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GARDEN CHIC: HACKS I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SHARE

Even as I begin to type the intro to this blog post, I’m somewhat wary and slightly nervous. Allegedly, the UK is due a heatwave, so while making your garden aesthetically pleasurable is hardly rocket science, I’m still seriously questioning why I am here, wanging on about gardening, buying fake plants and the best way to maintain a lush lawn?

FFS, I went to the RHS Chelsea Flower show this year, too! And I flippin’ loved it!

Despite sneezing FOREVER, I really loved the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. (Who said that?)

I mean, WHO THE FRICK HAVE I BECOME?

(Not Alan Titchmarsh, that’s for sure!)

Truth be told, while I still like to think that I’m a ‘young’ 40 year old, suburban Mum-of-two with cartilage piercings, a liver that can still suffer a decent hangover and a stomach that’s hardened to all types of kebabs, I also have an unhealthy addiction to buying cushions, watching Countryfile on Sundays and wearing comfortable shoes from Clarks. (C’mon! They are so comfy!)

With the latter said, it was only a matter of time, surely, before I slid down the ol’ garden path, innit?!

OK. I feel a bit better about writing this post now.

Appreciating alliums at the flower show. Words I never thought I’d ever type!

Oh hang on, I forgot to mention that I am also a serial plant killer.

Especially camellias and orchids.

I’ve given up on buying them now. My Mum has resuscitated every single Ikea orchid I’ve owned. (My money is clearly better spent on 20 meatballs and a slice of Dime cake.) About 15 of them now bloom and grow in her bay window, mocking me every time I see them. As for her camellias – they’re banging!

Gah! I’m back to feeling wary once more – especially now that we’ve also established that I don’t have green fingers.

Remind me again, WHY THE HECK AM I WRITING THIS?

Who made me Monty Don?

Let me try and explain, while it still makes some sense in my mind…

I am writing this because if you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space of your own, no matter how big or small it is (ours is TINY!); no matter how utterly useless you maybe in the garden, there’s something really rewarding and special in learning to maintain and appreciate your little patch outside. (See, I told you I’m a Countryfile fangirl!)

Creating an inviting and cosy space in your garden is no different to what you’d do inside your home AND it’s another excuse to buy cushions, yasss! The only big difference is that the majority of stuff in your garden will be (hopefully) alive.

OK, with this last thought in mind, let’s get underway with my Garden Chic Hacks …quick, before I change my mind!

How does your garden grow? Well, this is ours! It’s small but manageable.
1. THINGS TO PLANT AND KEEP ALIVE

Firstly, grass. You’d be surprised how even a well kept lawn dramatically improves the look of your garden.

I have to admit that Mr Husband is the Keeper of the Lawn. For him, it’s been a painstaking process of taking up all the weeds, raking, re-seeding and watering. This gets done in early spring so by now, the result is a green outdoor carpet. Ridiculously soft and lush to walk barefoot and lie on, thankfully our back garden is really small – not sure if he’d be so militant if we had a bigger space to maintain…?

In terms of flowers, I realised that keeping them all in pretty pots on the patio might look lovely, but it also meant that I was slowly killing many of them by not allowing their roots to expand and grow. I find camellias and fuchsias a little too delicate and tricky but where we live in Surrey, I seem to be able to do well with roses, hydrangeas, lavender and heather. Now all planted into a dug out strip that gets equal amounts of sun and shade, they have taken so much better outside of their pots and get bigger and bigger each year.

Two rose bush trees purchased from Groupon. They were advertised as WHITE! Eh?

Sunflowers are also a good one to grow and if you have children it’s a fun way of getting them involved, too. Ideally you need to plant them by the end of May, but you never know, if you’re quick, you might still have some fabulously giant specimens waving at you come August and September.

2. WHAT TO FAKE?

I usually have an aversion to fake plants, until that is, I recently discovered that Matalan do some brilliant buys.

