Gardening Projects

  1. Adding Arbours, Pergolas and Gazebos to Your Garden

    Adding Arbours, Pergolas and Gazebos to Your Garden

    As children, building dens in the garden was an instinct – blankets across the washing line, cardboard boxes upended and filled with cushions, and hollowed out hideaways under bushes. As grown-ups, have much better ways to create those special places from which to make the most of our garden. When it comes to truly maximising enjoyment of our outdoor space, a permanent garden shelter is simply a must. Easy to erect and near maintenance-free, these shelters offer a beautiful standout garden feature, without significantly increasing our workload.

    So, which sort of shelter is right for your garden?

    The chances are that it will either be an arbour, pergola or gazebo but, to make an informed choice about which one to purchase, it’s important to consider exactly what you intend to use it for and to understand their different characteristics. Without further ado, let’s take a look at them.

    Arbours

    Garden arbours are the smallest of the three and come in two distinct forms. Firstly, they can simply be a decorative archway, designed to provide a link between different areas of the garden, for example the main pathway and the vegetable patch. They usually come with trellis sides or roofs to support climbers.

    Alternatively, an arbour can be a small, standalone sheltered area with seating, which makes a wonderfully intimate place to relax with a loved one, or even just a good book. These types of arbour also tend to incorporate a trellis design, as sitting down surrounded by climbers provides a magical feeling of seclusion.

    Click here to select your ideal garden arbour from our superb range. Once you’ve done that, why not read our article about how to install a garden arbour too?

    Garden Arbours from Buy Fencing Direct

    Pergolas

    Pergolas are usually square or rectangular and are normally erected on decks and patios. They can either link two different structures or stand alone. Instead of a conventional roof, the upper section is constructed from cross beams, often with a trellis design, which are perfect for supporting climbers. Pergolas provide a shaded area, where one can enjoy fresh air whilst being sheltered from the full glare of the sun or the worst of the rain. This makes them an ideal place for barbecues, dining alfresco, hot tubs, and social gatherings.

    Click here to browse through Buy Fencing Direct’s superb range of pergolas for sale.

    Garden Pergolas from Buy Fencing Direct

    Gazebos

    Gazebos are the ultimate outdoor building, offering you the opportunity to extend your living space into the garden. Separate from any other feature, they enjoy their own roof and are usually round, hexagonal or octagonal in shape. This provides an enclosed feel, making them suitable for positioning deeper into the garden than a pergola. A garden gazebo is a wonderful place to enjoy hobbies, dine alfresco, for the kids to play, or for you to entertain guests – all completely sheltered from the elements.

    Click here to choose from our superb range of gazebos for sale.

    Gazebos from Buy Fencing Direct  

    Whichever shelter you buy, there’s one thing that we can guarantee: you will be investing in an attractive and effective way to shelter from the unpredictable British weather, which will ensure that you spend more time in your garden all year round. What could possibly be better than that?      



    Read more »
  2. Concrete vs Wooden Posts

    Concrete vs Wooden Posts

    Imagine being an outcast on a desert island. All you can take are eight songs, a book and a luxury. Now the songs part is easy, the book simple, but the luxury? Hmmm, obviously (obviously!) it’s between a concrete or a wooden post. Now there’s a dilemma.

    Concrete will weigh in heavier. A six-foot fence panel requires a heavy frame of concrete and they do need a couple of people to handle, manoeuvre and get in place. And once in place there is absolutely no tweaking or phrases like ‘don’t worry, the screws will bring it all together.’ Once in place that is the place. Forever. Wood, however, is slightly lighter, still heavy mind you, and - as with all posts and fencing - a helper is still a great idea. There is a bit of tweak-room with wood as it is a natural material and will be slightly more forgiving of a millimetre tolerance or two.

    Forest Lightweight Concrete Fence Post

    Concrete lasts for a long time. How about a lifetime? No need to worry about upkeep there. Wooden posts can carry a 15-year guarantee against rot so can be relied upon without the need for any maintenance. Just make sure you check before you buy.

    Concrete is white. Of course, you can paint it but they usually flake after a few years. Algae will tone the colour down but fundamentally your posts will remain white. Some consider this a clean, modern look (it is!) or too brash for some gardens (again, it is!). I guess it depends on your style of garden. Wooden posts start either orangey brown or light green depending on the pressure treatment. But both quickly tone down to the colour of ash. They then blend into most garden designs. And you can easily paint or stain wooden posts using a rainbow of colours.

