• Country garden: welcoming wildlife

    by  • 21/06/2014 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    We’re all for attracting wildlife to our Country Homes & Interiors rooftop garden. So we were thrilled to be sent a ladybird tower from the lovely people at the RSPB, who’d read about our
    10th floor plot.

    Ladybirds look so pretty flitting around the garden, and we love them for that, but they also perform a useful role as both the adults and the larvae feed on insects that can damage our precious veg.

    Bug boxes provide snug, safe places for insects to hibernate in winter. The holes in this ladybird tower lead to a central chamber filled with nesting material. We’re certainly looking forward to welcoming them to their new bijou pad. How can they resist? Here it is, installed among the carrots and peas.

    Ladybird tower, £13.25, RSPB

    Ladybird tower, £13.25, RSPB

    Looking for a new home? Photo: Tony Hamblin (rspb-images.com)

    Looking for a new home? Photo: Tony Hamblin (rspb-images.com)

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    Country garden: here comes the sun

    by  • 14/06/2014 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Isn’t wonderful how just a little bit of sun can make a big difference in the garden. Four weeks ago when the weather was still a tad chilly and very wet, we planted up the raised beds and containers in the Country Homes & Interiors rooftop plot.

    In went runner beans, sugar snap peas, sweet Chantenay carrots, strawberries and masses of summery blooms – all from Homebase – then we stood back and waited for the show to begin.

    Now look at it! Luckily, there are some spaces to fill so we’ve started sowing rows of radishes and beetroot, too, and already the seedlings are coming up strong and healthy. Watch this blog for regular updates… And for more country garden inspiration, visit housetohome.co.uk.

    Instant results with speedy radishes

    Instant results with speedy radishes

    Carrots and marigolds cosy up in the raised bed

    Carrots and marigolds cosy up in the raised bed

    Strawberries and summer blooms enjoying their lofty position

    Strawberries and summer blooms enjoying their lofty position

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    Country garden: off to work we go!

    by  • 24/05/2014 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    The Country Homes & Interiors rooftop garden is newly planted and ready to grow! On what turned out to be one of the wettest days (naturally!) a week or so ago, we cleared and nourished our raised beds and planters ready to welcome in trays of baby veg and colourful blooms kindly donated by Homebase. It may not yet be RHS Chelsea Gold Medal standard (unlike Homebase’s own beautiful ‘Time to Reflect’ garden designed by Adam Frost), but we have high hopes – a little piece of country set against the London skyline. Keep reading this blog to find out how it’s coming along.

    In the meantime, here we are posing alongside the veg beds. Happy gardening this weekend!

    The team in our rooftop garden.

    The team in our rooftop garden.

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    Country garden: herb garland

    by  • 30/11/2013 • Country moment • 1 Comment

    We’re especially partial to natural decorations here on Country Homes & Interiors, and with just over three weeks to Christmas, it’s time to start thinking of ways to welcome in the festive season with beautiful foliage gathered from the countryside or our gardens.

    We love this gorgeous green garland from Wiggly Wigglers. The combination of fresh, glossy bay leaves and sprigs of silvery rosemary is simply beautiful, and imagine how fragrant it will be hanging from a kitchen mantelpiece or along a banister to be enjoyed by everyone.

    You can also find more festive country decorating ideas at housetohome.co.uk.

    Bay and rosemary garland, £29 a metre, Wiggly Wigglers

    Bay and rosemary garland, £29 a metre, Wiggly Wigglers

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    Country garden: wonderful trees

    by  • 23/11/2013 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    While we’re enjoying rustling through fallen leaves and the spectacular autumn colours all over the countryside, it seems appropriate to celebrate the start of National Tree Week, organised by The Tree Council to mark tree-planting season.

    As well as helping the environment, trees add structure, welcome shade and a home for wildlife. They can also give your garden interest all year round, providing colour and texture with bark, blossom, autumn foliage and fruits.

    Late autumn is the best time to plant bare-rooted trees, before winter takes a grip and when plenty of rainfall encourages roots to grow. If you’re not sure what to choose for your garden, take inspiration from Majestic Trees’ list of top ten trees to plant this autumn (see some of our favourites below). For the full list and for tips on growing trees, turn to the HTA’s website.

    Unmissable colour from maple Acer fremanii 'Autumn Blaze'

    Unmissable colour from maple Acer fremanii ‘Autumn Blaze’

    The ghostly glow of a silver birch, Betula utilis var jacquemontii

    The ghostly glow of a silver birch, Betula utilis var jacquemontii

    Beautiful blossom on crab apple Malus 'Rudolph'

    Beautiful blossom on crab apple Malus ‘Rudolph’

    Snowy mespilus Amelanchier_lamarckii

    Aptly named snowy mespilus, Amelanchier lamarckii

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    Country garden: late flowers

    by  • 16/11/2013 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Jack Frost’s nipping at our toes this week, and our country gardens are gently succumbing to the approach of winter.

    So, mooching around my own garden the other day, I was amazed to see some glorious pops of colour from several of my favourite plants, ignoring the chilly weather and bravely blooming away. You’d expect it of late-summer varieties, but these stalwarts seem to have been flowering for months on end. And in such vibrant colours, too! What are you still enjoying in your garden at the moment?

