A Garden Paradise

I have to admit, I love gardens and gardening. I love pretty, country cottage front gardens with rose bushes decorating fences to sprawling back gardens with perfect, immaculate lawns and a summer house perfect for spending lazy afternoons in.

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My own experience with gardening however, has been somewhat limited. I have had several, small gardens which were quite sheltered leading to some very miserable looking plants, which like me, were in desperate need of some sunshine and perhaps a holiday to the Med for a couple of weeks! This was followed by a patio space of the extreme opposite. This space was south facing, leading to sweltering Summers, and sunshine all day long. Whilst my tomatoes (and I!) absolutely thrived in the sunny weather, the lack of shelter ensured not much else would grow!

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One garden I really admire is my mum’s garden, located in Whitstable, Kent. She has always had a passion for gardening and it shows through her beautiful garden designs and flourishing plants.

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I asked her a few questions about her garden and her passion for gardening.

How would you describe the design of your garden?

I have designed the garden by imagining separate rooms. The top garden, furthest away from the house, is the most formal. It has a Summer house, accompanied by a newly built oval pond on an oval lawn.

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The middle garden, is home to the fruit trees and also a vegetable patch with a greenhouse (along with resident frog, who I’m sure will be delighted once the pond is finished!)

The lower garden, closest to the house, is for pots to enable easy movement and an ever changing view from the conservatory. There is also a small patio area with lawn. It has a seating area, with a table and chairs for family BBQs and a vine covered pergola for when it gets a little bit too warm in the Summer. It’s lovely and cool in the shade under the vines.

What are your top 3 favourite plants and why?

  1. Fruit Trees – Beautiful blossom in the spring, shelter in the Summer and fruit in the Autumn.
  2. Cistus – Papery flowers that open in the sunshine. An evergreen plant, they remind me of a south facing garden that I came across whilst walking by the Thames.
  3. Roses – I tend to choose roses that are repeat flowerers with a beautiful scent to make the garden smell wonderful.

What garden project are you currently working on?

The pond! After putting in a Summer house towards the rear of the garden, I have decided to build a pond opposite. I often sit out there in the evenings as this is when the sun is in that part of the garden – it’s lovely and warm!

If you could have a garden anywhere in the world where would it be?

I would love to have a Mediterranean garden. Mediterranean plants remind me of the wonderful holidays I have had and are some of my favourite plants to grow in the garden.

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A garden should be somewhere you can enjoy every day, somewhere that you can spot changes every day. It should cover all the senses – from the smell of the herbs, to the beautiful sight of the roses, the tweeting to be heard from the birds, the taste of the delicious fruit being grown and the plants with the most unexpected textures to feel.

For those with their first garden, where do you recommend they start? Do you have any tips?

Always start with a plan! Shape the garden to your own style. Always include a tree for height – preferably a fruit tree.

Starve plants so that they can develop their root systems.

Encourage wildlife – I have birds regularly visiting my garden to have a wash in the bird bath and to feast on my fruit trees! I have a resident frog in the greenhouse – who I hope will hop into the pond once finished! I also would love to encourage some hedgehogs into the garden.

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Water regularly and feed plants once a week throughout the growing season.

Ensure you walk around your garden to keep a check on things!

Dig in plenty of blood and bone! (*I have been assured that these come in pellet form from garden centres after enquiring what on earth it was!!!)

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For some more garden hacks and tips on how not to kill your plants make sure you check out this amazing article from Pocketful of Rye, so useful for first time gardeners!

Get ready for Summer 2016 in your garden with fantastic discounts with My Voucher Codes – perfect for adding furniture to your garden, or for purchasing some new tools for your shed!

All images are my own taken of my mum’s garden.

Becky at Pretty & Petit

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Garden Paradise

Yesterday we visited Quex Park in Birchington, Kent. Covering over 250 acres the park is home to a museum of natural history, a house and gardens. We started off by having a look round the Powell-Cotton Museum, a museum that has a Natural History theme and has some incredible exhibits originating from Africa and Asia. They have to be seen to be believed but I won’t spoil the surprise! It was a wonderful museum and we really enjoyed the fact that it was so child orientated – there was lots of things to see and do including a safari trail and learning about different ways of research through drawing, handling objects and working on the computer. There were lots of amazing interactive elements to the museum which were particularly enjoyable.

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As it was such a beautiful, sunny day we went for a walk round the gardens at the back of the house. There was a pretty woodland walk with bluebells and peacocks sheltering under the trees and a large pond to the back of the main lawn. We then walked over to the walled garden (accompanied by the resident cat!) and walked around viewing the different flowers and plants. There was Wisteria over the walls giving it that Secret Garden effect. We walked over to some huge greenhouses which were filled with hundreds of cacti plus lovely smelling Jasmine.