My advice is to go for the plants that can get away with being fake. Things like lavender, cacti and ferns. Mix them up with a few real deal planters and no one will ever know. If you’re a real novice on the gardening front, it’s a great way to get you started.

Lavender in tin basket, £10 | Matalan
3. UPCYCLE OLD FURNITURE

I’ve been dreaming about a kitchen extension for a long time now. In fact, over four years but we’ve never quite managed to get our finances in order. Every year, we say we’re going to buy new garden furniture but then think we’re getting the extension (and a new patio with built in seating) so we don’t end up buying anything. (Confused? Still reading?) Hence why, I’ve repainted this old wooded set from Sainsbo’s from about 6-7 years ago and it’s still going strong. Originally, I painted it in Damson, then went over it a couple of years ago in the Sweet Sundae pink. Got the bug and the shed got a lick of Seagrass too. All are from Cuprinol.

Ooh and we are finally getting our kitchen extension (spring 2019) and you can read all about my interior plans for it here.

Felt like Daniel-son in The Karate Kid when painting this and the shed!
4. MORE CUSHIONS

I’ve been banned from buying cushions. We have them on the sofa, in the dining room and spilling off the bed and Mr Husband has had it! He may have a point but as for the garden, well, that’s a whole new world of cushion shopping, innit!

I found that these pom-pom trimmed seat covers instantly added a tropical and fun vibe to the pink garden furniture and were a bright bargain, too at £12 for a pair. Ps: Don’t forget, outdoor floor cushions are allowed too. Sssh, don’t tell Mr Husband!

Cushion covers, £12 for a pair | Tea light holder, £3 | Both from Matalan
5 CREATE AN OASIS

Most supermarkets like Sainsbo’s and Aldi have really good seasonal outdoor aisles. TK Maxx is another great one too for random stuff and recently, I discovered while buying some more Souluxe running stuff in Matalan, that their homes and garden range is a pretty well-kept secret, too!

I recently went into my local branch (Sutton) with some vouchers and bought a few accessories to add the finishing touches to my little outdoor space.

As a freelance stylist and writer, I work a lot from home, so this time of year, the garden becomes another office space. I wanted to create a relaxing atmosphere where during the day – while the kids are at school and Mr Husband is on shift – I could take my laptop outside to work and hang out the washing. In the evenings too, a space to write and blog that was calm and creative, was also a factor that I had in mind when dressing up the area.

Candles, fairy lights and a (not annoying) wind chime were some of the finishing details.

And relax…

A solar light and wind chime…
Fairy lights running along the fence…

Now all we need people, is the weather. Here’s hoping, eh?!

Thank you for reading and scroll down and comment below on whether  a) you think I have well any truly lost the plot (pun intended!) or b) you want to go in on a joint allotment with me!

*Puts on dungarees and goes off to watch re-runs of The Good Life.

F.T.

6 Comments

  • Loved your article 😍 I’m an orchid killer too 😢 I love them but I don’t know why I kill them. What do I do wrong??? 😱😱

    • I have tried Romelda, but I am useless as keeping them. My Mum swears that you can’t move them around a lot. They like shade and some light but not strong sunshine and you can’t over water. Knowing all this, I STILL can’t keep any alive haha!

      FT xoxo

  • Oh your garden looks so pretty FT! How long since I’ve visited? Yikes let’s not…
    I had to laugh at your description of 40 year old Fatima, it’s true I feel the same contradictions about myself. I gues that makes us flexible? At least in a figurative sense anyway HAHAHAHAH. Oh boy how we laughed…

    • Aaah, thank you darling! And yes, I still love a boozy night and a kebab. Just not tonight, haha 🙂

      FT xoxo

  • Great blog Fatima! I’ve been trying to decide how to make our garden look more cosy and inviting for a while so I’ve defo picked up a few tips! Xx

    • Aahh thanks Amy. When the weather is good, there’s no better place to be than in your back garden.
      Thanks for reading and I’m so happy that you found it useful

      FT xoxo

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