Homes and Gardens

Gardening Award

 RHS Chatsworth Medal for John Deere Show Garden

Elspeth Stockwell and Jo Fairfax in the John Deere garden: 100 years of tractors

The John Deere garden celebrating 100 years of tractors has been awarded a Silver Gilt medal at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show.

Designed by Elspeth Stockwell and Jo Fairfax, the garden features a striking ring of 100 golden tractors rising above upright grasses that represent fields of crops and meadow style planting portraying the rural landscape.

The charred oak circular seating and backdrop hint at farm buildings dotted across the countryside. Nature looks on as tractors cultivate the fields.

Elspeth Stockwell is a qualified horticulturist and medal-winning garden designer. Artist and sculptor Jo Fairfax develops lighting and sculptural installations and his work has won many awards. Both designers live in the East Midlands, near to John Deere’s UK & Ireland headquarters at Langar, Nottingham.

Three of the 100 golden tractors

This year is a special anniversary for John Deere as the company marks 100 years of selling tractors. Blacksmith John Deere founded the company that bears his name in 1837, in Illinois, when he invented a new type of plough but it was 1918 before the company moved into the tractor business. 

A century of tractor innovation has followed, including the launch in 1963 of the company’s first lawn tractor, the 7hp 110, drawing on the experience and technology of its larger agricultural cousins. 

John Deere has grown to become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of agricultural, turf and lawn & garden equipment, its ethos firmly rooted in its founder’s core values of integrity, quality, commitment and innovation.

For more information about John Deere lawn and garden equipment visit the website at 

The Potted Garden Tips

Bath Time for Birds and Holiday Garden Maintenance Advice

This month we’ve got two great gardening projects from The Potted Garden to keep your garden in great shape over the Summer.

Find out how to make a bird bath for July and how to keep your pots watered in August while you are on holiday.

Bath time for Birds

It’s not just plants that thrive in gardens, birds love them – and they love them even more when there’s a birdbath to visit.  

Water helps keep a bird’s body cool both from the inside and outside. Offering water in your garden will attract more birds than just those looking for food, since birds that would not normally visit feeders can be tempted by water feature

Birds fly to birdbaths for the water they need – for drinking and for grooming – and while they are there they will hunt for the insects, worms, seeds and flower parts they like to eat. In the process they will help aerate the soil, help tidy up dead plant material and help keep plants healthy as they devour pests

The best birdbaths are normally shallow with sloping sides, rather than deep pools of water.  The shallow pitch lets smaller birds wade in, where they can stand up and clean their feathers instead of having to jump in

Leave plenty of open space around the birdbath as well, so that birds can see any predators from far off. Also, place the birdbath near a perch of some sort, such as a small open tree or on a trellis or arbor. That lets birds scan the horizon from high up before swooping in to the bath

The simplest birdbath is a terracotta plant pot saucer with some small stones – and is very easy to make yourself.  Just grab a large terracotta plant pot and saucer, some all-purpose glue for outside use and some rounded stones (about the size of a plum). 

Turn the pot upside down and scrub the base clean.  Then apply a generous layer of waterproof glue to the base.  Place the saucer on the base of the pot, settling it into the glue. Leave it for 24 hours to ensure that the glue dries thoroughly.  Place the birdbath in a suitable spot, add some stones so birds can perch to drink and then add some fresh, clean water.

The pebbles also provide an escape route for honeybees that are frequent visitors to bird baths as they need water to regulate temperature within the colony on hot summer days.

If pots and containers are just part of your outside space then here are some gardening tips for July from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) 

  • Water tubs and plants, but be water-wise
  • Hoe any sun loving weeds
  • Place conservatory plants outside now that it is warm
  • Deadhead plants to ensure continuous flowering
  • Keep ponds topped up and clear of algae
  • Order catalogues for next year’s spring-flowering bulbs
  • Give the lawn a quick-acting summer feed and mow regularly
  • Give outside woodwork a lick of paint or preserver, while the weather is dry

Remember to water those pots!

