Garden furniture to relax and enjoy the garden in

One of the things that's become more noticeable as more of us seek outdoor living space is how we spend time relaxing in our gardens, or more precisely what we sit on while we're relaxing.  Long gone are the days of my childhood where a humble deck chair, or the more “modern” fold-up deck chairs were all the rage.

I know that the traditional deck chair is a classic, has had several revivals and therefore is far from humble, but you'll know exactly the style I mean if I was to say sea fronts, parks and hard to get out of, let alone elegantly.  As kids their appeal on the beach was like a magnet and I'm sure we were only allowed to sit in them for as long as it took for the attendant to get close for payment.  Surely that's not just my family memories?

More and more country houses, bars and restaurants are providing outdoor chairs and sofas that are both comfortable and stylish. I know given the choice of sitting somewhere comfortable like this, or a more upright traditional cafe style table and chairs I know which I'd opt for.

In fact, I think I’d race you for the empty space.  Or maybe I wouldn’t need to, if I had something similar in my own garden.

  BRAMBLECREST OAKRIDGE FURNITURE  Photo credit: The Garden Furniture & Interiors Co

BRAMBLECREST OAKRIDGE FURNITURE
Photo credit: The Garden Furniture & Interiors Co

  BRAMBLECREST OAKRIDGE DOUBLE HANGING COCOON  Photo credit: The Garden Furniture & Interiors Co

BRAMBLECREST OAKRIDGE DOUBLE HANGING COCOON
Photo credit: The Garden Furniture & Interiors Co

Years ago - I've looked it up, it was 2010 - on a last minute holiday to Ibiza, not the clubbing kind of holiday I’m afraid I’m long past that, we found a beach bar near the salt mines that had just this style of furniture.  

Although it was October, the last week of the season, and the locals were wearing anoraks (we were still in shorts) we had an enjoyable afternoon enjoying the view from the comfort of their outdoor furniture.

Seeing the hanging cocoon (see right) on the Garden Furniture & Interiors Co website brought such fabulous memories of that holiday flooding back. 

And that's a quite definite choice of words as unusually for the island (but sadly not for our holidays) there was a storm and we woke one morning to a flooded hotel room.  It took us a little while to work out that the balcony doors were far from watertight!

Luckily the weather soon improved and our room was quickly sorted out much to the bemusement of both us and the maintenance people.

While I was checking out the year we visited I found some old photos so it would be rude not to include them now I've told you all about the view, wouldn't it?

 A VIEW WORTH WATCHING ON THE BEACH IN IBIZA

A VIEW WORTH WATCHING ON THE BEACH IN IBIZA

It was definitely a view worth sitting and watching, especially with a comfy vantage point and a cold beer in our hands.  The salt mines were fascinating too, we visited the Natural Park of Ses Salines, a UNESCO World Heritage site which includes the salt flats, beaches, wetlands, dunes and forests.  And piles of salt.

 SES SALINES, IBIZA

SES SALINES, IBIZA

Who knew, I certainly didn't - but I'm glad I discovered the stylish and comfortable furniture at the same time. 

* This is a collaborative post but all opinions are my own

Highlights from a day at Gardeners' World Live

I can't believe it's Tuesday evening already and I'm only just sitting down to write my highlights from Gardeners' World Live which we popped up to Birmingham for on Sunday.  It was a long day, leaving home before 7.30am and not getting back until 9.30pm but we had a great day, were lucky with our train connections and saw lots.  The day ended with a Chinese takeaway and some photo editing, with my highlights chosen that evening.

Would I go again? Yes. So if you've thought about visiting but haven't been sure I'd recommend it.  For me, shows like this are all about the gardens and the displays. I tend to avoid buying too much, although we did leave with some cheese and some Whiskey and Toffee Vodka from the adjoining Good Food Show.  There were lots of plants to purchase on those crates on wheel trolley things tackled me at least a few times while I wasn't expecting it. I was less keen on transporting plants home by train, but perhaps if I lived closer or if we'd driven then it might have been an option.

