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The Humane Guide to Garden Pest Control

Repel garden insects naturally

By Clive Harris, garden writer and outdoor enthusiast

Whether it’s next door’s cat digging up your borders, or pesky caterpillars munching their way through your patch of lettuce, the threat of
garden pests is ever-lurking.

However, as troublesome as these predators may be, it is important to recognise that each and every animal and insect have their own place in the ecosystem.

Humane garden pest control isn’t just a matter of conscience, it’s a matter of importance, and helps gardeners to play their part in ensuring the continued biodiversity of the natural environment.

Having said that, you don’t need to sacrifice your azaleas at the expense of the aphids! Thankfully, there are a number of healthy and humane pest control measures that will keep your garden safe from roaming marauders.

How to Repel Garden Insects Naturally

Herbs are a wonderful way of keeping those creeping critters at bay! Citronella, lavender, rosemary and basil are all known to repel bothersome bugs, so a well-stocked herb corner not only guarantees a fragrant backyard and delicious culinary meals, it also helps to keep your garden insect-free!

The most common advice given to gardeners with a slug or snail problem is to use salt or beer traps. However, these methods invariably result in an inhumane and cruel death. Seaweed, on the other hand, is a brilliant natural slug deterrent. Simply
mulch into the soil around your beds. This has the added benefit of fertilizing the earth, so your garden benefits doubly.

Aphids are put off by the pungent aroma of marigolds, so plant them close to your prize-winning roses to avoid infestation.

Onions, garlic and chives also make great ‘companion’ plants, protecting your more vulnerable shrubs from insect attacks.

If you don’t have the time or energy for maintaining herbs or companion plants, then citronella candles and incense cones are fantastic hassle-free insect repellents. These will prevent an invasion of bugs on your plants (and on yourself!), while filling your outdoor space with their invigorating aroma.

Stop Wild Animals from Causing Damage in Your Garden

When it comes to four legged fiends, prevention is the best cure. Remove any shelter that may attract animals, and feed your own pets indoors so that there aren’t bowls of food left as an open invitation to all forms of wildlife.

Ensure that any bins or compost piles are secured with tight-fitting lids, preventing wild animals from gaining access.

Bird feeders are a marvellous way of encouraging a diverse environment in your garden, but they are also a magnet for rodents. Choose the placement of your feeders carefully to avoid enticing the wrong types of wildlife.

It may shock or horrify cat lovers to think of their beloved moggies as ‘pests’. However, even the most ardent feline fans cannot deny that cats have the propensity to cause untold garden damage with their toileting habits, and general penchant for mischief! Keep them out of your beds and borders by planting citrussy shrubs and herbs.

Sprinkling pepper will also help to keep kitty at bay, and mixing a few drops of citronella oil in water and spraying around the garden perimeter will send a loud and clear message to any travelling toms. Ready mixed spray deterrents can be purchased in most DIY stores and garden centres.
If all else fails, motion sensor devices are available that spray a harmless jet of water, or emit a high-pitched frequency when activated.

Gardeners are often quick to jump to harmful, toxic methods of pest control, when in reality, the natural approach is just as effective, and is often less expensive and more beneficial to your garden. Why not give it a go and see for yourself!

Clive Harris

Clive Harris is a garden writer and outdoor enthusiast. You can read more of his garden tips and advice at
DIY Garden, his personal gardening blog.

New Seeds from Thompson & Morgan

Poppy ‘Supreme’ from Thompson & Morgan

Two new seed varieties have been released by Thompson & Morgan. One, Poppy ‘Supreme’, is yet another innovative new flower from T&M’s own breeding programme. The other, Tomato ‘Oh Happy Day’ will most certainly be welcomed by gardeners who struggle to grow tomatoes outside due to the ever-present danger of blight.

Poppy ‘Supreme’ lives up to its name. Its fully double flowers are three times larger than those of other similar papaver rhoeas varieties and boast exquisite crinkly petals with picotee edges in pink, cherry and orange tones with white centres. Growing to a final garden height of 75 cm, Poppy ‘Supreme’ is long-flowering and multi-branching, making it ideal for direct sowing in borders and beds.

Some six years ago, Charles Valin, who heads up Thompson & Morgan’s plant breeding team, spotted some plants in a batch of double Shirley poppies that had extra-large flowers. Two generations of selection later, Charles’ team had managed to ‘fix’ a giant-flowered mixture in double picotee bicolours.