August is usually the month when most of us go on holiday and leave our gardens to fend for themselves. A little thought before you go and some tender loving care when you return will be enough to make sure that you can go away without worrying about all of your hard gardening work going to waste and you can really relax on your holiday.

While you’re away and your garden is left unattended, many of your plants may suffer due to lack of water. Make sure, before you go, you either arrange to have your containers and baskets watered or set up a system that can supply water on a regular basis to your tubs and baskets. 

Move any baskets and containers out of full sun to a position where they are shaded at the height of the day. Stand terracotta pots on gravel trays topped up with water, so the pots can gradually absorb the reservoir of liquid or alternatively make a few holes in the lid of a plastic water bottle, cut off the bottom of the bottle, turn upside down into the plant compost and then fill with water (which slowly drips into the soil). 

When the temperature rises it’s good to give plants a thorough soaking – water for at least 20-30 seconds at the base of the plant and watering in the early morning is best.  That way the plants will have time to absorb the water and be well hydrated during the hottest hours of the day.

Weeds compete with garden and container plants for water, so it’s especially important to keep the weeds from taking over during dry periods. Adding a layer of mulch to your pots helps to keep the weeds down.  It also helps the soil stay moist and cool, as does the use of ground cover plants around the edges of containers

Avoid using fertilisers on plants during a heat wave, especially when the soil is dried out. Plants that are dehydrated will soak up fertiliser faster, which could increase the chances of fertiliser burn.  Also, don’t transplant anything during a hot spell – plants that are stressed by hot weather may not recover if they’re moved.

Finally – recycle as much water as possible, so use grey water from washing up or washing yourself, install a water butt and re-use paddling pool water.

If pots and containers are just part of your outside space then here are some gardening tips for August from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society).

  • Prune Wisteria
  • Deadhead flowering plants regularly
  • Water – particularly containers and new plants – preferably with grey recycled water or stored rainwater
  • Collect seeds from favourite plants
  • Harvest home grown vegetables as they become ready
  • Keep ponds and water features topped up
  • Look after the lawn
  • Plan for next year and what bulbs to plant this coming Autumn

Colourful Rugs for Summer

Introduce Colour to your Home with Rugs 

The interiors experts at The Rug Seller, outline how to introduce uplifting colour into homes and pick the best colourful rugs to ‘get the look’.

Daniel Prendergast, Design Director at The Rug Seller explains, “A colourful revolution is taking over interiors this summer, turning up the vibrancy and lifting the spirits after a cold, drab winter.”

“Following years of grey, beige and greige dominating interior choices we’ve seen some flashing, neon signs that colour is staging a loud and proud comeback.

“Initiated by the experts at Pantone when they announced a vivid purple as their colour of the year; the shift in spectrum was confirmed at London Fashion Week where the catwalks were awash with technicolour.

“We’ll see homeowners getting more daring with how they use colour in the home.  Either with surprising combinations like bold purplish blues and yellow ochre or introducing bright jewel tones of emerald, amethyst and sapphire, another hot trend that brings richness and depth to rooms.

“One of the easiest ways to inject a large expanse of colour is with a rug.  There’s no time-consuming painting and pasting, just pop it on the floor for an instant pick me up. Plus, it’s easy to change when you’re ready for a new look.

“Pick a colourful rug to inject colour and visual interest then build upon this, adding as much or as little colour to the room as you feel comfortable with.”

Here are The Rug Seller’s top picks of NEW colourful rugs for 2018.

All White with a Splash of Colour

Brighten up a blank space with an impactful rug.  This daring orange and pink rug makes a cold, clinical space feel warm and inviting. 

Large scale patterns such as this work really well in bigger rooms (and on big rugs).

Pattern Mix Up

Extroverts and more established colour lovers will love this eclectic and flamboyant look. Throw out the rule book by mixing stripes, florals, checks, geometrics; in fact, any pattern, in any scale can be combined.

Colour is a unifying force for this look, so be careful to use similar tones and echo the colours around the room to prevent it from looking too haphazard.

Global Trend Gets a Colourful Update

Update the popular ‘travel-inspired’ look with a vibrant palette of bubble-gum pink, indigo, turquoise and butterscotch tones.

