Top Tips to Make the Most of A Small Garden

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Gardens in London properties in zone 1 & 2 can be as small as 8m2. Many of us feel lucky to have a garden at all! The main tips include keeping things to a simple colour palette, with light coloured fencing and natural wood. Sticking to clean lines, creating different levels and making the best use of vertical space are also helpful tips. With the grass, either leave it long, swap it for artificial turf, or break it up with wooden decking. Consider horizontal and vertical stripes for paving in the same way you would with your wardrobe, to broaden or lengthen the garden area. A couple of oversized planters, filled with simple, broad petalled blooms, will help create the illusion of space.

Bearing that in mind, here are some tips from to make the most of a small garden.


Improve Health 2

4 Ways Gardening Can Improve Your Health

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Recently, a British doctor has suggested that horticulture and therapeutic gardening should be available on the NHS. Reports over the past few years have suggested that doctors should prescribe gardening on the NHS. It’s suggested as a way to prevent as well as treat physical and mental health problems; it can help with insomnia and high blood pressure.


Gardening is great exercise – considered as ‘moderate to high’ intensity. The RHS has calculated that just half an hour of gardening burns an average of 150 calories. Kansas State University found that it has comparable health benefits to jogging or swimming. Plus, people were more likely to stick with it because it felt less like ‘exercise’ and more like fun.

Benefits include weight management, lower blood pressure, stress relief, and stronger immune systems. Older people can gain increased mobility and flexibility,

5 a Day

As well as working for your food, growing your own helps you get your five a day. It also means you get to choose what kind of fertilisers and pesticides come into contact with your food, and when to harvest. This means fresh, nutrient rich tomatoes straight from the plant, and courgettes at just the right level of juiciness. (Tomatoes and courgettes are among the easiest plants to grow and considered a great starting point for new growers). Eating from your own garden will also encourage you to eat seasonally; meaning your fruit and veg will be at it’s most nutritious and delicious.

Feeling Good

King’s College Hospital have collaborated with Lambeth GP Food Co-op (a co-op of residents, medical professionals and patients) to create food growing gardens. Patients are taught how to cultivate fruits and vegetables, which are then sold to support the initiative and the NHS. Gardening can help improve mental health, for individuals who feel blue or people in ‘therapeutic’ settings such hospitals. The exercise, social interaction  and sunshine can really help boost a person’s mood.

Managing Dementia

The King’s Fund has found that gardening can reduce isolation and help lower the risk of dementia. Studies have found that older people who gardened regularly had an up to 47% lower risk of dementia than non-gardeners.

The benefit is thought to come from a combination of exercise, anxiety reduction and improved motor skills. There is also evidence that garden environments stimulate the senses and improve awareness of surroundings.

Is your garden fence getting old and tired or is it a pain to maintain? Meet Colourfence; a high quality, virtually maintenance free fence which comes with a 25 year guarantee.


Improve Health

The Royal

Spotlight on The Sensational Royal Chelsea Flower Show

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The Chelsea Flower Show has graced the UK since 1912, with display gardens including artisanal, urban and avant garde. There will be extra exhibits to commemorate the 90th birthday of the Queen.

The Gardens


Health, Happiness and Horticulture

The  Health, Happiness and Horticulture garden is designed by Ann-Marie Powell, and is the official RHS garden of the show. Part of the Greening Grey Britain initiative, the garden is meant to inspire, with colourful borders, bee friendly plants, bubbling water features and a delicious kitchen garden.

Modern Apothecary Garden

The Modern Apothecary Garden was designed by RHS ambassador and organic gardening expert Jekka McVicar. The plants are themed around the Hippocrates quote, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”, accented by less edible plants which are designed for relaxation, such as lavender. (For St John’s Hospice).

British Eccentrics

Harrods have sponsored the British Eccentrics Garden, designed by the innovative Diarmuid Gavin. The award winning designer has incorporated the quirky charm of the old school British garden, with a slightly steampunk theme of complex machinery performing simple tasks.

The LG Smart Garden

Inspired by smart-homes and burgeoning technology, the LG Smart Garden is designed as a Scandinavian lifestyle space. Think clean lines accented by softer planting and the whiplike branches of multi-pronged trees. The ideal  showcase for the synergy between modern technology and nature.

