6 Alternative Christmas Trees For Small Spaces

alternative Christmas trees

Hannah Stephenson shares some dinky options for space-starved homes - or anyone who can't face the faff of a full-size tree.

Bit short of space? Can’t fit a big Christmas tree into your home, but still want something natural-looking to replace it?

Well, good news. There are wall hangings, houseplants and smaller potted trees that’ll do the job nicely and bring some festive sparkle into your home, even if you live in the smallest space with just a little walk-round room.

So, what are the options?

alternative Christmas trees

1. Nordic Rope Ladder Hanging Christmas Tree, £20, notonthehighstreet.com

A minimalist yet rustic alternative to the classic Christmas tree, this hanging tree is only 80cm tall and can be tucked up neatly against a wall. Add baubles of your choice and drape it with fairy lights to bring it to life. A great choice for those with very tight space to work with, anyone who can’t ‘cope’ with pine needles – or to decorate other areas of the home.

The wooden slats are rounded natural twigs from the bayur tree, making all of these unique.

alternative Christmas trees

2. Mini Letterbox Christmas Tree, from £32, BloomAndWild.com

A survey commissioned by Bloom & Wild found that people are downsizing their trees in a bid to cut down on costs and needle dropping – with 79% of those quizzed saying they’re opting for a smaller tree this year, while 65% of millennials will be buying a cheaper option, without sacrificing the ‘Instagram-worthy’ tradition of buying one completely.

Their mini letterbox trees, which are real and rooted, arrive with decorations, lights and a pop-up pot in a letterbox-fitting box, and can be planted in the garden after Christmas.

alternative Christmas trees

3. Mini Christmas Tree Trio, £25, Marks and Spencer

If you only have space to spare on your windowsill, this trio of frosted mini trees, in winter embossed tin containers, would make a classy edition. You’ll ideally need to place them in a cool position with some natural light and, while they’re fine kept indoors for a few weeks, after that you’ll need to move them outdoors if you want them to survive, and plant them either in a patio container or the garden. Once you’ve done that, they should continue to thrive (you’ll want to make sure the compost never totally dries out but don’t let the tree get waterlogged either, and adding some plant food to their water between late spring and early autumn is advised).

alternative Christmas trees

4. Houseplants (Luxury Basket £30), Wyevale Garden Centres

Who says it has to be a Christmas tree? There are other ways to bring some festive greenery into the home, including houseplants. If you have the space, consider gathering some houseplants together, with some white specimens, such as orchids and lilies, to create a ‘frosted’ look. You could also go for a red and green arrangement to give a room a traditional festive feel, and go as big or small as you like.

alternative Christmas trees

5. Plant Terrarium, £66.99, crocus.co.uk

Terrariums have become the must-have addition to living areas, and if you haven’t the space for a tree then you could consider planting a feast of festive plants in one of these glass enclosures instead, which should keep going beyond New Year.

Once you’ve had enough of them, you can easily change the style by swapping in new plants next year. This one’s produced from sheet glass and brass, with an antique bronze finish.

alternative Christmas trees

6. Pot-grown Tree, from £20, Wyevale Garden Centres

Eco-friendly gardeners may prefer a smaller version of the traditional Christmas tree. They can look superb – and this one is pot-grown, so can be planted in the garden afterwards.

3 Ways to Turn Your Home Technicolour

Colour-phobic and clinging to neutrals like a comfort blanket? Gabrielle Fagan discovers how to fight fear and brave bold decoration at home.

bright colours technicolour your home

Colour’s officially cool – according to the decor experts – but it takes guts to plunge into the palette and experiment in rooms.

Banish the fear and do it anyway, declares Emily Henson, interiors stylist and author of the aptly named, Be Bold: Interiors For The Brave Of Heart, which is a celebration of homes with “joyful patterns, gutsy colour choices and exhilarating paint treatments”.

Their owners, she says, enjoy homes which contain daring explosions of colour, pattern, humour and originality, where “boldness is a way of life”.

Some make a statement “with vivid paint on every surface and neon signs on the walls”, while others have “leopard print and folksy embroidered cushions clashing on a pink sofa, or window frames painted yellow in an otherwise white wall”. Whatever, she notes, bold really is beautiful.

bright colours technicolour your home

It’s certainly a world away from the bland, and Henson gleefully sums up the philosophy as ‘decorate like nobody’s watching’.

Still nervous? “Think of the colours you like and want in your life, and test the waters by spray painting something small,” she says. For the more confident, she urges: “Dive in at the deep end, just go for it! What’s the worst thing that can happen? You won’t like it and you’ll have to repaint. That’s not the end of the world.”

Be inspired by three homes where owners truly dance to their own decor tune…

bright colours technicolour your home

Cook up a colour storm

Set designer Amy Exton indulges her love of colour and kitsch with a no-holds-barred scheme for her kitchen, and has created a home that packs a stylish punch.

“Amy hand-painted this eye-popping mural herself, painstakingly taping off each area and alternating between stripes, leopard and solid painted sections,” Henson says.

“She continues the mouthwatering colour scheme with apple green on the walls and brightly-coloured metal stools. It’s a total transformation from it’s previous look of magnolia paint and wall-to-wall brown carpet.”

EMILY’S DECOR TIP: Choose one shade and paint everything – walls, ceilings, doors, woodwork, radiators – for an intoxicating, enveloping effect. If that’s too much, choose a main colour for the walls and ceiling and one or two accents for doors, shelves or features. If you feel bold, paint part-way up the walls and leave the top half white, or use two different colours for a wall – in either complementary or contrasting shades.

bright colours technicolour your home

Mix a cocktail of shades

Anything goes in the apartment of Spanish designer Patricia Bustos, who ignores outdated rules and injects a fresh quirkiness into all her schemes.

She’s created an entertainment ‘zone’ with a bamboo tiki bar, Eighties Terje Ekstrom chairs upholstered in mustard wool, and for the perfect finishing touch, designed her own ‘Oh La La’ neon sign.

