The Upcycled Garden

This is the last of the garden room sets from this year’s Ideal Home Show, and I’ve saved my favourite until last. And in true me-style, I had quite a good chat with Max McMurdo who was hanging around the garden he created trying to eat his lunch and have a conversation with someone who thought he looked familiar, but thought nothing more of it. Until I actually read the leaflet I picked up and realised who I’d been chatting to over the upcycled pallet.

A pallet as a planter in the Ideal Home Show

It is a particularly good use of pallets, and one I wished I’d thought of when in my first house dad and I put up a front fence made of pallets. Just adding an extra plank to keep those pots in, would have added some interest. I was clearly way ahead of my time, although looking back I think I’d have had to nail the pots in as a plant that was on my open porch, which took two people to lift disappeared one day. It’s not actually the sort of thing you can phone the police for is it?

“Yes, hello Officer, yes my five foot money plant, that’s extremely heavy is missing.”

“Where did I leave it? Well on my doorstep, it’s too heavy to move you see.”

But anyway I digress, although that is how and when I got my yucca plant, which is still going strong despite a small accident with MOH falling onto it recently. These doors too reminded me of the “shed-that-dad-built” which I shared on here a couple of years ago. That post is worth a look for the old-fashioned photos alone.

old doors and a suitcase put to good use in the Upcycled Garden at the Ideal Home Show

Back to my chat with Max. It was the real Max I got to speak to, not the statuesque one that perched on yet another pallet. Max is a designer and upcycler and has gone “back to his roots” according to the leaflet with this Land Rover inspired garden, reusing ideas from his book “Upcycling Outdoors”. The leaflet goes on to say that upcycling items has “previously been associated with items within the home” but that this garden shows what you can do with your outside space. I’d just like to say, pop back to the post with the “shed-that-dad-built” there was much upcycling going on there, mostly through quirkiness and need, rather than driven by a reuse mantra, but it was the early nineties…

More pallets, a pizza paddle and a self-portrait
A suitcase planter on legs at the Ideal Home Show

It’s true though that suitcase side tables are more often used indoors, but they do make a lovely planter too.

A landrover put to good use in the Upcycled Garden

That old tool trolley isn’t what it seems either - it’s a barbeque of course. And while storage is always important everywhere, so is having a functional and attractive dining area. Some planks laid across a wooden frame have easily sorted that - that’s definitely something to remember and reuse at some point.

Storage in a garden is always important
Planks forming  a stylish dining space

You didn’t believe me when I said it was a barbeque did you? Here you go…

Can you spot the double Max McMurdo profile?

It was definitely my favourite garden, and while the planting is quite subtle, it’s there thought, and as we know all good gardens are based on a good structure.

What do you think? For me, there’s memories, inspiration and so many things to see in each and every one of these photos. I’m only sorry there wasn’t more time to enjoy the space and take full advantage of the hospitality laid on!


Reflecting on my week #83

The week started with a visit to Grand Designs Live over at Excel and a few purchases along the way. At every show I go to there always seems to be one item that everyone’s buying. This year we joined in. The item ‘de jour’ was a telescopic mop, which supposedly extends so you can clean your upstairs windows. I’m doubtful that it would work for us, but we had it in mind for another reason, well MOH does as it looks ideal for cleaning our conservatory roof, which is essentially, a glass flat roof.

But that wasn’t our only purchase - maybe it was the show’s proximity to home, but we also brought home a small folding teak table for the garden, and what looks like a high-tech garden hose that’s lightweight and automatically retracts. We’ve already been warned to stand well clear, as it takes no prisoners, but haven’t yet had a chance to try it for ourselves.

I also left with an unintended consequence of bumping into a large plastic bucket on one of the stands - a whopping bruise. It took a while to come out but spectacularly rivals the one I had the other week from that trip down the stairs.

Rain in Greenwich Park

Like most members of my family I’ve been on weather-watch this week ahead of a family wedding this weekend. And hasn’t it been a mixed bag?

On Wednesday it was so wet that walking to and from work, or rather the thought of walking to and from work was less than favourable, but when I got going it wasn’t so bad, until the deluge arrived. Squelching feet until lunchtime is never the best is it? It did mean quite an empty Greenwich Park though, so it wasn’t all bad.

And throughout the week there has been much prepping, those hems got pressed, MOH tried his suit on with no ill effects, and he narrowed his shirt and tie combo down to just two. Despite it being a four day working week, it was one with days that were overfull with work, so as ever it felt far from a short week. But Friday evening with everything packed and double checked we headed off to Peterborough to join my niece and her husband-to-be and their wedding celebrations, meeting up with family and friends but somehow managing to arrive two minutes after last orders for food. It had been that sort of week, and so ending it with a KFC was not such a bad thing.