With exotic influences from hot climes evident, this lively look brings warmth and texture into homes through a compilation of artisan inspired crafts and woven fabrics.

Get the look with a colourful rug with tribal/mark-making patterns.

Colourful Geometrics

Inject new life into an old faithful; geometrics and bright jewel tones are a match made in heaven.  

Bright hues can really ramp up the impact of geometric designs as well as adding a luxe edge to this firm favourite.

For more information about Hug Rug barrier mats from The Rug Seller click on

Stay Cool at Night

Top Tips to Sleep Comfortably in the Heat

Is the British heat wave leaving you Slangry (sleep deprived and angry)?

When Britain’s temperatures soar it results in thousands of people feeling exhausted, restless and downright cranky as they struggle to get a good night’s sleep against stuffy bedroom temperatures.

While most homeowners are prepared with blackout blinds to combat light entering a room in the battle for summertime sleep, it’s actually unusually high temperatures that Brits are most unequipped for.

As experts in creating the optimum sleep environment, The Fine Bedding Company has looked at all of the key factors that can affect a quality night’s sleep – temperature being the main one.

Helen Johnson from The Fine Bedding Company offers this advice for sleeping in the heat.

Room temperature

According to most experts, the optimum room temperature for sleeping is between 16C and 18C. Having a thermometer in a bedroom is a good idea to track whether rooms are too hot.

Some simple changes to how consumers manage their bedrooms in the day can make a big difference. Advice is to try to not let rooms overheat in the first place. Closing blinds or curtains during the day can help to prevent sunlight or warmth through windows entering a bedroom. It’s then a good idea to open windows as soon as the evening temperatures drop.

Adding an air conditioning unit or using an ‘ice fan’ to circulate cool air is a great idea, but not everyone has room to store these items to only bring them out for a few weeks of the year. Similarly the noise generated by electrical coolers means it’s not an option for use throughout the night.

Tog Down

It’s essential to introduce a low Tog duvet in warm weather and use fabrics or products that have been designed specifically to allow bodies to naturally breathe. We recommend a 4.5 Tog for warm weather, or a 7 Tog. These can be bought as individual duvets or, another cost-efficient option is to invest in a four-season duvet that combines a 4 and 9 Tog duvet that links together or can each be used individually.

Don’t Sweat It

Many consumers also find their sleep is disturbed by excess sweat during the hot weather.

Specially designed products, such as The Fine Bedding Company Breathe range that is made up of advanced Smartfil® fibres blended with modal to help to wick away (remove) moisture from the body, can provide the comfort of a duvet but will help to prevent bodies generating excess moisture during the night.   Dr Penny Lewis who runs the sleep lab at Manchester University advises “a good duvet can help us to maintain a comfortable body temperature while we sleep even if the room is a bit too warm or too cold.  If it is highly breathable e.g. with natural or technically innovative synthetic fill, it can also prevent moisture from accumulating.”

Keep comfortable

While many people assume that sleeping under a sheet is the only way to keep cool enough in really hot rooms, this can actually be more disruptive to sleep because it doesn’t offer the feeling or comfort of a duvet. Duvets using advanced fibres have been designed to be ultra lightweight and to allow air to flow through the fibres; these fillings have added benefits for delivering climate control than the humble sheet. 

Materials matter

As well as the type of duvet, there are other fabrics that are naturally cooling.

Natural fibres such as silk and cotton deliver a fresh feel and temperature-regulating qualities. 

Don’t be hot headed 

Pillows are often overlooked as a means to enjoy a cooler night’s sleep, but the head allows a lot of heat to leave the body. Choosing a breathable pillow – such as a naturally breathable goose down filled pillow or a fibre filled pillow specifically designed to increase airflow through it (such as the Breathe pillow) – can help to allow heat to leave the body.

Some pillows also have added technical materials built in to offer a cooling effect; our product is the Cool Touch pillow. This contains ProCool® intelligent cooling fibres and works by using thermodynamics to regulate temperature; excess heat is absorbed into a ‘core’ and is only allowed to be slowly released again as the night cools and once body temperature is at an optimum level.