“For Patricia, being bold means combining different eras, ignoring outdated rules about pattern and colour matching, and injecting humour and quirkiness into everything she designs. Her home is a joyful expression of what’s in her head, and it’s fabulous,” says Henson. “It’s all fabulously OTT. What makes it work? A limited colour palette and the guts to own the look.”

EMILY’S DECOR TIP: Stylists often create ‘fake walls’ – large pieces of plywood covered in wallpaper – for photographic shoots. These can be used as a flexible, movable expanse of pattern, which can be leaned against a wall for a playful focal point, or used as a great way to test out your enthusiasm for a particular pattern or colour, before committing to it.

bright colours technicolour your home

Wake up a wall…

A vibrant blue shade on a wall brilliantly brings shop owner Zoe Anderson’s dining area to life, with simple, modern furniture – including a gleaming Tom Dixon copper pendant light – to provide balance.

“Kitchens are often painted in neutral colours as a safe option, but Zoe went all-out bold with an electric blue paint,” explains Henson. “The walls are a vibrant backdrop for the family’s art collection, including children’s drawings and keepsakes collected on travels.”

EMILY’S DECOR TIP: Make a statement with a sofa or a chair in a daring or unusual shade, to show-off your ‘adventurous’ colour spirit, says Henson. Bold doesn’t always have to mean bright, she points out, as paler shades can be just as effective. Think pink, sage green, or aquamarine – anything but the obvious.

bright colours technicolour your home

Be Bold: Interiors For The Brave Of Heart by Emily Henson, photography by Catherine Gratwicke, is published by Ryland Peters & Small, priced £19.99. Available to readers for the special price of £14 (inc p&p) by going to rylandpeters.com and using code: BOLDPA at the checkout. Offer valid until December 31, 2018.

Top of the Taps: Expert Tips on Choosing the Right Taps for your Family and Lifestyle

Abi Jackson asks some industry professionals to runs through the options when it comes to faucets.

They may seem small-fry in the grand scheme of kitchen design – but taps feature heavily in our day-to-day lives, and there’s a surprising amount of options to choose from.

“Kitchen taps play an important role in every home. Not only are they often a focal point but they are used for different purposes throughout the day, so when choosing taps you need to think about practicality and design,” says Simon Cornelius, head of marketing at Methven.

Fancy updating your faucets? We tapped up the experts for their top tips on current trends…

Features and functionality

Designers are constantly coming up with ways to make products more efficient and user-friendly, with taps no exception. It used to be that your biggest decision was whether to switch from having separate hot and cold taps to a single mixer tap – but the specs available have come a long way since then.

“The inclusion of swivel sprouts and pull-out hoses in our brand-new range enables you to easily wash pots without taking up too much kitchen workspace,” says Cornelius.

Larah Kuziw, brand manager at Carron Phoenix, adds: “There’s a huge choice of taps now, that come with features such as pull-out sprays, directional nozzles, filtration and more, so there are models to suit all of your kitchen and budget needs, from basic mixers to a multi-functional four or even five-in-one tap.”

Boiling and filtering

Taking things a step further in the tap tech stakes, if you’re looking to invest in some of the latest hi-tech kitchen options, you might want to consider a boiling water tap.

“Where once they may have been considered a luxury, we’re now seeing [boiling water taps] regularly feature as one of the must-have appliances,” says Becca Platts, design expert at Benchmarx Kitchens.

“As many of the latest tap models can be fitted in place or to replace a standard hot/cold monobloc kitchen mixer, this does make sense. So much so, that we’ve now added a number of Abode models to our key range, so people have the option to trade up to filtered boiling, or even filtered boiling and cold water as required.”

Designs will often give the option to choose temperature settings, and Platts notes that multi-step operating features are designed to help ensure the taps are safe to use (so you can’t just accidentally flip on a flow of boiling water).

“Hot water taps give you so much more than an instant cuppa,” says Jeanette Ward, communications manager at Franke. “Their ability to deliver hot, cold and instant boiling water means they have a myriad of uses, such as blanching, sterilising baby bottles or knives, boiling pasta or rice more quickly, or cleaning your pans after a Sunday roast.

“When you have a hot water tap, you don’t need a kettle anymore, so you can achieve a more streamlined look in your kitchen and free up some worktop space.”

Still buying bottled water because you don’t like drinking straight from the tap? Having a filtering tap installed could help towards those single-use plastic reducing goals. “Filtered water taps make a great choice if you’re looking for access to premium quality water. These taps remove the majority of chlorine from tap water, along with other impurities including particulates, rust, heavy metals and pesticides,” says Luke Shipway, product manager at Caple. “As a result, there’s vast improvement on taste and odour, and the scale inhibitor helps reduce the build up of scale in your kettle, which is a great benefit.”

Don’t overlook design

Advanced specs aside, if your kitchen is the heart of your home, then you’ll want to fill it with details you love – so think about how the tap fits within the wider theme of the space.

“It’s also a current trend to invest in a tap which will add a touch of personality to your kitchen,” says Cornelius. “Taps with striking designs will enhance your kitchen and will make them focal points, rather than just kitchen necessities.

“Don’t forget to look beyond the design and pay consideration to the colour of your tap. While chrome is still a popular choice, we are also seeing an increase in taps with colours incorporated, such as our Methven Gaston with black accent. This design will add a sleek contemporary touch to your kitchen and give you a base from which to create your interior scheme.”

This applies whatever type of tap you go for, including boiling water taps. “The use of different materials, colours and finishes is still a strong theme in kitchens, which is why one of the big trends in hot water tap design is the introduction of coloured finishes, like black, copper, gold, bronze and gunmetal, in addition to premium solid stainless steel,” says Ward. “These alternative finishes really help to draw attention to the tap as a statement piece, rather than just a practical piece of kitchen equipment.”

