Denys & Fielding is a boutique furniture and accessories brand that is all about the celebration of the great outdoors. Bright, colourful home and garden wares. Made in the UK. Lovers of colour, plants and life outside.
What is it about a deckchair that is just plain joyful? Perhaps it is their undeniable vintage appeal. There is always a touch of nostalgia surrounding a deckchair. It is a familiar sight in old black and white photos of bygone family holidays spent at the seaside. Deckchairs (or deck chairs) are associated with happy times - hot days, or not to so hot days, spent at the beach with friends and family. Sand in your sandwiches. Stones in your jelly shoes. A bag of chips, laced in salt and vinegar, for the journey home. Lovely stuff.
There is a little grey area surrounding the official creation of what we all know and recognise as a deckchair. While folding furniture and chairs is nothing new, it was the introduction of deckchairs on the deck of ships during the 19th century that introduced the familiar shape and structure. In 1885, a patent for a folding chair was registered by John Cham. Meanwhile here in the UK, steamer chairs were already putting in an appearance on ships and ocean liners and were often referred to as deckchairs.
Soon, deckchairs became the portable seating option of choice for spectators of cricket matches, tennis games and in public parks. Hiring deckchairs at the seaside reached it's peak in the mid century, offering a seat with a sea view for visitors and day trippers.
In terms of structure, very little has changed for the traditional, classic deckchair. Originally, deckchairs just had one seating position, now deckchairs offer a range of reclining positions. Deckchair slings were first made with one strip of canvas and there was always a comedy moment / fear of going through them! These days, deckchair slings are made of sturdy stuff. Ours are made with reinforced seams and given a waterproofing and UV resistance treatment, that enhances their performance and appearance for up to three years. The wood is a hard wood; easy to treat and maintain.
There is also a lot more choice in terms of colours and style of deckchair sling. The first deckchair slings were green in colour; then stripes were introduced. But why stop there?! That's what we say. Combining colourful, bold prints to beautiful, classic wooden frames is just plain fun! And it adds a twist and fresh approach to using these beautiful, simple chairs.
Indoors or out?
While most people think of deckchairs as outdoor chairs, suitable for the garden or patio, it's amazing how these chairs wheedle their way into your heart and your home! They are a truly flexible piece of furniture; suitably stylish in summerhouses, conservatories and 'proper' indoor rooms. I've even delivered one of our extra large deckchairs for a customer who chose to use it as an alternative to a sofa!
What about trapped fingers?!
I won't lie, it's nasty. I've come a cropper a time or two. But the trick is to remember that deckchairs have three rectangles. When you start, two should be at the top, one at the bottom. Once you have this sussed, it's child's play. And talking of kids - our little deckchairs for children come with a set of wing nuts and bolts - meaning that once the chair is upright and positioned, little fingers are safe from harm.
Despite the snow being a good foot deep outside, you know our crazy weather. We could be basking in sunshine next week. Ever optimistic, we've got a colourful selection of gifts for gardeners this Spring. Everything you need to get inspired for the season ahead. So, if you are busy looking for presents for the gardener(s) in your life, here are a few ideas to get you going...
Ladies Garden Apron: Ever popular, these lovely, handmade gardening aprons are ideal for crafting, pottering as well as gardening. Available in five different pattern designs. Handmade by us, gift wrapped and gorgeous.
Alfresco Essentials: Eating outside, especially if the dish contains your very own homegrown veg, is, for us, a very special occasion. Dust down the candelabra, dig out the citronella, and add one of our table runners to dress the table. Alternatively, if you are simply looking to enjoy snacks indoors or outside, grab one of our colourful, stylish serving trays.
Encourage Kids to get Gardening: Get them away from screens and into seeds! Our new gift set for budding gardeners has everything needed to encourage little ones into the garden. They can 'dress up' with our garden apron; sow flower seeds in biodegradable pots and give some wildflower seed paper a home in the garden.
Cabin Fever: Give your summerhouse or garden room a makeover with our stylish range of garden chairs. They are a comfortable, unusual addition to cabins and conservatories.