Charles comments, “All the hard work that we’ve put in to create this stunning poppy has been worth it! The flowers are huge and yet they retain their elegance and are in perfect proportion to the overall plant size. We discovered that Poppy ‘Supreme’ has a very robust constitution and blooms for twice as long as traditional poppies. ‘Supreme’ was a real hit with bees in our trials and I think gardeners will love them too!”

Tomato ‘Oh Happy Day’ from Thompson & Morgan

Tomato ‘Oh Happy Day’ is a real bonus for gardeners. Following on from ‘Losetto’, and ‘Mountain Magic’, ‘Oh Happy Day’ F1 is a cross between a very blight-resistant North American line and a French Marmande type. In T&M trials, ‘Oh Happy Day’ F1 resisted late blight infection for three weeks longer than ‘Mountain Magic’. The round, slightly flatter, 150g tomatoes grow in clusters of 3-7 fruits which have a superb taste balance of acidity and sweetness.

Colin Randel, Thompson & Morgan’s vegetable expert says, “The high late blight resistance of ‘Oh Happy Day’ means that these outdoor-grown tomatoes will have longer to ripen to their full potential and to provide the superb flavour that only comes with sun-kissed, outdoor-grown tomatoes”.

Poppy ‘Supreme’ is priced at £2.49 for 300 seeds and Tomato ‘Oh Happy Day’ is £2.99 for 8 seeds.

For more information visit the website at

Bridgman Bouquets

Handcrafted bouquet from Bridgman

Bring the beauty of your garden indoors with limited edition Bridgman Bouquets. These gorgeous faux bouquets are the epitome of floral luxury and look and feel just like fresh flowers. They are guaranteed to give you floral beauty all year round.

Bridgman Bouquets are handcrafted with love and care. Each individual petal is intricately hand painted to make every flower unique. These faux flowers are hand tied into a  limited edition bouquet by an expert floral designer to make an exquisite, irreplaceable display.

Handcrafted bouquet from Bridgman

Using a range of wonderfully authentic flowers from the quintessential British Rose to opulent Hydrangeas, these stunning arrangements offer eternal beauty to any home.

For details visit

Homes & Gardens

Ten Simple Tips to
Winter-Proof your Shed

Winter-proof your shed for the Winter

Garden sheds often tire during winter weather but a new list of tips could help to protect and maintain them throughout the colder months.

The team behind garden building and furniture retailer,, have been putting their heads together to come up with ten of the best ways to protect and maintain garden sheds against winter’s strong winds and heavy rain.

Sheds and outdoor buildings need essential upkeep just like everything else, particularly during the dreary winter months, so you should be following some simple but essential rules in order to look after your shed’s roof, doors, floors and even drainage system.

Shed security can be an even bigger problem during the winter too, as thieves will use the cold, dark nights as the perfect opportunity to raid back garden havens.

Regular maintenance and taking certain precautions will avoid unsightly and costly damage to your garden buildings often caused by winter weather, from damp and mould to leaks and insect infestations.

Here are's ten tips to winter-proof your shed:

1. Treatment

A lot of sheds are untreated so that you can decorate to your own style and taste, but treating it will protect it from harsh weather conditions.

Different treatments have different effects. For example, oil-based treatments will soak into the timber and provide long-lasting UV protection, whereas pressure treating wood preservatives deep into the pre-cut timber has a more thorough coverage than painting or spraying it, and it also protects the wood from insects and fungus.

2. Drainage

Place your shed at the highest point in your garden

You should place your shed at the highest point in your garden or, if your garden is flat, use bricks or a platform to elevate it at least two inches off the ground. Also, use a gutter to direct any water away from your shed.

3. Position

Avoid leaves falling on to the roof of your shed and blocking any guttering and drainage system by placing it away from any trees in your garden.

4. Roof

The roof of any building is particularly vulnerable in winter when high winds and heavy rain are more frequent, particularly for sheds where roofs may only be nailed in. So, make sure you check both the inside and outside of your shed roof and resolving any issues such as rusting nails, black mould, sagging of materials or dark spots immediately.

5. Doors

Your shed door hinge is one of its weakest points. They are usually attached with short screws, so you can toughen them up by replacing the screws with nuts and bolts and supergluing the nut to the bolt on the inside of the door. This way, your door is sure to stay put amongst the wind and rain.

6. Windows

Inspect your shed’s windows from the inside first, as cold air may be wafting through from the outside

Inspect your shed’s windows from the inside first, as cold air may be wafting through from the outside. Make sure to seal windows both inside and out, and to draft-proof your shed, you can install foam weather stripping insulating tape. This will prevent any winter drafts and will keep moisture outside the shed.