To discuss changes to your home that can impact its potential value, please feel free to call and speak to your local office. https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/branches/

Considering a village life for retirement? Look no further than Hartley Wintney

Voted ‘Best Place to Live’ for 5 consecutive years, Hartley Wintney is the jewel in the crown for village life, with an active community and easy connections for travelling.

For anyone looking for a place to retire, Hartley Wintney has to be worth further exploration..

duck pond in Hartley Wintney photo copyright John Joe Photography
Photo of Hartley Wintney duck pond - picture copyright John Joe Photography and Video Production

This oversized village features five greens, two delightful duck ponds, an attractive High Street lined with period buildings, mostly dating from the 18th and 19th centuries when Hartley Wintney grew as a coaching stop on the London Road (aka A30), plus a scattering of barns, cottages and farmhouses from the 17th century.

High Street in Hartley Wintney photo copyright John Joe Photography
Photo of Hartley Wintney high street - picture copyright John Joe Photography and Video Production

Over time, the High Street has developed into a highly browsable shopping destination with a selection of fashion and interiors boutiques, galleries and antique shops. The recent addition of William Dyers amazing delicatessen offering everything from luxury cuts to a frozen dinner party has completed the luxury treats.

From a more practical and useful side, the  Whitewater Health doctors surgery is tucked just off the High Street and the village also offers a dentist and opticians.

duck pond in Hartley Wintney photo copyright Alamy
Photo of Hartley Wintney cricket green - picture copyright John Joe Photography and Video Production

The community is incredibly active and offers something for everyone, from cinema nights and plays at the Victoria and Jubilee Hall to plant sales and crafting with the local Womens Institute to the highly regarded Hartley Wintney Golf Club tucked just off the end of the High Street. One of the main focus areas of the village is Hartley Wintney Cricket Club, with their pitch just behind the High Street and with the obligatory pub next door.

Culturally, Hartley Wintney offers unlikely musical experiences – ranging from the sublime to the ridiculously fun. The former is the highly regarded opera season at West Green House; an 18th century country house known worldwide for its gardens. The latter is Lowde Fest at Hazeley Bottom: 11 hours’ non-stop live, food market and funfair.

Hartley Wintney photo copyright John Joe Photography
Photo of Hartley Wintney - picture copyright John Joe Photography and Video Production

There are a number of purpose built retirement schemes, all within easy access to the High Street and amenities and at a range of price points and size to suit different needs. To find out more please call the Hartley Wintney office on 01252 842100 to find out more.

5 Last-minute garden jobs to do before winter arrives.

Almost time to batten the hatches before winter arrives - but you still have time to do last-minute garden jobs to beat the winter chill.

5 garden jobs before winter

You may have been enjoying the balmy autumn, but as the sweaters and woolly socks come out, it’s almost time to put the garden to bed.

So, what last-minute jobs should you be doing?

5 jobs for garden

1. Shelter vulnerable plants

My pots of geraniums (pelargoniums) are still going strong but they won’t be for much longer, so if you want to keep them for next year, find them some shelter now.

Cut them back to 10cm (4in) and put pots in a light, frost-free place such as a greenhouse or a sheltered porch next to the house. If the spot isn’t completely frost-free, wrap the pots in bubble wrap to give them extra protection.

If you’ve a conservatory or a cool spare room, even better. Don’t put plants near central heating or they will wilt and die when you bring them out next year.

Do the same with fuchsias, cutting them back before you put them under cover for winter, and hardly water them at all until growth starts again in spring.

5 garden jobs before winter

2. Divide perennials

The ground should still be soft enough to dig up overcrowded clumps of perennials and split them, replanting the divided clumps to give them more space.

This will lead to better performance in subsequent years and you’ve also increased your stock. Repeat planting is really effective at creating continuity and flow in borders, and dividing perennials is an ideal way of doing this.

Good subjects for division include crocosmia, rudbeckia, helenium, cranesbill geranium and catmint. You can also lift and divide hostas, although you’ll need a sharp knife to slice through the thick, congested roots.

last jobs before winter

3. Trim hedges

Try to do this when the weather’s still fine – you don’t want to be getting the hedge trimmer out when it’s pouring. If you tidy evergreen hedges now, they will look neat until next year as they won’t put on much new growth during the cooler months.

Also, trimming now may save you a bigger job in spring, when you also risk disturbing birds’ nests. Deciduous shrubs can be pruned into winter.

4. Get rid of the last of the weeds

Try to dig out any pernicious perennial weeds you see lurking, such as bindweed, couch grass and ground elder. You’ll need to dig them out completely, root and all, as if you leave any fragments of root in the soil they will come back in spring.

Hopefully, if you dig up the perennial weeds now, your job won’t be as arduous in spring. If you have areas which have been totally invaded, consider covering the ground with sheets of black plastic, secured with bricks at each corner, which will stop the light and hopefully kill the weed in a few months.

end-of-summer, garden-tips, dead-heading

5. Take cuttings

Want to increase your stock? It’s a perfect time to take hardwood cuttings of shrubs including weigelas, roses, dogwood, philadelphus and willow. They can often be grown on outdoors in a prepared trench.

Select vigorous, healthy shoots grown in the current year and remove the soft tip growth. Cut into sections 15-30cm (6in-12in) long, cutting cleanly above a bud at the top, with a sloping cut to shed water and as a reminder which end is the top.

Cut straight across at the base, below a bud or pair of buds. Dip the base into hormone rooting powder, make a slit trench in a well cultivated but vacant area of the garden, push the cuttings in vertically, 30cm (12in) apart and firm the soil back around them, closing the trench.

Water them in. This time next year they may have rooted enough to be moved. This job can be done at any time between mid-autumn and late winter.

New Home In New Year 2019

cgi image of proposed new homes at Shapley Grange Hartley Wintney

Fine Homes At Shapley Grange

This prime site in Hartley Wintney, will be one of the finest developments on the outskirts of this sought after Hampshire village.