Make a home for houseplants: Some like it hot. Including me. And while the first day of snow was lovely, I'm a little over it now. I won't be stepping outside unless I can help it. Keeping me company is my growing collection of houseplants. I LOVE them. Lush, green foliage giving these cold, grey days a flash of tropical loveliness. What is not to love?! Hang our plant hangers from ceilings and walls to add height and interest to your interiors.
Ooh. Now, here comes the truth. I don’t like gardening with kids. I know. Awful, eh? The trouble is, the OCD kicks in. “Don’t stand on that!” “Be careful of the bulbs” “this is NOT a football pitch!”
Oh, but it is.
To my little boys, the garden is freedom - a space to let loose and go wild. Literally.
This little example of 'healthy tension' is perhaps best explained by the completely different view you have when you are forty, versus four.
When I commuted up to London, my garden was an escape from the rest of the world. Savoured on weekends and evenings. When the kids arrived, all that kicking and screaming (theirs, not mine, but, now I think about it...) was soothed by the garden. The boys found solace in nature; sleeping for hours tucked up in a pram in all weathers. Meanwhile, I got chance to put my feet up, or just wonder around, picking out the odd weed, admiring latest blooms. The garden nurtured and looked after us all.
But these days, we all want a piece. I feel a deep connection to my garden - it's been there through good times and bad. It is a place that I love to be in, either alone, or with my Mum and Dad, pottering about, learning from their experience. And now, I find myself sharing it, little by little, with the ankle biters.
After several years of protestation, I have come to appreciate their love of the garden. Although different from mine, it is still keenly felt. The boys love the pond. While this might send my anxiety levels through the roof, I wouldn't change it for the world. That look of delight when they spot a frog or a newt is just brilliant. My eldest has designated an area on the other side of the pond as his 'peaceful place' - when he is there, his little brother has to leave him alone. What a sensitive soul. Very cute. But also, very astute; sensing the calming nature of water.
Our grass has never been up to much. And these days, I'm eternally grateful. While I've been growing out some of the grass into shapely 'teardrops'; mowing around these areas, now earmarked as wildflower and meadow areas, the boys have spied a race track - whizzing their bikes up and down the mowed areas, tongues out, serious face on, for the hairpin bends and the longer, wider turns.
While their land grabbing hasn't always been wholly appreciated, I do appreciate the glimpse of the garden through the eyes of our boys. The view is one of wonder, magic and sense of adventure. Back in the adult world, it all too easy to take a very serious, sensible view of gardening. I blame all that latin. But, a dose of the kids and the formality evaporates, almost immediately.
In turn, I've spotted positive signs of my influence on them. Concerns about whether a plant has enough water. The ability to identify a daffodil. (Common names only, obvs). Adoption of pet worms, such as 'Skiddy', who quite frankly, is nothing short of miraculous - changing length, size, and colouring at the drop of a hat.
All in all, gardening with the kids is becoming increasingly harmonious. And I find myself wondering how our relationship in the garden will change and alter over the next few years. I can't wait to share a few laughs over plants with weird, wonderful and plain rude names. Will I be wondering around their garden in forty year's time, offering advice and help? I hope so. Once a gardener, always a gardener. But for now, we amble along together; occasionally crossing swords, but ultimately sharing a love, and an entirely different perspective, of our shared space.
Like most people, I was truly moved and slightly heartbroken by that Blue Planet programme. Ever since, have been looking around at the plastic in our lives, wondering how, in our own small way, we can make more of a difference to such a huge, catastrophic problem.
While we do our best to recycle as effectively as possible from within the home (and business), my thoughts soon headed towards the direction of the shed. Inside my decrepit old shed are piles of black plastic gardening pots. Concerned that they were not recyclable, and unable to bring myself to hurl them into the 'black' bin, I've been inadvertently hoarding them for years, thinking 'when I have time to really get going on cuttings, this lot will be useful'.
Er, I've been thinking that same thought for eight years.
As it turns out, I am not the only one. According to AShortWalk, it is estimated that we each own about 39 redundant plastic plant pots. Furthermore, across the UK, there are over 5 million plastic pots languishing in sheds.
