Tag Archives: Seasonal Garden Ideas

Plant for summer colour now – and a special treat for you!

Nasturtiums Running Riot

All the wonderful weather we have experienced recently has meant we have been able to eat out in the garden almost every night – a rarity in England!

My after-dinner ‘treat’ is to look through my gardening books pondering what to plant.

Today, I’m off to a local plant fair to purchase some colourful bedding plants, and one of the definites on my list is nasturtiums – they are the easiest and prettiest little flowers and not only do they bring a riot of colour to the garden, they also brighten up your salad!

In this little project from our book Seasonal Garden Ideas, we show you how to plant herbs with nasturtiums for a mass of colour.

Enjoy the bank holiday everyone!



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Nasturtiums Running Riot

In this combination a permanent shrubby perennial – catmint – is planted with a foreground of brightly coloured annual nasturtiums. The two together make an interesting summer partnership.

Plant the catmint in autumn or mid spring and the nasturtiums in late spring. Both will flower in summer. The time it takes to plant the nasturtiums depends on the size of bed or border you have got.


What you need

Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii ‘Six Hills Giant’)
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus varieties).

Fork, spade and trowel.



1 The catmint is a permanent planting, so needs to go in first. Neither it nor the nasturtium require rich soil – but they do both like a sunny site. Dig over the planting area, removing weeds, roots and stones.

2 One catmint can reach a height and spread of 90cm (3ft) or more, so allow it plenty of room. Dig a hole large enough to take the rootball comfortably, set the plant in and firm up. Fill in with more soil and firm in again. Water well.

3 Buy the nasturtiums as bedding strips and plant them as close together as you can for best effect – no more than 15cm (6in) apart. Plant them all around the catmint to form a colourful carpet – they will reach about 30cm (12in) in height. Water in well.

Nasturtiums flower best on poor sandy soils – if the ground is too rich they will produce leaf at the expense of flowers. Incorporate some sharp sand or grit into the planting area if you think your soil is too rich or heavy.

Catmint has been given its common name for a good reason – most cats absolutely love it. This affection can take the form of a few surreptitious nibbles from time to time, through pulling or biting away whole stems to full-scale rolling around all over the plant. Keep an eye on your feline if necessary – or take pity on the poor creature and sew it a little sachet stuffed with fresh or dried catmint to play with.

Watch out for and remove any caterpillars you see on the nasturtium leaves – they can eat the leaves down to skeletons if left. Treat blackfly infestation with a systemic insecticide. Cut away any dead or damaged leaves. Water well in dry weather. Clear away the nasturtiums in autumn and dig over the ground ready for spring planting the following year. The catmint looks after itself for most of the year, but benefits from being cut back almost to ground level in spring.

Project is taken from Seasonal Garden Ideas







National Gardening Week

Succulents and Seashells project

Year-Round Interest in 5 Simple Steps 

National Gardening WeekAs it’s National Gardening Week I thought I would do something a little different in the garden.

Instead of the usual flowering basket I’m going to tackle this easy project from our Seasonal Garden Ideas book.

It only takes a few minutes but should give interest throughout the year.



Succulents & Seashells

Succulents are often grown as indoor house plants, but many varieties are perfectly hardy and do well outdoors – if given full sun and really sharp drainage. Striped and whorled seashells make perfect partners for these shapely rosettes.

Plant in spring. Succulents like these usually flower in June and July but their thick, fleshy leaves provide year-long interest. Creating a display like this will take one to two hours.


What you need


Selection of houseleeks (Sempervivum) and echeverias – read the plant labels carefully to check that the ones you choose are fully hardy. Sempervivum arachnoideum, S. tectorum and Echeveria elegans – and their numerous varieties and colour forms – are some to look for.


  • Large stone terracotta or ceramic container with drainage holes at the bottom.
  • Gritty compost, such as that sold for cacti.
  • Broken crocks for drainage.
  • Selection of seashells.
  • Fine gravel or grit for a topping.
  • Trowel.


