Wildlife havens with potential for foraging and relaxing…

that’s the remit for this year’s most fashionable gardens, says interiors journalist Sharon Dale.

Rebranding gardens and yards as “outdoor rooms” was a very clever marketing ploy but the commercially minded have done us all a great favour.

It means there is a fantastic choice of increasingly interesting products, from furniture to accessories. Even garden implements have been given the fashion treatment and who could object to such frivolousness?

A trowel featuring an Orla Kiely pint is a thing of beauty. It makes you smile, which is something great design can do.

Another benefit of this increased focus on the outside is that it has made us aware of the tremendous possibilities that our “land”, however limited, can offer.

Orla Kiely gardening range from cuckooland.com

Orla Kiely gardening range from cuckooland.com

Here are the must-haves for a fashionable garden or yard:



Wildlife-friendly:

It’s important to take an ecological and sustainable approach to gardening, whether that’s using FSC-sourced timber to reducing the use of harmful pesticides. Planting that provides food for wildlife is also important and the reason it has caught on is that it brings great joy. Anyone who owns a buddleia, better known as the butterfly bush, will know what I mean.

Bird feeders filled with seed suitable for small birds, like robins, finches and blue tits, are also fantastic. Watching them feed is another pleasure. Don’t forget bee-friendly plants like lavender – bees are in decline and need all the help they can get.


Bird house/feeding station £14.99 from Dobbies

Incredible edible:

Growing your own gives enormous satisfaction. Most gardens have space for at least a couple of raised beds, where you can plant vegetables, and small “pop-up” plastic greenhouses are inexpensive and mean you can raise tomatoes. It might be cheaper to buy from Sainsbury’s but nothing can beat the taste of home grown. If you haven’t got much space, you can grow tomatoes, strawberries and herbs in pots.


Set of three vertical planters, £21, from Dawanda.com


Furniture:  

There is so much choice out there now but there’s also a lot of tat. When it comes to garden furniture look for longevity. Vintage-style furniture, like this bistro set from Wyevale, pictured, is perennially fashionable. I also like the contemporary Coca set from Made.com and the design classic, polypropylene Bubble Club sofa designed by Philippe Starck. It costs about £600 but is exceptionally hardy.


Coca garden furniture set  £399, www.made.com


Vintage-style Wimbourbe bistro set, £249, from Wyevale garden centres


The lighting above this Roscana table from B&Q is tasteful and on trend.

Lighting:

Lighting looks great and means that instead of becoming a “black hole” you can see your garden at night. Choose eco-friendly solar-powered lights and don’t overdo it. Plain white is best, perhaps with a few coloured ones. Too many gaudy blue and coloured lights look tacky. Less is more. Channel “enchanted garden not Blackpool illuminations”.

A shed:  

This is a must-have and if you are in any doubt about buying one then check out www.readerssheds.co.uk <http://www.readerssheds.co.uk> – one of my favourite websites. For more inspiration, the best books by far on the subject are Shed Chic and Shed Décor by Sally Coulthard. Costs for a shed of our own vary. You can get a basic shed/summerhouse for £500 but you will only be able to use it in summer.

If you can afford it, or you are good at DIY, get a timber building that is insulated and has a sound roof. You’ll also need gutters and downpipes and electricity – though I run an extension from my house. Yes, I am a devout sheddie. I designed my own timber building and had it made with a storage space at one side and a sitting/working/playing space at the other with two windows and French doors.

It cost £1,300, but I wish I’d spent more because it leaks and isn’t fit for use in cold, wet weather. I’m upgrading with a better roof and insulation because it is my favourite room in the house. If you can afford to splash out £20,000 to £40,000 you can get a deluxe shed or a rustic shepherd’s hut. That’s what I am having when I win the lottery.


This shed from B&Q has been given a makeover with paint from the Colours range
 

Publish date: 18/08/2016