The Winton Beauty of Mathematics Garden

The Winton Beauty of Mathematics garden is a celebration of maths and the algorithms that underpin all life. Key exhibit is a flowing copper band, etched with algorithms, which represents an emerging seedling. It works as a bench, banister and planter. Pines, rich purple perennials and metallic foliage create a fresh, bee friendly garden.


The Day


What’s On

The Great Pavilion features an interactive discovery zone and gorgeous floral exhibits, many designed to highlight innovations in plant science. There is a concert by Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra (at extra cost) after hours.

There are also numerous boutiques to browse, along with the competitors for the RHS Chelsea Product of the Year. The Garden Time GroTray and Hozelock – Cloud Controller look like they’d be great for helping you create a low maintenance garden!

The Dress Code

The dress code at the Royal Chelsea Flower Show is unofficial, but real. Think an elegant English garden party; champagne, tea and cake. Florals are practically obligatory, and flat shoes are encouraged. Men should wear a jacket and tie if possible (these can be floral if you are brave).

This is the season of changeable weather, so carry a large shoulder bag and fill it with an umbrella, sunscreen, bottled water, gloves, sunglasses, a camera, notebook and change for the shops.

The Catering

You can sate your hunger at a variety of eateries at the Royal Chelsea Flower Show. There are a number of fine dining restaurants, including the Rock Bank Restaurant, offering champagne and exquisite seafood.

The Village Fete area offers charmingly British cuisine such as finger sandwiches and fish and chips. The Plateau Picnic Area is ideal for vegans, vegetarians and people who adhere to special diets, offering gluten free snacks and an open air bar area.

Chelsea 3 (1)


Royal Hospital Chelsea

Show times
Tuesday – Friday (24 – 27 May)
8am – 8pm

Saturday (28 May)
8am – 5:30pm *

* sell off begins at 4pm


Time To Enjoy the Great Outdoors; What’s On This Summer

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Spring is finally here, and that means summer is just around the corner! There’s lots of things to do and see this season, so we have compiled a collection of our most-anticipated flower shows and gardening events for 2016. Whether you go to all thirteen, or just make it to the one, it will be a summer well spent!




5-8 May | The RHS Malvern Spring Festival

Start your summer with a ‘bloom’! Get yourself down to the Three Counties Showground at Malvern, Worcestershire before the weekend is up.

6-31 May | Family Explorers: We’re going on a bug hunt at Stowe House, Buckinghamshire is a great day out for the whole family. You can enjoy the exquisite grounds of the Grade I listed country house, and the kids can enjoy getting their hands dirty with the creepy crawlies – the perfect opportunity to get them away from the television!

14-15 May | The RHS Plant Heritage Spring Fair

Take the trip to Devon to experience the lush Rosemoor Gardens in all their glory! This event has expanded massively since the first show over a decade ago, so get yourself down to see for yourself how much it had ‘grown’.

24-28 May | The RHS Chelsea Flower Show

If you don’t make it to any of our other suggested fairs, make this the one you do see. The television coverage just does not do this astonishing event justice!



Bowood House


3-5 June | Scotland’s Gardening Festival

Hit the highlands this summer to find the best plants and best landscape designers to bring your garden ambitions to ‘fruition’, at the Royal Highland Showground, Edinburgh.

4-5 June | Toby’s Garden Festival at Bowood House

After a successful first year in 2015, Toby Buckland is back in the stunning backdrop of the Grade I listed Bowood House, Wiltshire. This year it’s set to be bigger and better, with more specialist nurseries, live music, local food and presentations from the green-fingered experts.

16-19 June | BBC Gardeners’ World Live

On Saturday 18th to Sunday 19th, the kids can visit for free, so get this date in your diary! The popular event, at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, offers something for everyone, from the BBC Good Food Show to the NEW Rose Festival event!

24-26 June | GROW London

You won’t leave this contemporary garden and lifestyle fair without some ‘budding’ inspiration! Expect expert-led talks, gardening workshops for you and the kids, as well as free garden design consultations and of course food and drink at this unique event at Hampstead Heath.



