Container gardening has never been more popular. Increasingly, we’re seeing our patios and decks as extra “rooms”, where we can entertain or relax. Pots and containers are the perfect way to decorate these exterior living spaces. Flexible and relatively low-maintenance, there’s a style to suit every garden and a price to match every budget!
- Mix pellets of slow-release fertiliser into the compost when you plant up your containers. The pellets will feed your plants for around six months.
- If you can, fill and plant your containers when they’re in their final position. Once they’re full of compost, they’re very heavy to move around!
The Right Choice
Choosing a container is quite a challenge: there are so many on offer. You’ll have more success if you start by deciding where you want the container to be and what sort of display you’re aiming for. That way, you’ll have an idea of what you’re after when you start looking. Generally speaking, go for as wide and as deep a pot as you can, to give your plants as much room as possible. Standing containers on feet will help prevent water logging.
For more advice, see Container Planting.
John Innes Number 2 soil-based compost is a good choice for larger plants and shrubs that need the extra weight for stability. In areas where weight is an issue (balconies and roof terraces, for example), opt for peat-free, multi-purpose compost. There’s a huge variety of plants on offer to provide year-round interest. One planting strategy for larger containers is to anchor the arrangement with a perennial, changing the other plants as the seasons dictate.
Hanging baskets make a great summer display but you won’t get the best out of them if you site them somewhere shaded. Traditionally, sphagnum moss was used to line baskets but we should avoid using it now, as supplies need to be conserved. Garden centres sell a variety of alternatives.
For more on this subject, see Hanging Baskets.
Arranging your containers in groups will give them far more impact than dotting them around a patio. Grouping pots of different heights together will increase the visual interest still further. Don’t feel obliged to stick to traditional containers like pots and troughs. All sorts of objects can be re-purposed as containers, including wheelbarrows, buckets, sinks and chimney pots.
See Unusual Container Planting for more off-beat ways to accommodate your plants.
Containers, large pots and troughs planted with flowers make appealing decorations on patios, decking and paths. Attractive containers are widely available at reasonable prices, but if you are looking for a more distinctive look, here are some unusual alternatives. There is little that cannot be used as plant containers – the limits are your own imagination!
The only essential requirement of a container is the ability to hold compost – enough to avoid drying out too quickly. Drainage holes are desirable to allow surplus water to escape and prevent water logging.
- Wicker baskets: As long as the basket is strong enough, any size will do. A plastic liner with drainage holes will make the basket last longer.
- Zinc baths: These give an attractive alpine look. Be sure to put in plenty of drainage holes before filling with compost.
- Painted wheelbarrows: These look good and have the advantage of easy portability.
- Buckets: Add drainage holes a few inches above the base to provide a reservoir of water.
- Large chimney pots: Make attractive rustic focal points.
From the kitchen
- Teapot/kettle/jugs: It can be difficult to make drainage holes in these sorts of containers, so are best used for water plants.
- Colander: Useful for plants requiring good drainage!
- Milk bottles: Paint with an opaque paint to disguise the compost. As drilling holes in glass is difficult, water sparingly.
- Egg cups: These can be a fun way of supplying fresh cress for your egg sandwiches!
- Bin liners: Tie into a sausage shape and plant strawberries or bedding plants through the holes.
- Old shoes or clogs: Plastic shoes are better than leather as the latter will go mouldy, and well-worn shoes should come with their own drainage holes!
- Children’s toys: Try planting a plastic pram – useful for a first garden and can be taken for walks.
- Bricks: Use one with three central holes, insert compost and plant with cacti.
- Bidet/lavatory: Definitely for the more adventurous garden! Try planting with trailing plants to hide the container.
- Cow sculls: Scrub out well before planting – cacti look good in these.
Most gardens have plants in containers – from a few on a balcony outside an upper storey flat to many on the patio of a large garden. Colourful containers can enhance paved areas and bring a display of choice plants closer to the eye. So how do you go about planting a container?
You will need:
- Broken plant pot pieces
Tips: Summer bedding should be planted when the risk of frost is over in your locality. If possible plant earlier and keep in a greenhouse for a few weeks, leaving outside during warm periods and back inside the greenhouse at night.
Permanent plantings can be done at almost any time of the year – but better in the spring when plants will become quickly established.
Step 1: Preparation
If re-using a container ensure that all traces of soil are cleaned from the inside to prevent carry-over of pests and diseases. Terracotta pots often develop green and white marks on the outside – clean off using mild detergent and a scourer.
Tip: Position your container in its final location before planting. There is no point carrying it around when it is full of heavy compost and plants!