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Quex Park is truly a wonderful place to hold weddings and special events. It’s so peaceful and there’s lots of space for little ones to run around. There is something for everyone, including a craft village, Jungle Jims for the little ones and a beautiful garden centre. To find out more and to plan your visit click here.

BBC Gardeners' World Live 2014 (13th - 14th June 2014)

If you’re feeling inspired by this post for your own garden then BBC Gardeners’ World Live is coming to Birmingham NEC on 11th-14th June 2015 with special guests including Monty Don, Carol Klein and Mary Berry. Visit the beautiful Show Gardens which will be reflecting current trends, visit one of the largest floral marquees in the UK and learn more about growing your own fruit and vegetables in the Grow&Eat zone. Click here to book your tickets and use discount code: GPR15 to get an additional 15% off!

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Becky at Pretty & Petit

Summer Dream Experience

In July 2014, I had to have an operation to correct previous surgery on my right foot. It was an intensive operation which involved putting in a metal plate and several screws to hold my bones and joints in place. (Sorry to those of you who are a bit squeamish!) I had been on crutches since March 2014, and everyone had got used to seeing me hobbling around at home and at the college where I work! After months of waiting and a couple of postponed surgery dates, I had my operation on the 18th July (the hottest day of the year to that day) which meant for 8 weeks – and for pretty much the whole of Summer 2014 – I was in a plaster cast and in a wheelchair. 10580052_10152624419127733_3124860768176669090_n10404190_10152626137337733_6308072091573576827_n My family and friends were absolutely amazing to me. My mum made sure I had regular outings to the sea (my family lives in Whitstable, Kent which is a wonderful place to recuperate!) and frequent visits from friends to keep me company. My cat was a loyal companion too, and spent most of the time curled up with me on the sofa as I watched endless episodes of Gossip Girl and Friends! 10550813_10152637773012733_2822851698225674974_n Obviously I can’t have a whole summer repeated (although those additional warm sunny days would be welcome, Mr Weatherman!) but I would absolutely love to experience some of those memorable summertime moments that I missed last year. My Instagram feed was filled with Summery snaps of beaches, palm trees, beautiful sea and lots of sunshine, and to be able to get a taste of that would be absolutely amazing! 10577133_10152614315207733_3099183660504245693_n A view from Tankerton slopes, Whitstable, Kent. July 2014

As you may have been able to tell by some of my previous posts I love attending events. All types of events from fashion, through to home and accessories trade shows to music festivals, I attend them all year round (as well as organise them as part of my current day job!) I absolutely love music and try to attend a festival every year, however last year was the first year that I was unable to. My absolute dream would be to have a VIP experience at a large music event and if I was lucky enough to get a chance to I would love to recreate some Summer memories. It’s definitely my favourite time of the year with everyone being so happy and outdoors in the fresh air. I literally cannot wait to be able to make the most of it this year! 10361996_10152357214719135_8303000138694305193_n To this day I am still having regular hospital appointments for physiotherapy and my foot is on the mend slowly but surely and I am still keeping a smile on my face! I am due to have another operation on my left foot in the next year and as the condition of my foot worsens over the next six months I know I will have to go back onto crutches. I was on crutches until December 2014, but still tried to make the most of every opportunity I received including a trip to a fashion show and to a couple of concerts once I was back on my (two) feet! I have started learning to drive and I am even signed up to complete Race for Life in June 2015. It will be the first time since 2010 that I will be taking part and am so excited about raising money for Cancer Research UK. I know I will be back on two (pain free) feet eventually and I am definitely trying to make the most of every experience I can! 10384117_10152848346672733_7310162560027830478_n If you had the opportunity to do experience something a second time round what would you like to experience? Why not enter the competition, Second Time Lucky being run by Ocean Finance? It’s open for nominations now for yourself or friends and family and it’s all about giving people something they’ve missed out on. You can visit the website by clicking here: https://www.oceanfinance.co.uk/credit-cards/second-chance/

Becky at Pretty & Petit

14. Hergest Designs Ltd

My featured business is… Hergest Designs Ltd!Hergest-landscape-RGB-master.A “Quintessentially British” business producing handmade handbags, woollen blankets and steamer trunks!

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Growing up in Kent, the founder and Creative Director of Hergest Designs Ltd, Elinor Fielder uses inspiration of a traditional English lifestyle to incorporate into her range of bags, blankets and steamer trunks.

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My favourite products on the website incorporate a Hergest tweed, a bespoke woven tweed which is used to create tote bags and luxurious woollen blankets. The tote bags, shown below, come in small, medium and large sizes in a variety of colours and each bag also comes with a matching purse.

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The beautiful blankets come in a range of colours and start at £100. The blankets are of a high quality and aim for optimum warmth and comfort. I love the Dorstone Heather colour! Perfect in time for Spring and picnics in the park!

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Do you have a favourite product on the website? I’d love to hear what you think! To view the full range of products available click here.

All images taken from the Hergest Designs website.

Becky at Pretty & Petit