 Kew Gardens

2-3 July | Kew Gardens Wild Food Festival

Excite your taste buds as well as your eyes whilst you enjoy the gorgeous wild landscapes at Wakehurst Place, West Sussex. Mum will enjoy sampling the stalls to collect together the picnic, Dad will be busy sampling the exotic spices and craft beers, and the kids will be running truly ‘wild’ in the famous Coronation meadow!

10-12 July | Kent County Show

This is the showcase event for everything farming, countryside and rural life – but if its flowers you’re looking for, you won’t be disappointed! The Flower & Horticulture Tent is bursting with dazzling floral arrangements. The exhibition gardens are built over a week leading up to the show and the hanging-basket and child-friendly flower competitions are a highlight!

18-21 July | Royal Welsh Show

Encompassing the best of Welsh livestock and quality food and drink with a taste in Welsh farming and rural life. From activities like forestry, horticulture, and crafts to countryside sports, this is the outdoor event for the adventurous gardeners!



garden border edging

14-15 August | Shrewsbury Flower Show

This year will mark the 129th Shrewsbury Flower Show, making this the longest-running event of its kind! Celebrate in style and good company – the headliners this year include celebrity gardener Sarah Raven.

20-23 August | Southport Flower Show

Another historic show, this event offers lots of opportunities for you to get involved! Exhibit your beautiful bouquets in the largest amateur grower’s competition in the country, or why not enter your photos of the gorgeous show gardens you visited this summer in the Stefan Buczacki Photography competition?

There’s lots more to see this summer than your own garden, so make 2016 your year to get out and enjoy the Great Outdoors at some of the country’s biggest and best flower shows!

Garden Shows

The Top 5 Gardening Apps

Spring has sprung: the gardening apps you need to download NOW

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This spring, your most trusty gardening tool won’t be your ergonomic, back-saving shovel, or even your self-watering plant pot – it’s your mobile phone! So, with our favourite season finally on its way, its time for a spring clean on your smartphone!

Top 5 must-have mobile apps for green fingers

We have compiled a list of most popular apps for avid gardeners, all with a review for your consideration. Missed any of your favourites? Tell us below. 

  1. Garden Compass Personal Gardening Tool (Garden Compass, LLC)


This app is an indispensable tool for naming those stubborn garden pests to help you choose the most appropriate weed treatment. It also identifies the flora and produce you do want in your garden.


The camera function allows you to identify plants with the click of your camera. Digital Compass lets you store a list of the plants in your patch, giving you a ‘digital garden’ you can take everywhere.


The optimised format makes Digital Compass really straight-forward to use. The identification process is almost instant.


You have to sign up to have full access to the features of the app. Also, in order to have an unlimited list of plants in your ‘digital garden’, you need to purchase a premium membership.

Our Rating:

Download Here

  1. intoGardens (into all things)


A cross between an interactive gardening magazine and TV show, this is the ideal app to browse through after a long day in the soil. Brought you by British garden designer, James Alexander-Sinclair.


The camera function lets you take, caption and share snaps of your garden in all its full blooming glory. With in-app purchases, you can access articles, videos and other content from both garden novices and professional landscape designers.


The sleek, modern format is easy to navigate. The content is really varied, with something for everyone: there’s content on bird-watching to pond maintenance.


The app is free to download, but you’re limited to what you can access without making in-app purchases, which is a little deceptive.

Our Rating: (if you pay for the additional content).

Download Here

  1. Sprout It (Växa Design Group)


This clever app knows that every garden is different, so uses your location to give you customised information and reminders throughout the gardening season.


A wide range of species is contained in the in-app Plant Library for you to browse through. You use the Grow Plan function to set a separate plan for each of your crops, and the digital garden keeps up with growth and harvest in your actual garden, so you can watch your produce grow wherever you are.


The app is full of inspiration like themed gardens, to garden projects and recipes for your produce. It’s also free to download.


You have to sign up to use the app.

Our rating:

Download Here

  1. Vegetable Planting Calendar (Primolicious LLC)


The vegetable gardener’s handbook in an app – this guide to more than 90 different species is a great tool for beginners and ‘seasoned’ gardeners alike! It covers including planting, growing, harvest and the ideal storage of your produce.