Step 2: Fill the container
Ensure your container has sufficient drainage holes. To prevent these becoming blocked by compost, place curved pieces of broken plant pot or similar over the holes.
Add the compost – if the container is very large and you are planting bedding then you can reduce the amount needed by adding large lumps of polystyrene packing material at the bottom. Do not do this with smaller containers or where the planting is dense.
Firm the compost lightly. Loam-based composts can be firmed more after planting, but take care not to over-compress loam-free composts.
Tip: Ensure there is a gap of 2.5cm (1in) at the top as a watering space when the container is finished.
Step 3: Plant up
Select good quality plants – start with good-looking well-rounded specimens and thoroughly soak by immersing in a bucket of water.
Arrange plants on top of the container to compose the best design.
Remove from pots. Ideally, the plant’s roots should just be reaching the outside of the pot. This means they are not pot bound and are growing vigorously. If there is a dense rootball, tease larger roots apart to encourage them to grow into new compost.
Plant from the centre of the container outwards. Start by making a hole big enough for the rootball of the central plant. Lower the plant in, firming the compost to remove any large air gaps. Add the rest of the plants in similar fashion around the edges.
Level the surface of the compost and water thoroughly until water emerges from the base. Add a mulch of decorative gravel.
Tip: Use a similar size pot to make a hole and firm the compost around so you can drop in the plant when removed from its pot. All the plants should end up at the same depth as they were in their original containers.
Cascading, colourful hanging baskets – what could be more reminiscent of an English cottage garden? It doesn’t matter how small your outside space is, hanging baskets are a simple way to instantly introduce colour and create interest all year round.
You will need:
- Hanging basket and liner
- Water-retentive granules
- Selection of plants eg trailers, climbers and upright bedding plants
- Slow-release fertiliser
Tip: Many basket types are available, from solid plastic with a water reservoir, to woven baskets and also the traditional type – a wire basket consisting of an open galvanised plastic coated wire framework. These take longer to plant but will produce a better result if you follow our guide.
Step 1: Prepare the compost and liner
Never use garden soil which is too heavy, badly drained and lacking in nutrients. Always use new compost – many plants are packed into a small area and they need the best conditions available. Pick a compost without soil, although you can add a small amount of loam-based compost improve fertility.
Add water-retentive granules to the compost. These swell up into a glutinous mass, acting as a water reservoir, and claim to reduce the need to water so often. Incorporate slow-release fertiliser to reduce the need for extra feeding later.
An open wire basket needs a liner to prevent compost falling through. Traditionally, sphagnum moss was used, though many substitutes are available and work just as well, such as ones made of coconut fibre, or you could even use an old woollen jumper!
For a cheap liner, try a black plastic bin liner inside a thin layer of fresh grass cuttings. These start off green but soon turn to a straw colour and look fine even if they are not covered by trailing plants. Add some drainage holes a few inches above the bottom of the base to create a small water reservoir.
Step 2: Insert trailing plants
Stand the basket on a large plant pot for easy access and fill to about 1/3 with compost.
Make holes 50mm (2in) apart at this level and pass the roots of trailing plants through so they lie on top of the compost with the plants hanging outwards.
Add more compost and trailers, staggered between those below until you are a few inches from the top.
Cascading plants can be added around the top, every 50mm – 75mm (2in – 3in). Gently flatten and spread the rootball so more plants can be added. Firm compost around the plants.
Step 3: Plant the top
Add upright plants, placing carefully in the gaps in the centre and add a few climbers to grow up the chains.
Leave a gap at the top for watering, or push a plastic funnel in the centre to use as a watering point. This will soon be covered by plant growth.
Step 4: Hanging the basket
Water thoroughly, using a fine rose so as not to disturb the compost. Baskets dry out very quickly so water at least daily.
If the plants have not been previously hardened off, gradually acclimatise to outside conditions.
Fit the chain in place and suspend the basket on the supporting bracket. Take time to rotate the basket so that its best side faces out.
Six weeks after planting start a weekly liquid feed. Remove dead flowers regularly to prolong flowering.
Matting enhances the look of framed art: prints, photographs, drawings, watercolour paintings and sentimental objects can all be matted to fit in a frame. Matting helps protect these items by keeping frames and glass from directly touching artwork. Mat boards comes in different finishes and can be made from different quality papers
Precut mats that come in cheap picture frames, or that can be purchased in craft and discount stores are often made of regular mat board, also known as acidic matting. This is the least expensive type of matting . Acidic paper mats are similar in quality to newspaper; the colours fade over time and the white beveled edge turns yellow with age. More importantly, paper mats can leach acid into artwork, resulting in discolouration called “acid burn.”.
