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Garden Tips from
National Garden
Gift Vouchers

Phlox is a superb hardy herbaceous perennial originally from North America, with scented star-shaped pink, white and purple/blue flowers

August and September are usually the months 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 are away and your garden is left unattended, many of your plants may suffer due to lack of water. Make sure that, 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).

You can apply the same watering principles to your veg patch as well. August and September are months of gathering, harvesting, bottling and jam making for all ‘Grow Your Own’ gardeners. However, if the weather is good in some areas you can still sow quick maturing salad crops.

An easy way to create your very own ‘moveable’ salad patch is by planting lettuce, radish, rocket and chicory in troughs and containers. Cherry tomatoes from the vine, sweetcorn on the barbeque, a warm salad of tender green beans and a home grown side salad … with some flowers for the table picked from the garden - lovely!

A sweetly fragrant plant that works well as a cut flower but can also be used to attract wildlife such as bees and insects into the garden is Phlox. Flowering in mid Summer through to the end of the Autumn, Phlox is a superb hardy herbaceous perennial originally from North America, with scented star-shaped pink, white and purple/blue flowers.

It is the ideal border plant, often used in cottage gardens, but is also good as a cut flower and can grow quite tall so may need some support. Phlox likes a well nourished soil that has been enriched with rotted compost or manure and prefers full sun although it can tolerate partial shade. In late autumn cut the stems right down to the base and then mulch in early spring.

August and September can be the hottest months of the year - making watering essential - but jobs for this month include:

Garden Checklist

· 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

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 to see the outlets that sell and accept them.

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Pond in a Pot

Create a pond in a pot

This month, The Potted Garden, tells us about water features and how to create them in your garden, whatever the size.

Just because you have a small garden or outside space doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful water feature to admire. Not only is it possibly the lowest maintenance gardening there is, but it also provides a focal point and you can’t over water the plants.

There are several varieties of aquatic plants you can choose from, but you will only need a few - three is plenty for an 18-inch or 24-inch tub or pot, so you still see plenty of open water.

· Underwater plants – often called oxygenators, these grow entirely under water. They can be used in container water features but aren’t essential, however they do help in keeping algae at bay. The pretty Water Violet is a British native plant with white-mauve flowers that appear in May-June.

· Floaters – their root system hangs down in the water and they are also good algae deterrents. They provide shade to the water and can have attractive flowers although many can’t tolerate frost. Frogbit is also a British native plant, with small round pale green leaves and small white flowers from June-August. It drops down to the container base over the winter months.

· Water Lilies – they have their root systems anchored at the bottom of the water feature whilst the leaves and flowers float on the top of the water. There are several dwarf varieties that are perfect for container water gardens. Hardy water lilies that can tolerate frost tend only to flower in the daytime. Rubra ia a miniature water-lily with small rounded leaves and slightly fragrant, cupped flowers that open deep rose-pink and then darken with age to deep red from June-September.

Pot ponds don’t have to be in full sun, there are a number of aquatic plants that do well in shaded areas, but you need remember that water lilies flower better if they get three to five hours of direct sunlight a day.

Choosing the right pot – for your garden and for a successful water feature – is essential. If you are using a large sized terracotta pot then you will need to plug the drain hole with a rubber or cork stopper and pond sealant.

Other water feature containers could be old Belfast basins and water troughs or half wooden barrels – they just need to be waterproof and leak free which is easy to achieve with a plastic liner. A darker interior works better as it reflects less light back into the water so looks deeper, and dark pots absorb more heat which is good in the spring for plant growth.

You can plant several types of aquatic plants in one container but if the plants you choose grow better at different water depths then plant them on a brick or small upturned clay pot in the water to raise them to the right level. Aquatic plants can be fast growers so may need thinning out from time to time.

For a real wow factor, put three pots or tubs together in an arrangement to create your very own, unique water garden and then just sit back and enjoy.

What is the Right Strawberry for You?

Grow strawberries with Lubera

What is the right strawberry for you? Lubera help you choose the best strawberries for your garden

Why do the Lubera team breed new varieties of strawberries, when there are so many available already? They are selecting new varieties for gardeners, who want robust plants with tasty fruits, rather than fruits that survive commercial transportation.

You have to feel for Markus Kobelt, the founder of Lubera, it’s a difficult job, spending a whole day taste-testing strawberries!

Lubera have added a new dimension to strawberries - perfume. By crossing old varieties with modern ones, they’ve brought us the best of both worlds - large fruits with a good balance of sugar and acidity, and a strong perfume.

For a June-bearing strawberry, the best of these new varieties is Swiss Heart (SchweizerHerz), which is named because it has slightly whiter flesh with a red skin, mirroring the colours of the Swiss flag. It’s a compact and fruitful variety, with firm fruits.

