a way of life...

Month: August 2018

Faux Fever

This stunning flower arrangement was the centrepiece at Tunsgate, Guildford this week and it inspired me to write this blog about faux flowers and house plants.

With the emergence of plants being a decorative addition to the home many high street and on-line stores have a wide selection of artificial flowers and house plants.OKA, in Guildford, is a good example as they have some of the most lavish displays. For example these gorgeous magnolia boughs (above) and these enormous white hydrangeas mixed with lambs ear leaves (below). 
On a more modest scale Marks & Spencer have a comprehensive range of “evergreen” house plants and flowers. 

One of my favourite high street and on-line stores, Neptune, use faux foliage blended with real flowers for dramatic effect in their room settings.

This is a trick that can easily employed in one’s own home changing displays to match the season.

Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know that I enjoy growing and cutting my own blooms for indoor decoration. That said, I too have permanent arrangements of realistic looking silk flowers to add colour and texture all year round.

This permanent mix of cornflowers, lavender and scabious adorn a dressing table whilst the freshly cut blue hyacinths add an evocative scent in the spring.

Canny Storage Ideas

In my opinion good interior design is more than just choosing a colour scheme. An aspect that I consider key to intelligent design is the incorporation of ‘canny’ storage.

To my mind clever, or canny, storage is the equivalent of a good filing system; everything must be easily retrievable whether it has been put away for the long-term or short-term.

It must also, wherever possible, enhance a scheme rather than detract from it.

There are some obvious solutions but some might require a little more imagination.

Under-bed storage is an obvious solution and inexpensive storage containers can be purchased specifically to fit this void. Vacuum pack bags can reduce the volume of items being stored, such as clothes, bedding, or other soft miscellany, thus allowing more to fit inside the container.

Dividing walls are far from a new invention but can be used to hide unsightly items. In the photograph below a pine shelving unit as been placed at right angles to the wall to hide an ugly filing cabinet and printer.

The view is taken from the open doorway so passersby only see the shelf and its contents, and not the hidden office equipment.

In my sitting room I have a matching oak coffee table and side table. I chose both as they have a shelf below the table top surface  on which I can neatly store DVD’s, magazines, TV remotes, etc. This provides easy access to the items when required but otherwise they are neatly stowed away.

Bowls, napkins, and coasters are kept on this unit in easy reach for impromptu nibbles.

I favour baskets in my home as they are both practical and decorative. The three on top of my double wardrobe contain out of season clothing, such as swimwear in the winter months, and thermals in the summer.

The contents are easily switched to my chest of drawers when the seasons change.

Ikea sell very sturdy, relatively inexpensive, albeit flat-packed, furniture in many different styles. I mixed and matched these pine-veneered and white veneered chests to fit under the eaves of my bedroom ceiling.

The deep drawers are ideal for storing sweaters and T-shirts which would otherwise take-up hanging space in my cupboards. The pine-look units also have a shallow pull-out tray inside the top drawer which accommodates small items such as scarves, socks, and jewellery.

Storing shoes can be a challenge if they are kept in their boxes as it is not always easy to recognise them. A neat way of overcoming this problem is to photograph the relevant footwear and adhere the picture to the side of the box.

They can then be neatly stacked inside a wardrobe or cupboard and easily found when needed.

When cupboard space is limited use ‘over-the-door hooks’ to provide additional hanging space. These come in many different styles and conveniently hook over the top of a door. They are particularly useful in bathrooms for hanging towels and dressing gowns.

Garden storage is equally important and it is possible to find stylish options at garden centres and on the internet.

The arbour below serves several purposes. It provides privacy and protection from the elements where the hedge has receded to virtually nothing; it has a big trunk in which to store garden games; and when the trunk is closed it becomes a seat on which to sit and enjoy the early morning sunshine.

Anyone for croquet?

There are obviously infinite methods of storage and far too many to mention here. Sometimes a little imagination goes a long way to introducing canny storage.

An example of a less conventional method in my home is this set of three decorative glazed flower pots that I have on my kitchen windowsill above the sink.

One contains the dishcloth, one the scourers, and one a vegetable brush.

I know what is in each one but to anybody else they are just attractive blue pots sitting on the windowsill.

I hope this helps with your storage dilemmas and would be pleased to hear from you with your canny ideas.

Happy Dahlias

You may recall that earlier this year I attended a Dahlia talk at Crocus at Dorney Court Kitchen Garden. Presented by Val Bourne the lecture was both educational and inspiring.

Dorney Court Kitchen Garden

Since being a small child, watching my mother grow dahlias, I had hoped that one day I would have a garden of my own that would produce these exotic blooms.

Alliums in raised bed

Today, I am in a fortunate aand privileged position in as much as I have access to small plot that I can dedicate to the growing of vegetables and flowers for cutting.

This year I chose to add some new varieties to my existing collection of mainly pink, purple, red, and white dahlias.

Sarah Raven has become well known in recent years for her contribution to gardening and has built an on-line business supplying a huge variety of plants from her garden at Perch Hill Farm in East Sussex.

Thumbing through her Spring 2018 catalogue I was blown away by the vast variety of dahlia tubers that were available. I narrowed down my choice to a collection that would complement my existing plants. Particularly drawn to one called ‘Bacardi’ my search was narrowed down to the ‘Bonanza’ or ‘Cinnamon Spice’ collections.

Aside from colour, space was my next consideration as I have just one raised bed dedicated to flowers and this was already home to half a dozen different varieties of dahlias, as well as a huge number of Alliums.

Sarah Raven’s  ‘Bonanza Collection’ consisted of 7 different varieties whilst the ‘Cinnamon Spice Collection’ consisted of 5. I chose the latter which provided one each of the following:

  • Bacardi
  • Burlesca
  • La Recoleta
  • Tamburo
  • Zundert Mystery Fox

    My new collection of smoky, rich dahlias

Described in the catalogue as a supremely beautiful, smoky, rich collection I was very happy with my choice and on arrival I planted them in the garden as per the simple instructions.

I must admit that our unusually hot, dry UK summer gave me cause for concern but I watered the plants from the moment I put them in the ground through the 2018 heatwave.

Cinnamon Spiced Dahlias in Oliver Bonas vase

This past weekend I enjoyed the fruits of my labour as I cut my first stems. Each of the new plants had produced a number of blooms and I was able to cut a decent vaseful in a variety of spicy colours.

I’m now looking ahead to the next few weeks as the plants continue to flower in the late summer and autumn sunshine.

I might even attend the Crocus Garden School on October 3rd when Rachel Siegfried of Green & Gorgeous will be hosting an event entitled ‘Dahlias for the cut flower garden’. Follow this link for details and to buy tickets – https://www.crocus.co.uk/gardening-school/

Happy day(lias)!

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