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DIY: concrete planters

9 Apr

I have a little nugget of good news today – I’m soon moving house again and this time I’m going to have a garden! Maybe it’s the spring sunshine, but I’m getting super excited about this prospect. Until now, a few disasterous months of allotmenteering and three window boxes are the closest I’ve ever come to having my own patch and, needless to say, a ‘garden on a shoestring’ Pinterest board is already taking shape.

This contemporary concrete planter DIY  shared by my friend Heather is one I’m definitely going to try. Mix together a bag of cement, pour into old plastic buckets, add a pinch of interior stylist’s instinct and voilà!

Find the full step-by-step instructions at Growing Spaces.

DIY concrete planter Growing Spaces blog

DIY concrete plant pot and candle holder Growing Spaces Blog

[Photographs and tutorial both Heather Young for Growing Spaces]


Have you got any tricks or ideas for sprucing up a boring garden on a budget? I’d love to hear your advice!

One day in cider country…

8 Oct

When I lived in London I used to subscribe to get a Riverford Organic veg box each week. I once told my parents about what a great idea it was, to which I got the reply “Why would we do that? We’ve got Tony!”

hand picking a red apple

apple orchard

If you follow Decorator’s Notebook on Instagram you’ll already have met Tony (aka The Vegetable Fairy), our nextdoor neighbour who leaves the pick of his homegrown produce on our doorstep most days. This weekend he popped round for a chat and invited us to help ourselves to apples from his orchard. We don’t need asking twice!

apple tree

This little tree was so laden it could hardly stand up. Lucky we were there to relieve it of some of its burden :-)

apples on a tree

lottie eating apples

We can see you Lottie! She was very impressed with these scrummy ‘balls’ lying all over the grass.

basket of freshly picked apples

There are loads of different apple varieties in Tony’s orchard but he claims not to know what any of them are so we just took a lucky dip and picked a few of each. The little red ones are my favourite – crisp and pure white inside with a little hint of sharpness.

top 5 apple recipes

{all Decorator’s Notebook Blog}

We gobbled a few straight from the tree but the rest are being saved up to make into puddings and cakes. I tried to narrow down my top five apple-based puds but it’s a lot harder than you think… what’s your favourite?

Petal power at Hampton Court Palace

9 May

Hampton Court Palace and garden in spring

I’ve been mentally compiling a bit of a London bucket list and the glorious bank holiday weekend seemed the perfect chance to tick off one of the most beautiful places – Hampton Court Palace. I booked a ticket that included both the Palace and the gardens but as it was such a lovely day I spent most of my time outside. I’m determined to get to grips with my camera and post more original content this summer so here are a few of my snaps.

formal spring planting at Hampton Court Palace

tulips at Hampton Court Palace gardens

pink magnolia flowers

These photos are a bit misleading to be honest because with such nice light and stunning colours it would be hard to take a really terrible photos. Let’s just say there’s a reason I’m posting these and not the pictures I attempted to take of the equally stunning but badly lit interior!

Hampton Court Palace formal gardens

Fountain court at Hampton Court Palace

Tudor chimneys at Hampton Court

The really interesting thing about Hampton Court is that it’s been added to by various rulers over hundreds of years, so everywhere you turn there’s a different period of spectacular architecture to admire. I particularly loved the towering Tudor chimney stacks, each with its own design to show off just how warm and cosy Henry VIII could afford to keep his visitors.

Even though it was a busy bank holiday I still managed to find a quiet spot to sit and read (ok, nap) in this pretty walled orchard.

orchard Hampton Court Palace Gardens

espalier apple trees Hampton Court Palace

apple blossom closeup

Hampton Court Palace Gardens roller{all Decorator’s Notebook}

If you’re in London and haven’t visited Hampton Court Palace yet I completely recommend you go the next time the sun is shining. The interior is absolutely incredible as well. I’m tempted to do a whole separate post just with photos of the ceilings!

Decorator’s Notebook and the Mystery of the Marshmallow Tree

7 May
So, there I am walking to the station the other day and admiring the blossom outside the church as per usual, when I notice something funny about this one particular tree…
London cherry blossom

Can you see it?

Now, this tree is white, but halfway up there’s one branch covered in pink blossom. And not only that, the flowers are a completely different shape too.

A marshmallow tree! Or more like a flump really, when you think about it.

close up cherry blossom
{all Decorator’s Notebook}

Weird no? Is this a common horticultural thingamy I just don’t know about, or is there some severe plastic tree surgery going on here?