    Forest Planed Fence Post  

    Concrete posts require little or no maintenance. A wash down with warm soapy water will dislodge algae and moss and a pressure washer will remove stubborn colonies. Wear safety goggles if doing this. And that’s it. Wooden posts will also benefit from a yearly check over, even with that guarantee, and preservative, stain or paint re-applied where necessary.

    To get fixings into a concrete post you need a drill and fixing plugs along with screws and screwdriver. And eye protectors just in case shards of concrete go flying. Of course, the actual fence panels slide in easily but wires, hanging basket brackets and pot holders all need secure fixings. When fixing these same items to a wooden post, it’s as simple as a screw and screwdriver. For heavier items such as planting mangers you may need to plug holes, but tensioned wires for training fruit or climbers across fence panels are a doddle to sort.

    Concrete vs Wooden Fence Posts

    Concrete or wooden posts? It’s a tricky call to make. Both are the right choice depending on your garden circumstances. But if I had to choose one as my desert island luxury I reckon I’d go for …wood. I can lift it on my own, and I can always fashion it into a flagpole to attract attention. Or maybe concrete? If I’m on the island for a long time it will provide support for whatever I build around it. It’s also bright and may attract attention. But I could burn the wood if it gets cold. Concrete could be used to start building a more permanent house, yet wood could be the beginnings of a boat. Oh, I don’t know. When do I go to this island anyway? I’ve got some garden fencing to finish putting up before I leave. (And don't forget, before you leave, have a browse through our superb range of fence posts.)  

    Read more »
  3. Transforming London with Energy Garden

    Transforming London with Energy Garden

    A short while ago, we caught up with Luke Jones, Project Manager of Energy Garden, to talk about the Energy Garden project, what it is, and how it is helping bring colour and life to some of London's busiest areas. Check out our interview below!

    Our interview with Energy Garden

    1. What would you say the main aim of the Energy Garden project is?

    Energy Garden aims to bring communities together using the power of community gardening and community energy. We install environmental infrastructure and small renewable energy systems on the platforms of the London Overground and hand them to the local community. By doing this we are re-invigorating the civic pride that used to be commonplace in the communities around these public spaces.

    2. The focus of the Energy Garden project is to provide on-site renewable energy for small scale station amenities. How do you work towards this?

    We install lots of small measures in order to do this. For instance, at Brondesbury Park and at some other locations it was impossible to get mains plumbing that could run the length of the platform. We installed solar pumps to pressurise the water collected from rain harvesting. We are about to install a solar-powered mobile phone charging unit at another station, and some solar powered public lights at another.

    3. Part of your work looks to transform London Overground stations into thriving gardens. How important are these gardens to the health and well-being of commuters?

    They’re really important. In fact, a recently forgotten piece of history is the fact that stations used to be focal points for the local community. It was quite common to see gardening competitions and allotments on or around the stations which were contributed to by everyone in the local area. This was particularly the case in the bygone era when it was quite normal to know your local station manager as an important member of the community.

    It’s important for our wellbeing to have access to these areas, particularly in London where many people have limited contact with ‘quality’ outdoor space. By developing public transport infrastructure we are able to bring a little bit of green into people’s daily lives. If people even stop for just that one extra second on their way home to admire a living wall or a tub full of veg, we’ve done something really positive.

    Of course, the first thing that comes to mind in terms of health is the gardening element of the project. And yes, pitching in on a Saturday with your neighbours will do you a world of good! However, the gardens have more subtle health benefits that aren’t limited to the people actively getting involved. Air pollution, for instance, is an ever-growing concern in London, which is why where appropriate we try to ensure that the plants we install are particularly good at pulling harmful pollutants out of the air we all share.

    Credit: Energy Garden

    4. How many energy gardens have you created so far, and where are next projects based?

    We’ve installed 16 gardens so far, in every corner of London. We’re committed to having completed 40 by the end of July, so the heat is on! It’s an incredibly busy time for us! Highlight stations that are up and coming are Crystal Palace, Highbury and Islington and West Croydon. Though they are the big busy stations, some of our most interesting installations are at the smaller less busy stations where there is more space to work with. For instance, we’ve just installed a beautiful living wall at Penge West.