The app allows you to favourite your most-viewed plant types for quicker, easier access to the information relevant to your garden. Each vegetable’s section includes advice on when and how to plant the species, so there’s no leave the garden to refer to your dusty gardening encyclopedia or get online.


Vegetable Planting Calendar includes detailed guides on both vegetables and herbs, and it is compatible for both Apple and Android, so this is one for the iPad and your mobile!


Some species are listed under their American name, so be aware if you don’t know your zucchini from your courgette. It also costs £1.49.

Our rating:

Download Here

  1. Grow Your Own (The Royal Horticultural Society)


This gardening app is brought to you by the UK’s leading gardening charity. Grow Your Own lets you keep a record of the species in your own garden and the green plant-themed format feels like you really do have your garden in your pocket.


An alphabetical compilation of our most popular fruits and vegetables, with the option to add your own personal notes. The instructions make it easy to get the hang of using the app if you’re not too tech-savvy, and the to-do list function is useful for keeping track of your pruning.


The plant profiles are very detailed, with guidance on plot size, planting/harvest periods and common problems.


All our favourites are there, but the database is a little limited. You can purchase additional bundles to add more obscure fruits, vegetables and herbs to the list for £1.99 each.

Our rating:

Download Here


Now you have your garden and vegetable patches in tip-top condition, why not give the rest of your patch the attention its craving? Colourfence will give your garden the border worthy of Eden, that will stand up to even the worst British weather, so your garden will still look lush even out of season!


World Naked

World Naked Gardening Day (7th May 2016)

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“So what should you do? First of all, on the first Saturday of May, find an opportunity to get naked and do some gardening. Do so alone, with friends, with family, with your gardening club, or with any other group collected for that purpose”

World Naked Gardening Day lands on the first Saturday in May – in 2016 that’s the 7th. The movement, (acronym WNGD) was founded and organised by Mark Storey, consulting editor for Nude & Natural magazine and permaculturalist Jacob Gabriel, as a project of Body Freedom Collaborative (BFC). They also have links to the World Naked Bike Ride Day, and the fun and subversive guerrilla gardening movement.

Naturism has experienced a real resurgence in recent years, with London even opening a nude restaurant, Bunyadi. The French Tourist office are offering nude only getaways, there’s a NudeFest in Somerset, and naturist communities continue to open in America. Actress and PETA spokesperson Alicia Silverstone is a big fan of naked gardening, as was Bohemian socialite Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Tips and Tricks

Protect Yourself

“If I’m gardening naked and if I need to have a hat on or shoes on, that’s fine. People are pretty rational about that stuff. This is not a religion.” – Mark Storey, Founder of the movement.

Naturism can mean you get sunburnt is some really interesting and painful places. High SPF sun cream is an absolute must. When it comes to sun (and nettle) protection, even the founder encourages people to wear hats, shoes and gloves if necessary. Bug spray is another near necessity for au naturele pruning and growing.

Respect Others

Some sites, not affiliated with the official WNGD group, suggest doing your naked gardening in your local park or in the street. This is likely to result in a call to the either the hospital or the police, depending on how generous the onlookers feel; depending on the area, people may be more vocal in their complaints!

Remember that public nudity outside of designated spaces is classed as indecent exposure in the UK and you can and will be arrested if you try it. The best place to participate is on private property. Even then, it’s a good idea to consider your neighbours. If you have a high, sturdy fence, go for it! If you have a 3ft fence and next door’s kids have a trampoline, it might not be such a great idea.



The Best Climbing Plants for your Garden Fence or Wall

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If you are looking to create interest and introduce height into your garden, few plants are quite as successful as climbers. Many are fast growing and will quickly cover a fence or wall to produce an eye-catching feature within a certain area of your garden, which might otherwise be bland or lacking interest.

Climbers can be easy to maintain and quick to establish depending on the type you choose. However, picking the right climber for your garden can sometimes be a challenge. Here I hope to cover some of the most common questions about climbing plants. This will help you choose which one is right for your garden and your personal taste.