7. Floors

The wooden floors of most garden buildings are elevated to allow for important air circulation under the foundation, and this must be maintained at all times – particularly in the winter when sludgy, muddy gardens are more common.

A major cause of rot in garden sheds is rising damp caused by ground water being absorbed through the floor bearers and into the floor, so it’s important to maintain a barrier between the ground and the floor of your shed, to stop any unwanted moisture.

8. Air circulation

If you’re not likely to use your shed throughout the colder seasons, it’s a good idea to still open the windows and doors periodically in dry weather to increase air flow throughout the building and get rid of stagnant air which can hold a lot of moisture.

9. Let your shed breathe

Let your shed breathe

Keeping perishables (paper, cardboard, material) off of the floor and walls of your shed will prevent them from sucking the moisture out of the timbers. Timber likes to breathe so make sure you’re allowing air space around all items in the building.

10. Security

Winter is the perfect time for thieves to creep into your back garden as it’s often dark, cold and there’s sure to be no-one milling around outdoors. So, deter criminals by investing in a hasp and a strong padlock, or you could even go one step further and fit an alarm.

For more information about BillyOh Sheds click on

Prepare Your Home for the Winter

Prepare your home for the Winter

   By Jules Miller-Cheevers, Sales and
       Marketing Manager at Watermark

1. Clear the gutters and drains

It's probably one of those tasks you try pushing down your to-do-list as far as possible but it's essential to clear the gutters and drains from any debris such as leaves and mud. Making sure the gutters are clear from any build-up will minimise the risk of water damage.

2. Check your roof

Don't forget to check your roof (or get it checked) for potential damage, lose or missing shingles which may results in leakage during the winter storms or from melting snow.

3. Check your boiler

If your boiler is not maintained properly, you risk wasting energy and money but, most importantly, risk exposing yourself to carbon monoxide. We suggest getting your boiler serviced regularly – ideally before winter.

4. Review your energy suppliers

This time of year often presents a good opportunity to review your energy bills and call your supplier to negotiate a deal more suitable to your needs. If you can strike a better deal with a different supplier, it's easy to switch. There's no disruption in service; all that happens is that your money goes to a different company when you pay your bill.

5. Get covered

Ensure that your current home insurance is up to date and check that your policy gives adequate protection for any winter-related damages.

Currently for sale at Watermark:
The Super Grand Hampton

The Super Grand Hampton

An impressive 5-bedroom detached New England-style lakeside property with outstanding lake views (pictured above). Finished with a beautifully modern interior, the 237 m2/2,554 ft2 home features open plan living with vaulted ceilings and French doors leading out onto a 147 m2/1,580 ft2 lakeside deck with clear glazed balustrades to the lakeside.

The fully fitted, home-from-home kitchen/dining (approx. 7.6m x 5.6m) in The Super Grand Hampton is ideal for preparing big family meals to be shared comfortably in the spacious open-plan living area overlooking the lake. Adjacent to the deck is a private jetty for mooring your own small boat.

All properties are fully managed and maintained by Watermark's onsite team, and benefit from 24 hour security. The Super Grand Hampton is currently on the market for £875,000.

For more details visit the website at

Or contact the sales team on 01285 869031.


Crestmore Opti-myst Fire from Dimplex

Crestmore Opti-myst Fire from Dimplex

Dimplex has added to its vast range of Opti-myst electric fires with the launch of the Crestmore, a traditional look inset fire.

The Dimplex Crestmore combines a stylish brass effect fret with electronic display, advanced touch sensing controls and the innovative Opti-myst ‘flames’ and ‘smoke’ technology.

Like the accompanying Penngrove model which is available in contemporary chrome, this inset design is compliant with the upcoming Lot 20 legislation and comes with 2kW heater with choice of two heat settings, thermostat and remote control.

Joanthan Smith, product marketing manager for Dimplex says, “The brass effect with black trim gives a classic feel to this inset design which we know will really appeal to home owners.

For more information visit

    Steel for Kitchen
with Crittall

Give your kitchen impact with Crittall Windows

Crittall Windows advises on the best way to bring impact into your kitchen with metallics.

Question: Want your kitchen to have impact?

Install ‘on-trend’ steel-framed glazed internal screens and windows…

‘Metallics’ will be everywhere, say interior trend experts. So, if you’re revamping your kitchen, for glamour and elegance, you can’t go wrong with ‘on-trend’ steel partitioning screens and windows.

Rather than putting in a dividing wall, blocking-out light, a great alternative is installing an interior steel screen, which lets light flood-in. Complementing flooring and décor, their reflective properties make small areas seem bigger, add warmth and a cosy feel to shady areas.