We were already aware of the itinerary for Saturday, which started with bacon rolls at 8am before heading off to the reception venue to ready that. Many hands really do make light work, and many minds help overcome the obstacles on our path. Thankfully though they were just small ones, like not being able to get the hire van under the height restriction barrier initially, until the correct key was delivered.

With everything set up it was time for the most important part of the day. Lunch. Sorry, no, the ceremony and getting ready for that, which did include lunch and then off to the church.



I’d seen pictures of the venue, but it was even more beautiful first-hand. Even on a cloudy day, in fact the clouds looked more moody than they actually were. It was dry - and stayed dry, many of the guests keeping the rain at bay by carrying umbrellas. We had some fun with selfies in a hat, trying to get the church in too. Poor MOH, he has a lot to contend with any way, let alone when a hat gets in on the act too.

some selfie trouble

We did manage a decent picture in the end, but this one is much more fun.

All in all a great day, and one full of emotion. There were quite a few of us that found something in our eye during the ceremony. There were speeches, good company, plenty of dancing - and my shoes lasted on my feet the whole day, which was very good news. They fared better than one of the buttons on my jump suit, which popped off on a post-ceremony toilet visit. A lady outside noticed saying “come on husband you haven’t spotted the button’s not done up” at which point he checked, only to discover it was missing. So back to the loo - not photo worthy! - and there it was on the floor.

What a great feeling to find a lost button that belongs to you! Had that lady not commented and complimented my outfit, my button would have remained at Rutland Water. I’m sure I’ve a spare, but, you know, I’m glad I found it.

wedding flowers

We had an absolutely fabulous day celebrating with family and friends of the bride and groom and clearly wish them a lifetime of happiness. Their timing is impeccable though, just as we’d finished clearing the venue on Sunday morning they arrived. But not one of us minded.

After a busy weekend, back home we were glad to make use of the sun loungers in our garden - once MOH had dug them out from the back of the shed. We should have been gardening, but snoozing won hands down!

'Get Set Grow' this May

Gardening is good for you, and so is growing your own food. But growing anything yourself gives an inordinate amount of pleasure, doesn’t it? Whether it’s runner beans or sunflowers with the kids, flowers to brighten up your space or fruit and veg to eat, the process is enthralling each time.

But it’s also beneficial to our health and wellbeing. It’s rewarding and productive, provides exercise, and if you’re growing edibles eating freshly picked, homegrown, organically grown produce is a way of keeping healthy and saving money too, not to mention the complete lack of air miles.

This is my new monthly linkup, where you can share your gardens and/or gardening posts (old or new) that complement the month’s theme. For May, that’s Get Set Grow.

The linkup will stay open all month, so pop back if your post isn’t published yet, and remember you can link up an old post too.



Get the harvesting high!

Researchers have found that seeing, smelling and picking fruits and berries can release dopamine from the brain’s reward centre, resulting in a feeling of mild euphoria and wellbeing. So there’s the perfect excuse to hit the PYO farms when they open later in the month!

Eat the rainbow

We know that we should be eating five a day, or up to ten a day depending on what advice is flavour of the day, but there’s also benefits to eating different coloured fruits and vegetables as they contain varying beneficial ingredients:

  • Red: Tomatoes, red onions, rhubarb chard, peppers, chillies, strawberries and rhubarbs

  • Orange: Carrots, squash and pumpkin

  • Yellow: Golden courgettes and tomatoes, sweetcorn, yellow beans and peppers

  • Green: Asparagus, spinach, peas, beans, mangetout, rocket, lettuce and salad leaves, kale, cabbage, cucumber and pak choi

  • Blue: Blueberries

  • Purple: Beetroot, broccoli, aubergine, purple beans and asparagus, red cabbage, radish and plums

  • White: Cauliflower, celery, leeks, onions, garlic, shallots, spring onions, potatoes.

Plants of the moment for summer displays and crops

Flowers: Nemesia - I’m sure you’ll know what these look like if you google them, Poppy varieties, Pinks, shrubs including Berberis, choisya, ceanothus with its lilac blue flowers, weigela, lilac and many viburnum.

Young seedling plants: tomatoes, peppers, chillies, cucumbers, strawberries, courgettes and squash.

But there’s dozens of other crops such as salad leaves, beans, rocket, spinach, beetroot and carrots which can be grown from seed, which is even better value.

I now have some seed compost, and I’ve got plenty of seeds, all I need to do is put them together and let the magic happen, what about you?


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