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Garden Tips from
National Garden
Gift Vouchers


Dahlias flower from July through to the first frosts in the Autumn

July is the month of high summer and the garden comes alive during hot lazy afternoons to the sound of bees buzzing, gathering pollen from all the plants that you have lovingly nurtured and cared for that are now in full flower.

It’s the time of year that gardens or patios become an extension of our day-to-day living space as we use them for entertaining and relaxing in. When it comes to patios, the real plus side to them is that they are ideal for masses of pots of colourful summer flowers.

These pots can then be extended through the Winter and into Spring with bulbs and Winter bedding to give your patio a longer lasting all-year-round appeal. Do remember though that the more containers you have, the more watering you will have to do during hot periods and the more dead heading and trimming you will need to do – but it’s definitely worth it.

A great idea for patios is a small water feature - and if you’re short on time or space then a container pond is quick and easy to make. It creates a different dimension to any small space, bringing the cool, calming presence of still water to the garden, attracting lots of wildlife and giving you the chance to grow a whole new range of interesting aquatic plants.

Simply fill a watertight container with rainwater, plant a mix of aquatic and oxygenator plants such as water lilies and water soldiers. Once the pond is set up it’s easy to look after - the plants keep the water crystal clear so other than an annual clean up there is very little to do.

With everything now in full bloom, it may now be possible to cut flowers from your garden to have in the home and Dahlias are a popular choice for this. Their warm vibrant colours mean that they are often grown specifically as cut flowers and they regularly feature at local horticultural society shows due to their summer flowering.

Originally from Mexico, Dahlias flower from July through to the first frosts in the Autumn and range from dwarf bedding varieties to the popular giant flower heads that adorn gardens around the country. Dahlias thrive in any well drained soil and like plenty of sunlight but will need Winter protection in most parts of the UK.

The key to success for July is maintenance and good, effective watering. Your local garden centre can give you tips and advice on Summer tasks, but here are some ‘must do’ jobs for the garden this month.

July Garden Checklist

· 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.

National Garden Gift Vouchers



National Garden Gift Vouchers can be bought and redeemed at over 2,000 outlets in the UK, with more than 90,000 garden plants and products on offer.

Visit www.thevouchergarden.co.uk to see the outlets that sell and accept them.

You can become a fan and buy vouchers on Facebook by clicking on:
www.facebook.com/GardenGiftVouchers  

Or follow on Twitter by clicking on:
www.twitter.com/GardenGiftVouch  

Or visit the blog by clicking on:
www.vouchergardenblog.com

 

Tesco Launches Productive Indoor Tomato Plants

Indoor tomato plants from Tesco

It's a dream shared by many people – growing your own tasty fruit and vegetables, but not everybody has a garden or the required space to do so.

Now a new unique and super-productive indoor tomato plant is being launched by Tesco aimed at helping people living in urban areas without gardens.

The mini tomato plant has been naturally developed over the last five years by produce experts who have bred together varieties to come up with one that is small, compact and most importantly very productive.

By following the care instructions the small, but powerful plants can each produce up to 150 delicious tomatoes with minimal fuss.

Tesco herb and vegetable buyer Phoebe Burgess says, “We hope this remarkable little powerhouse of a plant will help all those people eager to grow their own vegetables but don't have a garden or adequate growing space to do so.

“It really is the gift that keeps on giving and will help bring not only an abundance of delicious tasting tomatoes but a lot of fun in producing one of the UK's favourite salad foods.

“Tomatoes are among the most popular fruit and vegetables to grow at home, but as even the most green-fingered of Brits know, the success of garden growing is often down to the weather, which in the UK can be quite unpredictable.

“The beauty of the mini tomato plant is that it's so small it can fit on a small, sunlit window sill and doesn't grow much over one foot tall.”

The popularity of fresh growing herbs and vegetable plants is on the increase in the UK with demand rising by nearly 10 per cent at Tesco in the last year.

Phoebe Burgess adds, “Picked off the plant when perfectly ripe, the bite-sized tomatoes are juicy with a classic sweet flavour.