Use of plastic in the garden doesn't stop there. While I don't really go in for plastic pots and planters, my pond is lined with some kind of plastic. I've lined my big apple bins with a thick polythene to grow wild flowers. It hadn't occurred to me that the plastic I use not only may end up in landfill, but it may also be leaching out harmful chemicals that make it into plants - eek!? All of this has left me wondering if my efforts to maintain an organic garden, and create an environment that is as wildlife friendly as possible are, well, a little naive?
I've tried to look into things a little deeper, and to be honest, it's a minefield. However, here is what I've gleaned so far...
1. Not all plastics are the same. So this one had completely passed me by. Just because a piece of plastic has that triangular looking sign on it, it does not mean that is safe, or unsafe. Nor does it mean that you can put it out in the recycling bin. Instead, the code inside the triangle indicates the chemicals used in it's creation; likelihood of leaching, biodegradability and more. A quick check on my stack of plant pots in the shed indicates that all they appear to be code 5: polypropylene. The good news is while it won't be collected by many council refuse collections, it can be recycled. More on that in point three.
2. Garden hoses might pose more of a problem than pots: So, when I was thinking about plastic and it's role in the garden, I was thinking about the single use stuff - plastic pots; that polystyrene stuff that surrounds a lot of bedding plants and plugs that you can buy in garden nurseries. One thing that never crossed my mind was the common garden hose. However, a study undertaken by Healthy Stuff - a project born out of The Ecology Centre - a nonprofit environmental organisation in Michigan, USA, changed all that. Having previously examined over 200 hoses in separate studies undertaken between 2011 - 2013, the 2016 study tested 32 garden hoses on sale in major US retailers and online. Although improvements had been made in the intervening years, the 2016 study found that high levels of toxic lead and phthalate chemicals are still present in many garden hoses. The new research also discovered that half of the vinyl (PVC) hoses tested contained electronic waste along with vinyl contaminated with toxic chemicals. When I started looking into plastic in the garden, my thought had been about those awful scenes of mile after mile of sea water, littered with rubbish. Now, my thoughts turned closer to home. Suddenly, I was reading about chemicals that cause premature births, cancer, hormone disruption. So, moral of the story for me, check the label when you buy a new garden hose, see whether it is safe to drink from. And don't let the kids drink the water from the hose.
3. Something to be cheerful about. Companies such as AShortWalk are creating design led, innovative new products using old rubbish, including those plant pots!! Hurrah! AShortWalk has a recycling scheme that allows you to return your pots to a nearby garden centre, which in turn, pass your pot back to AShortWalk. The circular economy in action! Fantastic. Against what I'd read over the last few week's, finding AShortWalk provided a much needed tonic.
Big changes start with small steps
Most gardeners I know are pretty handy when it comes to making something out of nothing. After all, that is one of the simple pleasures of the garden - having a bare patch of earth and cultivating it into something that can provide food or flowers. In the same vein, recycling and renewal is deeply connected to gardening. Whether it is composting garden waste; making a plant pot stand from an old set of ladders; or whizzing up a contraption to keep the birds off the berries, gardeners are a canny lot and tend to have their own methods for combining style with substance.
But for me, I think it would be pretty great if garden nurseries and customers could really work together to find new and different ways of doing things. Independent garden nurseries are undergoing huge change, diversifying to offer something different from the big DIY centres. Many are beautiful, experiential places; offering food, snacks, gift shopping on top of well maintained, high quality plants. They are a place to meet up with friends, or get away from it all. And I think together, customer and retailer could make some headway. I'd love to be able to take my own container down to my local nursery, choose my shrub that is still in the ground and take it away in the box, bag or trug I had brought with me. I have no idea how doable this would be, but wouldn't it be great to apply the same philosophy of pick your own to plants as well as edibles? Joining forces to create compost, rather than buying peat based compost in plastic bags might also be another area where community and local retailer could join forces. A few creative conversations and small changes could help to create a better, greener garden for all. And there has never been a better time to get going.
This year, we're thinking big about being small and introducing a range of new products to encourage children to get out in the garden. The first of our new range is 'the budding gardener' gift set. And even if we do say so ourselves, we're a little bit thrilled with the result...
