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“Beautiful inside and out�

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Top 10 Interior Blogs difficult gardens made easy Meet y0ur furniture superher0es...

The Loving Chair Company


Harriet Midgley

Editorial Director

2 | APRIL 2014

On the cover...

“Beautiful inside and out”

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Happy Easter and welcome to the spring issue of Interior Exterior. I hope this issue provides you with spring-spiration as you head out into the garden or start redecorating your home. In the spirit of spring, this issue focuses on the rejuvenation and regeneration of everything from homes to health, get inspired by taking a peak into a beautifully restored farmhouse on page 9, where style meets practicality seamlessly or find out how eco - therapy can help you on page 18. Don’t miss out on this issue’s exclusive article on page 6 with furniture superheroes ‘The Loving Chair Company’ who’s bold, eclectic prints and ‘make do and mend’ attitude has proved a fantastic success. This issue features a guide to the best interior design and gardening blogs (page 4 and 16), find one to suit your style and follow! If you’re hoping to over haul your garden this spring but can’t seem to make the most out of your space, take a look at page 19, where three difficult gardens are made easy! I hope you enjoy this season’s issue, until next time...

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Top 10 Interior Blogs

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difficult gardens made easy Meet y0ur furniture superher0es...

The Loving Chair Company

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Interior 4. Top 10 Interior Blogs We found interior design’s best and brightest bloggers, from those saving space in tiny apartments to those splashing the cash in uptown New York its time to get following!


6. Meet your furniture superheroes... ‘The Loving Chair Company’

14. Spring in the garden

An exclusive interview with up and coming fabric designer Brontey Luxo-Piazza, founder of The Loving Chair Company.

Spring is undoubtedly the best time of year to be out in the garden, enjoy the blooming flowers and sunshine but don’t foget to keep up with planting and maintenance.

8. Ideal VS Deal

15. Whats on & Look out for wildlife

On a budget? No problem! We have created a beautiful Nordic lounge for a fraction of the ‘ideal’ price.

A calendar of the biggest gardening events this spring and summer Learn how to encourage and care for wildlife in your garden.

9. Restoration Farmhouse

16. Top 5 Exterior Blogs

Take a peak into Donna and Gary Le Marrec’s beautiful restored hay and cattle barn where traditional farmhouse style is given a modern twist.

Meet the best gardening bloggers, from flower lovers to fruit and vegetable growers - they all have fantastic advice to share.

12. Blurring the Lines Spring is truly a beautiful season, why contain it to your garden? Bring the inside in using neutral materials, florals and exotic palm prints.

18. Allotment Therapy We caught up with blogger Carrie Gault to find out more about eco- therapy and its benefits.

19. Difficult gardens made easy Not sure how to tackle your small, sloping or L-shaped garden? Look no further!

APRIL 2014 | 3

©Shareen Joel Design, Brooke Holm Photography/ Share Design

TOP 10 INTERIOR BLOGS 1. 79 Ideas Radostina Boseva is a Bulgarian stylist, photographer and art director living in Prague. Her blog is complied of everything she loves, from interior design to fashion and is written in a refreshingly personal way. If you’re an amateur, Radostina offers no-nonsense, uncomplicated advice on colours, fabrics and furniture, perfect if you are not sure where to start. For those of you well versed in interior design, 79 Ideas is right on trend and frequenty predicts up and coming designers and home ware brands.


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©E ll iinstagram/79ideas 2. My Scandinavian Home This author is a London girl living in Sweden, her blog focuses on the minimalist design and neutral tones of Scandinavian homes. The author loves black, white and pastels, all schemes that frequently feature on her blog. Pastel pink and blue hues are the key to rejuventating your home this spring and ‘My Scandanavian Home’ is an expert! instagram/myscandinavianhome facebook/myscandinavianhome 3. Abigail Ahern Abigail Ahern is a woman of many talents, in addition to being a successful interior designer and retailer, she is also a TV presenter and author. She shares many trade secrets in her blog posts, which are chatty and scattered with snippets about her personal life, in particular her two dogs, Mungo and Maud. Her blog is illustrated by beautiful images, of her own home and others. While Abigail’s blog may be slightly too experimental for amateurs, those willing to leave their comfort zone and really re-vamp their homes should look no further. instagram/abigailahern facebook/abigail-ahern 4. Apartment Therapy Maxwell Ryan is known amongst his interior design comrades as the “apartment therapist”, his blog is dedicated to giving readers a rare look into real and attainable homes. He aims to help those who are on a budget with limited space achieve the same beauty more commonly seen in larger homes. Maxwell believes that a calm, healthy home is the foundation for happiness and this ethos is echoed throughout his blog. iinstagram/apartmenttherapy facebook/apartmenttherapy 5. Habitually Chic Cl