“The plant already comes with about 10 tomatoes growing on it but my tip is that when the yellow flowers of the plant start to open, tickle them with your fingers to replicate pollination which will then encourage further production.”

The mini tomatoes are ideal as a healthy lunchbox snacking food, and are perfect in fresh summer salads or delicious pasta sauces.

The Mini Tomato Plant goes are priced at £4 and are available in more than 300 Tesco stores across the UK.

For details visit www.tesco.com
 

Peonies are a Beautiful Super Flower for You

Peonies are a super flower for you

Bloom & Wild claim peonies are much more than just a flower, offering a range of other benefits too.

· Bloom & Wild name the peony as a super flower

· It can be used to heal inflammation

· As well as being a tasty and nutritious snack

Forget super foods. Say hello to the super flower: the peony. Flower experts Bloom & Wild peonies are the flower that can do it all: revitalise your garden, heal inflammation, serve as a tasty snack and help you show gratitude and love.

More than just a flower

While peonies transform a garden with their scent, rich colour, and size, there is more to the herbaceous bloom than first meets the eye.

Peonies suit every occasion and they help in lots of different ways, including:

Healing inflammation

The name peony is drawn from the Greek god, Paean, who was the god of healing. One species of peony, paeonia lactiflora, has been used in Chinese medicine to treat rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, hepatitis, dysmenorrhea, muscle cramping, spasms, and fever.

Research looking at the anti-inflammatory effects of paeonia lactiflora found that it inhibits the production of:

· Prostaglandin E2 - helps reduce fever

· Leukotriene B4 - promotes insulin

· Nitric oxide - helps cells communicate by suppressing the increase of intracellular calcium ion concentration

Can peony petals be eaten?


The Chinese are thought to boil and fry peony petals for a crunchy and sweet snack. They add them to summer salads and mix them into punches - and for good reason: the peony is thought to help people with cholesterol problems or diabetes, as well as reducing the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.

Remember:

· Always consult an edible flower expert before eating any flower, and remember that plants and flowers could pose a choking threat to young children and animals.

· Do not feed peonies to dogs and cats as they are known to be poisonous to them.

Use peonies to show you love someone

Use peonies to show you love someone

Want to tell someone you love them? Give them a peony flower. Pink peonies are associated with love, romance and affection and would make a great wedding decoration. If you’re arranging a wedding bouquet or table setting, consider pink peonies as they are the most romantic form of the flower.

Psychologist Sharon Stiles says, “Culture plays a big part in how we interpret colours so this also has an impact on the colour of flowers that are chosen for weddings.”

About Bloom & Wild

Bloom & Wild are experts in delivering flowers. We believe that giving and receiving flowers should be as elegant as the stems we deliver. No more last minute supermarket dashes, or disappointing deliveries.

For more information visit the website at www.bloomandwild.com

 

Homes & Gardens

 

Create a Happy Home with 'Hygge'


Susanna Halonen, the Happyologist


    The Happyologist Susanna Halonen

The Happyologist®, Scandinavian happiness expert Susanna Halonen has created 15 Hygge Happy Bubbles at Danish furnishing group JYSK’s stores across the UK to get Britain on track for its happiest summer yet.

Now she shows us how to master the art of Hygge – the Scandi art of making the space around you into a happy place – she’s back in town to explain how to use your garden furniture…..as a power for good.


Hygge is the Scandinavian way to let your house make you happy, and it’s sweeping the UK.


Susanna says that making small changes in life, your surroundings and your approach deliver big on happiness. A lot of our happiness starts at home, and Hygge is a big contributor. Scandinavian countries top the world rankings for happiness year on year. So, once you have your Hygge space outside Susanna has a few tips on how to use it to channel positivity and a feeling of wellbeing.

First: the space

Even if it’s just a little corner of the garden or a tiny back yard, Hygge is achievable.

Susanna says:

· Find your space and define it well.

· Make sure that everything in it either makes you smile or makes you comfortable – or better still both.
 