    5. How do you create the energy gardens?

    It’s a lengthy process. We consult the local community before we do anything, first talking to station staff and then having an official public consultation after that. We advertise the consultations using the London Overground advertisement boards, as well as through social media. Once the community has told us what they want, what they can maintain and how the garden will benefit them in their aims, it's time for the garden architects to get involved. They figure out what plants will work where and build a computer model of the platform which then goes through a second consultation round with London Overground advertising. This is the last chance for the local community to veto any ideas. Once that is done we check all is well with the rail operators and get our dedicated ‘Green Team’ onsite with the local group. A garden can take between a couple days and several weeks to build, depending on the complexity of the design. Once built, we have a ceremony, hand over to the local group and move onto the next one!

    Credit: Energy Garden

    6. Is there anything that people of the community can do to get involved with your projects?

    It’s all about them! Send an email to [email protected] to get in direct contact with the Energy Garden team. You can also find out loads on our website energygarden.org.uk. Make sure to have a look on Facebook as well as many of the groups have set up their own groups to organise themselves. It’s a very organic process, and we are mindful of the fact that sometimes groups have time to dedicate to the gardens, sometimes they don’t. By handing the responsibility of maintenance over to them we let them take control.

    Check out more great interviews

    Read more »
  4. Bringing people and gardens together

    Bringing people and gardens together

    Featured image: Darren Ema and Nicky planting some purple sprouting broccoli in the greenhouse

    We caught up with Ken over at People and Gardens to find out more about their work and some of the projects they are involved with, how gardening can provide substantial health benefits, and who they work with within the community for their projects and wider aims. Take a look at our interview below.

    Our interview with People and Gardens

     1. People and Gardens was set up to help people with learning disabilities and mental health issues to develop work and social skills. How does your work benefit them? 

    The work enables them to achieve participation, presence, competence, choice and respect, which leads to the participants taking control over their own lives, and to feeling that they are valued members of society.

    People and Gardens team with Countryfile and John Craven

    2. Many people think of gardening as just an activity, but there are substantial health benefits to be gained as well. Can you talk about some of the health benefits of gardening?

    Health benefits can be enormous. Outdoor work, fresh air, working with nature and the soil, can be emotionally and physically beneficial. Growing of food can lead to an understanding of eating healthy food and lifestyles. Gardening is subjective, and consequently, it can be done in a way which suits the individual.

    3. You work with the Eden Project in a variety of ways each year. Could you tell us a little bit about the work you do with them?

    Our relationship with Eden goes back 20 years and it is successful because we share the same philosophies of "changing society for the better and to use education and inclusion to make the world a better place".

    We work closely with Eden's 'Green Team' to develop a social enterprise which is self-sustaining, work hard to maintain a balance between enterprise and care.

    We promote each other's values, and this is evident in our work with "The Big Lunch Extra's", whereby people from communities all over the UK visit Eden and People and Gardens to learn about the community.

    4. How does your work with the Eden Project help the local communities as well as the people you work with?

    Our work 'role models' to those in the local community enterprise and the belief that we all have a social responsibility to look after each other.

    People and Gardens supporting the Eden project

    5. Another of your projects is Veg Bags, where you provide fortnightly delivery in the St Austell area of fresh produce. What produce do you grow for these bags, and are you looking to expand your delivery radius in the future?

    For our veg bags, we grow lettuces, spring onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, micro leaf crops, peas, broad beans, beetroot, turnips, carrots, aubergines, artichokes, chillies, peppers, Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms, garlic, strawberries, raspberries, red currants, spinach, chard, pumpkins, squashes, gourds, leeks, cabbages, and kale. We do not intend to expand the scheme further at present.

    6. What are the main aims of your Veg Bag project, and how successful has the project been so far?

    The aims of the veg bag are to increase growing opportunities and to enable the participants on the scheme to develop their social and work skills. It is also to raise money to increase self-sustainability and to provide paid jobs for those that are often denied the opportunity. At present we have 8 employees, 4 of whom have a learning disability.

