'Get creative with colour' this April

Gardening is good for you, that’s the message from the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) who have a year long campaign to persuade more of us to get out into our gardens, to enjoy our spaces and perhaps perk them up a bit too. 

I can’t quite believe it’s April already, the year seems to be running away with us.  In my own garden I’ve hardly made it out there much yet and I’m not quite sure why.  I suspect partly it’s due to the weather - it has been lovely the last couple of weekends, but we’ve been out and about so it’s also partly down to weekend plans.  Unusually I don’t have any seeds sown yet either, but I also know with my north-facing garden, which takes a little longer to warm up, that I should be ok as long as I get started soon.

And because I also believe that gardening is good for us I’m planning to share more of the #GIGFY campaign for the rest of the year.  So, on the first of every month, pop back and see the theme for the month and how they promote gardening, health and wellbeing activities.  Every month I’ll also host a linkup where you can share your gardens and/or gardening posts (old or new) that complement the month’s theme.  For April, that’s Get Creative with Colour.



Using colour in your garden

You’ll know I’m an advocate of colour, and so this is the perfect month for me to start sharing the ‘gardening is good for you’ with its colourful theme.  I’d like to say I planned it like this, but I didn’t - I only learnt about this at the Garden Media event I went to at the end of February...

Using colour in your garden is as easy as using colour in your house. It’s that simple, although you’ll also know I think we can play it too safe with our interiors choices. So if that’s you, then going a bit wild with colour in your garden is the perfect way to rebel. I mean, have you seen some of the colour clashes that nature puts together, and which just work?

For somewhere bright and uplifting choose a colour palette with red, gold, yellow and orange – all colours with energy and warmth. Planted in bold bocks around a patio, and matched with furniture in equally uplifting colours, they’ll produce a joyful place socialise outside.

In contrast, create somewhere calm and relaxing using cool colours like blue, mauve and violet, set against a backdrop of green, and perhaps adding pure white and silver for a clean, tranquil effect. With soft chairs to sink down into you’ll create a peaceful and restorative space to sit out and meditate.

Different colours can influence on your emotions in different ways:

  • Red: bold, bright and stimulating, exciting and eye-catching
  • Orange: warm and vibrant, happy and fun
  • Yellow: cheerful and welcoming, positive and stimulating
  • Green: fresh, natural and calming, peaceful and relaxing
  • Blue: simple, cool, calming and relaxing
  • Purple: striking, powerful and energetic
  • White, grey & silver: pure and simple, clean and classic.

Colour can influence your visual perception of space

By growing bright red plants at the end of a long, narrow garden you can make it appear closer than it actually is, while cool, blue flowers will look further away, giving the impression that the space is larger. Vibrant colours like red and yellow grab your attention, drawing the eye away from eyesores or views you’d prefer to ignore, while pure white and gold shine out on dull days and brighten a shaded spot.

Choosing colour themed displays

You can have fun with colourful groupings or partners, and good planting companions include:

  • Purple and yellow or gold, such as Geranium, Achillea, Rudbeckia.
  • Red, yellow and blue, such as Solidago, Scabious, Camassia, Scilla peruviana.
  • Purple, green and orange, such as Geum, Alchemilla, Campanula, Erysimum, Salvia, Verbascum, Hosta, Euphorbia, Bergenia.

Dont worry about the ‘proper’ names of the plants, a quick look around your garden centre or on the internet will quickly determine what they look like and if you like them. Like other parts of your home, if you don’t truly love it then you shouldn’t include it.

You can find our more about colour therapy in garden design and learn the basics of colour theory to know what looks good using the appropriate link.

Gardens to visit for: colour-themed inspiration

Despite two of these gardens being relatively close and/or close to family, I’ve not visited any of these, so it seems This month would be a good time to put right!  If you’ve visited any of these gardens I’d be keen to see your posts linked below, alongside any that complement the theme.


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Lanterns and loveliness

Joyful Living has been a regular stopping point for ogling interior loveliness when we’re in Norfolk, but it’s been a while and I was long overdue a visit. That was something remedied on our recent visit to Norfolk and it was reassuring to discover that while the stock has changed, the quality and ethos hadn’t. On this visit it was the lanterns that caught my eye, and the succulents of course but that goes without saying doesn’t it?

patterned lanterns

The intricate patterns and weathered finish are great aren’t they, and would work as well indoors or out, with a candle or without. The round shape makes a change too, as often lanterns are the more traditional square shape. But if more traditional is your thing, then there’s also those as well. I love the finish of both, and would happily have them indoors, but only if I could be certain that MOH wouldn’t set about polishing them, which could take quite some negotiation.

weathered lanterns with candles

But there’s plenty more than lanterns here, and it wasn’t long before I found myself drawn to the yellow pouffe and blankets. The pouffe, especially, was a favourite. I’m on a mission to get more yellow in our house, but I wasn’t quite sure about this one just now.

Textured blankets and pouffes

It’s just as well I hadn’t seen these cushions though when we were on cushion-hunt. A couple of these might have ended up on our grey sofas as the constants. And I think that would have given our living room a very different look, possibly a more grown up and sophisticated look, but there’s still time to grow into that I’m sure.

classic striped cushions and woven baskets

Had I seen this star in the run up to Christmas I’d have left with as many as I could get my hands on. I’ve a plan, that may or may not actually come to fruition, to make some of these giant stars myself from wire we have left over from our gabion baskets - yes I know that’s quite random - but I think they could look really good. I’m still working out the lights, but we’ll see how far we get with this before worrying about that just yet.