· Keep things natural – solar or candle light are soft and welcoming, cuddly throws and cushions to tuck around yourself for a snug nest as the evening wears on feel great, a few pretty focal points to draw the eye and something comfy to sit on while everyone socialises complete the preparations.
 
· Concentrate on lighting, what you’re looking at and how soft and comforting your throws and cushions feel as you settle into your seating.

With the Hygge scene set, it’s all about the journey to happiness. Now try these Ten Top Tips

1. Smile - Smiling triggers your brain’s reward mechanism, making it produce happy hormones. These happy hormones are what make you feel good and make you want to smile even more. Smiling is also contagious so others will also feel better if you’re smiling, and, best of all, even a fake smile can trigger those happy hormones turning it into a real one!

2. Breathe - Your breath sustains every cell in your body so take the time to take some deep breaths. Every inhale energises you and every exhale relaxes you. Learning to take deep breaths helps you to tap into your parasympathetic nervous system, calming your whole body down and bring relaxation in.

3. Connect with others - We humans are social creatures. We need each other not only to survive but also to thrive. Invite the people who support you and encourage you into your happy hygge corner to make it even happier!

4. Appreciate - Every day, finish the day by saying thanks for three specific things that happened in your day. This will turn gratitude into a habit and help you to see the world through a whole new lens.

5. Recharge your batteries - Take the time to nurture yourself – because nobody else will take care of you for you. Take a moment to relax, to switch off, and to do something that recharges your batteries – like chilling out in the garden.

6. Make the time to reflect - Seconds turn into minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days, days into decades. Stop time by taking the time to reflect. Think of your proudest, best moments over the last week and reminisce about them to boost your feel good vibe.

7. Do a digital detox - Remove all the technology from around and live the real life around you. Notice the soft cushions, the birds chirping and the sun setting. Being in the present connects you to yourself in a way that brings out your best ideas and your best self.

8. Observe the beautiful things around you - Looking at beautiful things make you feel good. Make sure your space is beautiful and comfortable so that happy hygge times become second nature to you.

9. Simplify - Simplify your life and your space. Fill your space with beautiful things that comfort you and make you smile. Get rid of the things that don’t. Your life and mind is too crowded to have things that don’t make you feel good.

10. Just be -You are a human ‘being’, not a human ‘doing’. Learn to simply be and enjoy the moment for what it is.

The Happyologist® Susanna Halonen is working with furnishing store group JYSK to bring Hygge – the Scandi style that makes you happier by giving you a ‘hug’ when you get home – to local households.

With a Masters of Science in Applied Positive Psychology, The Happyologist® is an expert in what makes us happy, and how to make happiness happen. She’s also Scandinavian and a huge fan of Hygge.

JYSK is Danish-owned. The Danes are happy with Hygge – in fact they’re often reported to be the happiest people in the world. So, working with JYSK, Susanna has created a Hygge Happy Bubble in each store and has some tips on how to achieve the look – and feeling – of Hygge at home.

“Together we’ve been looking at how everyone can achieve a long happy Summer of ’17 full of Hygge. The easiest place to start is in the garden, so I’ve created a Hygge space inside each store that will show people exactly how they can make the Summer of ’17 a happy one,” says Susanna.

Tambohuse garden lounge set from JYSK

The Happyologist’s® blueprint for a Hygge garden space from JYSK, Your home of Hygge

1. Hygge is big on comfort, cosiness and snuggling. Great as you sit round the embers of your BBQ with friends and family and enjoy a drink.

2. Hygge is also about an approach to life. Multi-tasking … isn’t very hygge. Instead, being present in one moment is.

3. Doing nothing can be very productive in the right environment – clear away the technologies and allow the mind to roam free. Find contentment in the moment.

4. Choose your garden furniture for Scandi-style comfort and arrange it so it’s social. Outdoor lounge sets are great for this. Everyone has somewhere comfortable to sit and relax.

5. Use fabrics that feel nice and offer warmth. How they feel to your touch affect how much of that hygge cosiness you feel.