Prices are to be released in early 2019, and the estimated range will be around £500,000 to £1,100,000. There are only 7 homes being built at Shapley Grange and if you are in the market for a quality new home, then please do contact our Hartley Wintney branch and ask them to keep you posted about this site.

site plan of proposed new homes at Shapley Grange Hartley Wintney
Proposed site layout
cgi image of proposed new town houses at Shapley Grange Hartley Wintney
The proposed cottage style terrace houses at Shapley Grange
cgi image of proposed new homes at Shapley Grange Hartley Wintney
There will be 4 luxury home on this exclusive site

King William Court, Hartley Wintney

King William Court in now completed and the luxury homes are now occupied by new home owners, who will no doubt enjoy a first Christmas there as well as enjoy the seasons festivities in nearby Odiham and Hartley Wintney villages.

The early video marketing was a great success, with 731 people viewing the video content. 

Winchfield Lodge, near Hartley Wintney

Winchfield Lodge is an example of obsessive attention to detail, and Kirkby Homes have produced a period property refurbishment on a truly grand scale.

Winchfield Lodge Property
14 Winchfield Lodge

Winchfield View, near Hartley Wintney

With beautiful homes from around £500,0000 to £1,750,000, we haven’t been short of buyer interest and reservations on this site.

The developer is currently delayed with off site local authority infrastructure works for mains drainage from nearby roads around Phoenix Green. This means completion dates are behind schedule, but new buyer interest can look forward to 2019 as an ideal time to move to one of these fine homes.

For further details telephone our Hartley Wintney branch on 01252 842100

Need a cheap and easy home revamp? Here’s how to tile your own splashbacks.

Kitchens and bathrooms are the most important rooms in the house, and a little DIY can bring them bang up to date. Claire Spreadbury learns to tile...

diy tiling splashback

When it comes to DIY, some rooms are easier to tackle than others. Kitchens are best left to the experts, and bathrooms – aside from a bit of resealing – can often be the same.

One easy update that is pretty simple to do, however, is splashbacks. They sit behind the sink and are essential to stop water being sprayed everywhere when hands, fruit, vegetables and whatnot are washed. It is tiling, but it tends to be quite a small area, so should be achievable for most people.

revamp tiling tile splashbacks

“Adding a splashback is a great way to inject a touch of personality into your kitchen, by creating a focal point,” says Sian O’Neill, head of marketing at Topps Tiles. “It’s also a very cost-effective way of updating the appearance of a room and giving it a new look, just by making some small changes.”

What you will need

There are a few things to keep in mind when tiling your own splashbacks. Firstly, says O’Neill, ensure you have all the right equipment – including the correct adhesive, a notched trowel, safety goggles, spirit level, tile spacers and a cutter. Next, make sure you work out how many tiles you need by measuring the area and adding 10% for any cuts and wastage.

revamp tiling tile splashbacks

Choosing your tiles

“As splashbacks create a focal point, they lend themselves to more vibrant colours or patterns to make a real statement,” notes O’Neill. “They also provide the ideal canvas to be brave with statement shapes, so consider the lay pattern before you start.”

A herringbone style, for example, can add real interest to the area and create a unique look.

“Block colours can offer a classic and timeless look, while intricately patterned tiles create more of a contemporary finish,” she adds. “And when it comes to the type of tile, ceramic or porcelain tend to be more favourable than the likes of natural stone, as they are lower in maintenance – an important consideration given the fact your splashback needs to be water resistant and less susceptible to staining.”

revamp tiling tile splashbacks

Think about the grouting

Not many of us have spent much time deliberating grout, but there are different colours available and – despite the subtle differences – choosing the right grout can really enhance the overall effect. “It’s important not to overlook the colour of the grout chosen, as this can provide the all-important finishing touch. Darker grouts can offer lower maintenance compared to the traditional white, when used in areas with high activity or likely food splatters,” says O’Neill.

revamp tiling tile splashbacks

Preparing and tiling the wall

“When you have your tiles and all the necessary tiling equipment, prepare the wall to ensure it is smooth, clean, completely dry and free from any dust or debris,” says O’Neill. “Apply an even layer of adhesive to a tiling or notched trowel, and starting from the corner, spread the product over the area of two or three tiles at a time. Place the tiles firmly on the adhesive, using spacers to create an even layout.

“Allow your tiles to dry for 24 hours, and then fill the spaces between each tile, using grout and a grout float tool. Pushing the grout deep into the joints will prevent moisture from getting behind the tiles, which is particularly important in kitchen areas.

“Once finished, wipe down your tiles with a clean, damp sponge, working at a 45-degree angle down your surface.”

And that’s it! Leave everything to properly dry, then show off your handy work to all your friends and family.

revamp tiling tile splashsbacks

Before you start any work on your home, if you wished to discuss the potential value that you can add, contact your local office for a no obligation market appraisal.

https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/branches/

Ghoulish Halloween Gardens!

Getting in the Halloween spirit? Hannah Stephenson reveals some of the 'foul and creepy' specimens that could be lurking in your hedges and borders...

halloween garden design plants

Mischievous trick-or-treaters dressed as ghosts and ghouls may be on the prowl on your doorstep this Halloween – but step into your garden and you might find some spooky spikes, noxious nasties and creepy creepers lurking in your borders.

Some plants can sting, burn, cut or emit an acrid, foul-smelling odour. Others have sinister-sounding names or connections with witches or the devil, while there are some which are said to help ward off evil.