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As the name suggests, this blogger, based in New York has an unwavering taste for uptown glamour. If you are inspired by everything elegant and decadent, this ‘beyond chic’ blog is a must-read for you. Offering unprecedented insight into the homes of interior design’s elite, this blog is both enchanting and awe-inspiring.

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Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes, design is knowing which ones to keep

- Scott Adams, Artist

6. SF Girl By Bay

Victoria Smith, the editor of SF Girl By Bay started out as a journalist but her love of flea markets and bohemian interior design encouraged her to pursue a career in interior blogging, styling and photography. She has forged a reputation as one of America’s most popular interior bloggers and is currently guest ‘pinning’ for Martha Stewart. Her blog offers fantastic advice for homes both little and large, DIY techniques you simply need to know about and helpful reviews about affordable products. instagram/sfgirlbybay facebook/sfgirlbybayblog 7. Bright Bazaar

Will Taylor, or ‘Mr Bazaar’ as he is often referred to, is a young interiors blogger from London with a love of all colour, from pastel hues to jewel tones. His blog is both beautiful to look at and playful, with interactive squares leading you to each category. His ‘Colour Cocktail’ page is a personal highlight, here you can find clear instructions on how to simply inject a little colour into your home. instagram/brightbazaar facebook/brightbazaar 8. Hop Interiors

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Hop Interiors author Mary-Ellen describes her blog as ‘eye candy for the interior hungry’ and in this case, we tend to agree. With a strong focus on graphic design and the production side of homewares, Mary-Ellen captures the process of design from start to finish and offers a variety of posts, from book and restaurant reviews to mood boards dedicated to a single colour.

9. Door Sixteen Anna, the author of Door Sixteen is a book cover designer by day and a blogger by night (or whenever she can find the time!) Between a flat in Brooklyn and a house in Newbugh, New York, Anna has plenty of design experience to share. Her blog revolves around everything she loves, not only interior design but also the neighbourhoods she lives in, her two dogs and vegan cooking. instagram/doorsixteen facebook/doorsixteen 10. Emily Henderson Emily Henderson is a well-known TV host, designer, blogger and stylist. Her blog is a joy to read and contains an abundance of before and after home-makeovers, DIY ideas and personal musings about her home and family. instagram/em_henderson ©all profile photos sourced from blogs mentioned

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The Loving Chair Company T

TLC’s bold colour palette and contemporary designs are the perfect way to lift a room; their current fabric collections are inspired by their family’s Portuguese heritage, French lace and love of geometric and retro patterns. Brontey says that while she does not have a favourite piece, “every piece TLC produces is memorable, every piece is different and special in it’s own way.”

he Loving Chair Company is definitely loving by both name and nature; they bring abandoned and unloved furniture back to life with their mesmerising fabric designs and expert upholstering techniques.

Interior Exterior spoke to the company’s fabric designer and founder, Brontey Luxo-Piazza about TLC’s journey and her big plans for their growing furniture empire. Brontey is a twenty-one year-old fabric designer who has achieved a great amount since founding The Loving Chair Company in 2012 with her mother Alex and grandmother Celeste. Brontey explains that the concept of TLC originated after she completed an Art foundation degree at Kingston University, it was there that she explored her love of fabric design and the idea stemmed from there.

The company offers a selection of ‘dressed and ready to go’ furniture, many of which are one-off pieces and a bespoke service where customers can choose a pre-loved piece, or provide their own furniture and be involved in every step of the restoration process.

As a three generation family team, the whole thing just worked! Brontey said: “I had a lot of support from my mum who was really excited about the idea and left her job to start up TLC with me. Around the kitchen table we thought of ideas in which we could showcase my fabric designs and this is when we called granny Celeste to Jersey from Portugal. Granny Celeste had worked as a curtain maker and upholsterer for over 40 years. As a three gener ation family team, the whole thing just worked!”