Keep hydrated

Having water by the bed is advice offered by a number of sleep experts – who recommend drinking cold water is a way to not only immediately cool the body down but that being hydrated will help to lower a body’s temperature.

PJs or not?

Sleeping in tight clothing is not only uncomfortable it will lead to heat retention. Try sleeping in lightweight, loose cotton pyjamas that are breathable. Even if it’s hot – if you’re used to sleeping in night wear, rather than not, then stick to what you’re used to and comfortable with – just choosing the right fabrics and loose clothing.

Helen adds, “Our experts who create the new technologically advanced products have worked hard to combine different fibres and new processes to create our most breathable and temperature regulating duvets and pillows yet. They’re specifically designed for those who struggle to sleep in the heat, but also those who suffer from hot flushes and similar symptoms.”

Visit to buy online, for stockists and to view The Fine Bedding Company’s full range. There is also more advice on the company’s blog

Environment News

10 Simple Tips for Reducing Plastic in Your Home

As increasing numbers of British families seek to reduce their use of plastics, a team of recycling experts have offered their ten top tips for households.

The recycling experts at JunkHunters researched the best ways to reduce domestic use of plastics in households across the UK.

Plastic pollution is blighting the earth’s oceans at an alarming rate and there’s said to be around 245,000 metric tonnes of plastic pollution floating in the surface of oceans right now.

Harsha Rathnayake, founder of waste and recycling company JunkHunters says, “The reason we have such a large global plastic pollution problem is because we use too many disposable and functionless plastic items such as straws, wipes, cups and bottles.

“Many of us are guilty of incorrectly disposing of plastics and we often throw our items in the general waste bin, rather than in designated recycling bins.

“It’s important to know that we are accountable for our actions as the pollution problem will not cease if we carry on the way we are.

“Change starts at home and that’s why we’ve put together a list of 10 simple tips to help households reduce their plastic consumption – it’s about starting small and thinking big.”

Here are the 10 simple tips for cutting plastic consumption in the home

1. Think before you buy

Before you start spending, think about your shopping list – avoid buying single use plastics such as water bottles and invest in a reusable drinks bottle instead. Avoid packaged goods such as fruit and veg and opt for produce from the fresh section.

2. Buy a strong reusable bag

It’s simple enough – but people still forget to buy reusable bags or take one they’ve purchased with them on the next trip to the shops. The best thing to do is buy one and pop it back in the boot of the car once you’ve unpacked the shopping, it’ll be there ready for next time.

3. Avoid microbeads

Microbeads found in face washes, toothpastes and other beauty items are often washed down the sink and end up in our oceans. The tiny size of the beads means they are ingested by marine life and can often end up back on our plates.

4. Buy in bulk

Buying your food in bulk uses less packaging than buying smaller amounts of food more frequently. You can keep food such as cereal in tubs and It will save the environment and save you more money in the long term 

5. Cook more

Avoid ready meals and takeaways packaged in plastic and cook from scratch with ingredients at home – you will not only cut your plastic consumption, but it will save you money and it’s healthier.

6. Avoid wet wipes

Wet wipes and baby wipes are made with plastic resins such as polyester and are responsible for clogging drains when they are flushed down the toilet. The government is in talks about eliminating wipes in the hope that businesses will formulate eco alternatives, so it’s best to get used to living without them now.

7. Avoid plastic in clothing

This may sound odd, but clothing can contain plastic. Synthetic fibres such as polyester and lycra have tiny micro plastic fibres that come off in the wash and through general wear. Opt for natural fibres such as cotton, linen and wool to prevent this.

8. Use refillable stations where possible

Retailers are starting to provide refillable stations for certain convenience items, so where possible, research your local area for facilities and take your own containers to refill your goods. This means you won’t have all the unnecessary packaging each time you shop

9. Use naked toiletries

Certain retailers specialise in toiletries with no packaging – such as soap and shampoo bars. Simply lather and place back on the side of the tub for the next use. There’s no packaging to throw away, as once the toiletries are gone, they’re gone.