Get yourself into the mood for Halloween with this guide to horticultural horrors…

1. Eye-poppers

When you see the spooky white berries with a single black spot emerging from red stems, you can understand why this sinister-looking plant is nicknamed the Doll’s Eye (Actaea pachypoda). All parts of this herbaceous perennial are poisonous and when ingested can cause hallucinations.

halloween garden plants design

2. Strangling suspects

Also known as strangleweed, devil’s guts, witches shoelaces and devil’s ringlet, but better known as dodder (Cuscuta), this pernicious relative of bindweed twines itself round a host plant and inserts itself into the host’s vascular system – sucking out everything it needs to live and killing its plant victim in the process.

halloween garden plants design

3. Prickly subjects

Among the most prickly of plants is the hawthorn. As a thorny hedge, it will stab its thorns into your fingers, even when you’re wearing the toughest gloves, and mature plants will even pierce the soles of gardening shoes – although on the plus side, a hawthorn hedge can also deter even the most persistent burglar.

Other prickly candidates include creeping juniper, common holly, firethorn (pyracantha), juniper and purple berberis.

halloween garden plants design

4. Toxic terrors

Aconitum, also known as monkshood or wolfsbane, is among the most toxic of plants, with ingestion of even a small amount causing severe stomach upsets. But it also slows the heart rate, which can prove fatal.

You don’t just have to eat it to suffer the symptoms. The poison can be absorbed through the skin, via open wounds, and there have even been reports of people feeling unwell after smelling the flowers.

halloween garden plants design

5. Foul smelling specimens

Then there are the plants which literally smell like rotten corpses. The stinking iris, Iris foetidissima, for example, absolutely reeks. If you can stand the smell, or remain downwind from it, this bulb puts on a spectacular display in autumn and winter, when its gigantic seed pods burst open to reveal brilliant orange and sometimes red seeds.

halloween garden plants design

6. Acrid arums

The titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), also known as the ‘corpse flower’ as it smells like decomposed bodies when in flower, is nevertheless beautiful, growing up to 3m tall, its gigantic crimson flower spanning 3m, and is a great magnet for pollinating insects.

This acrid arum prefers the rainforests of Sumatra as its natural habitat, although you can admire it in the exotic sections of botanical gardens such as the Eden Project in Cornwall and at Kew, where it’s currently flowering.

Others in the bad smells league include Eucomis bicolor, the pineapple lily, and the dead horse arum (Helicodiceros muscivorus), named for obvious reasons.

7. Ghostly apparitions

The ghost plant (Monotropa uniflora), an eerie white specimen found in shady woods is a rare sight.

It has no chlorophyll, the chemical that allows plants to absorb energy from the sun and typically gives plants their green colour. In fact, the ghost plant is a parasite which sucks on fungi connected to a host plant, which is usually a nearby tree. The fungi acts as the middleman for the nutrients provided by the tree.

halloween garden plants design

8. Bizarre bulbs

While many bulbs bring heady fragrance, including the sweetly-scented hyacinth, others have pretty horrible odours, including the imposing crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis). But don’t let the smell put you off too much, because its impressive orange flowers make more of a statement than its whiffy pong.

halloween garden plants design

9. Poisonous potions

No Halloween would be complete without its share of witches, whose potions have been linked with some of our most common plants. Hemlock, for instance, is highly poisonous and closely linked with witchcraft. It doesn’t look significantly different from the hedge parsley or cow parsley which grows along roads, ditches, trails, or the edges of fields.

Its white flowerheads resemble those of parsnips, carrots or angelica, while the bright green leaves are deeply-cut, even feathery and delicate. Yet all plant parts are poisonous, with the seeds containing the highest concentration of poison, causing toxic reactions.

Deadly nightshade (Belladonna), another common plant often found in hedgerows, was one of the main ingredients in witches’ brews during the Middle Ages, while blackthorn is often referred to as a witch’s tree. As late as the 1940s, anyone seen to carry a blackthorn walking stick was suspected of being a witch.

halloween garden plants design

10. Warding off evil

Plants including rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), hazelnut (Corylus avellane) and elderberry (Sambucus nigra) were once thought to be ‘magical’ trees and shrubs, which could ward off witches and evil spirits.

Ancient Celts believed rowan berries gave good health, and that if you planted them near grave sites, they would help the dead sleep.

People would use branches as dowsing rods and make crosses of rowan twigs to protect themselves on Halloween, while in old Europe, householders would put elderberry branches above their doorways to protect their homes from malevolent spirits. Strands of hazelnuts, worn or kept in the home ,were said to bring good luck.

halloween garden plants design

Small Trees for Small Gardens

As gardens become smaller, trim trees can be just the ticket, says Hannah Stephenson. Small trees are in high demand, with suppliers increasing production in compact varieties - including crab apples, which bear beautiful spring flowers, and Vossii laburnums, with their upright forms and disease-resistant characteristics.

best trees for small garden

Trees provide structure, screening and shade, as well as colour which continues through the season, creating a sense of enclosure, their height drawing the eye up and out and helping link land with sky – and if you choose wisely, there’s no reason why having a dinky outdoor space should stop you introducing them.

Your tree needs to earn its space in a small garden, so look for one with year-round interest: A tree that blossoms for a week in spring but then looks ordinary for the rest of the year really won’t do.

In really tight spaces, you may be better off with a trimmed and trained plant, either in the ground or in a container, while carefully shaped topiary can also create an eye-catching focal point.

Here are five good examples to consider…

best trees for small garden

1. Amelanchier

Amelanchiers have featured heavily in garden shows in the past couple of years, as designers have displayed their value as choice trees for confined spaces.

Amelanchier lamarckii (10m x 12m), the snowy Mespilus, is often grown as a multi-stemmed showstopper but can also be trained as a light standard. Starry white flowers cover its branches in spring, at the same time as its bronze foliage is opening, while in autumn the small leaves often turn to fiery red and yellow.

They do best in acid soils, so plant them in ericaceous compost. These tall, slender shrubby trees make great subtle screening.

best trees for small garden

2. Flowering dogwood

Flowering dogwoods are long-season stalwarts, their star-shaped blooms appearing in late spring, followed by fantastic leaf colours of reds and oranges in autumn, and strawberry-like fruits which persist into winter.