Since the company’s creation in 2012, business has boomed, Brontey describes The Loving Chair Company as a “life-style brand that creates and designs art pieces, furniture and home accessories. We pride our self on quality and being unique.”

TLC have already begun spreading their wings, they are currently launching smaller home wares such as poufs, throws, noticeboards, sculptures, cushions and mirrors while also exploring aspects of fashion. If talks go ahead, these products may soon be available through established interior design retailers ‘Not on the High Street’ and ‘Secret Door’. Their products are already available on Wolf and Badger, a retail website based in London that is dedicated to new designers. With much on the horizon for the TLC girls, we asked Brontey what the future holds for the company she so lovingly built, she enthused that “at TLC we think big!” adding “we now have a Brazilian designer working closely with us, so perhaps we might hit Rio next! Nothing is set in stone – you will have to wait and see.”

TLC started out small, transforming antique and vintage furniture from their farmhouse barn in St John, Jersey. Celeste, who became a milliner at age 13 is described as the “heart of TLC” and passed on the essential traditional craft skills to her daughter Alex, who aims to “change the world, one chair at a time.”

Every piece TLC produces is memorable, every piece is different and special in its own way.

Their business has been given the stamp of approval by Genuine Jersey, an accreditation reserved only for local, quality products. Brontey believes that their success on the small, but bustling island of Jersey is accredited to their bespoke service, which is unlike any other available, emphasising that their products are “affordable luxury.”

© all photos on page sourced from TLC

6 | APRIL 2014 Š Harriet Midgley



Ideal VS Deal Interior Exterior searched high and low for homewares for every budget.














8 | APRIL 2014

© all photos attributed to retailers



RESTORATION: ©a ll p ho t




tM rrie



f you’re considering redecorating your home nothing is more inspiring than taking a peak at someone else’s! Each home is unique, and while an interior designer can create a ‘perfect’ house, memorable pieces transform it into a home.

It seems that in both the property market and popular culture, its now ‘in with the old’ rather than out with it. In the past decade there has been a clear shift towards restoration projects and away from new-builds and in the spirit of this, broadcasters have jumped on the vintage bandwagon with programmes such as ‘The Restoration Man’, ‘Restoration Home’ and ‘Kirstie’s Vintage Home’ seeing great success. It seems that we are experiencing a ‘make do and mend’ renaissance and while this attitude isn’t new, it is certainly back and here to stay. While we aren’t experiencing war-like times, the economic downturn and recession combined with our increasing awareness of our demand on the earth has encouraged us to recycle and remake, from plastic bottles to our homes.

Interior Exterior spoke to Donna Le Marrec, who lives in a beautifully restored farmhouse barn with her husband Gary and their two cats Leo and Ruby. Donna and Gary’s home is nestled away in the depths of St Peters on the small Island of Jersey and despite being restored on the inside, still fits perfectly within the beautiful surrounding fields. The house, named ‘Homestead’ was formerly a barn used for hay and cattle and a gatehouse, which sat alongside other outbuildings and the main farmhouse. The house still shows remnants of the past, with cattle hooks attached to some of the original ceiling beams and a traditional wood burning oven in one of the bathrooms. The buildings and surrounding land was bought by Hugo Chapman, a local developer and transformed into eight houses, of which Donna and Gary’s house was the show home.

I think it’s nice to get things that have meaning; I like modern things but I would rather find something with history. There is something lovely about going to a charity shop or a car boot and finding something you cherish. APRIL 2014 | 9


he couple bought the house eight years ago after falling in love with it, they previously lived in a cottage in the quiet parish of Trinity, an area they were reluctant to leave. Donna added: “I don’t prefer St Peters to Trinity, but I do love our house, for years we were looking for something to suit us, we don’t have any children and we only ever saw family homes with lots of bedrooms but no living space, this house offered the space – and its very easy to clean!”

A particular favourite of mine is a set of elphant-shaped The developer included furniture to encourage a sale, but Donna and Gary were keen to put their own stamp hooks that were part of a school in Brittany– each child on the house. They moved much of their furniture from had a hook each.” their previous home and bought new furniture to better suit the space. The study and kitchen furniture is all brand new as well as the neutral L-shaped sofa and zebra print chaise longue in the living room. The house developer successfully utilised the space by including an abundance of built in storage including cabinets, wardrobes and cupboards.