10. Say no to straws

Plastic straws are a functionless plastic that are being banned in retailers and restaurants nationwide. If you want to have straws for a birthday party for example – opt for paper straws that are recyclable.

For more information about Junk Hunters visit

Stylish Home Storage

Natural Artisanne Storage Baskets

Practical yet striking, home storage options are now design statements for the home. Whether the classic design of a Bisley multi drawer or the handmade natural qualities of an Artisanne basket there are now options that fit within any interior scheme. Getting organised has never been so beautiful.

Artisanne creates beautiful handwoven baskets in partnership with a team of talented traditional artisans from the remote villages of the Thiès region of Senegal. Each Artisanne piece is crafted with meticulous attention to detail respecting the traditional Senegalese Wolof weaving style whilst incorporating contemporary designs and colours. The baskets are created using the traditional Senegalese weaving style with contemporary designs and styles.

The whole Alibaba range from laundry baskets through to a baby baba basket are a lovely feature for any bedroom, bathroom, landing or hallway.

For more information visit the Artisanne website at

Garden Crafts Project

Decorate Your Flower Pots with PlastiKote

Introducing NEW Garden colours from PlastiKote spray paint. Available in 10 gorgeous matt colours, it can be used on wood, metal, plastic, stone and wicker, making it ideal for outdoor craft projects as well as furniture, planters and garden ornaments. With a water-based formulation and 90% less solvents, PlastiKote Garden paint is kinder to the home – and to the environment.

This ‘how to’ is a quick and easy project to recycle those plastic pots that nursery plants come in – so much better than adding to landfill. An old packing crate has also been sprayed to stand the pots in.

You will need:

  • Plastic pots
  • Old packing crate or similar
  • Dust sheets/newspaper or a garden cane
  • PlastiKote Twist & Spray Primer
  • PlastiKote Garden spray paint

How to Decorate Your Pots:

1. Make sure the crate and pots are clean and dry.

2. Spread newspaper/dust sheets out in a well-ventilated working area or preferably outside. For spraying the pots, our top tip is to pop the pot to be sprayed upside down on a garden cane stuck in the ground.

3. Because the crate is bare wood, use PlastiKote Twist & Spray Primer in White to prime the crate.

4. Once the Primer is thoroughly dry, apply a couple of fine layers of Garden spray paint in the colour of your choice, following instructions on the can.

5. While the crate is drying, use the Garden colour/s of your choice to spray paint the pots.

6. Allow to thoroughly dry before potting up and displaying in your garden.

PlastiKote is available from Amazon and all good DIY and hardware stores.

For more information about PlastiKote visit

Brighten up Your Garden

Brighten up Your Garden with Sue Ryder

Brighten up your home and garden this Summer with the fabulous range of furniture and garden items from Sue Ryder.

This beautifully crafted Grey Rattan Garden Sun Lounger easily turns any garden patio into a contemporary alfresco area for relaxing in the sun.

This lounger will make an impact in your garden and creates the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the summer sun on a comfy sprung cushion with is also showerproof when the weather is less kind. Self assembly is required. Price is £99.99.

For details click on Garden Sun Lounger

This stylish 3 Piece Rattan Garden Bistro Set is sure to enhance any outdoor space or indoor conservatory. Place it in a quiet part of your garden, where you can enjoy a morning coffee or a glass of wine in the sun.

The set comprises a round table with tempered glass top and 2 rattan chairs with removable dark grey seat cushions. Crafted from hard-wearing rattan, the chairs have a contemporary design that offers lasting durability. Price is £149.99.

For details click on Rattan Bistro Set

This beautifully crafted mixed Grey Rattan Cube Garden Dining Set easily turns any garden patio into a contemporary alfresco area for relaxing in the sun. Featuring four dining chairs with matching grey cushions and a height adjustable tables with 5mm clear glass top this garden set will make an impact when hosting dinner parties, or just unwinding.