6. Lighting is incredibly important. Solar lights give a lovely soft glow as the sun dips – and you don’t have to lift a finger. Candles in wind-proof lanterns are not only cosy, they’re very relaxing too. Together, these things create a very peaceful ambience.

7. Scientists at University College London found that even just looking at beautiful things makes us happier by stimulating dopamine – Danes get a happy, Hygge fix just by walking into their beautifully decorated gardens and settling down to chill out.

8. Getting your garden Hygge isn’t difficult or expensive and my Happyologist®-styled Hygge Happiness ‘Bubble’ at JYSK is full of inspiring tips and hints.

9. Please yourself. You are allowed to and will be happier for it. Invest in comfort, connect with nature, love your garden and create cosy social spaces for more joy this summer.

10. Hygge is ‘cosiness of the soul’ says Meik Wiking, chief executive officer of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, and for the Danes it's a way of life. He’s right. Create a soul-warming ambience with lighting, accessories, comfy blankets and cushions and the arrangement of seating - and you’re on your way to a Scandi-inspired Hygge Summer.

For more information about JYSK garden products click on https://jysk.co.uk/garden

 

Plan Ahead for the Fruitful Growing Season


Irrigatia is a fully automatic solar powered garden watering system


With rivers running dry through lack of rain, summer 2017 looks set for hosepipe bans yet surprisingly, many gardeners are still not prepared and have no measures in place in some areas should a ban kick in.

A recent online survey conducted by Irrigatia - the brains behind the only fully automatic solar powered garden watering system in Europe – found that of the 361 people surveyed, more than 50% said they have not planned for any potential hosepipe ban this summer, mainly because they think it is unlikely to happen.

When asked what gardening tasks they considered a priority when planning for spring/summer, clearing up flower beds and borders (73%) and cleaning the greenhouse (69%) were top of the gardening agenda. Planning for garden irrigation featured in third place (44%) underlying the lack of preparation by many gardeners with 31% also stating they dislike watering.

Irrigatia will take care of your plants while you are on holiday

“The likelihood of a hosepipe ban is real and planning ahead is essential. Invest in water butts now and ensure you have enough rainwater to get you through the gardening season,” says Erick Mackay, sales and marketing director of the North Yorkshire based Irrigatia.

Largely, saving water was considered an important issue according to the survey findings. More than 70% of the respondents listed it as a key priority with 48% indicating automatic irrigating systems that use rainwater from a water butt as their primary method to water plants and crops.

Not surprising then, that almost all the respondents said they plan for garden care before they go on holiday with an increasing number choosing a solar powered watering system to take care of their plants while they enjoy some time away. Others still rely on their friends and neighbours.

The majority reported they begin preparing for spring/summer two to three months in advance with only 45% saying they have a specific routine for the order in which they attend to their garden tasks, mainly depending on the weather.

Painting the fence, lawn repair, tidying the garden, pruning and clearing weeds were some of the garden tasks listed, which with the best intentions, respondents said they just never quite get around to doing.

“Irrigatia’s unique solar powered irrigation system takes the hard work and risk out of watering and uses up to 90% less water than a hose or sprinkler. It is designed to apply water accurately, directly where it is needed and slowly enough for it to soak in,” explains Erick.

“Unlike electronic timer systems, that deliver water at a set time, regardless as to whether the plant needs it, the Irrigatia solar powered package automatically judges how much water plants need and waters every three hours. The longer the daylight hours and the greater the light intensity in a day, the more the system waters. And if you don’t have a water butt then you can purchase a built-in mini reservoir with the system.”


Irrigatia is ideal for vegetable gardens and allotments, house plants, containers, hanging baskets, pots or plants and shrubs planted out in the garden and under glass

Irrigatia is ideal for vegetable gardens and allotments, house plants, containers, hanging baskets, pots or plants and shrubs planted out in the garden and under glass.

All that is needed is an adjacent water supply and somewhere to hang the solar panelled control box to capture maximum sunlight which it stores in rechargeable batteries.

They work anywhere including balconies on high-rise buildings or allotments where no power – other than natural sunshine – is available.