The house, which has three bedrooms, five bathrooms; three en suite and two cloakroom, an open plan living area and a separate dining room is an ‘upside down’ space. The living area is upstairs, which Donna prefers as this configuration maximises space and increases light in the most important place, the living room.

The couple defines their style as “eclectic”, inspired by the barn their home once was and their love of modern design. Donna describes their home as “lofty and light” with blonde wood and neutral tones throughout. The developers used raw materials such as contrasting glass and stone, while Donna and Gary added their own twist of animal print, black and gold.

We bought a bed frame and two chairs from a charity shop and painted these along with the bedside cabinets in Annie Sloan’s chalk paint. I then upholstered the chairs in a neutral print and the room came to life!

Donna is partial to a little make do and mend, something she believes is essential to making a house your own. When searching for furniture for her new home, she realised that she could salvage some rather old fashioned bedside tables: “We were planning on buying all new furniture for the downstairs bedroom but I wanted to make use of two bedside cabinets we had from our previous home. We bought a bed frame and two chairs from a charity shop and painted these along with the bedside cabinets in Annie Sloan’s chalk paint. I then upholstered the chairs in a neutral print and the room came to life!”

Every year our Christmas tree is decorated with mementoes of our lives together including vintage Disney charms and a Charleston pineapple.

While Donna understandably loves every room in her house, her favourite room is her bedroom: “my bedroom is south-facing, which is wonderful as the light floods in when the sun is shining, we also have the most amazing walk-in shower which for me is the height of luxury and we’re finally on mains water, our previous home, like many in Jersey used a bore hole!” Donna and Gary have eclectic items displayed in every Donna is well versed in charity shopping and many nook and cranny of their home and each item has items in her home are second hand, including a sentimental value: “everywhere you go in our home beautiful set of teacups in hues of green and yellow, there are things collected from holidays, for example, which she informs me is so special, its reserved for in our bedroom there are pictures from our travels in Easter festivities. Inspired by vintage experts such as Kirstie Allsopp, Donna admires those wanting to recy- Venice and Guatemala and every year our Christmas tree is decorated with mementoes of our lives togethcle or restore home wares rather than purchase new ones, explaining: “I think it’s nice to get things that have er including vintage Disney charms and a Charleston pineapple.” meaning; I like modern things but I would rather find something with history. There is something lovely about going to a charity shop or a car boot and finding some- Donna and Gary have no plans to leave ‘Homestead’ thing you cherish. Almost all of my tableware is second and says that they are finally content in their third and hand from charity shops, I also love searching through ‘forever’ home. However, that definitely won’t stop them redecorating or adding more beautiful pieces to markets and second hand shops in France; they have their home sometime soon. some wonderfully unique pieces.

10 | APRIL 2014



© all double page photos Harriet Midgley

Project details The Homestead, St Peters, Jesey 3 Bedrooms 5 Bathrooms Open plan, split level living room and kitchen Courtyard-style garden

Top left; One of the property’s five bathrooms features an original oven, the developers ensured many of the farmhouse’s features were restored. Bottom left; A zebra-print chaise longue is framed by original beams, making the most of the property’s many nooks and crannies. Top right; Donna and Gary transformed an empty, redundant space into a dining room with a grand dining table and orange hues. Bottom right; Unique pieces transform a house into a home, here Donna and Gary have combined a rustic heart with a vintage box of keys.

APRIL 2014 | 11

Blurring the lines: Inside & Out


he concept of bringing the outside inside can be traced back to medieval times when floral tapestries and herbal patterns were first introduced. However, florals were only developed for commercial sale in the 1800’s and artists such as William Morris, who was made famous by his bold floral wallpaper designs, pioneered the style. Inspired by his own garden, Morris’ first wallpaper design was a trellis, a pattern that has since been replicated by many designers. His garden inspired style has found lasting appeal, despite being disliked by many influential figures of the time, such as Oscar Wilde.

Fashion is often thought of as the compass of interior design and if recent fashion trends are anything to go by, designers will be throwing out the rule book and delving into bold, colourful palm tree prints. This style is can be seen displayed in Spring/Summer collections, both in showrooms and on the runway.

- William Morris

© V&A

Floral prints embody the outdoors and this combined with the right colour palette and some indoor plants can spruce up your home and evoke an unparalleled sense of spring freshness. A green colour palette not only brings the outside in, it also harps back to the jewel tones so popular in the 1920s. This era has recently seen a comeback in popular culture with the release of The Great Gatsby; such decadence was rarely seen in the majority of homes in the 1920s but can now be easily replicated.

