Robert Hall explains how getting out into the garden can help us to exercise, get out into the open air, enjoy time with nature and to help keep our minds occupied during these overwhelming Covid-19 times.
Over several series, Alan Titchmarsh's team from the popular ITV programme 'Love Your Garden' has transformed gardens throughout the country using a varied range of traditional and new products, some donated from GardenSite and all available online.
Urban and Contemporary collections from Grange, including their Flower Circle, have been widely featured, high quality planed timber products that will introduce clean lines and innovative style into your garden.
One of their wide range of contemporary screens became an essential part of a garden transformation in Durham on 2 August 2016, as the owner had always wanted a hot tub, and for reasons of privacy this needed to be hidden from the surrounding countryside. However, something more adaptable than a traditional screen was required, one which would not block the view when the hot tub was not in use.
An Adjustable Screen from Grange was the ideal solution as the slats can be opened and closed just like a Venetian blind. Perfect as a patio or garden partition, when closed the screen will protect your privacy but, when opened, light will stream through the open slats and visually extend your outside space. The team could have also considered a timber canopy from Jagram Baltic Spa Hot Tub Canopy to guard the hot tub from the elements and enable it to be enjoyed whatever the weather.
In a further episode on 19 July 2016, another uncared for garden became an animal centred haven. The garden was quite long and not very wide so a Grange Urban Garden Arch was used to divide it into different sections with separate themes. A bench was placed underneath the arch where the owner could rest and admire the team's handiwork.
An Urban Garden Screen was chosen to help transform the life of a disabled child in Nottingham on 5 July 2016. It separated a newly laid football pitch from other play areas. Giving the garden a contemporary feel, the slatted urban panels are preferable to a solid fence as parents can keep an eye on their children through the gaps.
A Grange Traditional Garden Pergola was also installed made from pressure treated wood with sturdy uprights and cross bearers. Part of an extensive range of pergolas, it provided a shaded area where children can play outside but away from the damaging glare of intense sunlight.
Finally, a set of outdoor furniture was introduced to bring the comfort of the home out into the garden. There's now an impressive range of all weather sofas, tables and chairs to choose from, made from quality materials that are UV resistant and do not deteriorate. This fabulous furniture has the effect of extending your living space and fully utilizing your garden.
In another episode on 26 July 2016, a tired old garden shed was replaced with an attractive and multi-functional Connor Summerhouse from Rowlinson which offers opportunities for both storage and leisure, adding both style and practicality in one package. The summerhouse solved two problems at the same time as this contemporary building can be used for both storage and leisure. Garden tools and equipment may be safely deposited behind closed doors in one area, while the other open section is perfect for relaxation.
While highly practical, the summerhouse is also very smart with tongue and groove cladding and a louvre side panel. The lockable doors feature a large port hole window that lets through plenty of light, so this area has many other uses such as a hobby room. The Connor Summerhouse can be supplied painted as in the programme or with a natural timber finish, it's part of a large and growing selection of summerhouse and log cabins, many different styles but all offering you the chance to make the most of any outdoor space.
A log cabin became the focal point of a wheelchair bound subject, a social hub for dining and entertaining, as well as offering a storage area for gardening equipment. As was emphasized, log cabins can also be the ideal place for hobbies and a range of other activities that get you away from domestic distractions.
The same programme emphasized why raised beds are a boon to anyone who cannot for any reason bend while tending their garden. So Rowlinson 4ft x 4ft Raised Planters were installed in order that fresh vegetables could be picked for the kitchen from home owner's wheelchair. Easy to assemble, the timber is pressure treated against rot and can be stained or painted.
The garden was completed with a traditional timber framed greenhouse and a fire pit containing blazing logs around which people can gather and stay warm on cool evenings. Weather resistant, the pit develops a film of rust that protects it against corrosion.
A combination of hard and soft landscaping brought a little piece of Nepal to an ex-Gurkha's English garden that lacked privacy and was awkwardly shaped. One more element that had to be taken into account was that the owner suffered from post-traumatic stress, so for the 12 July 2016 episode Alan and his team set about creating a tranquil garden that was easy to negotiate and contained many references to his home land.