Different types of climbing plants

Climbing plants use different mechanisms to help them attach to a vertical surface, such as a fence, and grow upwards. So first, let us look at the most common types of climber you are most likely to encounter in a garden.

Twining climbers: This type of climber uses its stems to clasp onto a surface and support itself. The main stem uses a lassos type motion to wrap around an object. Initially, they might need support or help to start climbing. Once attached they are self-supporting, needing only a little attention to tidy them up. Some common twining climbers include honeysuckle and clematis.


Tendrils climbers: This type of climber uses shoots to wrap around objects, holding itself upright and hoisting itself higher and higher. Sweet peas are a great example of this mechanism. It is important to keep on top of maintenance with climbers that use tendrils. If left unchecked they can often wrap around themselves and other plants. This creates a dense clump of tangled foliage, which is almost impossible to unravel without causing damage.

Aerial roots: As the name suggests, this type of climber uses roots to clasp onto vertical surfaces. Unlike roots that grow underground, aerial roots grow from the stem. You can see this most clearly when you look at ivy plants, however Hydrangea seemannii also uses the same method.

Other types of climber: Not all plants that we grow on fences and walls are natural climbers. Having said this, they are more than suitable to be trained in this way. The have strong, sturdy stems that will easily support the plant. Pyracantha, Ceanothus and some Rose varieties are fantastic for this.

Climbers for different soil types

Let us consider your garden’s soil types. The most challenging types of soil to grow in are clay and sand. Heavy clay soil retains moisture and can be subjected to waterlogging. Conversely, sandy soils are free draining where drought is an issue. Choosing a climber that can grow in these soil conditions can be a struggle. With a little thought, the result you achieve can be spectacular.

Best climbing plants for clay soil

As mentioned above, clay soils are prone to waterlogging. Therefore climbers for these soils should be tolerant of damp conditions.

Clematis is probably one of the most popular climbing plants, due to their variety of flower colour and form. Generally speaking, clematis will grow well in any fertile soil. As long as there is some drainage or organic matter incorporated into the planting hole, they will do very well in clay soil. The plant has a wide array of flower forms and a veritable rainbow of colours from white to rich, dark purple.

Although many varieties can grow to 3m or more, there are a few that can be grown on a 6ft fence. Clematis ‘Arabella’ reaches a height of just 1.8m and will produce a mass of small deep blue flowers July to September. For a more unusual, less typical clematis flower, try Clematis macropetala ‘Wesselton’. The large, mid blue flowers form a pendulous bell-shaped and are produced earlier than ‘Arabella’, from April to May. This one reaches 2m so is ideal for a 6ft fence.

If Clematis is not your thing, why not try a Honeysuckle, specifically Lonicera periclymenum ‘Rhubarb and Custard’. This great climber has many wonderful features. It produces an abundance of beautifully scented red flowers from June to September. Although tolerant of shade, they will do much better in full sun. Bees also love this plant, so if you are looking for a wildlife friendly climber, ‘Rhubarb and Custard’ is for you. After the flowers have faded, they form clusters of ornamental red berries. This Honeysuckle is easy to care for and low maintenance, so even if you are not a skilled gardener, you can still enjoy superb results.

Best climbing plants for sandy soil

If your soil is sandy, the chances are that you often struggle with drought conditions. If this is the case, then there are some fantastic climbers for you.

Sollya heterophylla is also known as the bluebell creeper due to its pale blue bell-shaped flowers, produced from June to September. Although Sollya is a fantastic plant, it is only half hardy so does require a little winter protection. This added skill makes it a rarity in our gardens, but with some TLC the results are great. It reaches a height of 2m so is perfect for a garden fence, ideally situated in a protected spot in full sun.

So far we have looked at flowering climbers, so here is one that is solely grown for its foliage. Muehlenbeckia complexa, or the maidenhair vine, is a fast growing twining climber. It will need a little help to start with, but once supported it will flourish. Although grown for its foliage, it does produce insignificant green flowers in summer. It reaches a high 3m but responds well to being trimmed back after it has finished flowering in September. It is also frost hardy, so might need a little winter protection in open areas.