Whether planted in pots ready to give your home a tropical feel or printed on cushions, this pattern is proving extremely popular. While traditional English country prints, such as roses and daisies will always remain timelessly beautiful, you may be looking to rejuvenate your home with a modern twist. Tropical palms and banana leafs are bold, equally as beautifully and now extremely attainable in the form of wallpaper and fabrics. Palms can be paired perfectly with pastels, but if that is a little too Miami Vice for your taste, stick to bright colours such as a flamingo pink or deep sea blue.


Is it not better to be reminded however simply of the close vine trellises which keep out the sun... or of the many-flowered meadows of Picardy... than having to count day after day a few sham-real houghs and flowers, casting sham-real shadows on your walls, with little hint of any-thing beyond Covent Garden in them?


Today, the lines between exterior and interior are blurred even further, with modern fixtures such as bi-folding doors enabling homeowners to literally merge the two spaces. In spring, pastel shades, hues of green and hints of yellow are rife in our gardens, so why not include them in our homes?

Trellis and lattice walls, true to the original print designed by William Morris exudes decadence and elegance. Mimic this look using a trellis or lattice print wallpaper in a bold shade of green, add accents of yellow using cushions or throws and gold touches such as mirrors, light fittings and door handles to highlight the space. Natural materials such as wood, bamboo and even cork can be sourced to create a greater sense of the outdoors while inside. Wallpapers have been developed to replicate wooden panelling or bamboo, which despite being faux, is still equally as effective. These textures will work well with pastels, from mint green to pale pink and cool blue. Scandinavian designers are known for their use of pastels and wood, a combination that encapsulates nature and instils a sense of peace.

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Whichever path you choose in your attempt to blur the lines between inside and outside, the concept is here to stay. In future years you can expect many more design pieces echoing the outdoors, from wild jungle prints to delicate meadow flowers.



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1. ‘Romey’s Garden’ wallpaper collection ( 2. Factory side table in mint ( 3. Pastel Eames chair ( 4. Palm leaf duvet set and cushion ( 5. Palm leaves wallpaper collection ( 6. Vintage trellis wallpaper ( 7. ‘Copley’ armchair in Brazilliance palm print ( 8. ‘Nile’ Palmeral lamp ( ©all images attributed to above retailers

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Spring In the garden

A very drawn out winter has finally come to an end and the spring sun is shining (most of the time!) Spring is the time to get jobs done in the garden in preparation for big summer blooms but don’t let that get you frazzled, it’s an exciting time to be a gardener. Undoubtedly you will see spring bulbs, tree blossoms and flowering shrubs popping up all over the place, as well as hearing the lovely sound of bird song in your garden. It is the perfect time to get all the boring jobs out the way so you can fully enjoy your garden when summer finally arrives. Mowing your lawn and preparing the soil by weeding are essential tasks if you want your garden to look its best and your plants to flourish. Birds and other wildlife will also benefit from your preparation, bird diseases are becoming increasingly common causing particular breeds to falter, to ensure birds are healthy in your garden disinfect any food holders and bird houses and replace their drinking and bathing water. This kind of preparation will go a long way in encouraging birds to nest in your garden year after year. Hunting down and removing nasty pests now can save you a lot of hassle later on. At the moment they will still be hibernating and therefore not feeding on your plants, take a close look to see if you can spot any slugs and snail colonies and use organic methods such as coffee grounds and egg shells to discourage them before they cause any harm. Clearing out last year’s pots can uncover some sneakily hiding away, so make sure you double check. More harmful pests such as vine weevils will be in larvae form and hiding out in your compost feeding on plant roots and the like. If you can find any destroy them straight away and buy some pest control to better tackle the issue. This year why not try to ‘go organic’ in the garden, while this method isn’t for everyone, with the world’s resources becoming increasingly limited, simple tasks such as collecting water can go a long way. Installing water butts will assist in cutting down your water usage and can actually benefit your plants, most tap water is slightly alkaline which can cause problems for certain plants. Composting and thinking about which plants will best survive in your garden without fertilisers or excessive watering will also help you become more ‘green.’ Spring may be the busiest time of the year and seem slightly overwhelming but don’t forget to sit back, relax and enjoy it!