    40% of the £260,000 annual project costs come from statutory funding, as an accredited care provider. The remainder comes from veg sales, either by the veg bag scheme, or the local outlets plus fundraising and grants.

    7. The projects you run see you working with a variety of people for different reasons but all with the same goal in mind. How beneficial do you think gardening projects are to the local communities?

    Horticulture is an ideal medium to promote 'physical and emotional wellbeing'. Participation increases a feeling of self-worth, confidence, and enables people to work together with shared values and aims, and promotes community togetherness.

    All images in this post have been supplied by the People and Gardens Facebook Page

    Read more of our interviews

    Read more »
  5. Community projects with SweetTree Farming for All

    Community projects with SweetTree Farming for All

    Last month, we caught up with SweetTree Farming for All to find out more about their Care Farm project and some of the other work they do with the community. Check out our interview with them below.

    Our interview with SweetTree Farming for All

    1. SweetTree Farming For All runs a range of activities and training for adults and young people. What sort of activities and training do you provide?

    We run a few different projects, some at our own Care Farm in Mill Hill, SweetTree Fields Farm, and some are outreach projects around Watford and Hertfordshire. At our Care Farm, our ‘Let it Grow’ project for adults with a wide range of health/social support needs offers animal husbandry, horticulture, outdoor cooking, natural arts and crafts, shelter building and other bushcraft. It’s our own farm so we can do almost anything, and have our own sheep, donkeys, chickens, ducks and rabbits, with wooded areas, a warm and cosy yurt and an outdoor clay oven. Our outreach projects deal with more specific areas, like horticulture, animal farming or natural crafts.

    2. You also run a variety of projects for adults and young people. How successful have you found these projects to be?

    As we are called ‘SweetTree Farming For All’, we make sure that our projects cover such a range of activities, areas and people so that our work really is for everyone who could benefit. Our ‘Let it Go’ project in Mill Hill has been running for over 3 years now and is growing along with all our vegetables. We have recently opened up our delivery of the project to 4 out of 5 days a week due to its popularity. Our ‘Dig Deep’ project in South Oxhey is one of our longest running projects and is still going strong, and our ‘Care Farm’ project in partnership with the Royal Veterinary College in Potters Bar, one of our other very popular projects is still introducing clients to the lambing process and showing them how cows are milked.

    3. One of your main projects is the ‘Let it Grow’ project. What are the aims of this particular project?

    Our ‘Let it Grow’ project is a care farming project at SweetTree Fields Farm for adults with a wide range of support and care needs. Our motto is ‘Cultivating Confidence’, so our main aim is to do just that with all our clients. This could be helping someone gain more life skills, like learning how to cook for themselves, or even just helping someone fix up an old and falling apart bench by hammering in nails to keep it together and paint it so it looks brand new. These tasks not only practice life skills, fine and gross motor skills and team working, they give people the reward of achieving something they maybe didn’t think they could do, and this reinstates a feeling of self-worth and confidence that a lot of our clients are lacking when they first come to us.

    4. What does the ‘Let it Grow’ project focus on, and how does this differ from other projects?

    ‘Let it Grow’ focuses on transitioning our individual clients in individual ways towards other fulfilling projects, future learning, volunteering and employment. It is a long-term project, in which we work with each client to tailor activities and goals to their individual needs to make sure we are working on their personal short term and longer term goals. For example, one client may have expressed an interest in learning more about various flowers to help them get part-time work at a gardening centre. We can then create a support plan that includes this client overseeing flower growth that year, supported by our staff, to learn sowing, growing and maintenance methods. The same client could also want help with social interactions if they find it hard to make friends and lack a lot of confidence. This can be achieved by involving them in team activities and supporting conversations that involve that client in a comfortable way to start building their social confidence. Achieving these goals could help the client feel confident in applying for a part-time job at a garden centre as they wished.

    5. Who does the ‘Let it Grow’ project, in particular, support?

    The project is for everyone and anyone who is over 17 years old and could benefit from spending time with us on our farm. Our client range is broad, as we don’t tie ourselves down to one type of support need. We know the therapeutic benefits of working outdoors with nature and animals, and we are experts in ‘Cultivating Confidence’ in those who need a boost to help them get on track in life, and those things can benefit anyone.