Climbers for sun and shade

Like soil types, the amount of sun your garden receives can dictate the type of plants you can grow. It is no good planting a sun-loving plant in a shady garden or a shade-loving plant in a sun-baked garden. Let us look at a few options below.

Best climbing plants for full sun

A garden in full sun might sound like a dream come true, however, they come with their own challenges, namely being baked all day in the hot summer sun.

Sweet peas are a classic cottage garden climber that we normally grow as an annual for cut flowers. Lathyrus latifolius, also know as the everlasting sweet pea, is a perennial species that is ideal for growing up a sunny fence. ‘White Pearl’ is a wonderful variety that is popular for its pure white flowers that are produced throughout summer. Unlike its annual cousin, Lathyrus latifolius does not produce any scent, however, the abundance of flowers more than make up for this. Reaching just 2m high it is ideal for a 6ft fence.

Lathyrus latifolius

Jasminum nudiflorum, or the winter jasmine, is a truly divine climber. Like the common jasmine, it produces delicate star-shaped flowers. These are produced from January to March on bare stems of bright green. This intensity of colour early in the year will help to brighten up your garden on dull days. Its natural habit is to scramble so it will need a little support, having said that it is one of the easiest to train. Although it can reach 3m high, it resounds well to pruning after flowering in April.

Jasminum nudiflorum

Best climbing plants for shade

Often the best plants to grow in a shady garden are foliage plants and with climbers, this is no exception.

Ivy is the obvious choice here, but before you groan and read on, thinking that it is a common, boring plant, I would like to fight its case. There are some fantastic varieties, each with wonderful leaf form and colour, often variegated and never dull. Hedera colchica ‘Dentata Variegata’ is not only a wonderful garden plant, it is also excellent for wildlife, as are all ivies. This particular variety has diamond shaped leaves with a deep green centre, surrounded by a creamy margin. Because it is an evergreen, you will receive colour all year round. Conversely Hedera colchica ‘Sulphur Heart’, as its name suggests has a golden centre surrounded by a vibrant green margin.

Ivies are vigorous plants that can grow to 5m or more. Fortunately they tolerant hard pruning at any time of the year, so if you find yours is becoming a bit wild, simply prune it back to the required height.


If you are looking for a climber with autumn leaf colour, there is really only one that will do. Parthenocissus, or Virginia creeper, both regular and the small leaf variety, are without a doubt the most spectacular climbing plant for autumn. During the summer, their leaves are glossy and bright green. As soon as light levels and temperatures start to drop, these leaves turn a radiant shade of red which will turn your garden from tranquil haven to a warm and vibrant paradise.

The downside to Parthenocissus is that they are huge, and definitely not one for a small garden. If left unpruned they will easily reach 15m and for this reason, they should be planted on their own, without competition from other climbers. Having said that they can be pruned regularly in autumn or winter to keep them at a conservative size and to stop them invading your guttering or roof. Virginia creeper is also an important wildlife plant and makes excellent habitats for birds and insects.

Virginia creeper

Climbing plants for different aspects

Whether you have a north, south, east or west facing garden, certain plants will do better than other. Each aspect brings it own challenging conditions, and it is important to understand these before we select your plants.

Best climbing plants for north/east facing garden

Many people regard north/east facing gardens as the most challenging. They receive little light and are often the dampest. But there is a climber for every situation and in this case, it is Firethorn. Also known as Pyracantha, firethorn is a popular climber because it is not fussy. It can be grown as a hedge and is self-supporting, often needing little or not training. In May, it will produce an abundance of white flowers, which are followed by a profusion of red or orange berries throughout autumn. They reach 3m high but are easy to prune into shape with a hedge trimmer.


Best climbing plants for south/west facing garden

It seems that everyone wants a south/west-facing garden. These are suntraps that receive the sun all day long. However, the soil can be very dry and plants can suffer if they are not tolerant of drought. Passiflora caerulea is the ideal climber for a south-facing garden because it loves full sun. From July to September it will produce exotic looking flowers that are truly unique within the plant kingdom. These flowers are followed closely by orange, egg-shaped fruit, whilst the leaves are palmate and add a wonderful texture. They can be trained vertically along wires where it will quickly fill out and cover your fence.