    The late show... Fuchsia 'Mrs Popple', Geranium Rozanne, osteospermum and the autumn foliage of Mahonia japonica.

    The late show… (from top left) Fuchsia ‘Mrs Popple’, Geranium Rozanne, osteospermum and the spiky autumn foliage of Mahonia japonica.

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    Country garden: flower fireworks

    by  • 09/11/2013 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Here at Country Homes & Interiors, we’ve found a brilliant way to bring fireworks into your garden all year round. Plant Allium schubertii bulbs now and come late-spring they’ll produce the most amazing heads of flower, up to 30cm across, like giant starbursts.

    When the flowers are finished you can dry the spiky seedheads to make wonderful natural decorations. You can even work them, perhaps sprayed silver or gold, into your Christmas wreath. So, a real year-round sparkler, then!

    For bulbs, try J Parkers, or for a container-grown plant, go to Crocus.

    Enjoy a firework display in your country garden with Allium schubertii.

    Enjoy a firework display in your country garden with Allium schubertii.

    In flower, this ornamental onion produces a burst of pretty pink-purple stars.

    In full bloom, this ornamental onion produces a burst of pretty pink-purple stars.

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    Country garden: planting bulbs

    by  • 26/10/2013 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Autumn’s the perfect time to plan ahead for some spring colour in your country garden by planting bulbs. Scattering them and burying them where they drop in natural drifts in the lawn or borders is one of my favourite jobs to do now. They look so joyful.

    This year, though, I’m also going to try layering bulbs in large terracotta pots – it’s aptly called ‘lasagne planting’ – and hopefully results in a succession of gorgeous blooms all through spring because as one species dies down there’s another coming up right behind. Clever!

    Bulbs need good drainage, so cover the holes in the base of the pot with crocks and a few centimetres of compost. Start with a layer of bulbs that flower latest in spring, such as narcissi, alliums, fritillaries and some varieties of tulips. Add another layer of compost, then mid-season bulbs, such as hyacinths, snowdrops and earlier varieties of tulips. Finish off with dainty early spring blooms, such as grape hyacinths, crocus, scilla or chionodoxa. Cover with compost and water in, making sure the pot doesn’t dry out through winter. It’ll be worth the wait!

    Try Avon Bulbs for a huge range of autumn bulbs or Sarah Raven for collections of narcissi and tulips in heavenly colour combinations.

    Planting bulbs, Country Homes and Interiors blog

    Choose a pretty mix of orange tulips and scented narcissi. Photograph iBulb

    Planting bulbs, Country Homes and Interiors blog

    Go for dramatic good looks with different varieties of tulips in shades of purple. Photograph iBulb

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    Country garden: autumn colours

    by  • 19/10/2013 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Autumn’s here, but there’s still plenty of lovely colour in our country gardens to enjoy. All the vibrant, bold shades of summer have given way to richer, softer hues, rather like a beautiful faded tapestry.

    This is clearly seen in the spectacular herbaceous border at Longstock Park Nursery in Stockbridge, Hampshire. Mounds of ruby red sedum, heuchera and purple asters, dotted with wafts of gaura, Japanese anemones and billowing grasses miscanthus and Stipa tenuissima, make a pretty picture at this time of year.

    Many nurseries have gardens open to the public to display their plants in a natural setting. It’s a great way to see which plants sit happily together and just what can be achieved with a mature border. It’s also a chance to take in the stars of the season – and maybe take home a plant or two as well…

    The herbaceous border at Longstock Park Nursery in Hampshire in its autumn colours

    The herbaceous border at Longstock Park Nursery in Hampshire in its autumn colours

    Clumps of stipa provide a contrast to the rich autumnal tones

    Clumps of stipa provide a contrast to the rich autumnal tones

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    Country garden: harvest festival

    by  • 12/10/2013 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    We love a good produce show at Country Homes & Interiors. All those lovingly nurtured fruits and vegetables laid out with precision and pride are a real feast for the senses. Some displays carry much-coveted rosettes, but really they’re all winners, proof of the hard work and dedication of the people who grow them.

    Earlier this week this lovely country tradition was enjoyed in the city at the Royal Horticultural Society’s London Harvest Festival Show in Lindley Hall, Westminster. Our Gardens Editor Janine went along and brought back some wonderful pictures. ‘Without a flower in sight, the show was a mass of every shade of red and orange and yellow,’ she said, ‘from shoulder-high pumpkins, through inviting arrays of apples to carrots with tails longer than a donkey’s.

    ‘Head gardeners and nursery owners were much in evidence, scrutinising the judges’ decisions over the length of the leeks or the neatness of the shallots. Pennard Plants of Somerset were doing a brisk business with their Heritage and Heirloom Flower and Veg Seed range – the autumn-sown broad bean ‘Aquadulce’ being particularly popular.’

    With Halloween approaching, the giant pumpkins took our fancy. The heaviest weighed a whopping 620kg!

    Harvest festival, Country Homes and Interiors blog

    Colourful displays at the RHS Harvest Festival Show

    Harvest festival, Country Homes and Interiors blog

    The fluffiest caulies and neatest carrots

    Heritage seeds from Pennards Plants

    Heritage seeds from Pennards Plants

    Prize pumpkins - this one came third

    Prize pumpkins – this one came third

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