    6. How can people get involved in the ‘Let it Grow’ project?

    If you are interested in finding out more about attendance at the ‘Let it Grow’ project, then you can contact us via [email protected], or call 0207 644 9505. You can even visit our website: www.sweettreefarmingforall.org.uk. Our website also contains more information on our various projects and who we are.

    If you are interested in volunteering to help at our farm, either with clients or even just helping with the animals or vegetables, then again contact us for a chat.
    You can even donate to our projects via the donate button on our website, and soon you will be able to sponsor our donkeys and rabbits. We are a not-for-profit and are always in need of extra tools, seeds, animal food, help with vet bills and so on, so if you are feeling kind then we are always very thankful for donations.

    7. How do you help the participants of the ‘Let it Grow’ project get the most out of their experience?

    Through our tailored support plans, we can make sure we are addressing the wishes and goals of our clients to help get them back on their feet and move on to further projects, learning, volunteering or paid work. Everyone is different, so these needs can vary from person to person, but we pride ourselves on getting to know each person individually and working with them to help them achieve their goals and re-socialise them into the community.

    8. How important do you believe your projects are for developing a greater community feel, and a broader understanding of nature, wildlife, and the environment?

    All our projects, no matter where they are based, take on clients from the local area to that project, and a lot of these clients are suffering social exclusion due to their support/care needs. By ‘Cultivating Confidence’, we encourage their self-esteem and self-worth that can give them the confidence they need to re-socialise with their local community and strengthen their local support. There has been evidence that working outdoors in nature and with animals has therapeutic benefits for many, many years, and we can feel it ourselves through our work! We are all passionate about what we do and where we do it, and this helps us show each client just how much they can get from a natural environment. Inspiring people with nature and wildlife also helps preserve our environment and getting outdoors keeps us mentally and physically healthy, so everyone should try for at least a little time each week, it really does wonders!

    Take a look at more great interviews!

    Read more »
  6. Flagship Ponds Project with Freshwater Habitats Trust

    Flagship Ponds Project with Freshwater Habitats Trust
    Featured Image: Flagship Pond site Strensall Common is home to Pillwort and many other special pond plants and animals

    Earlier this month, we were lucky enough to catch up with Becca Williamson, Communications Officer at Freshwater Habitats Trust, to find out more about their Flagship Ponds Project. Check out our interview below:

    Our interview with Freshwater Habitats Trust

    1. The Flagship Ponds project works with local communities and organisations to protect important freshwater pond sites across England and Wales. How many pond sites are you currently working on?

    Freshwater Habitats Trust is working on 70 of the hundred or so Flagship Pond sites we have identified in the UK. These are the most important pond sites, the top 0.2% of ponds. They support some of our rarest freshwater plants and animals, and we’ve selected them because the work we can do there, will really make a difference to these special places.

    2. How many communities and organisations are involved in the Flagship Ponds project?

    Some Flagship Pond sites are cared for by devoted community groups or organisations. Other ponds have had very little attention, and are vulnerable because of that. The Flagship Pond project aims to get at least one group actively taking care of each of the 70 sites. We provide support and training so that groups know how to monitor their ponds. We also help them write and deliver effective management plans so the ponds are kept in the best condition.

    Flagship Pond site Inglestone Common home to the very rare buttercup Adder's-tongue Sprearwort (c) South Gloucestershire Council

    3. How do you get the funding to continue making such an important impact across the country?

    The Heritage Lottery Fund have been a great support, enabling us to get surveys done, support local groups, run training events, provide advice, and figure out what the ponds and their wildlife need to stay healthy. However, we still need to raise money to pay for vital habitat management work on each of the Flagship Pond sites. We’ve launched an appeal to raise the £140,000 we need. Every pound raised will be spent directly on habitat management work. At Inglestone Common, Gloucestershire, woodland management and grazing animals are needed to bring Adder’s-tongue Spearwort back from the brink of extinction, and allow other pond wildlife to thrive. At Skipwith Common, North Yorkshire, the ponds were once a stronghold for the tiny aquatic fern Pillwort. With the right management, we can bring Pillwort back. At Llyn Tegid, Wales, the delicate Glutinous Snail that lives nowhere else is being left high and dry every time the water level drops. We want to create refuges to keep the snail alive.