The best climber for you

So now you will hopefully be more confident in finding the perfect climber for your garden. But remember that as well as finding a climber that will grow in your conditions, it is important to consider what you want to achieve and what you enjoy. Whether you want to grow a climber for its flower form or colour, a specific flowering or even just foliage as a backdrop for your other plants, there are plenty to choose from and the ones above are just examples.

With just a little bit of research at garden centres and online, you could find the perfect climber that will bring you joy for years to come, season after season.



Pet Theft Awareness Week – Prevent Dog Theft with a Secure Garden Fence

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Pet Theft Awareness Week was set up by Arnot Wilson of the Dog Union and Richard Jordan of Viovet, the initiative works to educate the public on theft prevention and lobby MPs to get the law changed so that dog thieves face harsher penalties under law. Gareth Johnson MP and Neil Parish MP have helped lobby for change, and if you want to ask your MP to raise the issue, you can contact them via the “Write to Them” website.

The Low Down on Pet TheftScreen Shot 2016-03-17 at 17.49.32


  • The 3 worst areas for dognapping are Lincolnshire, South Wales and Lancashire.
  • The 3 most at risk breeds are Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Jack Russells, and Cocker Spaniels.
  • Purebreds, working dogs and gun dogs are most at risk.
  • Only 29% of stolen dogs are currently recovered.
  • Only 5% of dog thefts result in prosecution.



Ways to Prevent Dog Theft

The Pet Theft Awareness team are particularly promoting the use of technology to help track down stolen pets. Pet theft continues to increase 14% year on year, and only 29% of stolen dogs are currently recovered. There are ways to tip the odds in your favour though.

Secure Your Property


This is especially important if you have a valuable or in demand dog – after all, half of all stolen dogs are taken from gardens. Fit padlocks to your gates, and avoid half-gates that thieves can lean over. Consider installing CCTV and an alarm system. Check fences for weak spots, and consider replacing elderly fencing altogether with more secure metal fencing options.

Once your property is secure, ensure your dog cannot escape the garden. If you are securing a feline, consider special attachments to keep them fenced, or a transition to them being an indoor cat.


Microchipping is now compulsory for dog owners, and is highly recommended for other pets. Rescue animals will typically be chipped and registered to their new owners as part of their welcome package. Otherwise the procedure will usually cost about £15; some charities and non-profit orgs offer it for free.

Once you microchip your animal, ensure the vet has up to date details, and get the chip checked regularly; unfortunately chips can migrate and disappear.


Safety Precautions

By Snowacinesy (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Strangely, 16% of dogs are stolen during walking. This bizarre form of theft can include straight up muggings (especially with smaller dogs); dogs being taken when an owner is loading their car or even just opportunistic crimes, if a dog slips their lead. Stay mindful of your surroundings and be wary of people trying to distract you.

Another 7% of dogs were stolen when tied up outside shops. It can be convenient to go shopping with your canine friend, but it can be dangerous, particularly if your pooch is one of the high risk breeds. 


Final Tips

The main factors that influence a person being reunited with their dog seem to be microchipping; speed of response; and visibility. Do photograph your pet regularly, so if they go missing you can spread the word quickly on social media. There are pages specifically set up to help reunite lost or stolen pets with their owners, and local animal rescues are usually happy to share your pictures and information.

Protect Your Pets2

Replacing Your Garden Hedge with a Fence

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The Problem With Hedges

Hedges can inadvertently be the source of a great deal of tension between neighbours. Both options need to be kept to 2m, but hedging is less stringently controlled by law. Unfortunately this can lead to an increase in ‘just this once’ thinking among gardeners who (often wrongly) assume their neighbours will be fine with blocked light, extra greenery and branches extending into their gardens. Extra problems come if your neighbours have allergies, or dependents who use the garden. After all, hedges are less secure than fencing, and if they aren’t dense enough, can let pets and children through – and if one family has a toddler, and the other a pitbull, this can be a bad mix.

