Enjoy summertime in the garden this July

Gardening is good for you, but so is spending some time enjoying your garden. Whether that’s starting the day with tea and toast on the patio, relaxing in the shade, dining alfresco or chilling after a busy day at the office. Bright mornings, sunny days and hopefully warm balmy evenings tempt us outside to enjoy a dose of green therapy, boosting our mood and recharging our batteries.

Incorporating spaces to relax, socialise and have fun in our gardens is important, and so’s the furniture we choose. While not many of us will actually have a hammock, I bet when you saw it your first thought was relaxing, the second was probably how on earth am I going to get into that!

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Plants bring us closer to nature, improving our mood and relieving depression, even taking away aches and pains and speeding up rehabilitation after illness, and improving our mental health. That feeling of wellbeing you get from just being outside comes from a boost of what have colloquially been called ‘outdoorphins’ - it’s no secret that Greenwich Park is one of my happy places.

Plants of the moment for instant colour and displays

There’s plenty of choice at garden centres and nurseries which will add instant colour and impact to our gardens. Many are ready-planted in larger patio pots and hanging baskets that can be put straight outside to enjoy with minimal effort. Often they’re already in bloom too, so there’s instant bonuses, but it also makes them easier to coordinate with our existing plants, and our furniture and accessories.

As well as ornamental plants, don’t forget the pots of tomatoes, chillies and strawberries as well as vegetables, salads, fruits and herbs. There’s nothing better than picking - and eating - crops you’ve grown yourself.

Look for:

  • Bedding plants like Begonia, Verbena, Petunias, Pelargoniums (a favourite of mine), Lobelia, Dahlias and Zinnias.

  • Hardy perennials like Geranium, Echinacea, Phlox, Astrantia (I must buy myself some of these), Salvia, Penstemon, and Heucheras - which is just a great word to say!

  • Shrubs like Hydrangea, Hebe, Choisya, Phormium and Yucca, or perhaps a climbing rose, Clematis, Honeysuckle or Jasmine - and the balmy evenings will really bring out their scent.

  • Fruit and vegetables like Strawberries, Tomatoes, Chillies and Peppers, Squash, salad plants and potted herbs. Tasty as well as bringing colour to your garden.


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Fill your garden with fragrance this June

Gardening is good for you, and so is smelling the roses. But it’s not just the roses, there’s plenty in our gardens that provide scent, and scent and plants sensory appeal should also be something when we consider plants for our garden, whether they’re flowers or herbs.

Plants evolved fragrant flowers to attract pollinating insects, rewarding them with nectar and pollen, and the scent is something we enjoy too. Research on floral scents highlights their benefit to both mental and physical health by relieving stress and depression.

Scent can also improve memory focus and wellbeing. particularly alongside other sensory engagement with plants and gardening activities. There’s a reason why lavender is used for relaxation - it’s been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rates to promote better sleep.

Aromatic rosemary though, keeps us alert, improving focus and memory. But scent can also unlock memories, transporting you back to a time or place in the past. So while we have scented candles, we should perhaps grow our own aromatherapy plants instead and enjoy the simple pleasure of filling our gardens with fragrance.

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 June, that’s fragrance. 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.

Did you know?

The Fragrance Wheel was developed by the perfume industry to categorise different scents, giving them a descriptive language they could use. Fragrance directly changes our mood too. Fruit and spice perfumes are uplifting and reinvigorating, while floral and rosy perfumes reduce stress and anxiety and promote mental balance. Fresh, green, herbal and citrus perfumes keep us mentally active and creative, while earthy scents can be comforting and nurturing.

Plants of the moment for scent

There’s scented plants for every season, including pot plants and cut flowers like sweet peas to bring indoors. Summer scents are particularly enjoyable while sitting outside and relaxing in our own gardens. Shrubs with highly fragrant flowers, such as the mock orange (Philadelphus) and lilac, or climbers like roses, jasmine or honeysuckle. Where we position our fragrant plants is important too, lavender and herbs are often close to paths, doorways and seating areas so we can maximise their fragrance as we pass.

Plant suggestions include:

  • Lavender

  • Fragrant roses

  • Mock Orange

  • Lilacs

  • Aromatic herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, lemon verbena and oregano.

My garden has many of these plants, and the jasmine especially provides a heady and welcome scent on those balmy summer evenings, and the scent alone transports me back to a holiday, many years ago in Seville. Where do your scent memories take you?


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'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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