Attending Glee, the leading garden and leisure industry show, was a great opportunity for Nathan Dodd to spot trends and anticipate products that will come onto the market in the near future.
Walls, whether they mark a boundary or support your house, are on the whole functional and unappealing. Nathan James Dodd suggests using wall plaques and ornaments to improve their appearance.
Whether classical, contemporary or comic, these enhancements break up a wall's monotony, adding interest that will transform and add character to a garden or patio space.
Haddonstone's Parthenon friezes are the epitome of classical design. They are reproductions of originals that date from 443BC and depict the Panathenaic Procession. As can be expected, the detail is superb and the reconstituted stone will weather beautifully with age.
Also from Haddonstone are plaques reflecting the characteristics of the four seasons, each of them decorated with imagery of a particular time of the year with garlands of flowers, sheaves of corn, cornucopia of fruit and fire & ice, all finely captured in high quality stone work.
There are several masks to choose from. The fabled Green Woman, or a Cherub, and at the opposite end of the spectrum a Brelgian Wall Mask that is either grotesque or amusing depending on your disposition. From Toscano there's a Nightmare Wall Sculpture featuring a composite of three scary faces. Somewhat more spiritual would be a depiction of the Buddha or a Cham Plaque that originates from ancient south east Asian culture.
Toscano also have a Demon on the Loose and Gaston the Gothic Gargoyle who normally is seen taunting passers by from high up on the walls of European cathedrals.
More flippant and colourfully entertaining are Citron the Cockatoo and Phineas the Flapping Macaw, high quality resin depictions of exotic birds that will surprise guests even before their first mojito.
However, most appropriate would be Haddonstone's Tradescant Wall Plaque. This is a splendid portrait of King Charles II's gardener who introduced several new plant species from America. Based on a 17th century original, John Tradescant is pictured with trowel and spade at the ready.
Many people believe that Christmas would not have the same festive feel without the scent of a 'real' Christmas tree. They're naturally fresh, giving off a lovely aroma, and here Martyn Loach gives advice on which ones to buy..
There's a huge selection of Premier Christmas Lights, and it's no wonder why they are market leaders judging by the variety and innovation that's on offer. This is Andy Taylor's guide to their range of top quality lights and decorations.
When purchasing a Christmas tree, you may or may not be aware that you're continuing a centuries old tradition that was enthusiastically adopted by the Victorians. An artificial tree as Andy Taylor explains is just a modern take on this age old practice.
In the past Christmas decorations were limited to streamers and fairy lights, but not any more as Robert Hall discovered when reviewing the huge range of novelty Christmas items that are brought to life by LEDs.