Hedges also require a great deal of maintenance – including clipping to watering, and if neglected, can look awful. Even if you clip your hedge carefully and regularly, hedges can become unmanageable quickly. Excess hedge growth can be a hassle for less mobile residents who are simply unable to keep on top of the situation. Plus, neighbours are perfectly entitled to prune growth that encroaches onto their land, and may damage your plant if they are overzealous. Even worse, if your hedge accidentally damages their property, you’ll be liable to pay for the repairs.

Why Fences Make Good Neighbours


One of the great things about fences is how easy and quick (relatively) they are to put up; you don’t have to wait for a fence to grow or thicken. They also won’t grow or expand on their own, negating the possible root or branch damage that comes with an ever growing hedge. Once it is installed, fences are relatively low maintenance, less susceptible to fire damage and tougher. A carelessly flung cigarette is unlikely to damage even wooden fencing; even the toughest dog would find it impossible to dig out a properly installed metal fence.

Rather than pruning, feeding, watering and weeding, a high quality metal fence needs nothing more than an annual hose down.

Replacing a hedge with a fence can be a great way to reduce the maintenance involved in a sensible way, as well as providing a tougher, more durable boundary marker. If you need to remove a hedge, first check your deeds and make sure you have the legal right to do so. People can be very territorial, and simply ripping the hedge out is unlikely to go over well.

If you have sole ownership, then let your neighbours know, and have an amicable discussion about how they feel about the changes. If you have joint ownership, the negotiation will be more delicate. If you share ownership, or there is a boundary dispute, be prepared to pay for the fence yourself – if they are happy with the current hedge,  they will be unlikely to want to pay for it to be replaced.

Learn more about great fences by clicking the image below…

The Good Fence Guide

planning permission

Do I Need Planning Permission For My Fence?

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Short answer? Maybe. It depends on the height of the fence, the proximity of roads and (realistically) your relationship with your neighbours. If you follow height regulations, you can likely put up a fence up to 2m in height with no problems.

There are different rules for conservation areas and for listed properties – if you have purchased a heritage or ‘at risk’ property, it’s possible that you will not be able to make any changes at all.


How High Can a Fence Be? 

Full row of Colourfence Fences

Planning permission is generally required if the fence is higher than 2 metres – and potentially as low as 1 metre if the fence is by a road. You can also apply for retroactive planning permission, if your fence accidentally exceeds regulations, or if another person can raise reasonable objections. (Remember that this may not be successful).

You are not generally obligated to have or maintain a fence, although it is the norm in our society. If you are planning to put up a fence, it’s advisable to talk to your neighbours. While it isn’t a legal matter, a chat at the right time can save a heap of trouble.


Planning Permission


Building a fence is one of those areas where it’s definitely better to seek permission than forgiveness. If you don’t get a permit and your planning application is rejected, the council can – and likely will – order your fence to be taken down. Housing authorities can be incredibly strict, especially if there have been several infractions and they want to make an example of someone.  

Sticking to height rules might not help if you are feuding with your neighbours, or if they have a ‘reasonable’ reason to disagree with your alteration. One hotelier couple had to take down their fence after their neighbours claimed it was put up purely to annoy them!

However you can generally repair or replace a fence if it will be the same height and bulk as a pre-existing fence that has been in situ for a number of years.

Can I Object To Someone Else’s Fence?

 garden boundary disputephoto credit:

In short, yes you can. You can legally object if the fence exceeds height requirements, or is placed on the wrong boundary. Ideally, people planning to erect fences should head off any neighbourly disputes by letting you know first. If you have to object after the fence is built, be sure of your legal rights, and try to keep things civil.

There was an unfortunate case a few years back where neighbours feuded over a property boundary. One couple put up a fence to mark their legal boundary (as defined by their housing deed) – and when they were on holiday, their neighbours took it down. The other couple tried to justify their actions by saying that the fence was ‘tatty and unsightly’. The feuding neighbours ended up in a protracted legal battle which resulted in the objecting couple having to sell their house to pay legal costs.

The two largest factors in erecting a garden fence are the goodwill of your neighbours and the attitude of your council. If you determine that you do need planning permission, the best thing to do is to make your application online. Fences are not subject to building regulations. You can also apply for a ‘Lawful Development Certificate’, a slightly different form of planning permission that can be quite complex; professional advice is advised.

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