Available from March 1st, our new Budding Gardener gift set includes a hand made pinafore style apron, complete with double lined pockets for little hands. The dark canvas base of the apron is ideal for hiding all manner of 'delights' earned from time in the garden, and is also great for messy play etc... To accompany the garden apron and to really encourage small, green fingers to flourish, we've gift wrapped the apron in a sturdy, handsome box - ideal for storing treasures and keepsakes, whether they have been foraged or just unashamedly pinched from the garden!
A strip of handmade wildflower paper wraps up the garden apron, and can be planted out in the garden while a packet of seeds and biodegradable pots make growing really easy - just sow the seeds in the pots and once ready, plant the whole pot in the ground. The biodegradable pots will rot down over time, allowing the germinated seeds to flourish and grow.
The garden aprons will be available in three different designs / colour ways. Because of the hand made nature of making them, we're expecting to sell out of our initial stock pretty quickly. To get ahead of the pack, click here register your interest and receive priority shopping. You'll also receive a free copy of 'Rewilding your wildlings' - a guide, packed with ideas and activities to prise your kids away from Power Rangers (it's not just me, is it?!) and into the garden. Hooray!
The sight of blue skies on Saturday morning had me out of zipping bed yesterday, with a spring in my step. With the immortal optimism of Fred Flintstone, I too had a "yabadabadoo" moment and wanted to get stuck in. Hooray!
Well, not quite 'sunshine', but definitely not raining. Which is a vast improvement on a very grey, soggy week.
Wrapped up in my grubby old 'gardening' coat and welly boots, I headed outside with a cuppa to survey the damage.
It's been a rough couple of weeks. Not in terms of a 'proper' winter - there have been very few hard frosts to speak of, so far, in our neck of the woods. And not a whiff of snow since before Christmas. But plenty of sleet, rain and high winds. All a bit grim.
The result is a garden under water. Walking up to the back of the garden is a sloshy undertaking. The bare root willows I planted up there when we moved in are sucking up as much as they can, but they are sleeping, and so won't be hugely thirsty until the first leaves start to appear. They have help to improve things in the last few years, but our recent weather has been testing. The outcome is feast and famine - a garden that cracks and groans under the heat of the summer sun, and a swamp in our mild, grey winter months. Still, the cordons and dwarf apple trees putting up with it all in stoic style. The fruit buds look promising and this weekend, the girls have had their annual haircut - I've given the apple trees a light prune, removing the unwieldy branches that have been turning up on themselves, and the upstarts - looking to usurp the old leader with a new model. Or twelve. It's all been getting a little heated 'up top' on our oldest apple tree. So, the rebels have had a good talking to, and things have quietened down a bit.
Because the ground is so soggy, I haven't been able to plant the bare root apple and cherry trees. I was hoping to train both as cordons, to disguise more of our v. ugly fence. These have had to be heeled in to the veg patches in the front garden: a temporary home while everything else dries out a little. I'll be honest, it is all looking a bit weird and dishevelled - trees in our teeny, tiny square patch of a front garden; a waterlogged trench around the back; holding out for drier days and the arrival of their fruity inhabitants.
While the incessant rain has been bad news for some parts of the garden, other areas have prospered. The moss and lichen around the pond has never looked so glossy and healthy. Another happy camper is the celandine, which looks ready to open up for business any day now. I'm trying to embrace it. Celandine are traditionally at home in damp ditches, woodlands and hedgerows. And, as it happens, our flower beds. Once they get hold, it's hard to get rid of them. On the plus side, celandines are a great, early nectar source for queen bumblebees and other, (though not quite as posh) insects. And they do add a splash of colour. They turn up looking like a bit of an upstart, against the slightly aloof, pale hues of saracocca confusa and viburnum. So, for their anti establishment connotations alone, the celandines can stay. In moderation. When they start to get bit boisterous and take over, I have a tendency to oik a few out. Just to keep them in their place.
All of this has made for a wonderful, grounding weekend. In terms of Denys & Fielding, things are a little crazy - in full flight, finalising a new range of products for Spring, which we'll be sharing with newsletter subscribers late next week for an early peek. I'll also be packing them all up and heading up to Birmingham for Spring Fair, a big old scary retail trade show in just SEVEN DAYS TIME!! Eek! So, in true distraction theory style, it has seemed entirely appropriate to hide in the garden for the weekend. When it comes to finding a 'legit' distraction, I am an expert. Now, where is my head torch, I'm sure I can do a little more pruning before the weekend is out, and reality really does take hold...