1 Line the container with broken crocks for drainage, then fill it nearly full with gritty compost.

2 Carefully tip the rosettes out of their pots – the leaves can break off easily, so handle very gently – and plant them in the compost, leaving room for the shells.

3 Top up the compost with the fine gravel or grit – allow for at least a 2.5cm (1in) layer. Then pile up the shells around and between the succulents.

4 Water moderately, then follow the plant label instructions for subsequent watering. Position the container in full sun and bring into a sheltered area during winter.


As an alternative to seashells, try pebbles or cobbles of various shapes, sizes and colours. These plants also do really well in rockeries or on the top of drystone walls.


It can take quite some time for a houseleek or echeveria to flower – and when it does, that rosette dies, but it is quickly replaced by new ones. The leaves of some varieties change colour in summer, turning from green or silvery grey to red or bronzed.


Deadhead flowers as they wither (they usually appear in summer). Remove any withered or damaged leaves.



Seasonal Garden IdeasSeasonal Garden Ideas is a beautiful
book featuring simple projects, with
easy-to-follow instructions, to add
beauty to any garden.

You can order a copy for just £3.99.

Buy Seasonal Garden Ideas









National Nest Box Week

How to build a bird box


Step-by-Step DIY Birdbox

This week is National Nest Box Week, an initiative set up to encourage everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area in order to enhance biodiversity and conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife.

Natural nest sites for birds such as holes in trees or old buildings are disappearing fast as gardens are tidied and old houses are repaired.

Taking part in NNBW gives you the chance
to contribute to bird conservation whilst
giving you the pleasure of observing any
breeding birds that you attract to your nest box.

And here is a step-by-step guide to making a bird box.

Seasonal Garden Ideas £3.99This project is taken from our
Seasonal Garden Ideas book,
available to buy for just £3.99!





A Box for the Birds

Encourage small songbirds into your garden with a tailor-made nest box – this small-hole version is suitable for blue and great tits, coal tits and tree sparrows.

You can make the box at any time of year, but try to put it into position in January. Birds can start looking for nesting sites pretty early.

Making the box and putting it up should take an afternoon.


What you need

  • Saw, sandpaper, screwdriver, hammer, tape measure, pencil, drill, drill bits including a 28mm wide bit for the entrance hole.
  • One piece of sawn, untreated timber measuring 1.2m (4ft) long, 15cm (6in) wide and 1.25cm (¾ in) thick.
  • Two brass hinges and screws.
  • Water-based wood preservative and brush.
  • Hook or strong nail for hanging the box.

1 Mark out all the pieces on the timber using tape measure and pencil, to the following dimensions:

  • Back 30cm x 15cm (12in x 6in).
  • Floor 11cm x 15cm (4.5in x 6in).
  • Front 18cm x 15cm (7in x 6in).
  • Roof 20cm x 15cm (8in x 6in).
  • Side panels x 2 (cut for the sloping roof) 20cm (8in) high at the back, 18cm (7in) high at the front, 15cm (6in) at top and bottom.

2 Cut out the six sections accurately with a saw.

3 Sand all rough edges smooth – any splinters could damage the birds. Drill several small holes in the floor piece for drainage.

4 Fix one of the sides to the floor of the box using three nails set at intervals, then nail both of these to the back section – three nails per join are enough.

5 Turn the box on to the fixed side and nail the second side on to the back and floor.

6 Make the entrance hole for the birds in the front using a drill and 28mm wide drill bit. Position this hole at least 13cm (5in) up from the floor so the baby chicks can’t fall out. Sand the edges of the hole smooth.

7 Turn the box on its side and nail the front piece to the sides. Everything should fit together tightly without gaps. Screw the brass hinges on to the roof and back pieces.

8 Drill a hole in the top of the bird box for attaching to a tree trunk or branch via a hook or nail. Paint the outside of the box with a water-based wood preservative but do not allow the preservative to get inside the box – it will poison the chicks. Also keep the preservative away from the entrance – the adult birds often tap this area with their beaks before entering.

