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Summer! With it comes the desire to make the most of the garden during all those long, pleasurable daylight hours. Whatever the weather, there is no getting away from the fact that this magical month plays host to the longest day on 21st of the month, which can be viewed as the start of summer time. What's not to love about balmy light evenings, fresh, colourful perennials, lush lawns and apples forming on the fruit trees?
12 ideas for a summer to remember:
Grow flavoursome herbs just outside your door. They are so easy to grow and make a world of difference to ordinary meals and barbecues. Use mint in mojitos, in gin, cocktails and for refreshing tea; chives in omelettes and potato salad; parsley with fish and as a garnish; rosemary with lamb, vegetables and stuffing; sage, also for use with meat and in stuffing; thyme with roast chicken and basil in pesto sauce. Pick a handful of herbs and throw them onto the barbecue or into your warming chimenea for aromatic appreciation on cool evenings.
Make sure you have somewhere appealing to sit during the Summer months. Sunshine is good for us and so is relaxation. Rig up a hammock or place a bench or garden seat in an attractive spot. We all deserve to soak up the pleasures of a garden whenever we can make time.
You can do so much with shapes. A round, oval or geometric lawn can bring meaning to a space. Build in a circulation route if possible so that a journey around even a tiny garden feels exciting.
If time is short and garden maintenance has run away from you, just concentrate on the lawn edges. It is amazing what a difference a freshly cut edge makes! Good tools are the key to a great gardening experience.
Hide things amongst your foliage and don't allow everything to be in full view at the same time. It's so much more interesting to discover hidden secrets within the garden. Use planting to link the space as this helps avoid a rather chaotic, fragmented atmosphere that can occur when many different features are dotted about the place.
Use your fences for vertical planting. Boundaries can be unsightly, but they turn into a place of beauty when they are clothed in climbers or trained shrubs. This also helps to blur the perimeter and can make the space feel larger.
Create an appealing social space. Thereis no better time of the year for eating outdoors and a table and chairs offers endless opportunities for lunch, afternoon tea, a casual drink with a friend or evening dinner party.
Incorporate something to keep you warm. A barbecue can turn into an outdoor heater once you have finished the food and a chimenea with a removable chimney lid can be replaced to provide heat once the barbecue is over. There are patio heaters which enable you to stay cosy, whatever the weather.
Let there be light but make it subtle! After dark, your garden can turn into a magical space, but you will need some tealights, lanterns and subdued lighting in order to make it glow.
If you want to see flower colour all-year-round, plan ahead. Successional planting means that when one plant stops flowering, another one starts. This doesn't happen without a little thought. There are bulbs that flower early or late in the season, perennials and shrubs for spring and summer, climbers for all seasons and many winter-flowering shrubs and climbers too.
Learn to love the colour green! Structural plants with a strong shape can look amazing and they don't need to flower. Some gardens comprise just foliage and why not? Place lime-green plants in front of dark green and yellow-or variegated foliage next to burgundy or maroon and enjoy the contrasting colours. Foliage is just as good as flowers, and longer lasting too!
Perfectplants.co.uk for more ideas!