Conservatories, glasshouses and everything in-between...
The word 'conservatory' can conjure up a bit of a nightmare: sweltering glass box in the summer, baltic conditions in the winter. But, conservatories have come along way since the seventies, and have slowly, but surely, been losing their "Margo and Jerry" suburban persona. Now, you can opt for a sleek, minimalist glass extension through to an oak framed rustic style addition, and everything in between. Pinterest has had us drooling over a whole host of conservatories and extensions in recent months. Here is the lowdown...
Why have a conservatory?
As well as bringing in a whole lot of lovely light, a conservatory can add that little extra room to a house, even in the smallest of areas. Conservatories also act as an ideal bridge between indoors and outside, often providing lovely views to the garden. In fact, their heritage is linked heavily with gardening - originally used to provide protection to shrubs and herbs. Many people still use them to enjoy the extra light and heat that is provided to tender plants. Adaptable to your needs, a conservatory can double up as a seating area, dining room, play room - in fact, the list is endless.
Glass extension or conservatory?
Perhaps, in a bid to shrug off that old reputation, or just to purely describe it more accurately, 'glass extension' is now a term regularly used by architects and builders. It appears interchangeable with the term 'conservatory' - although the latter typically has a lockable door between it and the main house. The conservatory also tends to have more traditional connotations - a pitched glass roof, short, brick walls, or floor to ceiling glass walls. Meanwhile glass extensions are maximalist on the glass front, minimal on the structure - think steel supports often underpinning strong, modernist shapes - angular square and rectangular glass boxes. To the right of your screen is a gorgeous example by London based Architect's HÛT. The glass extension provides a wonderful new dining room for owners. The brick interior wall blends indoors with outdoors, as does the brick built bench running the length of the wall. Meanwhile, the continuous flow of the flooring and lighting makes it clear that this glass extension is a contemporary, but fitting addition to the existing home.
While we're at it, lets cover off two other types of 'indoor / outdoor' room: the Orangery and the Sunroom. The term orangery harks back to an age where growing and owning citrus fruit was a symbol of wealth and status. An orangery was often a separate building - positioned away from the main house, located in a spot that was perfect for making the most of every sunbeam. As its name suggests, an orangery would traditionally house citrus fruits - growing gorgeously exotic fruits to 'wow' visitors to the Estate. Orangery's often have less glass than a conservatory or glass extension. The shape of the roof is often different too - with a flat roofing area around the perimeter of the building.
Sunrooms are hotspots - warm, sunny rooms, usually integral to a house with a solid roof. The ceiling is often interspersed with windows for extra ventilation and light.
Planning regulations differ for each type of addition to your home, so it is worth consulting with an architect or conservatory fitter before undertaking any work.
Aren't conservatories a little cold in winter?
Not necessarily. Many suppliers now use clever techniques and technologies to improve insulation and energy efficiency. This includes glass that has a special coating to insulate during the winter, and deflect heat in the summer. There is also 'self cleaning' glass, to make smears, mould and stains a thing of the past... or at least reducing the regularity of the chore.
How do you go about furnishing a conservatory?
That all depends on how you intend to use the space. For us, it's all about comfort, colour and style. If you are worried about a conservatory feeling cold, there is no better way to inject a sense of heat than by adding rich, warm tones to your decor. Add lush, green houseplants and you'll start to blur indoors with your garden, creating a sense of continuity to your space. Opt for furniture that is flexible - dining tables that can reduce down in size as well as supersize when you've got a crowd in; garden chairs that can be put away, enjoyed outside when the weather is warm, and good looking enough to use indoors as well as outside.
Phew! It is here. 2018, with all it's lovely newness and glory, as arrived. The minute our last orders went out for Christmas, 'flu descended upon D&F towers and we've been barking / sniffling / sneezing ever since! But, now, already, Christmas is a distant memory. Itt is a new year. With it comes an irrepressible sense of optimism and hope for the year ahead.
For me, I. just. can't. wait... for the garden to slip into gear and start getting a move on. Things are already looking up. By the time we hit Friday this week, we'll have gained extra couple of minutes of daylight since the Winter Solstice. HURRAY for that little factoid!
