” says Hall, “so you just reflect a new look in a small detail or colour and retain your core design ethos.”

Instagram your home

4. Banish bare walls

“A sure-fire way of making a room uninspiring is to plonk one lonely little picture on the wall and call it a day,” says Hall. “But the good news is, it’s easier than ever to find original or limited-edition art at affordable prices.

“You can find unique prints at online suppliers that won’t break the bank, or head to local art fairs, makers’ market or student art shows to bag wall decor that will set your Instagram feed apart.

“Don’t be narrow about your interpretation of art, as it doesn’t end at works on paper or canvas,” she adds. “Think contemporary textiles, wood crafts, self-adhesive murals and more. The possibilities for jazzing up an empty wall space are endless.”

INSTA TIP: Every room should have a focal point, says Hall, whether that’s a special feature or piece of furniture or art work that is really ‘wow’. Style your room around that.

Instagram your home

5. Make it yours

“Its really important to have something unique in every room, that not everyone else can go out and buy – a star piece,” says Hall.

“It can be vintage, bespoke, something up-cycled – but it must be something that gives your home personality. I think a really important thing on Instagram is that people should be able to look at an image of yours, and know immediately that it’s yours.

“That can be difficult because there’s a lot of trends, and for months you can find everyone has the same print or chair, but finding those really special pieces is a good way of ensuring your home has its own special ‘stamp’ and identity.”

If you can’t find what you want for a room, design your own, she suggests. It can be more affordable than you think, and local craftsmen or artists or retailers may be prepared to bespoke a piece for you.

INSTA-TIP: Most people look at Instagram on their phones, so don’t try to cram too much into one shot. Use what’s called ‘negative space’ or try to narrow down the focus of the shot. A whole room can get lost in one image, so take several shots taken from different angles and close-ups of details. It’s about contrast between interesting things to look at, and giving items breathing space and allowing them to impress.

Instagram your home

6. Use natural light for winning shots

Lighting is super-important, stresses Hall. “I don’t use any artificial light in my images, and if it can be avoided, it should be. Natural daylight is always best.

“Of course, it depends a lot on individual properties and the kind of light you have at home, as well as your window treatments. But for me, bright sunshine makes it hard to take clear images. I always try to shoot on a bright but cloudy day.

“This is especially important if, like me, you only use your phone for photography. Having great images is probably 95% of what Instagram is about, and if they’re fuzzy, blurry or unclear, you won’t get the hits.”

INSTA-TIP: Don’t over-style – you don’t need to karate chop your cushions or iron creases into your curtains. Your home will be more enticing if it looks like just that – a place you love to be in – not a staged set piece.

The Ideal Home Show – the world’s longest running exhibition – runs at Olympia London until Sunday, April 7. For more information, see Idealhomeshow.co.uk