It blooms a little later than many others, meaning that this year it wasn’t affected by the April frosts. It also fruits over a slightly longer period, 3-5 weeks. This is a good choice for UK gardeners.

SchweizerHerz Strawberries from Lubera

If you like everbearing strawberries, Lubera recommends Eternal Love for planting out into the garden. And for containers, these are the perfect pair, Fraisonette and Fraisibelle. Fraisonette has lots of blooms in spring, and lots of fruits now.

Fraisibelle is a bit later and fruits over a longer period. If you grow both then you’ll have a lot of fruits over the whole season. Not the largest fruits, but a good crop with high flavour and perfume.

The best time to plant strawberries is in August, particularly for the June-bearing varieties, which establish well in the warm, dry soil and have the opportunity to develop next year’s fruit buds. Everbearers can be planted in your garden at any time, but August is a good time for them too.

Strawberries from Lubera

Want to see the whole Lubera strawberry range?

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Homes & Gardens


Choosing the Right Fence for Your Garden

Guy Jackson, Product Manager at Forest Garden

    Guy Jackson, Product Manager
                at Forest Garden

Whatever the reason for installing a fence - privacy, visual appeal or to provide a safe and secure enclosure for children and pets – the fence is a key landscaping feature and choosing the right one for your garden is vital as it can increase the value of the property.

According to Forest Garden, the UK’s leading manufacturer of garden timber products, now is the time of year to get your fence in order and treat your garden to a fresh look and feel to make the most of the great outdoors in the summer sun. Guy Jackson is the product manager at Forest Garden and he has this timely advice for homeowners in the market for a new fence.

Europa Prague Fence from Forest Garden

1. Consider what the purpose of your new fence will be. Do you want more privacy from the neighbours? Are you wanting to reduce the noise levels in your garden, or do you simply want a more attractive fenced area? You can also use fencing to create separate areas within a garden or help reduce the impact of wind. Different style fence panels serve different purposes so it is crucial to think about what you are trying to achieve before anything else.

2. Work out the exact dimensions of the fencing required. The space you have available will determine the size of fence panels you need.

3. Consider the appearance of your new fence as you want it to enhance the garden. There are plenty of designs to choose from in the Forest range including high specification panels with a pressure treated, smooth-planed finish; traditional panels with thick overlapping vertical boards and noise reduction panels as well as an innovative range of contemporary decorative designs.

4. Consider the treatment for the timber fence panels, will any maintenance be required? While all Forest panels have been treated with an anti-rot solution applied either in dip or pressure treated form, the woods longevity will be extended with the application of a suitable fence treatment which can be applied either with a spray or a brush.

Kyoto Panel from Forest Garden

There are many ways to erect a timber fence. According to Guy, whichever method you choose, you can guarantee success if you follow some basic rules. His expert insight is:

· Non-pressure treated fence panels should always be erected on pressure treated gravel boards.

· Use suitable posts. Heavier fence panels such as Forest Closedboard and Featheredge will benefit from the added strength of 100mm posts, while Forest’s smooth-planed decorative panels are complemented by the smooth-planed Ultima posts.

· Check your post length before fixing. If erecting over uneven ground you may require longer posts and don’t forget that posts should ideally be fixed into 2ft (60cm) deep holes dug in the ground and concreted in with a suitable post mix so a 6ft tall panel will need an 8ft tall post if concreting in.

Noise Reduction Panel from Forest Garden

All Forest fence panels offer a minimum of 10 years’ anti-rot guarantee and a choice of height for added privacy. Forest Garden also offer fence posts, supports, fixings and fittings, caps and finials.

For more details about Forest Garden fences visit


Enjoy the Fresh Air
in a Playhouse

Gypsy Caravan Playhouse from The Playhouse Company

Children are now spending only half the time playing outside than their parents once did. With experts reporting that spending time outdoors benefits children in a variety of ways, from developing their learning abilities and creativity to improving their health, well-being and independence, many are now concerned that children aren't spending enough time outdoors - especially as young people are glued to screens instead.

Encouraging outdoor play is a great way of luring children away from digital technology and getting them to appreciate the outdoors. It's also the perfect way to entertain your children and grandchildren in the Summer.

Herefordshire-based The Playhouse Company is a specialist in designing and hand-building wooden playhouses, as well as producing one-off bespoke creations. Its playhouses, which range from traditional cottages to tree houses and castles, encourage children and parents to get away from their devices and spend more time together outside.

Wooden Playhouse from The Playhouse Company

According to the RSPB 'Every Child Matters' report there are “diverse benefits for children having contact with nature and outdoor experiences. These benefits include positive impacts on education, physical health, emotional wellbeing and personal and social skills, including the development of responsible citizens”.

Richard Frost, CEO of the Playhouse Company, comments on this, “Here at The Playhouse Company we agree with the findings of the report and firmly believe that children should be encouraged to spend more time outdoors where they can broaden their imaginations and creativity.