Shoots from bulbs are already appearing in and around the garden. I've spotted a frog or two rolling over, opening their eyes for a millisecond, deciding whether it is time to put in an appearance (keep your heads down, boys, that is what I say). But, the inevitable is happening. We are on a slow march to Spring, and I for one am delighted about that.
When we were little, our parents would be all over the seed catalogues and the garden magazines, willing on Spring. As a child, I didn't get it. As an adult, I'm smitten. I can't wait to get going in the garden. This time of year is hard. You want to get on with things, but you have to hold back a little. There are plenty of cold, dark days a head. Our sleeping shrubs and trees just want a little TLC, at this time of year. As does the wildlife. There is a defiant sign up - 'DO NOT DISTURB!' and I feel it is my job to creep around, letting nature build up her resources, ready for next year.
But, I can't help but dream. And this year, I've got a list brewing. No resolutions - just goals. Things I'd love to see flourish in my garden. Here are our top five:
More Wildlife!: Anyone (er, anyone?!) that reads this blog regularly will know that I LOVE a wildlife friendly garden. In fact, for me, a garden is not a real garden without a serious amount of humming, fluttering and zooming about in the background. By Summer last year, I'd somehow managed to get 'planning permission' to create teardrops in our lawn. I can't tell you how excited I am about this. My teardrops are five in total. They have been allowed to go 'wild', and I've been artistically mowing around them ever since. I'll be honest, so far it's a miss mash of dandelions, buttercups and tall grass. However, I've got a feeling that this year they will come into their own. The tall(ish) grass has provided a perfect safe haven for lots of insects to hibernate. So what if I just have big old buttercups next year?! At least I'll have a good understanding of what lies beneath in terms of my native wildflower seed bank. Then I can add to it - introducing wild flowers and seeds. These tear drops have provided so much more interest than I could have ever imagined. Plus, my little boys love whizzing around on their bikes on the 'race track' in between the teardrop shaped beds. So everyone is happy! Who needs a football pitch for a lawn?! Not me. I can't wait to see how this experiment works out in terms of increased wildlife activity. Watch this space...
More Fruit! We haven't got a huge garden, but we have got a west facing fence that holds onto a lot of the heat of the day. We also have two darling boys that are complete fruit bats! So, my plan is to grow more fruit next year, working up cordons and espaliers along our fence. I've started digging the ground in front of the fence to create a small strip, no more than a foot, to add more fruit and also plenty of companion plants. Eventually I'd love to 'top' the fruit with some pleached trees - having native hornbeam growing overhead, the fruit in the 'middle' section along the fence and then lots of lovely herbs and companion plants to keep all the unwanted bugs and beasties at bay. I feel the three would work brilliantly along our ugly old fence - creating a system that is self supporting - plants, trees and fruits that are mutually cooperative - protecting and sustaining each other. Not to mention making it easy for pollinators to hop from one delicious source of nectar to another.
More Hot Stuff! You have to grow what you use most. Otherwise, what is the point? And for us, that is chillies, peppers and lots of flavoursome foods. Unfortunately, many of these do not suit our cold, Kentish winters. However, my clever Dad has been building a gorgeous, teeny, tiny glasshouse for us from remnants of an old school loo (yes, that's right) and it's shaping up a treat! I can't wait to show it off to you, but basically, it's a big glass box. It is positioned in the warmest part of our garden and I reckon it is going to become the perfect little hothouse in which to grow chillies and lots of flavoursome, tender crops.
More indoor gardening "There are more plants than people in this house!" Honestly, my husband says this like it is a bad thing. But I love my houseplants. They give me hope for warmer, brighter days. They literally add life and soul to a room. One or two of them, such as my calamondin orange, are just bonkers - producing fruit and gorgeously scented flowers at the same time. They make the perfect houseguests and I just want to fill my home with them. So, now I've managed to get the knack of looking after my houseplants, I'm adding to the collection.