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Tie back your trees and pull back anything that has been disheveled by the wind and snow.


Get on top of weeds now to save time later, they have probably become over grown and unruly during the winter months For the vegetable growers amongst you, sow carrots, parsnips and bulb onions under cloches and chit potato tubers. Make the most of your spring bulbs, divide snowdrops when they have finished flowering. Prune climbing plants such as wisteria and roses. Steralise bird houses and put out bird food to encourage them to nest in your garden. Mow your lawn and prepare the soil for planting by adding some fresh manure. If you are making drastic plans to redesign your garden, now is the time to sketch out plans, including a rough idea of your plant displays.

whats on Our selection of spring and summer gardening events and activities...

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The Chelsea Flower Show is a must on any gardener’s calendar and undoubtedly the RHS’s most popular event. This year’s show is set to be even bigger and better than last year with an abundance of exhibitors, impressive gardens and plenty of shopping.

world live NEC


It’s lovely waking up to the sound of birds in spring, so try to encourage them into your garden this time of year. Supply shelter, a place to breed and some energising food! Don’t forget to wash and disinfect your birdhouse from last year to protect your garden birds and prevent the spread of diseases.

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This year Hampton Court Palace, known for it’s beautiful selection of flowers on display, adds some alternative options for visitors. If you’re in need of some practical advice about your small garden and want to make the most of your budget, head to Hampton Court.

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You don’t have to be an avid reader or viewer of Gardener’s World to appreciate all that this event has to offer. With unbeatable shopping, guest talks from experts, practical demonstrations and much more, this weekend at the NEC Birmingham aren’t to be missed. @BBCGWLive



12th - 15th june Gardener’s



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Have a look in your pond this spring, you might be lucky enough to find ribbons of toad spawn floating below the surface. Keep an eye on them and watch them turn into tiny little toads. Tadpoles eat algae, there isn’t much you can do to provide food apart from leave your garden to do so naturally.

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20th- 24th May CHELSEA


Join in the country’s biggest celebration of gardening this April. The RHS organises events all over the country where thousands of people, gardens, charities, retailers, culture and heritage organisations join forces to celebrate everything horticultural.


National Gardening Week 14th - 20th April


© Ewa

Britain in bloom may be a campaign, rather than a single event but is considered an essential part of the horticultural calendar. More than 1,600 cities, towns, villages and urban communities get involved throughout the year hoping to be successful when judged on their horticultural achievements, community participation and environmental responsibility. The campaign celebrates its 50th year this summer and hopes to unite communities while adding a little more beauty to Britain. @RHSBloom


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YEAR ROUND britain



Tatton Park is known as the ‘the great carnival’ of flower shows. Not nearly as traditional as Hampton Court and Chelsea, Tatton Park is home to innovative gardens, the RHS Young Designer of the Year award and a host of bold and beautiful summer flowers. @tatton_park

Butterflies, like humans, respond to shelter, sustenance and sunshine. Help them by planting nectar-rich plants such as buddleia, asters, azaleas, marigolds and verbenas so butterflies can keep their sugar levels up before winter hibernation. Butterflies will lay their eggs near where they feed, meaning that they are likely to come back to your garden year after year.

There are 40 well-known species of Dragonfly in the UK, but a third of those are endangered. Dragonflies need your help this time of year- many breed in gardens so create a perfect pond environment full of floating, submerged and emergent plants. Different species enjoy different plants for laying their eggs and their larvae can use the plants as protection from any predators.

© Harriet Midgley

TOP 5 EXTERIOR BLOGS 1. Grown Our Own Carrie is a blogger based in Ireland with a love of nature and an appreciation for the solace it offers. As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, Carrie is wonderfully honest in her blog; she talks about the benefits of ‘allotment therapy’ and the joy she feels watching her plants grow. Carrie’s blog is illustrated by beautiful photos and offers an abundance of chatty, easy to follow advice - enjoy! iinstagram/chrryblossomtat2 @chrryblossomta2 2. Real Men Sow Jonno, the author of Real Men Sow, started his blog after he and his mother took on a redundant plot and transformed it into a constant stream of tasty fruit and vegetables. Jonno describes the allotment as the ‘best thing he’s ever done’ and this joy is reflected in his witty writing, if you’ve ever debated whether to start growing your own, this blog will definitely persuade you!

