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WHAT'S ON THIS WEEK
Take it outdoors
By the time July arrives you should be well and truly used to making the most of your outdoor space – whether it serves as a breakfast room, a relaxation corner or a ‘work-out’ zone, says Caroline Knight
With the exception of weekends, the evening tends to be the only time that many of us get to enjoy our gardens. Whatever your hectic schedule, relaxing in the space you have created outside is a key to releasing some summer appreciation.
Notice how colours are enhanced as light fades – with blues and whites taking on a luminescence that adds charm and intrigue to an outdoor evening. So it helps to choose plant varieties that scent the night air with heady aromas.
The heat of the day is retained and reflected by paths, patios, walls and other hard surfaces so we can make the most of the English summer by ensuring that our solid surfaces are positioned in the most effective part of the garden.
If you are a ‘morning’ person, you will want to sit in the early morning sun and view your garden from the warmest and brightest perspective before the day really begins, so a patio catching the rays from the east would be most appropriate. If, however, you are not likely to sit in your space until the evening, it is the western rays you will want to attract.
If you are thinking of changing or installing a new patio or changing an existing surface, consider personal preferences for colour, style and texture. Light surfaces reflect the heat while darker surfaces tend to absorb the warmth – so a dark slate or granite-type surface is likely to keep warmer into the evening. But lighter colours actually look warmer and brighter – so there are plenty of potential conflicts to negotiate before making a firm choice.
It always helps to look at examples and a great source of inspirational ideas can be found at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (3 to 8 July. If you feel that the ideas presented are outside the bounds of ‘normality’, a new competition this year might be just the thing to get your creative juices flowing.
Hampton Court’s Low Cost, High Impact Gardens illustrate a diverse range of layouts achieved within certain budgets so they present real ‘live’ solutions for everyday situations. Of course there are gardens galore open during July under the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) and a couple of hours spent exploring someone else’s patch of heaven is always valuable. Try Squerryes Court in Westerham on Wednesday, 18 July (11.30am to 4.30pm) for a wander through 15 acres of garden, lake and woodland surrounding this beautiful 17th century manor house. It includes a Victorian rockery, fine topiary, a hornbeam avenue, box edged parterres, roses and perennials.Visit www.squerryes.co.uk or call 01959 562345.
Or visit Duval’s Farmhouse and Farm at Hawkhurst on Tuesday, 24 July (10.30am to 4pm), supporting St Michael’s Hospice. Two beautiful gardens here include an unusual ivy clad figure, mature trees and fine views and there will be refreshments available in the farmhouse gardens along with stalls selling a variety of gifts. For more details email firstname.lastname@example.org. Entry charges apply to both venues.
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