For more information about Irrigatia visit the website at www.irrigatia.com 
 

Perfect your Posture
    when Gardening
        this Summer


Flymo's easy to empty grass boxes make gardening tasks a breeze

Now that the warmer months are well and truly here, being out in the garden will be second nature to a lot of people. Whether you’re a keen gardener tending to plants, trimming hedges and rustling up delicious delicacies from the vegetable patch; or a first-timer, learning the tricks of the trade and how to look after that little green haven.

Although gardening is often cited as a relaxing pastime, it can still put quite a bit of strain on the body and leave you with a few aches and pains the day after. But fear not, the team at Flymo has some top tips to help your favourite hobby stay as relaxing and pain-free as possible.

Accessing your Tools

Keep your shed neat and tidy to ensure easy access to all your tools and avoid the risk of injury


First things first – if you have a shed or garage where all your tools are stored, it’s worth assessing how easy it is to gain access to the items you use most regularly. If you’re constantly having to climb over other tools, lift and move heavy items or contort yourself into a manner of different positions in order to get hold of something, it might be time to have a bit of a clearing out, rearranging and organising session.

Keep shelves low and easy to reach, hang bigger tools where possible and keep any cords neatly wound away to minimise tripping hazards. Anything you use on a regular basis is best kept at the front, with lesser-used tools stored away neatly towards the back. Ensure there’s a clear pathway to everything so you’re not having to over-stretch or risk something dropping on you.

Mowing the Lawn

Flymo Mighti-Mo 300


With the most strenuous tasks, posture is a key word to keep in mind to avoid injury when mowing the lawn. Keep a straight back, try not to hunch over, raise your head and avoid arching your spine when pulling the mower backwards. Aim to keep your arms straight as well to ensure even tension throughout the upper body.

When turning the mower, it’s best not to twist your body – slow, gentle and fluid movements are ideal (especially if the mower is heavy.) If you have a particularly large lawn, plan the task so it stretches over a couple of days rather than tackling it all at once.

Another top tip to consider is investing in a Flymo
hover mower – lightweight, compact and easy to manoeuvre, it’s a worthwhile purchase to help you effortlessly breeze through mowing the lawn!

Once you’ve completed your mowing, it’s time to empty the grass box. Lift using your leg muscles; keep your weight balanced with your feet apart and your arms and elbows close to your body; if you need to turn, do so with your whole body – don’t twist whilst carrying; to lower and empty the box, use your leg muscles again and try not to stoop.

Tending to your Borders or Vegetable Patch

Wherever possible, sit or kneel when you’re looking after plants, flowers or vegetables in your borders or vegetable patch, weeding or sowing seeds. A small stool or kneeling pad is a great addition to your gardening accessories collection and will be a purchase you won’t regret. This will save the strain on your back from the constant bending over – it’ll also give you a bit of time off your feet.

The Bigger Jobs

Raking, digging or hoeing can be equally as demanding on the back as mowing the lawn. Be mindful that you’re not gripping the handle too tightly, therefore causing unnecessary pressure. Avoid over-reaching and twisting, and try to be as fluid as possible with your movements, decreasing the risk of any tension and pressure building up in your body as you work.

And Unwind!

Make sure you give yourself plenty of breaks when spending time in the garden and don’t overdo it. Plan them in between tasks and make sure you re-hydrate as often as possible, especially on particularly hot and sunny days. This will also give you the opportunity to admire your handy-work and soak up a bit of Vitamin D!

Lastly, if you’re looking to invest in a more lightweight lawnmower, Flymo launched its first ever Lithium Ion battery mower this year – the Mighti-Mo 300 Li. Compact, lightweight and quiet with the capacity to effortlessly mow a lawn up to the size of a tennis court on a single charge; this lawnmower is ideal for those looking for a fuss-free, easy to use piece of gardening equipment.

You can enjoy the freedom of cordless mowing – no more battling with extension cables – and once finished, the Mighti-Mo can be neatly folded away and stored, truly highlighting the brand’s ‘Easier by Design’ ethos.