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After recently relocating from Bath to Portland, USA Gillian’s tiny vegetable plot has somewhat expanded and the former magazine editor was forced to start over again, not that she minded of course. Gillian gets gardening help from her young son who inspired her to write a children’s book all about growing fruit and vegetables. @mytinyplot 4. Lia Leendertz Previously the author of ‘Midnight Brambles’, Lia has started a new blog, but don’t fret - its still very much about gardening! Lia has a massive garden and is quite the culinary master, her blog is a perfect concoction of her personal life, cooking and garden endeavours. @lialeendertz 5. Little Green Fingers Dawn’s mission is to get children hooked on gardening, her blog is a wealth of knowledge, not just for mums and dads but also for gardeners wanting practical advice, information on the best gardens to visit and DIY tips on how to decorate their home. facebook/DawnIsaacLGF © all pictures attributed to blogs

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© Harriet Midgley

Allotment Therapy

Plants don’t criticise, you don’t have to wear a mask for nature, she takes you as you are.

Carrie says that her blog is aimed at “everyone who likes the idea of cheaper, tastier food and enjoying nature.” Along with witty quips about her day-to-day gardening endeavours, the blog contains brutally honest accounts of the ups and downs of having depression and anxiety issues. She believes that sharing such personal aspects of her life is as much for herself as it is for others, “we can share our stories and are inspired by one another.” Carrie believes that “growing plants is a nurturing experience” and credits the allotment with an improvement in her health and hopes that others take away encouragement and hope from her story.


Interior Exterior spoke to Carrie, a blogger who uses eco-therapy to soothe her anxiety and chronic depression: “I have poor mental health and I am very passionate about the eco-therapy side of it. Plants don’t criticize, you don’t have to wear a mask for nature, she takes you as you are and it’s easier to switch off.” Carrie only began gardening a couple of years ago, after helping her husband Andrew with clearing and destruction jobs: “I simply loved to do clearing jobs, see the transformation occurring and then tend to the weeding. In the end we had a beautiful outdoor space and spent a lot of time out there.”

A couple of years later their local council released some land to become allotment gardens and armed with a basic knowledge of growing plants and flowers, Carrie and her husband set about applying for an allotment to grow fruit and vegetables. The couple moved soon after and now happily split their time between their small garden at home, which they use for growing plants and entertaining, and their allotment where they grow a year-round supply of produce.

I want to share the idea gardening is good for your overall health and creativity; it can be so uplifting.

She said: “Being open and honest about both the successes and errors, I want to share the idea that gardening is good for your overall health and creativity; it can be so uplifting.” When asked why she chose to grow produce, rather than flowers, Carrie explained: “when growing fruit and vegetables, there is such an element of consistent hope that makes you a tiny bit more optimistic in life. Planting a dead brown seed and seeing it grow is one of the best feelings. The circular nature of the seasons gives one a much needed sense of rhythm and connection to the land, there is never a time of year when there’s something to do or plans to make.”


After six years at the allotment, Interior Exterior asked Carrie what she enjoys most about keeping a gardening blog: “making friends and the simple, joyous fact that my ‘scrapbook’ encourages my husband and I to keep learning and improving. Of course there is also the fact that others around the world read it and sometimes make the effort to leave a comment - that, I still can’t believe!”

18 | APRIL 2014

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he mental and physical health benefits of gardening and the effect nature can have on a person should never be underestimated. New studies show that eco-therapy is a successful tool in dealing with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Many people suffering from these conditions find solace in their garden and claim that growing their own plants offers hope when other occupational therapies have failed to do so. Studies have shown that humans have an involuntary attachment and fascination with nature and this can often distract people, causing them to lose themselves in the joy of their garden.


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Gardening isn’t just a hobby, it can also provide much needed escape from health issues. Interior Exterior caught up with the author of ‘Grow Our Own’ Carrie Gault to talk about the benefits.

Carrie created her blog ‘Grow Our Own’ to keep an online record of the couple’s allotment adventure, she didn’t intend to share it with others and is modest about the blog’s success, “blogging was really a new concept to me back then but it seemed perfect, I could write a journal and keep lots of photos in one place. It was never intended to be read by anyone, I didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t think about privacy settings. One day I just started to get comments!”


difficult gardens made easy

Not all gardens are a generic shape and while this may present challenges it also offers a chance for creativity. We have come up with three of the most common garden challenges and offered some solutions that hopefully help you create an impressive and innovative oasis. Don’t let a lack of space, slope or awkward shape hinder your plans, there is always a way to make the best of your garden.