    4. Do you think more people are taking an interest in sustaining natural habitats now than they used to?

    Over the last 20+ years, we’ve seen a growing interest in the value of smaller water bodies like ponds, streams, and ditches. It was previously believed that larger habitats, like rivers and lakes, were more important for wildlife because of their size. But as we understand our landscapes and wildlife better, there is a definite increase in people taking action to care for the little things, both in the wider countryside and in gardens where simply adding small clean-water ponds can make an enormous difference for wildlife. The number of people getting involved in our PondNet, Clean Water for Wildlife, and Flagship Pond projects is a clear indication that people care.

    The tiny aquatic fern Pillwort needs shallow clean-water ponds that are gently grazed

    5. As part of protecting the pond sites, you also work to protect their rare and endangered species. How many rare and endangered species do you think you have helped so far?

    We are currently working to protect over 30 different plants and animals that are at real risk of decline or extinction. Some, like the oddly named Broad-nerved Hump Moss, are rather obscure. We’ve just completed emergency works in the sand dunes of Anglesey to bring it back from the brink of extinction in Wales. Other species are more widely known, like the Medicinal Leech lauded for its incredible medical benefits. Volunteers have done an amazing job carrying out surveys to help us understand the exact pond conditions the leeches need. We can now put that knowledge to good use and make sure ponds are managed sensitively.

    6. Wildlife, in general, is facing massive changes to their habitats and lives as urbanisation takes over natural habitats. How important is it that more and more people come together, and get involved with your projects to help provide and maintain a natural habitat for pond life?

    The pressure on natural habitats is unprecedented. And the reach of our negative impacts is staggering. There are no longer any undamaged rivers left in lowland England and Wales. It’s hard to find a stretch of stream that isn’t polluted by road runoff or septic tank outflows. We’re down from a million ponds at the turn of the last century to roughly 400,000 ponds now, and nine out of ten ponds are degraded. It is critical that we work together to protect the good bits where freshwater wildlife thrives, and create more clean water habitats so it can spread. It may seem a daunting task, but we know what needs doing, and we know how to do it. People taking part in our Clean Water for Wildlife survey are identifying the places where there is still clean water. PondNet volunteers are helping us find high-quality ponds and measure changes in pond wildlife. Flagship Pond partners are caring for the best pond sites. People contributing to the Million Ponds Project are creating new clean water ponds that is boosting pond wildlife across the country. Together we can protect freshwater wildlife for everyone to enjoy.

    The Glutinous Snail lost from its last English home - a pond near Oxford - a few years ago is now only in one lake in Wales (c) Roy Anderson

    7. Part of the successful management of the pond sites is supporting an early warning system to prevent inadvertent damage. How is this put into place, and what does it measure?

    Ponds can benefit enormously from an early warning system that detects threats to the water quality or species. Catching a problem early, or even before any damage is done, makes it much easier to keep pond wildlife safe. Trained volunteers make regular visits to ponds and keep an eye out for things like invasive non-native plants, disturbance from dogs, an increase or decrease in grazing, changes in how surrounding land is used, or potential sources of water pollution. Regular monitoring of key plants and animals can give us a clear sign of when things are starting to go awry. And when a problem is spotted, there is a plan to tackle it.

    8. Is there anything that people can do on a smaller scale to help provide habitats for pond life?

    Helping pond wildlife is actually all about taking small scale actions. If everyone did a few small things, together it would add up to a colossal change. In our gardens, we can create a clean water wildlife pond, sit back, and let the wildlife move in. We can switch from tap water to rain water to fill our ponds so that a wider range of plants and animals can live there. We can let the plants spread and leave the old stems in place as a shelter for more animals. We can keep ponds fish-free, avoid fertilisers or nutrient-rich run-off getting into ponds, and when we’re out and about, keep our dogs out of wildlife ponds. We’ve got a wealth of pond creation and management advice on our website to help everyone make a difference.

    Newly hatched Medicinal Leeches - now we know what they need in a pond to breed successfully we can take care of their ponds properly (c) Andrew Shaw

    We will be talking to the guys at Freshwater Habitats Trust again early next year to find out more about pond advice and what to do with ponds in your garden, so stay tuned!