These cheap mats are fine for framing cheap prints and posters, or for temporarily framing certificates and children’s art, but can devalue original or limited edition prints and permanently damage sentimental or antique artwork and photographs.
Acid Free Matting
Antique photographs, important documents, limited edition prints and anything sentimental or valuable needs acid free matting. Acid free mats, also called rag mats, are museum quality and help protect artwork from deterioration. The way to tell cheap matting from acid free matting is to look at the beveled edge of the mat If the core is bright white, the mat is most likely acid free. If the core of the mat board is a dingy white, then it is probably an inexpensive paper mat
Of course, there are exceptions. Antique core mat boards are custom mats made specifically for framing antique photographs and art. When a mat frames antique paper, a bright white bevel stands out and makes the old paper look dirty by comparison. Archival quality custom mats with bevels in softer colours such as off-white and beige complement antique artwork.
Other custom mats are available with black bevels. And custom bright core mats can also be used to create special effects or accent children’s artwork. Custom matting options also include fabric mats, such as linen, suede and moire silk, as well as many other textures.
Specialty custom matting options include fabric mats and other textured matboards. Some specialty mats are available in the cheaper matboard, but most specialty mats are made of acid free materials. When in doubt, consulting a professional picture framer is the best way to get the right materials for the job.
Conservation Framing Options
Matting is only one part of a framing package. When it comes to framing artwork properly, choosing the right type of glass, or glazing, the right type of mounting board, and using proper mounting techniques and picture hanging hardware are equally important steps to protect artwork.
Bedroom is the place where we spend most of our spare time in. Dream bedrooms should not only have beautiful design, but also are good to people’s health. There are five key points for bedroom decoration according to my personal experience.
Usually bedroom is small and there are many things to store in it, so how to make full use of space in bedroom become the focus for bedroom decoration. Here are some suggestions for it:
- Leave enough space between furniture and wall.
- Cabinet with similar height to storey height should be placed in the same side of room door or place where people cannot see at the door. All the cabinet that can see at the door should be lower than 2.2m.
- Choose small size decorations. For example, small sized decoration painting.
The privacy of bedroom can be divided into privacy that cannot seen by other people and sound privacy. Door, window and curtain have close relationship to bedroom privacy.
Door and window should be thicker. There should be 0.3 to 0.5 cm interval between the bottom of door and floor, window and windowsill. Curtain is better to be made of thick fabric. If your bedroom curtain is thin, window screen should be installed. This is also good to block light and sound out when sleeping. Another kind of privacy for bedroom is related to sound. It requirements sound insulation function of bedroom. Sound insulation material for wall and floor is necessary.
Thirdly, colour scheme
The colour scheme of bedroom is differed for the people living in it. Generally speaking, warm atmosphere is the standard for bedroom colour scheme. People in different age have different preference for colour. Therefore, bedroom decoration colour should be decided by the people living in it.
Fourthly, environmental friendly consideration for bedroom
Environmental protection is the focus for modern society, this is especially important for bedroom. Except choosing environmental friendly material for bedroom decoration and use eco-friendly furniture, good ventilation is also important for creating healthy environment in bedroom. We all know that some plants can absorb harmful gas and release oxygen, but too many plants will make bedroom moist.
The lighting requirement for bedroom is not high, but the light should not radiate downward. Many people have the habit of reading before sleeping or on bed, then bedside lamp with adjustable light intensity is good choice. They can adjust the light intensity for their different needs.
The variety of colours in the depictions of flowers, fruit and insects ensures that botanical dishes are fitting for every decorating scheme. They possess an air of elegance and sophistication, yet they can also be used in a casual setting. The following list introduces some of the most popular botanical dinnerware patterns
Royal Worcester Evesham Vale Dinnerware
Created in Royal Worcester’s Malvern shape, elegant Evesham Vale dishes are porcelain, decorated with autumnal coloured fruits and edged with a thin green rim. They are microwave and dishwasher safe and travel safely from oven to freezer.
Royal Worcester’s Evesham dinnerware, edged with a gold rim, is fine for use in the freezer, fridge or direct from oven to table, but not suitable for use in the microwave.
The Evesham pattern, introduced in 1961 and named after a town in England known for its abundant fruit crops, has been retired. However, replacement pieces are still available through online auction houses and shops that specialise in discontinued china.
Villeroy and Boch Vilbofour
A German company in business for over 260 years, Villeroy and Boch produces high quality botanical pattern dishes as well as tiles and bathroom fixtures.
Villeroy and Boch Cascara Botanic Dishes
Cascara is a line of fine china decorated with fruit plums, peaches and on a plain white surface. This traditionally shaped dinnerware is dishwasher and microwave safe but will be discontinued July 31, 2010.