“We understand that parents might be concerned of letting their children play outside due to safety concerns that weren't there when they were the same age, which is why our products are designed specifically to create a magical land for children to play in whilst providing a safe space in their back garden.

“We pride ourselves on being able to turn almost any playhouse dream into reality, from a scene in the wild west, to a castle fit for kings and queens. Children can learn so much from playing in the open air, and we want to help them enjoy spending time in their garden this summer by creating an exciting, imaginative world which will motivate them to want to venture outdoors, rather than sitting staring at a screen all day.”

Further information on play and tree houses in The Playhouse Company's range, can be found at 

Create the Ultimate Holiday Home with
a Beautiful Mural

Beach Wallpaper Mural from I Want Wallpaper

Not everyone will be jetting off on an exotic holiday this Summer, but there are clever ways to recreate the ultimate holiday environment in the home for a fraction of the price of jetting off to far flung places.

One of the most impactful ways is with this new wallpaper mural range from I Want Wallpaper  

Whether it’s a beach boudoir or living the American dream in your living room, these murals start at just over £20 and are breathtaking. They also make a fabulous talking point in your room.

Life’s A Beach

Waterfall Wallpaper Mural from I Want Wallpaper

From invigorating waterfalls to beautiful sea views, create a stunning summer holiday scene with I Want Wallpaper and escape to the tropics in the comfort of your own home. Prices start at £24.99.

Ooh la la

Rialto Bridge Wallpaper Mural from I Want Wallpaper

Recreate the romance of Venice and Paris with these murals from I Want Wallpaper. The Venice Rialto Bridge wallpaper mural is £45.99.

You can also buy a Paris Eiffel Tower mural Price is £24.99 (1.58m x 2.32m).

Living the American Dream

New York Skyline Wallpaper Mural from I Want Wallpaper

Stateside scenes can be enjoyed everyday in the bedroom or living room.

This skyline scene is a great way to give your room depth and a stylish, modern feel. Prices start at £24.99.

For more information and to see the full range visit 

    Let the Daylight
Flood in with Crittall

Let the Daylight Flood in with Crittall Windows

Crittall Windows advises on the best way to bring light and a feeling of comfort and wellbeing into your home.

Question: How can I best maximise light in my home for an increased sense of well-being?

Answer: Consider installing steel-framed windows and glazed internal screens.

Don’t you feel just so good when it’s a sunny day outside. The days are longer, brighter… you feel full of life – those darker, winter days long forgotten.

Consider installing steel-framed windows and glazed internal screens

Evidence suggests it’s important you get that feel good factor inside your home too. It’s well known that balanced levels of sunlight are crucial for producing essential amounts of Vitamin D in our bodies. But, our positive well-being – physical and mental – also depends on frequent exposure to light. Daylight is the most energy-efficient way to achieve it.

“Let the sun’s rays stream in to your home – they’re good for you,” says Stuart Judge, Managing Director of Witham-based Crittall Windows, makers of steel window frames and doors for almost 170 years.

“Our homes play a big part in our sense of well-being from the healthy pattern of light, dark and shade. Their design, how they are lit internally, and openings to natural outside light through windows and doors really do impact; to positively balance inside too little, or too much, light, shade, glare and privacy.”

Mr Judge continues, “Steel-framed windows are ideal for maximising daylight in the home; steel is three times the strength of aluminium and achieves strong, elegant frames combining the slimmest of profiles. This allows large expanses of glass, bringing-in that essential natural daylight.”

Lighten up

Very much now on-trend are interior screens, which enable open plan living to take on a different dimension

Very much now on-trend are interior screens, which enable open plan living to take on a different dimension. They allow you to cleverly partition open areas to create contemporary ‘zones’ – without compromising on light or space.

Crittall brings a further dimension to interiors through its minimalist style windows and its InnerVision® glazed steel partitioning screens. Designed with modern living in mind, they provide a sense of space, light, understated beauty, with clean lines, subtle detailing, excellent technical properties. Elegantly slender, the slim steel framing, with single or double opening doors, is unobtrusive. Combining style with functionality, a distinguished-looking installation makes a wonderful talking point.

Unmatched by other materials, steel windows and partitions possess slim profiling giving retro-looks with contemporary twists. Cleverly dividing space without impeding light, they are the ideal solution, whether for an extension with dramatic steel-framed glazed screen forming a light-filled area off the kitchen, or a partition from bathroom to bedroom.

Advanced glazing options mean steel framed internal screens can be made to order to maximise natural illumination inside

Advanced glazing options mean steel framed internal screens can be made to order to maximise natural illumination inside, and with enhanced acoustic properties giving more privacy and reduced noise levels, without compromising on security.