Water had to be an important element, a crystal clear reminder of the streams that cascade through the Himalayas. Butyl rubber was used as a waterproofing material, this is long lasting and ideal for the job but not very attractive, so it was only appropriate that stones that could have fallen from a mountain side were laid to hide it from sight.
The owner's wife needed a quiet place to pray and, with paint and stencils, a Rowlinson Haven Corner Arbour was remodelled as a brightly coloured prayer house. Perfect to maximize space, this arbour featured at Gardeners' World Live and fits neatly into a corner, providing both shelter and shade.
So that the family could enjoy eating outside, a dining space was created that had a colourful Kathmandu street market theme. A pergola was erected over the area and covered with different coloured acrylic panels, this meant that when the sun shone a wonderful kaleidoscope effect appeared below.
Finally, a curved bench was installed in a seating area surrounded by rhododendrons and other lush green Himalayan plants, so that the tranquil garden could be admired while listening to the trickling stream.
In Salford on 5 July 2017, GardenSite was pleased to donate a selection of garden structures to the show so that a 'dull, boring and soulless' wasteland could be turned into a classic English country garden that was easy to access and manage. The plan for the garden was informal, with a wide variety of plants and, right in the middle, Alan decided to place an Horizon Garden Arch from Zest 4 Leisure.
Adding height and structure, he described the arch as the 'small garden's secret weapon'. It's an attention grabbing feature with trellis sides and a pergola style timber roof over which climbing plants such as clematis and honeysuckle can be trained. The arch is particularly effective placed over a path so that anyone passing through will appreciate the plants' lovely scent and colour.
An Economy Potting Table was perfect for the elderly owners who found bending rather difficult. This is another well built Zest4Leisure product that is practical as well as good looking. Alan chose it to display potted plants but, when used for sowing and potting, there is edging to prevent any compost from falling off the generously sized table top and a handy shelf underneath for pots and related items.
On 28 June 2016 the team also helped a 90 year old ex-land girl from Hull who could still go dancing but, after a lifetime's love of gardening, now found it physically too challenging. Because she was also an avid bird watcher, a Tranquillity Spill Fountain is now located in her garden. Crafted from fine cast stone by Massarelli's in the United States, it will attract birds to drink and bathe while filling the garden with the relaxing sight and sound of flowing water.
In the elderly lady's garden tired fencing was immediately replaced by Gawsworth Panels in the front garden and Lilleshall Lattice Trellis at the rear, both manufactured by Grange Fencing and made from pressure treated timber to prevent rot.
With a robust rebated frame, the trellis is very versatile and comes in a selection of sizes from 0.3m to 1.8m high and 1.83m wide. With 20mm gaps they make a perfect screen, can be fixed to a wall to support climbers or to the top of fences. Gawsworth Panels (3ft high and 6ft long) can be complemented by a similarly styled gate. They have an elegant domed shape with sturdy pales and, although still private, the front garden is given a more attractive open aspect.
And finally, to reflect the owner's love of ballroom dancing, a circular 'dance floor' was constructed below a Carousel Pergola also from Grange. This introduced height into the garden and could be decorated with lights or even a chandelier to add extra interest.
With such changeable weather recently with a heat wave following by rain, David Coton is looking forward to summer finally arriving and a chance to get out into the garden, here are some of the jobs he'll be tackling during July.
There's no doubt that television provides gardeners with inspiration, sound advice and good ideas, that's why we're all looking forward to new programmes and the return of old favourites during 2020 but during the current government restrictions don't be surprised to see repeats filling gaps in a depleted schedule and other programmes adopting a different format..
At this time of the year you'll find a fabulous selection of summer bedding at our newly re-opened Garden Centre in Birmingham. Plant the bedding out in borders and containers this month to achieve a wonderful display of colour and here are some other jobs to do in the garden in June.