I've driven to the NEC before, albeit from Norfolk which isn't as straightforward as you think it might be, but even so after our train journey this weekend, it's safe to say I'm a train convert.  The downside though is trying to predict when you're ready to come home in advance, and I think I was optimistic with that, which resulted in the longer than usual day.  Although if the weather had been nicer I'm sure we wouldn't have noticed it quite so much, and would more likely have spent time making use of the plentiful outdoor seating areas.

So onto my highlights

One of the first show gardens we saw was this "Breath of Fresh Air" garden, and it certainly was.  The helenium-type yellow flowers against the leaves of the hosta made for an unusual combination and well, as you know, I'm rather partial to a pop of yellow.

 A BREATH OF FRESH AIR ON THE APL AVENUE

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR ON THE APL AVENUE

The Made in Birmingham garden was one that I'd seen on Gardeners' World before our visit and I was looking forward to seeing it.  I love veg growing in rows nice and orderly like this and in my mind's eye my allotment would look like this, without weeds of course, just like this one.  I think MOH was more interested in the train carriage, but declined the opportunity to see the garden from the other side. 

 MADE - AND GROWN - IN BIRMINGHAM 

MADE - AND GROWN - IN BIRMINGHAM 

You'll definitely be seeing more of this garden on the blog, and you never know one day I may be able to grow veg as neatly as this.  It's a long shot, but definitely something to aim for!

Another feature of the show was the Beautiful Borders area, and there were many of these small plots of loveliness which I insisted we walk around every side of every single border.  I've chosen a few photos from this part of the show as not only were they great to look at and full of inspiration, but they also used plants that you or I would have in our gardens and looked, dare I say it, attainable?

The first one represented one of my favourite books - The Chronicles of Narnia - and was complete with a wardrobe.  I'm teasing you though as I'm showing an arty-farty pic, but it's so gorgeous I had to include it in a highlights post.

 BEAUTIFUL BORDERS: THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA

BEAUTIFUL BORDERS: THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA

The Marie Curie With Love pulled at all sorts of heart strings with its message pebbles around the pool, and while it was touching to read these messages, and I'm sure leave them, the bridge did make me smile for the designer's attention to detail. 

 BEAUTIFUL BORDERS: MARIE CURIE WITH LOVE

BEAUTIFUL BORDERS: MARIE CURIE WITH LOVE

The Pyramid Garden was a jumble of beauty (with apologies to the designer if they're offended by my description), but to me it was the dense planting and plants that most of us recognise that was central to its appeal.

 ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL BORDER: THE PYRAMID GARDEN

ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL BORDER: THE PYRAMID GARDEN

After we'd systematically admired each of the Beautiful Borders my eyes were taken by a row of wheelbarrows, which turned out to be a rather long row of wheelbarrows planted up by local schools.  Each wheelbarrow was a "meal in a barrow" and it was great to see how the schools had tackled this, and the meals they chose.  The stone bugs and painted wooden spoon plant labels of this one were the deciding factor on which of the many photos to include, but you may have seen my Instagram on Sunday where I shared a chicken in a wheelbarrow...

 A MEAL IN A WHEELBARROW, JUST ONE OF THE COMPETITION ENTRIES

A MEAL IN A WHEELBARROW, JUST ONE OF THE COMPETITION ENTRIES

I've chosen the next few photos for their colour and form, and you'll not be surprised to see a succulent or two along the way I'm sure.  But first up is this vivid reddy-pink phormium, which was also in a glossy red pot.  If you want colour, this certainly delivered.

 COLOUR AND COLOURFUL POTS IN THE WYEVALE GARDEN CENTRE SOLUTIONS GARDEN

COLOUR AND COLOURFUL POTS IN THE WYEVALE GARDEN CENTRE SOLUTIONS GARDEN

In the flower marquee I quickly sniffed out the cacti and agaves and this one caught my eye.

AGAVES AND CACTI

We also stopped a while and admired the air plants, they really are quite peculiar and yet fascinating at the same time.  I've a feeling there'll be more about these on the blog too, but I'd be interested to know what you think of them?  I was almost tempted to buy one of these but found it hard to choose just one.

