The Bristol Magazine August 2018

Page 92

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THE LITTLE EXTRAS A well-maintained garden is said to add between five and 20 per cent to a property’s value and it’s an investment that literally grows, says Elly West


ummer holidays are here, and hopefully good weather will mean we can spend lots of time in our gardens relaxing, eating, entertaining – with maybe the odd G&T or two. The concept of the garden as another room is not a new one, but it’s at this time of year that we can really appreciate outdoor living. It’s a sad fact that gardens often come last on the list in terms of budget allocation for home improvements, and yet a well-maintained garden is said to add between five and 20 per cent to a property’s value, not to mention the hours of pleasure it can bring. And it’s an investment that literally grows. Look after your plants well and they will mature year on year so the garden just keeps looking better. Now is a good time to assess the garden and decide what works and what doesn’t. Start planning now, and there will be plenty of time to come up with a design and find a landscaper, so that by next summer you could have the garden of your dreams. But there are still improvements you can make to maximise your space this summer. It may not be a great time to plant new borders, lawns, trees or hedges – the soil will be dry, the water table low, and they will struggle to get established, even with diligent watering. But it’s the perfect time to think about adding garden accessories. Think of the garden as an outside room and plan your added extras accordingly, considering colour, texture, shape and repetition, just as you would any other aspect of home design. At this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, the LG Eco-City garden was one of my favourites. I loved the colours and the hard landscaping, but also the attention to detail, not least because of the way the designer accessorised the space, perfectly co-ordinating the cushions with the planting (see image above), which included lemon-yellow lupins, with coppery verbascums, orange trollius and geums. While we 92 THE BRISTOL MAGAZINE




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may not all take things to this extreme, it shows how sticking to a simple colour theme throughout creates a space that is restful to the eye. Summer brings with it evenings spent outdoors, so a good place to start is with garden lighting. If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor power source, then electric lights give you the most choice and reliability, but there are also some great solar lights available now. Solar fairy lights are a cost-effective way to give your garden an instant boost, and can be remarkably bright and long-lasting after a sunny day. String them through trees and shrubs, along a fence, or over an arch or pergola for a bit of instant holiday magic. Outdoor candles, whether real or battery-powered LEDs, also give a soft and atmospheric effect for very little cost. Think about up-lighting any feature plants. A glowing light underneath a yucca or palm will throw the most amazing shadows on the wall or fence behind. Lights can also have a practical purpose, lining a driveway or for security. Accessorising your garden is a fun way to revamp and update your space, and another quick and easy way to do this is by looking at your containers. Many gardens I see include a mishmash of pots in different styles, glazes and colours, collected and added to over the years. However, choosing containers that tone with each other will add a calmer appeal. Consider painting them all the same colour with a suitable acrylic paint for an instant facelift. Or why not think about encouraging wildlife to the garden with bird baths and bird feeders? Choose a bath or feeder in an attractive stone or metal, and it will make an interesting stand-alone feature, with the added bonus of bringing in our feathered friends. Just remember to keep them clean and topped up. Think about what is in your line of view from where you

Above: This garden shows how sticking to a simple colour theme throughout creates a space that is restful to the eye Opposite: The hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ is such a reliable, easygoing performer; and Elly’s summer-flowering clematis weaving in and out of an old ornate bird cage

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