Of course, Flymo also has a variety of hover mowers available which are known for their easy manoeuvrability, as well as hedge trimmers and strimmers that feature ergonomic qualities to promote better handling and comfort.

About Flymo

Flymo Mighti-Mo 300


Since inventing the hover mower more than 50 years ago Flymo has become market leaders in the design and innovation of unique gardening products. With a range that now spans from grass trimmers to robotic lawnmowers, Flymo is constantly innovating and striving for the highest quality from its products.

Available from all good high street retailers, mail order companies, dealer networks and independent garden centres.

For further information on stockists and the Flymo product range visit www.flymo.com/uk
 
 

    Keep Your Home
      Safe While You
       are on Holiday


Keep your home safe while you are on holiday

Holidays are a break from the normal routine and chance to get away from every day worries. But for some, leaving home unattended for weeks at a time can be a major worry in itself.

There are many proactive and affordable security measures that can be put in place before your holiday, to help prevent burglaries. Don Shulsinger from Blinkforhome, manufacturer of Blink, the video home security and monitoring system, gives advice on some simple steps to take.

Tell Trusted Neighbours and Friends

Let them know you will be away so that they can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity while you’re gone. Leave them your contact details, a spare set of keys and the code for any alarm so that they can drop by to close curtains, switch lights on and off, water plants and the lawn if needed and make sure there is no post poking out of the letterbox or parcels left on the doorstep.

Keep it a secret from social media

Don’t post travel plans or photos while you’re away as this will publicly notify people that you have an empty home. Be sure that your kids also understand that they should wait until after you have returned home safely to share those holiday selfies. Recently the footballer John Terry was burgled after he posted holiday photos on his social media feeds.

Cancel Services


Cancel any regular grocery, newspaper, milk and other deliveries while on holiday. If you forget to do this, these could be left on your driveway or by your front door, making your home an obvious target for a break-in.

Wireless Home Security and Video Monitoring System

Believe it or not, some of the most sophisticated wireless home security systems can cost less than the hotel room you’ve booked. A home security monitoring system will provide an enhanced level of security and peace of mind while you’re away. An easy to set up wireless option is Blink, which sends temperature and motion alerts along with recorded or live video clips to a smartphone, anytime and from anywhere. You can be instantly alerted to a break in through the Blink app on your iOS or Android device. You can even find out what the cat is up to while your family is away!

Hi-Tech Door Locks

Keyless locks offer amazing security features, like Bluetooth and the ability to see who’s knocking at your front door on your smartphone’s screen. Many of these locks allow you to give access by simply inputting a phone number or sending a text from anywhere in the world.

Security Lighting

Thanks to automatic switches, you can make it appear as if you’re home when you’re not. Set up some internal and outdoor lights on automatic switches, and be sure to pay special attention to entry points. These lights are generally inexpensive and easy to install, but double-check that they are working properly before you go.

Check Insurance and Banking Services

Ensure that your policies are paid up for homeowners, car, and medical insurance. If necessary, advise your bank and credit card companies that you will be away so that they can alert you to any unusual account activity.

Contact Your Alarm Company

If you have the more formal home (and expensive) surveillance service instead of a DIY system, be sure that they have the current key holder details in order to prevent any false alarms interrupting your holiday. Has the alarm been serviced? Update the local authorities if you’ve registered your alarm with them. And after you have done all that, go away and relax, safe in the knowledge that you have done all you can to protect your home. Have a great holiday.

About Blink


Blink is an affordable, smart HD home monitoring and alert system

Blink is an affordable, smart HD home monitoring and alert system that allows consumers to feel safe at home no matter where they are. Launched by Immedia Semiconductor in 2015 and based in the USA, with a sales office in Ireland, Blink is revolutionising the home security industry by providing a completely wire-free system that delivers instant monitoring from any location through the Blink Home Monitor app.

With customisable features, a sleek design and battery life of over two years, Blink offers an easy and affordable security solution for homeowners, people renting properties, small business owners, second home owners and many more.

For details visit https://blinkforhome.co.uk