Good varieties include Cornus kousa (7m x 5m), which bears spreading branches smothered in creamy white blossom in early summer and deep-pink bracts in late spring and orange leaves in autumn, and Cornus mas (5m x 5m), the Cornelian cherry, a small spreading variety which comes into its own in winter when clusters of yellow flowers smother the bare branches.

best trees for small garden

3. Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’

These elegant small trees, which produce long chains of brilliant yellow flowers in May and June, are perfect for training over an arch or pergola when branches are young and pliable.

Gardeners can remove the poisonous seedpods to help improve flowering next year. Just be aware that all parts of the plant are very poisonous, so this is not a child-friendly choice.

They’ll grow to around 8m x 8m and can tolerate poor and shallow soil. Laburnum can also be grown in large tubs, forced early into flower. Arguably the best for this is L. anagyroides var. alschingeri.

4. Crab apple (malus)

Flowering crab apples produce a double whammy of eye-catching blossoms in spring, followed by attractive fruits in autumn.

A good variety is ‘Evereste’ (8m x 8m, but slow-growing), which bears a puff of white and pink fragrant flowers in spring which are a magnet to bees, followed by orange-yellow fruits which can be made into jam.

The slow-growing Japanese crab, Malus Floribunda, is also less vigorous, its horizontal branches covered in crimson buds in the spring, which open to blush-pink and white scented blooms. The advantage of malus is that you can control their size and shape, like a fruiting apple.

best trees for small garden

5. Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)

These stunning stars of the show grow equally well in pots, if you only have a courtyard space and need to keep their size in check, or in the ground to create colour and add structure to a scene.

Mix a combination in different pots to create a range of stunning contrasting autumn colours, including Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’, which bears rich red-purple foliage from spring to autumn, Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’, whose leaves open orange-yellow in spring, and Acer palmatum var. dissectum, whose finely cut mid-green leaves turn golden in autumn.

Plant them in full sun and try to avoid really exposed areas, where their delicate foliage may be damaged by icy winds. If you’re planting them in a container, use compost consisting equal parts of John Innes No. 2 potting compost and a soil-less multipurpose, with plenty of drainage in the base.

best trees for small garden

Your garden adds value both your property and your lifestyle. To check you are maximising the financial potential with your garden, contact you local branch for an up to date valuation: https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/branches/

Spiced Honey Is The Dulux Colour Of The Year For 2019 – Here’s How To Use It

Whether spread across rooms or dipped into on borders and accents, Marianne Shillingford talks to Gabrielle Fagan about Dulux's sweet new hue.

delux spiced honey paint of the year

A sweet, new look is coming to our homes thanks to Dulux, who’ve revealed Spiced Honey as its Colour of the Year for 2019.

An earthy, caramel hue, according to the experts at the paint brand, it’s versatile enough to introduce into a wide range of home interiors – because it can be “calming and nourishing” or “stimulating and energising”, depending on the palettes and light surrounding it.

“Spiced Honey is a warm caramel with notes of amber, that perfectly reflects our new sense of optimism and resilience for 2019,” says Marianne Shillingford, Dulux’s UK creative director.

“While 2018 was seen as unsettled and unpredictable and saw us retreating and hiding behind our sofas, next year is one where we’re ready to ‘let in the light’,” she adds.

Here, Shillingford shares her guide to using the colour to create successful settings…

delux spiced honey paint of the year

What is Spiced Honey?

“Spiced Honey has a raw, natural quality that works like a warm neutral, which makes it so adaptable to pairing with different materials and styles of decoration,” she enthuses.

“It looks especially good when teamed with whites and off-whites in furniture and furnishings, which gives it a contemporary feel.”

What can it do for rooms?

“Its rich caramel tones visually turn up the thermostat a few degrees, and so it’s perfect for creating a relaxed, cosy atmosphere in places where we like to think, dream, love and act,” Shillingford notes. “Its the colour of warm woods, and while there’s something reassuringly familiar about it, which may pay a nod to Seventies retro, this is a new colour with a fresh, modern spin.

“Paired with off-whites and a dollop of deepest inky Cobalt Night, Spiced Honey offers a room a fresh contemporary bite, but introduce soft warm greys and muted pinks like Angora Blanket and Soft Stone, and you achieve a look that is as sweet and delicious as honey on hot buttered toast.”

DECOR TIP: For a sophisticated living area, use the shade as a backdrop and add touches of soft pink, intense burgundy and sophisticated deep blue. Polished woods, mid-century furniture, graphic rugs and textiles will emphasis will enhance this look.

 

delux spiced honey paint of the year

How can this shade be used in rooms?

“It’s a colour that’s happy to play the supporting role rather than being a full immersion shade on all the walls, but it could be a wrap-around colour in a small room where you want an intimate atmosphere.

“Otherwise, feature it in bands and blocks, as well as on interior woodwork or for painted furniture,” Shillingford adds. “Be guided by when you most use a room, as well as the light levels it enjoys. If it’s mostly used during the day and there’s little light, its bronze tones will be more pronounced and it will be more dominating.

“If, however, your room is north-facing with large windows and ample light, you could decorate a larger area. Light has such a lovely effect on this shade – which is in fact predominantly yellow in its make-up, so in full sunshine it has an invigorating, uplifting feel. As the light fades and it’s seen in lamplight, it takes on a gorgeous cocooning, soothing, almost textile finish. “

DECOR TIP: For an energising atmosphere, partner Spiced Honey with richly pigmented shades, including deep forest green, bold teal and intense terracotta red. With wooden furniture and botanical prints, the effect will be a cosy but lively space.

Where could you use it?

“I’m loving the idea of using this colour on a ceiling, possibly in my bedroom. It’s such a liberating way of decorating because the ceiling is the most uninterrupted space in a room,” says Shillingford. “Focusing the colour overhead allows you to be much more more creative with walls, so you can hang more art and other decoration. Interior designers are starting to call the ceiling the fifth wall!”