Give your kitchen impact with Crittall Windows

“The kitchen is the home’s focal point. So along with choosing the styling of cupboards, storage, worktops and appliances, and where you put the coffee station or breakfast bar, getting the windows and doors just right is important too,” says Stuart Judge, managing director of Crittall Windows, makers of steel window frames, screens and doors for almost 170 years.

“A kitchen’s design, how it’s lit internally, and openings to natural outside light through windows and doors, impact. If you’re knocking down a brick, or plaster-board wall, a steel frame screen is an ideal addition for maximising daylight in the kitchen and adjoining rooms; be it the living room or lobby.”

Steel is three times the strength of aluminium and achieves strong, stylish frames combining slim profiles. This allows large expanses of glass, bringing-in essential natural daylight, visually enhancing living space and functionality.

Mr Judge continues, “The outside can be seamlessly, dramatically, fused with the inside living space, giving a sense of well-being through a clear view of the outdoors - your patio, flower beds, shrubs and trees.”

Further dimension

Add dimension to your kitchen with Crittall Windows

Crittall brings a further dimension to a kitchen through its minimalist style windows and its InnerVision glazed steel partitioning screens. Designed for modern living, they provide a sense of space and light with clean lines, subtle detailing, excellent technical properties.

Elegantly slender, the slim steel framing, with single or double opening doors, is unobtrusive. The distinguished-looking installation makes a wonderful talking point. Natural illumination inside is maximised, while enhanced acoustic properties ensure privacy and reduced noise levels, without compromising on security. Chilly draughts are prevented, warmth kept-in for year-round comfort.

Give your home impact and warmth with Crittall Windows

InnerVision steel frames can be powder-coated to your choice of RAL or BS colours. Each screen is bespoke to your application - panel shape and size, single or double glazing, decorative or obscure glass.

Natalie Benes, associate architect at Stiff+Trevillion comments, “Crittall windows are a great on-trend option if you want a light and airy feel with an industrial aesthetic. Their slender minimalist frames allow as much light as possible into a space, working well with contemporary architecture and in period properties.

“Steel partitions can be used really successfully as divisions between, or within rooms, whilst still letting light and views through into adjoining spaces. They enable practical physical separations without making a space feel too small and enclosed.”

About Crittall Windows

Let the Daylight Flood in with Crittall 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

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.

 Winter Colour in a Pot

Hellebore in a pot

      By The Potted Garden

Colour can be sadly lacking from gardens in January and February but a simple way of bringing a little bit of sunshine back into the outdoors is by using containers packed with hardy plants that provide colour, texture and a good few weeks of interest.

Make sure you place them where they can be seen – in areas close to your home, in view of visitors or in places where they can be appreciated from the warmth and comfort of indoors – such as outside the kitchen window or on a window sill.

The upside of colder weather is that flowers last longer and even the humble evergreen such as bay, laurel or viburnum looks stunning edged with a touch of winter morning frost.

Some of the best plants for winter colour are classic favourites that still bring a smile to the face in deep mid winter and, outside of prolonged snow and rain, can survive into the spring.

Helleborus niger – also known as the Christmas Rose – is a stylish starting point and has a purity of colour that makes it ideal as a single planting or as a centre piece in a mixed container. It has clusters of saucer-shaped flowers in white, pink, green, mauve or smoky purple.

The winter flowering viola is a cheerful choice for pots

The winter flowering Viola (looking like a mini pansy) is a really cheerful choice for pots and planters and comes in a variety of colours from white through to yellow, orange, mauve, purple and blue.

Erica (also known as Heather) brings a hint of the highlands to any seasonal container with its stems of delicate flowers in white, pink, red, magenta or purple.

Before you get going on planting make sure you take on board these tips from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) for growing in containers during winter …

· Remember that plants grow very little in winter so make sure you start with good-sized plants and use sufficient numbers of plants for the size of container to make an impact from the start.

· Position your container where it will get as much light as possible during the winter months to ensure plant foliage remains green and healthy.
· Water containers carefully in winter, making sure you check the compost regularly as it can soon dry out in mild spells. Smaller plants are more susceptible to over- or underwatering.

· It is not necessary to feed container plants during the winter.

· Raise containers off the ground on pot feet or bricks to aid drainage and help prevent the freezing conditions that cause pots to crack.

· Choose frost-proof terracotta or containers made of plastic, fibreglass or wood. Bubble wrap containers in severe weather to reduce damage to plant roots