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The ‘teeny-tiny’ garden

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Just because your garden is a little on the small size, that doesn’t mean you have to scrimp on style. The main rule with small gardens is to keep it simple, it may be tempting to cram in as many of your favourite plants as possible but this will cause your garden lose space and look overly busy. An elegant design will work well and is easily achieved by sticking to a line of symmetry and working outwards. If your space is small but you still want to spend time gardening, a traditional English cottage theme is perfect. Space saving plants, either tall foxgloves or climbing roses combined with low-lying fragrant plants such as lavender are traditional and well suited to a small space. If you use your garden for entertaining and don’t much care for gardening, create a central focus using a table and chairs, this will draw the eye to the middle of the garden, giving the illusion of space. Use pot plants rather than planting in beds, they are easy to care for and can be moved whenever you want. Lighting will make the most out of any gloomy corners in your garden, you really can’t afford to lose space in dark shadowy areas so brighten these up with pale, light-reflecting plants and artificial lighting. Living walls are a rather modern but fantastic way of saving space, not only will they add an interesting element to your garden, they are also great for the environment. Housing in the UK continues to expand and living walls are a way of giving that space back to greenery. Plants don’t need to be in beds or borders, to flourish, many will survive with just water and minerals, light and carbon dioxide. Plants often grow vertically on their own, so its no wonder that living walls are becoming increasingly popular. They are relatively simple to create, using succulents and a second-hand crate and look both stylish and modern. While modern space saving techniques may seem exciting, don’t overlook tried and tested methods such as vegetable planters that are great for balconies, windowsill plants such as tomatoes or herbs and hanging baskets for fruit, vegetables and flowers.

tHE ‘awkward shaped’ garden It may be surprising but many expert gardeners actually believe an irregular shaped garden allows you to be more relaxed with your design and the plants you chose. Before changing anything in your garden, sketch out the shape to see how your ideas fit within the boundaries, it is much easier to visualise what will work this way. Try to envisage the shape you would like your garden to be, rather than the shape it is and focus on creating this within the slightly peculiar boundaries of your garden. Odd shapes can be disguised through the use of climbing plants and tall perennials, plant these outwards to the centre of your garden, obscuring the irregular shape while creating your own. Break up this space further using pots, seating and a variety of plants in all shapes and sizes for a less formal look. An L-shaped garden is probably the most awkward shape of all, as one part of the garden usually goes unused. However, this does allow for a ‘two-room’ effect that you cannot achieve in more traditionally shaped gardens. Create an area for seating in one part of the garden to function as a focal point and make it easily accessible with plain paving and a simple colour scheme. You could instead exaggerate the L-shape with dramatic lighting and a modern scheme, either way; the main objective is to create a sense of connectivity and to ensure you use both sides equally.

tHE ‘dark and decending’ GARDEN You may consider your sloping garden to be more of a curse than a blessing, but many gardens are beautiful despite being an unusual shape or size – it just takes a little imagination! There are benefits to having a sloping garden; they offer fantastic draining; something all plants need to thrive. If your sloping garden needs a major over haul, make sure you start by terracing the space and adding retaining walls, this may seem expensive but it is a necessity if you want to avoid land slides caused by the sporadically bad weather we experience in the UK. Have a think about which material you would like to use - there are plenty of options; red brick, granite, metal and condensed soil will all work well, just ensure you have included plenty of gaps for efficient drainage. A sloping garden allows for different levels to be built and just like rooms in your home, the individual levels should work independently while still flowing as an entire space. The use of levels allows you to create a truly unique garden, there may be space for a shed, seating area or pond and the brilliant thing about levels is that you can include all of your ideas in one harmonious space. When planting, do so with an overall scheme in mind, jumping from style to style can cause the space to look disjointed. A limited colour scheme will help draw the eye from top to bottom, pastels and deep greens are tranquil and combined with the sound of a water feature or pond on one level will transform your garden into a peaceful space. If you aren’t quite ready to commit to one scheme, try planting in containers so you can re-pot and create a variety of sloping displays. Shade-friendly plants may be necessary on the lower levels and sun-loving plants at the top, climbing plants work wonders if you want to blend the levels; ivy, wisteria or climbing roses are all great choices.

APRIL 2014 | 19

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