DECOR TIP: To create a serene space, pair the shade with romantic powder pinks and blues. Plain pale woods, simple hand-thrown vessels and pretty fabrics will add to the contemplative, centred feel.

delux spiced honey paint of the year

What other ways are there to feature the shade?

“Think of this Spiced Honey as flavour for a room. There’s no need to overdose on it, just as you wouldn’t if it was a spice in cooking. It works equally well in small doses. Using it that way is the ideal starting point if you want to experiment and see if it’s to your taste,” suggests Shillingford.

“Paint a shelf, create a painted border around a door frame, or feature it as a low band of colour at dado height on a wall to ground a space. Alternatively, pick up on it with accessories.”

DECOR TIP: Be playful with Spiced Honey and enliven it with pops of vivid red and green among pale pinks, blues and crisp greys and whites. Partner with reclaimed, personalised furniture and bold graphic shapes for an on-trend eclectic look.

Kevin McCloud: 5 Of The Easiest Ways To Make Your Home More Eco-friendly

Kevin McCloud: 5 Of The Easiest Ways To Make Your Home More Eco-friendly

Kevin McCloud eco friendly property tips

By Abi Jackson, Press Association

Want to up ramp up those green efforts? Grand Designs’ Kevin McCloud tells Abi Jackson his top tips.

Trying to be a little more planet-friendly? Like most things in life, it starts at home – but knowing where to start or whether your efforts are worthwhile, can be tricky.

“It’s easy to think of being planet-friendly as something we can buy, which often just adds to the problems of environmental damage,” says Grand Designs presenter and home-style guru Kevin McCloud.

“There’s no doubt that, by contrast, the correct things we should be doing are: A) changing our behaviour, which is hard; B) consuming less, which is hard to get used to; C) sharing our resources more, which is often annoying, and D) thinking ecologically about our wider environment, which is very hard.

Having said that, there are some accessible ways of making our homes more environmentally responsible.”

Wondering what those are? Here, McCloud shares five “easy” ways to make our homes more eco-friendly…

Kevin McCloud eco friendly property tips
  1. Rely less on central heating

“Start with the simple things, like turning the thermostat down to 18 or19 degrees rather than 21, putting on an extra pullover instead, makinga hot water bottle at bedtime, and buying some slippers.”

  1. Go for straightforward insulation methods first

“We could all probably insulate our attics more, draught-proof our windows and doors, and maybe fit secondary or double glazing. Insulation may not seem sexy, but it’s much cheaper and delivers quicker cash and energy savings than solar panels or a heat-exchanging thermo-dynamic hybrid heat pump with go-faster stripes,” says McCloud. “Men, I’m afraid, tend to be seduced more by kit than reason. If you find yourself using the word ‘tech’, be wary – my bitter experience is that the more complicated you make your home, the more there is to go wrong.

“Make sure your home is fully insulated with good airtightness and simple ventilation systems. It’s called a fabric-first approach. Only then should you consider the bolt-on technology.”

Kevin McCloud eco friendly property tips grey decor parquet floor
  1. Check out new glazing technologies

“New glazing technologies fascinate me,” says McCloud, “because the windows in our homes are effectively holes through which heat pours. Metal coatings on glass and vacuum-extracted systems, like Pilkington’s Spacia, deliver excellent performance – I’m trialling them to see how they perform over time.”

  1. Be mindful of where things come from and how they’re made

“When I buy free-range tomatoes or FairTrade toothpaste at the supermarket, the product is usually accompanied by a little story and some pictures of the people that made it. Lovely. That makes me feel good and I’m comforted by the legitimacy of the endorsement of the Soil Association, or whichever. Knowing where your meat comes from, who grew it, and its full ‘chain of custody’ weirdly seems to improve the flavour too – so I’m a champion of authenticity and the true narrative of things, because it connects the people who make things to the people that consume them, and seems to damage the planet and all its species a little less along the way,” says McCloud – and he extends the same principles to items he buys for his home.

“Britain is still the largest importer of illegal (illegally felled that is) timber and timber products in Europe, which is shocking. I wrote my book, The Principles Of Home, to partly address all this; it’s shameful that when you or I buy a sofa, some curtain fabric, a pair of jeans or a dining table, there is virtually zero information about the welfare conditions in the factory where it’s from, the chemicals used in manufacture, or the damage wreaked on the environment in its making.

I’ve now started asking retailers for the full story of what they sell, and I suggest you do the same every time you buy something.”

  1. Tap up the experts

“If you’re designing a house from scratch, talk to an architect who’ll understand designing for orientation, passive solar gain, maximum winter sunlight, shading and minimum summer overheating. You can design in thermal mass with heavy concrete floors or earth walls, humidify and cool the airflow through the house with a buried air-duct or a pond outside a window, allow hot air to be purged through a skylight at the top of the house and allow for some cooling cross-ventilation. There. Easy. So speak to an architect.”

Kevin McCloud eco friendly property tips

Kevin McCloud will be appearing at Grand Designs Live at The NEC, Birmingham, from October 10-14, 2018. To claim your free pair of weekday tickets, visit granddesignslive.com and use code PRESSASSOC. Offer live from September 25 until October 5. T&Cs apply. For details, see granddesignslive.com/whats-on/1228-t-c-s

To discus the impact any of these or other improvements may have on your property value, please call your local office – details can be found here https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/branches/

3 Stylish Home Decor Trends For Autumn – And Maximalism Is Officially Back

Designers have revealed their new decor schemes for autumn and winter. Gabrielle Fagan selects her three favourites.

Autumn is the time of year when nature changes it’s colours, and thanks to the new home collections, it’s easy to ring the changes indoors too.

Choose from sumptuous florals, a cool Nordic theme that celebrates easy, stylish comfort, or full-fat maximalism, with its emphasis on luxury and individuality.