 AIR PLANTS, WIERD AND WONDERFUL!

AIR PLANTS, WIERD AND WONDERFUL!

It wasn't long though before I stumbled across some more succulents, these ones having a picnic.  Quite random, but pretty nonetheless.

 A PICNIC OF SUCCULENTS

A PICNIC OF SUCCULENTS

The Floral Marquee was a mix of exhibits and plant sales and a hive of activity.  There was a cafe in the centre but it seemed pretty low on stock compared to the many food vans around the show so we stuck to searching out the more unusual plants, like these carnivorous ones.  Don't get too excited though as they're unlikely to solve any fly problem you might have as they are only likely to eat around six a year.   

 CARNIVOROUS PLANTS

CARNIVOROUS PLANTS

The markings are spectacular though, and it's easy to see why a fly might be tempted in.

IDEAS FOR WEDDING FLOWERS

My last highlight photo is one of a stand offering wedding floral arrangements and the fountain of champagne glasses filled with flowers looked spectacular.  Probably a little too delicate for my clumsy self (and apart from the fact that I'm not in the market for wedding flowers) but an unusual, and pretty take on wedding flowers.

So, now you can see why - or part of why - it was such a good day.  I'll be sharing more photos from my visit, interspersed with all the other photos I've already promised to share.

PoCoLo

Reflecting on my week #39

For a minute there I thought I’d jinxed the weather saying in my last post that we almost expect the weather to be good. Yesterday we were up early and out of the house before I usually get up and heading for a day at Gardeners’ World Live at the NEC in Birmingham.  It was a bit grey and windy as we left and although the sun broke through at points, it wasn’t the best day weather-wise, but the show was excellent. 

I’ve more to share from there - of course - and my photos today and tomorrow, in my highlights post will be from there. There was much to see, but it's the simplicity of the photo which really appealed to me, and therefore became the first photo I'm sharing from the show.

 SUCCULENTS, PEBBLES AND PINK

SUCCULENTS, PEBBLES AND PINK

I’d spent the day before mostly catching up on chores at home and in the garden and it had been one of those productive kind of days.  The seedlings in the greenhouse have been potted on, the second sowing of beans are already five inches high and all are a step closer to their place on the plot.

We’ve been over to the plot again during the week. More strImming for me and shed putting together for MOH, who appears to be taking the “instructions are for wimps” approach coupled with occasionally some head scratching.

We’ve discovered that his drill is almost kaput and not holding the charge for long enough to do anything useful, so at some point soon it’ll need replacing, which in turn will hopefully speed up the shed building. It’s only a little shed, trust me, and it’s already taken three attempts.

We’ve picked more strawberries from the plot, and some whoppers too. I’m getting to the point where I want something more to do with them, but we’ll see.  There’s more good news on the way too, as the raspberry bushes, despite growing in grass, look as if they’re starting to fruit.  I’ve still some takeaway containers of raspberries in the freezer, so we need to get on and eat them before this year’s ripen. 

A tough job... 

The bites that I encountered on our last visit have stopped swelling and now look pretty innocuous, you wouldn’t believe how much they caused my arm (and foot) to swell.  I think wellies will need to be my footwear of choice for future visits, they will look a bit daft but it’s all about prevention right now. 

Talking of wellies, I spotted this sheep family at Gardeners’ World Live and couldn’t help but have a smile to myself.  

 SHEEP IN WELLIES, OBVIOUSLY 

SHEEP IN WELLIES, OBVIOUSLY 

Other than bites, strawberries, chores and a trip to Birmingham and appearing on Paula's blog it's been a quiet week. Obviously the World Cup has started and in the office sweepstake I have France and Spain, both of whom aren’t bad, but both got off to a rocky start.  We’ll see...

The exciting news is this week our new sofas arrive on Wednesday, yay!  Already the uncomfortable and old brown faux leather sofa had been collected by the council, along with the “temporary” fridge freezer - we’re making headway, slowly, but it’s all progress!