Answers on a postcard… or Tweet @DecoratorsNotes #marshmallowtrees

15-minute make: twiggy plant markers

25 Jan

DIY herb makers made from twigs

Here’s a lemon squeezy little craft project for you to try out over the weekend. Spring is just around the corner so I’ll be adding a few green-fingered ideas over the coming months in celebration (anticipation).

Twig Plant Markers

Twigs about 20cm long and a little thicker than a pencil

Sharp craft knife and cutting mat

Alphabet stamps

Coloured ink pads or acrylic paint

1) Whittle one end of each stick into a point. At the other end, slice away the bark on one side of each twig, exposing about 6cm of the wood beneath.

2) Dab your alphabet stamps into the ink or paint being careful not to load the stamp too heavily. Stamp your chosen plant names onto the bare wood.

3) Leave to dry the pop into the pots. Standard craft ink isn’t waterproof so remove the markers before watering!

stick plant markers DIY

{both via Etsy}

Raindrops on roses at Chelsea Physic Garden

5 Jul

Tucked down a tiny alley moments from the hustle and bustle of the King’s Road lies a little-known green oasis. Chelsea Physic Garden has been on my London to-do list for ages, and a visit from a friend with a passion for plants made it the perfect choice for a sunny summer afternoon last weekend. Or so we hoped…

The weather of course had other plans and moments after our tour began the heavens opened and we were drenched! We were shown around by a fascinating lady who battled on through the deluge regardless, explaining the history of the garden and showing us some of the 5,000 medicinal, edible and useful plants there. And when we’d just about given up hope… ta dah!

The sun came out, the skies cleared and the plants looked even lovelier with raindrops glistening on their leaves and petals.

Chelsea Physic Garden is London’s oldest botanic garden and has been on the same site since 1673 when it was founded by apothecaries to grow ingredients, develop new remedies and train apprentices to identify plants and study their properties.

The garden is surrounded by a beautiful old wall and so it’s always a degree or two warmer than the city beyond, meaning tender plants from all over the world can be grown, including the world’s most northerly outdoor grapefruit tree! There are lots of lovely wooden greenhouses too, where we spied this cute little fledgeling amongst the succulents.

Visitors are welcome to visit Chelsea Physic Garden between April and October but beware – opening days and times are quite random so check before you set out! The £9 entrance fee includes a guided tour which I’d definitely recommend. I usually prefer to find my own way rather than traipsing about in a group but we learned loads from our lovely guide… did you know that sunflowers are used to soak up radiation after nuclear disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima?

{all Decorator’s Notebook}

Whether you’re interested in botany or just want to see some pretty flowers, you should definitely check this tranquil spot out for yourself. If the British summer improves you may even get to see it in the sunshine. Or if not, you can always seek shelter in the café – I can confirm the cakes are to die for!

Decorating dilemma: indoor olive trees

23 Apr

I don’t like house plants, I’m absolutely certain on that. So I really shouldn’t like these…

{via Just Pretty Things}


{Vosges Paris}

{House of Philia}

Apparently olive trees are “pretty low maintenance, great for someone who likes plants that don’t mind a little neglect.” Well, that someone sounds very like me, and I already have this plant pot from IKEA stashed away which would be just right.

Somehow these don’t feel like the traditional house plants I so dislike but am I losing the plot on this one? Will it just die? Will it just sit there gathering (shudder) dust? Is it just wrong to have a tree in a two-bed London flat? Have I just got carried away with the whole gardening malarky?

I need your help on this one blog friends!


You might also like these posts:

Starting off my teeny tiny herb garden

Winter plants for window boxes

Flowers in the window

26 Sep

It’s such a lovely day

And I’m glad you feel the same*

{all Decorator’s Notebook}

It’s not much I know, but welcome to my ‘garden’ readers!

Last weekend I potted up my window boxes for winter with crimson cyclamen, trailing ivy and some bulbs which seem to be poking up already even though they’re meant to be sleeping until spring.

I struggle a lot with the darkness of a British winter, but opening the blinds on those dark mornings and seeing a row of bright flowers really helps to lift my spirits. These delicate-looking plants will keep going through lashing rain and blankets of snow and although this has to be one of the smallest ‘gardens’ in London, on those days it means a lot to me.

* Travis, 2002, in case you’re wondering…

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