9 Position the box in a sheltered site, preferably between north and east to avoid heavy rain and hot afternoon sun. Place it high enough to be out of reach of prowling cats. Don’t position it near a bird feeding table – the constant coming and going of other birds will deter the parent birds from using the box.


Hanging the box about 2m (7ft) above ground should be enough to deter predators. Tilt the box slightly forwards when fixing it in place to aid water run-off.


Don’t be tempted to look in the box while baby birds are inside – such disturbance may cause the parents to desert the nest. Just watch comings and goings from a distance.

When the chicks have fledged and left the box, take it down, remove old nesting material and clean it thoroughly with scalding hot water – this is enough to kill any parasites.

Reapply water-based preservative if needed to prolong the life of the box, then hang it up again.





Charming Christmas Wreath in 3 Simple Steps

Make a Christmas Wreath


It’s easy to give your home the wow factor with a stunning Christmas wreath.

Inspired by some particularly beautiful specimens at our local Christmas Fair, I have decided to make my own this year.

This step-by-step project from Seasonal Garden Ideas should make it easy.

It’s traditional to hang a wreath on the door at Christmas, and there are lots to choose from in the shops – but why not make your own using the abundant and varied foliage and berries available in the winter garden?

To ensure your wreath stays fresh as long as possible, make it as near to Christmas as you can. It should only take an hour or so.

What you need

Plants: Stems, foliage and berries from as many evergreen plants in the garden as you can muster: here, variegated holly, cypress, ivy (in flower), elaeagnus, rosemary, rose hips and hawthorn berries have all been pressed into use. Aim for long stems and unblemished leaves if possible.

Equipment: Circular wreath ring from a florist or garden centre. Thin wire. Soft green string.


1 Start with the evergreen and variegated foliage. Twist and tuck the stems into the wreath ring, securing with wire or soft string. Point them all in one direction to get a ‘wheel effect’. Work in this way all round the ring until you have a reasonably full foundation of secure foliage. Space out the variegated or bronze leaves for best effect.

2 Tie small bunches of berries together with wire or string, then tuck them into the ring at intervals in front of the foliage, again securing tightly with wire or string. The berries will be heavier than the foliage, so don’t put too many together in one bunch.

3 Hang the wreath on your door using wire or string.

Tip: If red berries simply aren’t available in your garden, invest in some really good quality, natural-looking artificial ones and keep them for use from year to year.

Notes: Other evergreen/variegated foliage leaves to try include artemisia, aucuba, choosy, euonymus, pittosporum, senecio and skimmia – as well as all the conifers. Just go into the garden and see what’s there!

Aftercare: The wreath should last reasonably well over the Christmas period, but after that the leaves will start to dry up – take it down on Twelfth Night (6 January).



Seasonal Garden Ideas £3.99This easy wreath is taken from Seasonal Garden Ideas, a lovely book with step-by-step projects for pretty garden projects throughout the year.

It’s available for just £3.99 here.

A perfect bargain Christmas gift.







Five Easy Ways to Attract Hedgehogs to your Garden

There’s something very magical about sitting quietly and watching wildlife.

On a recent visit to my parents’ house I was lucky enough to observe a trio of hedgehogs enjoying a feast on their patio.

How cute are they?!!
They look as though they are
wearing little spikey skirts!

I am determined to encourage these cute little mammals to our own garden and after some advice from Mum and Dad, here’s the plan:

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Step-by-Step Guide to Brick Border Edging

Brick Border Edging

One of the projects that I (when I say I, I actually mean my far more practical other half) want to tackle this summer is the edge between the lawn and the borders. 

Our strimmer seems to run out of strimming
line roughly every two minutes and I end up
on my hands and knees using our blunt garden
shears to hack at the edge of the lawn.

With sunken bricks, you can just mow straight over them and the borders look tidy and stay contained. Overall, this gives a really neat finish to the garden.

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