    In the meantime, check out our other interviews

    Read more »
  7. Filling potholes with The Pothole Gardener

    Filling potholes with The Pothole Gardener

    We managed to speak to guerilla gardener Steve Wheen from The Pothole Garden about his work, how he finds inspiration and why he creates pothole gardens, as well as the benefits of gardening. Check out our interview below!

    Our interview with The Pothole Gardener

    1. Your project involves planting miniature gardens in potholes to create unexpected moments of happiness. How do you think this helps to create happiness?

    The project is all about turning something that annoys people and making it a little bit brighter. Potholes annoy everyone – cyclist, drivers, and pedestrians. My little gardens surprise people and make them smile.

    2. What has the general reaction to your pothole gardens been?

    In a big city like London, people are always so busy. They walk around with their heads down, looking at their phones, not really making eye contact with other people. My gardens make people stop for a moment. They make people smile…their reactions are overwhelmingly positive.

    3. Do you have a particular area you focus on with the gardens or is it more of an “as you see the opportunity” approach?

    I generally find potholes as I cycle around the city…then I’ll go back and plant some gardens when I’ve got some plants to hand.

    4. You mention on your blog that you tend to leave scenes using miniature models, but you don’t use figures in your gardens. What sort of scenes do you create, and why don’t you include miniature figures?

    I like to create little scenes that tell stories – whether that’s around a royal wedding or Christmas! I don’t use figures as there is something about using miniatures which unlocks people's imaginations, so I like to leave them open to people's imagination.

    5. Has your work inspired other people to experiment with their own miniature gardens, in potholes or otherwise?

    Yes, that has been one of my favourite parts of the projects! I’ve had pothole gardens sent to me from all over the globe.

    6. How do you think gardening, in general, helps create happiness?

    Gardening is such a great stress reliever. It takes you into the fresh air, you move around and most importantly you are creating something with your hands which is something so many of us have lost touch with in modern life.

    7. What other benefits can be found from gardening?

    I really think that one of the main benefits of gardening is creating something, be that something tiny in a pothole, or something massive, the act of planning, brainstorming and then creating is awesome.

    8. Do you think your work, and the work of other gardeners, is helping to encourage a community spirit around gardening or even encourage communities to set up their own projects?

    I really hope so! This project has taught me so much about the spirit of community gardening, and how incredibly important it is.

    Check out some more of our interviews!

    Read more »
  8. Complete our survey for a chance to win!

    We are looking into what the British public do with their fences and want your feedback.

    Do you spend your days gossiping over the fence with your neighbours or do your best to avoid them?

    Take our short survey and tell us what you get up to for your chance to win a corner trellis planter or a five-tier mini greenhouse*.

    Terms and Conditions

    • This competition is for UK residents only.
    • You must be over 21 years old to enter this competition.
    • Deadline for prize draw entry: midnight of Monday 19th September 2016
    • There is no voucher or cash alternative

    In order to be entered for the prize you must follow the steps below:

    • Complete the survey via this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BuyFencingDirect and include your contact details in the appropriate field in the survey form
    • Users can only enter this competition once.
    • There is no cost to enter this competition.
    • One winner will be chosen from a random draw of entries received in accordance with these Terms and Conditions.
    • A winner will be announced on Tuesday 20th September 2016 and the winner will be notified by email
    Read more »
  9. Mini Greenhouse Giveaway

    Mini Greenhouse Giveaway

    It’s giveaway time again here at Buy Fencing Direct!

    We’re hosting the giveaway over on our Buy Fencing Direct Facebook page

    To be in with the chance of winning this excellent 5 Tier mini greenhouse, all you need to do is – ‘LIKE’ our Facebook page, ‘LIKE’ one of the competition posts and then ‘SHARE’ the post on your own wall for your friends to see.

    Deadline is Monday 8th August at midnight and the winner will be announced the following day –Tuesday 9th June.
    GOOD LUCK everyone!

    Terms and Conditions:

    • This competition is for UK residents only.
    • You must be over 21 years old to enter this competition.
    • Deadline for prize draw entry: midnight of Monday 8th August 2016
    • There is no voucher or cash alternative.