Ceramicplus Cascara is the matching line of casserole and soufflé dishes, slated to be discountinued Jan 1, 2010. Ceramicplus ovenware is available in the patterns French Garden and Petite Fleur, which sport dainty sprinkle of buds and blossoms on traditionally-shaped white china.
Villeroy and Boch Cottage China
Cottage fine china is a pretty blend of mix and match fruit such as cherries, blueberries and red currants on a plain white ground with a blue rim. It is a perfect choice for casual or daily use. The Cottage pattern can be matched or contrasted with plates sporting a wide blue or red border.
Villeroy and Boch French Garden Dishes
French Garden Fleurence is another mix and match pattern. French Garden Vienne is edged in a gold-coloured border and a band of leaves. It is both dishwasher & microwave safe. This design can be paired with wide-rimmed yellow-gold plates or an attractive green trellis-pattern border.
Wildberries China from Villeroy and Boch
Wildberries is bone china in an elegant, modern shape, decorated with simple sprays of strawberries on a plain white ground. Espresso cups, soup tureens and platters are part of the elegant, contemporary line up.
Flora is decorated with a single large blossom, such as a peony, sunflower or daisy. This simple, casual design has a green rim, modern shape and green saucers and accessories.
Royal Albert Bone China
In 2005, Royal Albert introduced a set called Botanical Teas. Clematis, Dahlia, Hyacinth and Primrose patterns are all 22 carat gilt-edged. Rhododendron, Roses, Tulips and Lilacs, produced between 2005 and 2007, have scalloped edges, and a choice of round or square dinner plates.
Mikasa Botanical Garden
Mikasa’s fine china ultima + super strong fine china is freezer to oven and microwave safe. This casual, dishwasher-proof line is made in Indonesia. It has a leafy green border and a contemporary shape.
Botanic Garden by Portmeirion
This pretty mix and match set of botanical dishware features a wide variety of flowers unified with a simple leafy green border. The charming designs and colour range make Botanic Garden a popular choice for almost any decor. Dishes are microwave and dishwasher safe and withstand oven temperatures of up to 200 degrees.
Wide Range of Portmeirion Serving DIshes and Accessories A complete array of Portmeirion Botanic Garden dishes for breakfast, lunch or dinner service is currently available through department stores, china shops and on-line sellers. Special accessories include teapots, cream and sugar, water jugs, large serving bowls, tea towels and cutting boards.
Medicines are a part and parcel of every family. A well-stocked medicine box or cabinet is an important element of family life. A medicine box must not, however, be a hold-all for all kinds of medicines. Rather it should be organised and sorted out properly to make finding a medication simple and quick. Here are easy ideas to arrange and organise a medicine cabinet or a smaller medicine box.
Clean out the Medicine Cabinet
The first step in organising the medicine cabinet is to clean it out completely. Remove all the bottles, strips and pills from the shelves. Wipe the shelves and doors clean and line with fresh paper. Discard old and unused medicines, prescriptions that are not needed and any medicine which does not have an expiry date clearly mentioned.
Organise Medicines According to Type
The next step will be to organise medications according to type. For instance, put all stomach medicines together, then antibiotics, then children’s medicines and so on. Use trays or small boxes to hold similar medicines together. A better but slightly more expensive option will be to use drawer or shelf dividers to store like items.
Organise Medicines According to Prescriptions
For family members who are taking prescription medicines, keep space separate for their medication. Label the containers clearly and store them in a separate box or section dedicated to prescription medicines. Make a small chart with names of family members, their prescriptions and dates on which they must be filled. Put this chart up on the inside of the cabinet door.
Organising General Medications
General medicines such as vitamins and supplements, birth control pills and first aid supplies can be kept together on the lower shelf of the cabinet to allow for quick and easy access. Keep a thermometer, preferably digital, and a pair of scissors with these supplies. On the inside of this shelf, paste a list of phone numbers of physicians, pediatricians and the hospital.
Arranging the Medicine Cabinet
While cabinet storage is ideal for medicines, for smaller homes, a medicine box can also be used to store medications. Arrange everything neatly and according to the systems given above. Make sure that labels are clear and informative. If using a medicine box, make sure that the lists of prescriptions and phone numbers are pasted either on the inside of the lid or filed in a small clear folder.
Review the medicine cabinet periodically to discard expired medications and prescriptions, which no longer have to be filled. These simple strategies will keep the bathroom medicine cabinet or family medicine box neat and organised. No more will parents have to fret over finding the right stomach medicine for their toddler.