Be inspired – whether it’s a total revamp or just a refresh with a few new accessories – so that your rooms are fashionably kitted out for the seasons to come…

Make magic with moody blooms

property interior

“Escape the everyday and saturate your home with glorious jewel tones this autumn. There are so many ways to use them – in Oriental, deco, and bold floral prints – I love that it all feels a bit fantasy,” enthuses Lois Vincent, home designer at House of Fraser.

“You can up the glamour quota by mixing in a few gilded accessories; after all, who doesn’t need a flamingo candlestick in their life?”

DECOR TIP: Rich plum and berry shades are the perfect autumnal palette for a cosy feel. If you don’t want to go full-on floral, choose dusky pink and warm neutrals for a backdrop and then layer up with petal-rich accessories, from throws to bed linen.

property interior

Conjure calm chic spaces.

“Simple, minimal and layered – soft crafted neutrals and materials are set against stripped back rustic woods for this calm, tranquil look,” says Karen Thomas, head of design for Home at Marks & Spencer.

“This palette of ‘Calming Neutrals’ is inspired by the change in seasons, and evokes a restful and relaxing feel for the home. As we move into autumn, we celebrate the urge to nest and stay indoors.

“Layer soft knits and textures for a casual lived-in feel, and use clean lines and smooth surfaces of cool marble and craft glazes to accessorise your living space.”

DECOR TIP: If you’re reworking your entire living space, keep to a palette of pale grey, wood and white for walls, floor and furniture. Declutter to create a pared-back base, and if you want to warm the scheme, add accents of yellow or green in accessories or plants.

Decorate to the max.

“We expect maximalism to be one of the breakthrough looks for autumn and winter, and we’re already seeing people investing in bold, bright pieces for their homes,” says Fionnuala Johnston, senior designer at John Lewis.

“Maximalism is not necessarily about overcrowding a space, but choosing to be bold by showcasing your own unique style in a creative way.

“Carefully considered mixing and matching of colours, prints and textures is key to achieving the look, and it’s the perfect opportunity to layer designs and blend references.

“A good example would be combining a contemporary drinks trolley with tropical, vintage wallpaper, for a refined glamour that celebrates old and new style.”

Designer Abigail Ahern has embraced the luxe look and made it her own, with her richly designed animal-inspired Edition homeware for Debenhams. Our favourites include the Lizard Cushion, £45; Table Light, £80; Bison Planter, £14; Highland Cow Wall Art, £35; Lantern, £24, and Honeycomb Sideboard £760 (range available from late September).

DECOR TIP: Floor-to-ceiling curtains and reflective surfaces, such as mirrored glass and metalllics, contribute to the luxe look and create an atmosphere of elegance. A successful home will reflect your personality and taste and contain pieces that make you smile – don’t be afraid to experiment.

property interior

Alternatively, if the thought of redecorating is not appealing then why not start a property search for the idea home.

8 Tips for Giving your Garden a Late Summer Spruce-up

end-of-summer, garden-tips, autumn-preparation

As the season draws to a close, it’s time to clear patio debris, replace tired plants and restore order to your outdoor space. By Hannah Stephenson.

Back from your summer travels? Are your hanging baskets looking a little sorry, your pots pathetic and your borders brimming with weeds? Here are some easy but effective garden tidy-up tips…

  1. Save it

Save what you can, deadheading late-flowering blooms in borders which may come back to life. Perennials which have finished flowering can be cut back but will come back to life next year. Established trees and shrubs won’t generally have been damaged in your absence.

  1. Ditch it.

If your hanging baskets and pots of annuals have completely dried out, take them down and empty the contents onto the compost heap. Keep your spirits high by buying spring-flowering bulbs and, if you want late colour, pop into the garden centre to find some.

Good plants which will bring colour at this time of year include asters, chrysanthemums and nerines, along with rudbeckias and sedums. Plant some in the pots that are now free from wilted summer annuals.

end-of-summer, garden-tips, dead-heading
  1. Tend to the lawn.

With the hot summer we’ve had, the lawn might be looking like hay and shouldn’t need cutting. If it has grown substantially though, leave the blades on the highest setting for the first cut, reduce the height at the next a few days later, and then cut at the normal height. You’ll be surprised how much tidier the garden looks when the lawn has been mown. Take time to tidy up the lawn edges using edging shears.

  1. Lose the weeds.

Look over your beds and borders and if weeds have sprung up, then get rid of them quickly. Seeds shed at this time of year, which means more work later on. Keep on top of deadheading, otherwise the flowering will not continue as long as you’d like.

  1. Harvest now.

If you have a vegetable patch, harvest as much ripe produce as you can now, to stop the veg running to seed or becoming over-ripe. You can blanch (immerse in boiling water) and freeze many veg, including green beans and sweetcorn, so you don’t end up wasting what you pick.

Immerse the vegetables immediately into a bowl of iced water after blanching, to stop them continuing to cook. When cool, lift the veg from the iced water, spread out on a kitchen towel and pat dry to remove excess moisture. Pack loose vegetables in resealable plastic bags or other containers. Vegetables suitable for freezing include beans, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, peas, spinach, Swiss chard and summer squash. Even tomatoes can be frozen whole and then used in sauces and soups later on.

end-of-summer, garden-tips, autumn harvest
  1. Clear space for new crops.

Find time to clear vacant rows in the veg patch and refill them with autumn and winter crops as soon as you can.

  1. Put away pots for winter.

If you have empty pots you’re not going to use again this year, clean them with diluted disinfectant and stow in the shed for winter. That way, terracotta won’t crack and other vulnerable pots won’t perish when the frost comes. Also, remove and put away stakes which propped up plants which have now been cut back.

end-of-summer, garden-tips, pots
  1. Plan for next year.

Take time to write a list of what you are going to include and exclude in your plantings next year. Look for gaps you’ll need to fill in borders next season, and maybe extend the season by planning to plant some perennials which provide late-summer colour.

end-of-summer, garden-tips, dead-heading