    In order to be entered for the prize you must follow the step below:

    • Visit our Buy Sheds Direct Facebook page and press the ‘Like’ button, find either of the competition posts to ‘Like’ and then share the post on your own Facebook wall.
    • Users can only enter this competition once.
    • There is no cost to enter this competition and it is not endorsed by Facebook.
    • One winner will be chosen from a random draw of entries received in accordance with these Terms and Conditions.  The draw will be performed by a random computer process.
    • A winner will be announced on Tuesday 9th August 2016 via personal message and post on Facebook
    • The winner has 48 hours to reply. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, the prize will be transferred to another winner.
    Read more »
  10. Top 10 fun ideas to start children gardening this summer

    Top 10 fun ideas to start children gardening this summer

    As the summer holidays approach, as a parent you are probably looking for ideas to stave off the inevitable ‘I’m bored’ statement for as long as possible. Gardening with children is a great way to get some fresh air, exercise, and have fun together.

    We spoke with Victoria Myhill at Budding Gardeners to get her ideas on what to do this summer and fun ways to get children gardening. The post below has been provided by Victoria.

    10 great ways to get kids into gardening

    1. Write a food diary

    As an introduction to gardening, children can write a food diary with pictures of the foods they ate over a weekend. Discuss the number of different food types, if they are healthy foods, the food groups they belong to and whether any of these foods can be grown at home in the garden. Children can suggest what vegetables they would like to grow and discuss each choice based on “Do we like it? Is it very good for us? Can we grow it? How can we eat it – is it delicious and easy to prepare?”

    If each answer is positive, it goes into a shortlist from where a final choice is made.

      

    2. Make a plan

    Make a plan for your garden with a sketch and decide the layout of crops, your garden timeframe for growing. Find out when your garden season is to begin and end so that you know when to plant each variety and when to harvest. Think about whether you want crops to harvest at the same time or whether you want it staggered across a period of time.

    3. Decide on a plot

    Decide where the plot should be (considering sunlight, shelter, soil type, etc). Plant a home-made plant label in the proposed growing area of the garden and watch its shadow throughout the day to see if the area receives a lot or a little amount of sunlight.  Also, test the soil with a finger to assess dryness and watering needs and older children can use a soil testing kit to investigate the ph of the soil.

    4. Decide what to grow

    Decide what you will grow into – soil, raised beds, elevated raised bed tables, or manger planters. Children will love helping to build garden planters such as raised beds and tables and filling them with soil.

      

    5. Gather supplies

    Go to the supermarket, order online or visit a garden centre together to purchase supplies. For the summer holidays, quick simple growing crops from seed like lettuce are perfect or peas to eat as shoots in salads. Cress heads are great for young gardeners to try and cress grows quickly. Herbs like basil and chives can also be bought from supermarkets and planted in your garden for a continual supply over the summer holidays. If you start in May or June there is still enough time to purchase plug plants from garden centres.

    6. Get crafty

    Make homemade garden labels from yoghurt pots and decorate with waterproof paint so you know which seed and plug plant is which once you have planted up.

    7. Golden rules

    Explain that plants are like humans when it comes to watering, i.e. they can drown and can also die of thirst.  The Golden rules are:

    • Measure moisture each day - 3cm depth of dry soil needs watering
    • Water in the evening or morning,
    • Water soil and not plants - gets water to the roots
    • Be gentle
    • Don't over water or flood,
    • Deep roots don't need more water
    • Mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch.

    Children can go around the garden and measure the moisture levels by feeling the soil for its need of watering. Water with children’s watering cans and ask whether it is being done correctly according to the watering golden rules.

    8. Decorate your garden diary

    Photograph or video the garden regularly so you can see plants growing and create a decorated garden diary.

      

    9. Celebrate the harvest!

    During the growing season look through cook books, on the internet and online for recipes that include the plants you are growing then once harvested, prepare and cook these simple recipes together with your children. Enjoy a family meal with your home grown ingredients and let your child tell you about the parts of the project they enjoyed the most!

    10. Evaluate your success

    In the garden diary, evaluate the success and failures of the project. What happened? What did we want to do? Did we do it? What did we hope to learn? Did we learn it? Did we enjoy it? Did we spend our fundraising wisely? Which gardening products will help us next season? Above all, did we enjoy it......Happy Gardening!

    Sign up your school gardening club to Budding Gardeners for free, for hints, tips, growing advice, competitions to enter, and up to 15% discount from the Harrod Horticultural range.

    Read more »
Page