Cushion covers are shower resistant. When the weather is less than perfect, this rattan furniture set is comfortable enough to be used indoors in a conservatory or garden room and allows you to transition slowly throughout the seasons, making the most of your outdoor space even if you can’t sit out in it. The set includes a handy table cover. Price is £299.99

For details click on Cube Garden Set

This beautifully crafted Dark Grey Rattan Tete a Tete Garden Seat easily turns any garden patio into a contemporary alfresco area for relaxing in the sun. Featuring two single chairs with matching grey cushions, this love seat will make an impact. Cushion covers are shower resistant.

When the weather is less than perfect, this stylish rattan furniture set is comfortable enough to be used indoors in a conservatory or garden room, making the most of your outdoor space even if you can’t always sit out in it. Self assembly is required. Price is £89.99.

For details click on Tete a Tete Seat

Give your garden a little twinkle this summer with this pretty string of LED Solar Lights, each in a copper wire cage. The strings of lights feature 20 LED lights for maximum brightness.

The lights produce a warm glow and are lit by using solar energy from a panel which can be attached to the spike included and positioned in the ground.

The lights look beautiful strung around your garden, in trees or along garden wall & fences. They give the ideal ambience to alfresco dining, barbecues, garden parties or weddings. Price is £24.99.

For details click on Solar Lights

About Sue Ryder

Sue Ryder provides incredible hospice and neurological care for people facing a frightening, life-changing diagnosis.

It’s not just expert medical care. They also offer emotional support and take care of the practical things too.

When you buy a gift from Sue Ryder, you are helping to support their ongoing hospice and neurological care programme.

For more information about gifts from Sue Ryder visit  

Home Research

Brits Still Consider their Childhood Home to be their ‘Real’ Home

Home is where the heart is, but for many of us, it’s the house we grew up in – not where we live now, according to a study.

Researchers who polled 2,000 UK adults found six in 10 consider their childhood residence to be their ‘true’ home.

Nostalgia is the overriding reason for this – almost two thirds revealed their affection for their childhood dwellings is entwined with fond memories of their formative years.

Four in 10 people said the place they grew up in was special because they were able to spend the most time together with their family and 56% said they felt safer there.

Commissioned by leading door and window brand, Origin, the research found 38% think their current home lacks the ‘magic’ of their childhood home.

Amid this, almost one in 10 have even taken steps to make their current dwellings more like the home they grew up in – including replicating the décor and furnishings.

Ben Brocklesby, Director at Origin says, “Our work is centred around creating beautiful homes for our customers and their families, but we were curious to find out more about the stories our homes tell and what special ingredients are needed to really make a house a home.

“Interestingly, our research has shown that it’s the small details that stay with us and it is these little quirks that really make a house a ‘true’ home, even after we have moved on and into a new property.”

The research also found the garden is the most fondly remembered aspect of our childhood homes. Other enduring memories include the view from the windows, mum’s cooking and laughing together as a family.

It also emerged those polled believe homes ‘tell a story’ about the lives of the people living there – whether it be height markings on doorframes, family photographs or holiday souvenirs.

Three in 10 said they would go as far as to buy the home they grew-up in if they could and 49% said they felt happier living there than at any other time of their lives.

In fact, the impact of our childhood home is so significant, that those polled think about events from way back around three times a month on average.

The most common memory triggers are songs, the smell of a roast dinner and the comforting aroma of baking.

Some even associate the sound of a gravel drive, the ring of a doorbell and the feel of a carpet with the place they grew up in.

Roy Shuttleworth, Clinical Psychologist says, “It’s no wonder that the majority of Brits look back on their childhood home with fondness and nostalgia, as evidence shows that our memories are programmed to remember the small, intricate details when we feel a sense of happiness.

“These stay with us into adulthood, which is why our memories are triggered by things like the smell of an old pine table or the print on a China cup.

“As the research suggests, we’re likely to try and recreate this sense of positive nostalgia in our own homes, often unconsciously. It’s for this reason that our homes tell a story, not just about our lives now, but also the properties we loved while growing up.”

Ben Brocklesby concludes, “We’ve all heard the phrase ‘if these walls could talk’, and what the research tells us is that our homes actually do tell a story if you look closely enough.”

For further information on Origin, please visit

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