A couple of weeks ago I wrote about our garden and your comments were just wonderful, so helpful and inspiring, and I was thinking about what you said when I was toiling out there last weekend. (It has finally dawned on me that a bigger garden really does mean a lot more work, in the beginning at least.) But you gave me some fantastic ideas on how we could improve our space while continuing to garden on a tight budget, like planting some climbers against the back fence, taking cuttings from friends and family's gardens, sowing from seed, sourcing cheap pots on eBay, painting the shed and buying plants from car boot and roadside sales. That last one had never occurred to me so thanks for that great tip.
A couple of your recommendations really stood out: Jo and Sam both suggested doubling the width of the border at the back of the garden to give depth and to let us vary the height and shape of the planting. This hadn't occurred to me, and it's such a good idea as we have a large lawn and can spare the space. So, last weekend we did just that, doubled the width of the border. My sister - the one with that stunning garden - is making big changes to her own outside space and she offered us some unwanted plants. Big plants are expensive, and the opportunity to get my hands on some established, mature shrubs was too good to pass up. Our garden now boasts a small Ragged Robin tree, some sedum, a Rose of Sharon, a small rhododendron bush and monbretia. (My mum had to tell me the names of all those plants - I have enthusiasm, but not knowledge.)
They all need time to settle and grow, and there is still too much visible earth, but it's a start and I'm happy with it. This autumn I'll plant bulbs, and next year I'll add lupins and foxgloves for more height and colour.
Something Sarah said really made me stop and think. To paraphrase, it was along the lines of: think about how you create corners of interest in your home, and try to achieve the same effect in the garden. Of course! I love nothing more than faffing around indoors, so why not outdoors too? I'd never really thought of creating a garden in that way. A reading/gin and tonic corner with a bench is already in progress, and I'd like a cut flower or vegetable area at some point, and we already have an eating area. Our decking is gloriously sunny until about 3 pm, but there have been times recently when it's been a little too hot, especially over lunchtime. So when Homebase contacted me recently asking me if I'd like to review one of their parasols, I was very interested indeed.
I've always fancied an overhanging parasol because you can angle the direction of the shade more easily than one which sits in the middle of the table. I chose this one and can report that it looks good, offers a huge area of shade and is very easy indeed to put up and take down. And yes, we still only have three chairs. I've been trying to find a similar one on eBay but I've given up and think I'll probably buy a couple of directors chairs - these ones have caught my eye. Do have a look at Homebase's Outdoor Living section, they've got some lovely things.
I just love the shadows and shapes the furniture has made on the decking there. Here's hoping we have lots more sunny days this summer.
This post was written in collaboration with Homebase.