And when those dark winter days return, more natural daylight coming in will lessen internal shadows and dark areas.

For the kitchen, en-suite or home office they visually enhance living space and functionality. Also, they complement the lounge styling, the kids’ separate play/games room. That quiet zone for parents. Chilly draughts are prevented, warmth kept-in for year-round comfort.


Bright, beautifully crafted walls of glazing and slim-profiled windows will reflect the timeless style of a period house, adeptly define spaces in a townhouse, minimalist urban loft, or warehouse apartment

Windowless areas can make you feel stressed, the interior dark and shadowy, which can affect how we feel, quality of life and our vitality. Another key contributor to our well-being is a clear view of the outdoors and being able to see from the inside your planted patio, flower beds, shrubs, trees.

The outside can be dramatically fused with the inside living space. By opening-up living space, a seamless transition between inside and out can be created. Bright, beautifully crafted walls of glazing and slim-profiled windows will reflect the timeless style of a period house, adeptly define spaces in a townhouse, minimalist urban loft, or warehouse apartment.

Chris Eaton, associate director at Stiff and Trevillion Architects echoes this, commenting,
Defining a space with natural light is one of the key components of architectural design. The introduction of glazing into walls not only gives a greater sense of space and light, it also helps render the materiality of a room and creates a strong connection with the landscape beyond.

“Our work as a practice commonly deals with the reinterpretation of historic building stock. Using Crittall windows allows us to explore the aspects of space and light within these darker, more sensitive spaces, but also provides a strong visual character and detail which fits well into the original building fabric.”

Only the original

Crittall advises that you don’t spoil the look of a property for the sake of a cheap installation. Install the screen, window, door brand it says it is - only the original, genuine, make. Being the original steel window frame company, Crittall says there are companies claiming to be providing that, but are not.

About Crittall Windows

Crittall is the original manufacturer of high-performance slim-line steel windowsline steel windows

Crittall is the original manufacturer of high-performance slim-line steel windows – a pioneer of steel frame window manufacture for almost 170 years. Originally established in Braintree, Essex, over the years, Crittall pioneered and standardised the steel window industry, becoming the dominant source of steel windows/doors internationally, with manufacturing facilities on five continents.

Today, the company has a state-of-the-art manufacturing/production facility in Witham, Essex, and is one of the world’s leading steel window frame manufacturers. Crittall’s polyester powder-coated, galvanised, steel windows will last 60+ years, not requiring redecoration for 25 - 30 years.

About Stiff and Trevillion

Stiff and Trevillion is one of the UK’s leading architectural practices providing award-winning design across a diverse portfolio of clients. This diverse knowledge enables them to deliver unique solutions tailored to individual needs, rooted in context and centred on people. What all their projects have in common is the thoughtful, appropriate use of exceptional materials and effective use of light, surface and volume within the space.

For details visit

For more information about Crittall Windows visit

Or Telephone: 01376 530800.

Crittall ® and InnerVision ® are both registered trademarks.

InnerVision images are courtesy of Stiff and Trevillion. Photography is by Kilian O ’Sullivan.

  Top Tips from the
   Flooring Experts

Liven up your hallway with a beautiful new carpet

There's nothing quite like the 'new, new' smell and feel of a brand-new carpet. Updating your flooring can be a great way to freshen up and reinvigorate your home. ScS have compiled their top tips for choosing, installing and maintaining your flooring.

When choosing new flooring it's most important to consider its purpose alongside your lifestyle needs. For instance, families with young children and people with pets, much different requirements to a more adult environment. Doing online research at will make sure you find the flooring that is right for your home and lifestyle.

Work out your budget. With so many carpet and flooring options available, it's possible to get something you love that's also within your budget. It's always good to have an idea of what you're looking to spend as it can help identify best options for you. Visiting a store will help you determine exactly what's on offer, and also gives you the chance to ask an assistant about payment options.

Make a statement with colours and patterns. From stripes to zig-zags, geo-patterns, different tones and even glittery effects, you can make a real statement with your flooring. Advances in the technology behind carpets have allowed much more choice when it comes to both colour and pattern. Staircases and hallways are the perfect place to make a fashionable statement and the variety of patterns available means the world is your oyster.

Make sure it is installed properly. Replacing your underlay and gripper rods at the same time as your carpet will ensure you have a bounce underfoot, give a smooth finish to your new flooring and will make your carpet last and look better for longer. A professional floor layer will ensure the pile runs in the correct way and is tensioned correctly, giving it longer lasting durability.

Take care of your floor. Keeping it as clean as possible with regular vacuuming for carpets and wood floors, followed by a 'once-over' with a damp mop for laminates. Wiping up and treating spills as soon as they happen will avoid unnecessary stains and damage, especially to wooden floors. Only use cleaning products that are made specifically for carpets and flooring.

For more information about SCS carpets and sofas click on