A twinkling star.jpg

It’s also the type of place that manages to make bowls of shells look effortlessly stylish. Maybe it works because it’s on the North Norfolk coast, and that’s more authentic than a South London dwelling, who knows.

patterned shells
mother of pearl shells

And as ever, there’s always room for some sequins. And more stars.

there's always room for a sequinned cushion

What I’m seeing more and more of is macrame-type holders for jars and plants. These have that feel to them too, but expect to see much more macrame around. Even in the Facebook craft groups and craft magazines it’s making an appearance and reminds me of growing up in the 70s - I’m sure we had a spider plant, with many many babies hanging in a window complete with louvre openings at some point. Our 70s house rocked.

Glass jars hung in twine

Ah yes, more succulents. Aren’t these little pots lovely? I was quickly ushered out of the shop at this point, but look at the shelf too - it’s a scaffold board painted white. Something that would work equally well in a home setting too.

succulents in green pots

So lanterns and more loveliness as usual, I won’t be leaving it so long for my next visit either.

Reflecting on my week #76

I’ve spent the weekend  mostly out and about with a visit to the hairdressers on Friday, the Ideal Home Show on Saturday and visiting the Painted Hall in Greenwich on its reopening weekend, Sunday.  The working week that preceded it was also long and busy, and I learnt that my joint pain is real.  I mean, I knew it was real because I can feel it, but talking to Helen at Actually Mummy it was reassuring to know it’s not just me.

I used my last day of leave on Friday - well the last that I’m taking, I’m rolling four days into next year as I’m hoping there’ll be more holidays.  Although I’ve done little to make the big American holiday happen for June.  I started, it got complicated and then life got busy again.  However we still want to go away in June and yesterday I hit on a new masterplan.  We’ve done walking and cycling holidays before with Inntravel and have never had a bad holiday, MOH had mooted the idea of going to Lisbon when we were talking holidays recently too.  So the masterplan is to put it together - genius hey? 

I think I’ve found a trip that appeals, it’s new for this year and is walking rather than cycling this time.  The overview talks about cheeses, one of the hotels is next to a vineyard and there’s beautiful scenery too.  We can tag on a few nights in Lisbon too, I think probably at the beginning of our trip while we’re still operating at city-speed.  It could be a very cunning plan indeed…

Friday I spent way longer than I expected to in the hairdressers.  The pink, which went in in November, has been replaced with orange (it’s not as bad as it sounds, but I can’t get a good photo yet!) and that involved more bleaching before the colour, hence the entrapment in the salon.  It wasn’t as bad as I make it sound, but nearly three hours is a long time to be sitting in a gown looking less than glam.

Last week I started on my ‘be active, eat well and exercise’ campaign and it’s gone pretty well if I’m honest.  I’ve walked to and from work everyday, even if I didn’t want to as the bus seemed to be at least 15 minutes away, and I’m way too impatient to wait.  I’ve done well avoiding bars of chocolate, though I did crack open a packet of crisps on the day I took soup to work as I was still hungry.

The exercise DVD is getting easier, which is good I think, and I’ve only missed or shortened it on a couple of days which is much better than I expected.  I’ve another week on this level, then there’s a new DVD to master - and one that I’ve not made it to before.  I’ve not tried on the outfit again (yet) but my everyday clothes are starting to feel more comfortable so I’m hoping it’s good news, but I know it’s not time yet to stop and celebrate.  We’ve a few nights out planned in the next few weeks, which will need navigating and they’ll be the celebrations.

I’ll share more about my visit to the Ideal Home Show here tomorrow, but it seemed quite quiet although I’m not sure if that’s because everyone was either marching or avoiding Central London because of the march, or just not at the show for whatever reason.  There were many of the same things as usual at the show, but with a few exciting additions, which for me were:







The Willow Wands are fantastic, I bought three of the small size for £20 and plan to use two of them in our large black pots by the conservatory, replacing the box ball.  One box has already gone and I’ve a feeling a second may not last too long.  The box caterpillar has made it to Greenwich and while we can spray them, I wonder if it’s just a matter of time and maybe it’s time for a change - but we’ll see. 

The highly decorative teak furniture on the Omia stand is imported from Bali and the detail is exquisite, and there’s much more to it than the cabinet I’ve shown, but more on that another day.  Puji also specialise in teak furniture, but have so much more too. They’re a Manchester based company who specialise in sustainable and eco-friendly reclaimed teak furniture, but again more on them another day.

There was only one house as such this year, although it was a modular house that can evolve with families and so was actually two houses.  But it’s a clear trend for the show, there’s definitely less houses than there used to be and while that’s a shame it’s understandable as I’m sure they’re not cheap to make happen.

The good news was that the garden ‘room sets’ were back and the garden section was in the main part of the hall.  I’ll be sharing photos from the four garden room sets, although I’ve less photos of the family fun space.  There was no voting for these spaces this year, but my vote would be for the Upcycled Garden and not because I had a lovely chat with Max McMurdo, the designer and recycler extraordinaire - he was lovely, and happy to chat, despite trying to snaffle his lunch at the same time.



There were room sets galore, the theme was a bit lame this year I thought - royalty - but there were some lovely items in the rooms and I’d be happy to have too. I’ll be sharing more of the all of the room sets, and the garden ones too here, so look out for those.

On Sunday we were off out again, but closer to home. I’d got tickets for the re-opening weekend of the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College. It’s pretty much next to where I work and so it was nice to pop along and see what’s been going on in the building next door. And it is pretty amazing, we’d heard that following the restoration there was a £12 entry fee, which sounded steep. However, it’s worth it and you can use your ticket for the whole year which, even if you’re just a visitor, isn’t such a bad deal.

The ceiling takes your breath away, you might have seen photos of it already but I’m sharing another here and will share more later on in the week. It really is a gem and no photo can do it justice, so if you’re ever in Greenwich go along and see it for yourself. And give me a shout, if I’m able to I’ll pop out and say hello.

The Painted Hall in Greenwich