More of what I love: Without doubt, my garden is my sanctuary. It is a complete escape from the rest of the world. It looks after me as much as I look after it. It is a place where it is completely appropriate for me to have 'favourites'. Favourite places to sit, favourite plants, favourite little views. Lots of little spots that are just spoilt rotten with flowers and foliage that I croon over. So, we're going to have more of the same - I'm going to squeeze in a few more Geum - because I love them and they just keep on going from Spring through to Summer. I love the sight and sound of bees about the place, so I'm going to encourage as many as I can with extra homes for them that I can. A neighbouring village has a beekeepers club and I'm going to find out all I need to know about my current furry friends as well as encouraging a greater diversity and volume of bees into the garden. And I am smitten by the mixing up fruit, veg and flowers - there is something really wonderful about seeing this concoction growing together, supporting each other. So more companion planting for me.
What are your garden goals for 2018? We'd love to know, please share!
For me, the garden in winter time is a spirited, wild affair. Yes, it is muddy. Yes, it is all a bit dishevelled. But I love its bare, pared down beauty. At this time of year, my garden is just like my feisty, wizened old aunt; slightly dazed and confused, wandering the about in just her socks but with a keen look in her eye. Ever elegant, immune to the panic, chaos and turmoil around her, she cocks her head in a jaunty, disdained fashion and saunters on.
In this instance, the turmoil is the weather. And my overly anxious hand wringing brought about by the hard frosts, smatterings of snow and, worse still, the gusts and gales that whip around our garden, snapping branches and taunting our old roof tiles.
And yet, just when you feel like rolling over and staying in bed, there are moments of sunshine - bright blue skies that lift the spirits and provide a good, well needed dose of vitamin D. Or is it C? Either way, at these moments, I disappear outside as quickly as possible, to soak it all up. Find a sheltered, south facing spot and you can still enjoy a little warm sunshine on your chops. Lovely stuff.
Now is a great time to enjoy and assess the structural elements of the garden. It is the easiest time of year to literally see the wood instead of just the trees and plan any adjustments you need to make to move your garden forward. I tend to look across the garden - at the heights and how my eye is drawn from one point to another, as well as from the top down - how does it all connect? I do this from my favourite places to sit in the garden. After all, there is no point creating a beautiful little view or a nice little detail if you can't enjoy them. I also try and do this from a wildlife point of view - e.g. is my garden making it easier or harder for bees to pollinate the dwarf fruit trees and cordons? What is thriving under the shade of the tree? What could do with moving?
As plants, shrubs and trees move into their dormant, hibernating phase, it is possible to start moving some of these about. A prune here, a snip back there. I'm planning on moving a couple of cordon apple trees - I didn't space them out very well last year and every since it has been like having a wonky picture on the wall - it's got me seriously twitchy! For other plants, I've got to wait until spring before I mess about. They won't thank me for fiddling around while they doze. I don't blame them.
To prevent damage, I've been tying branches in and securing things down. For some time now, my tender plants are either inside the house (I continue to be extremely unpopular for this move "There are more plants than people in this house!" Apparently this is a bad thing...). And I am (well, my Dad is) in the midst of creating my very own mini glass house from the remnants of the old school loo. It's a long story. A blog for another time.
But for now, in amongst the craziness that is build up to Christmas, I'm just trying to appreciate the beauty amid the bleak - the bare trees and branches; the lush green of evergreens and the pops of bright colour from berries and hips.
Gardening is in the DNA of Denys & Fielding. A search for garden furniture was the starting point for developing our initial range of outdoor chairs and is a constant as we develop new products for the home & garden. For us, the joy, sanctuary and wellbeing that a garden provides is simple, and yet incredibly important. So, when we were approached to be part of Creeper and Knotweed, an exciting new online emporium showcasing a unique, beautiful collection of gifts for gardeners, we were THRILLED!
Launched last week, Creeper and Knotweed offers a range of high quality gifts for gardeners. Think elegant trees such as olive and fig, beautifully presented through to garden inspired fine art, with a collection of unique prints, exclusive to Creeper & Knotweed.
We also love the fact Creeper & Knotweed donate an average of 5% of all item sales to the Christie Hospital in Manchester - a hospital we know well through a previous, personal connection. The Christie Hospital supports leading treatments, outstanding care and the opportunity for the best outcomes by funding cancer research, new facilities, high-tech equipment and extra patient services, helping cancer patients both cope with and survive cancer.