Summer Must Haves for the Outdoors

Nowadays people are turning their outdoor space into extentions of their indoors. They realize it gets them so much more square feet to enjoy and so it becomes another room to decorate. I’ve scoured online to pick out some of my favourite & easy DIY ideas, to turn these areas into cozy and comfortable retreats, along with a few neat ideas to put in your garden. All non-specified photos are from bhg.com.

Swap Out your Cushions:

Swap out your Cushions

You should pick furniture for your outdoor rooms that are durable and of quality that will last you for many years. Then simply swap out cushions whenever you feel like a new colour scheme. Try some bold colours if your furniture is neutral.

Mix Elements:

Mixing Elements

If colour is not your cup of tea, then use several different types of materials to create visual interest. A metal table pairs well with the dark wicker furniture, porcelain garden stool, and worn wooden oars propped up in the corner.

Paint your Brick:

Paint your BrickTo instantly lighten and brighten any outdoor room, consider painting out the brick white. Wicker furniture and the substantial amount of natural light streaming in give the space a light and airy feel. However, take note that once brick is painted, you will need to repaint every few years depending on your climate.

– Pattern for Porches:

Another way to inject interest if colour is not your thing, is to introduce several different patterns in your cushions. Even the woven chairs enhance the scheme though additional patterns. Add in some placemats and a rug, and voila… you’ve got one stimulating room!

Paint your Wicker:

Photo by SET For Design

Photo by SET For Design

Photo by :  SET For Design

As someone who has done this themselves (see photo directly above for my own front porch), painting wicker couldn’t be any easier! Keep it neutral and bright or go crazy and pick a fun colour. It’s only paint and can be swapped out again.

Create a Hanging Garden:

Hands down this is the best use for an old unwanted shower caddy! Spray paint it out in whatever colour you like. Line the baskets with preserved moss to hold soil and plants while allowing excess water to easily drain away. Creates an interesting focal point for your fence.

– A New Use for Terracotta:

Rather than discarding that assortment of terracotta pots, consider using them as in-ground planters. Tuck the planters in among other bedding plants to add dimension to your garden.

– DIY Terrariums:

Decorate with Terrariums

Terrariums are not a new concept, but lately they’ve experienced a big surge in popularity. Create a simple terrarium all on your own using no more than a wooden tray, a collection of small potted plants, and a large glass dome.

Once you’ve mastered these easy makeovers, here’s an easy beer cocktail recipe to enjoy in your new improved space (even the title works well!):

 Sublime Design

  • 3 oz Molson Canadian 67 Sublime or your favourite beer with lime
  • 3 oz pink lemonade
  • 1 tsp of frozen raspberries thawed
  • Fresh raspberries or other berries of your choice

To a wine goblet filled with ice, add the beer, pink lemonade and thawed frozen raspberries. Stir and garnish with the fresh fruit on top.

All that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy 🙂

 

 

 

Ready to Go Outdoors?

I know I am!  This never-ending winter has made me long for sitting out, bbq’s, gardening… even moving the lawn seems preferable to the alternative we’ve had for so many months.

Why not create a cozy and ‘bohemian’ inspired room outdoors that can act as a additional and interesting aspect to your indoors. Here are some great ideas to implement this outdoor room that don’t require a ton of money.

Stump for a coffee table? Unfortunately with this year’s ice storm is southern Ontario, a higher than average number of trees have come down. If you find you (or someone you know) has some stumps remaining, why not create a unique coffee table that is bound to get some conversation going- “remember that crazy ice storm of 2013?”…

Bohemian Outdoor room by HGTV.ca

Bohemian Outdoor room by HGTV.ca

Add in a wonderful bright, colourful rug and matching throw and you’ve got an outdoor living room that will make you smile with every visit.

Lighting should not be ignored! Where there is electricity, you can’t go wrong with a stainless steel pendant that will blend in with just about anything.

 

Outdoor Stainless Pendant by HGTV.ca

Outdoor Stainless Pendant by HGTV.ca

Where there is no hardwiring, consider re-purposing a chandelier with battery powered candles for a soft and elegant glow.

Outdoor Battery-operated Chandelier by HGTV.ca

Outdoor Battery-operated Chandelier by HGTV.ca

You may also want to light the way to your outdoor room. Use a standard (& cheap) globe fixture with a strand of white lights inside of it.

 

Light the pathway by HGTV.ca

Light the pathway by HGTV.ca

Don’t forget whimsical patterned pillows and art or mirrors where appropriate. Bright colours are certainly a sign of spring and warming temps. I have grown pretty tired of always seeing the same monochromatic, plastic, neutral placemats in grey/beige/black. How much more fun would it be to eat off of these?

 

Bright Placemats by Style at Home

Bright Placemats by Style at Home

I think the grey and cold winter has really made me want to add some extra spice in colour, pattern and feeling this year.  What better room to do that in that your outdoor one?!

Try Something New in the Garden

As with most things in life, we often return to the tried-and-true.  The same can be said about the flowers we plant in our gardens. I’m sure my parents planted the same thing (geraniums) pretty much every year for decades. The most that changed was the colour. I found myself falling into the same trap.  Begonias and Mandavilla vines had become my fail safe plants of choice. This year I went with some new options and I couldn’t be happier. That got me thinking about what are some of the new ‘hits’ in the flower world.  Just like home decor, things do change and evolve. Plants come in and go out of style. Why not break up your routine a bit and incorporate some of these new winners?

Heucheras (or their common name of Coral Bells) are found in most gardens.  However, why not try some of the bright, happy colours they now come in to bring an instant shot of perennial colour to your shady beds?

Brightly Coloured Coral Bells

Brightly Coloured Coral Bells. Source: Pinterest

Just like the Pantone Colour of the year (Emerald Green by the way), plants also have their ‘Plant of the Year’. The Perennial Plant of the Year™ (POY™) program began in 1990 to showcase a perennial that is a standout among its competitors. Perennials chosen are suitable for a wide range of growing climates, require low maintenance, have multiple-season interest, and are relatively pest/disease-free. This year’s winner is:

Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ or it’s common name of Variegated Soloman’s Seal
Variegated Soloman's Seal: Perennial Plant of the Year

Variegated Soloman’s Seal: Perennial Plant of the Year
Source: Perennial Plant Association

This all-season perennial has greenish-white flowers in late spring and variegated foliage throughout the growing season. The foliage turns yellow in the fall and grows well in moist soil in partial to full shade. Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ grows 18 to 24 inches tall and will spread by rhizomes to form colonies. It is a great companion plant to other shade lovers including hostas, ferns, and astilbes. The sweet fragrance will enhance that walk along a pathway on a spring morning.

Linai Lime Green Verbena: Verbena are usually trailing plants in pink, white, even blue and purple but never lime green! Every flower head on this vigorous plant is smothered in pale chartreuse petals. Use Lanai Lime Green verbena by itself in a basket or container, or use it as a complement to annuals that bloom in brighter colours.

Lime Green Verbena

Lime Green Verbena
Source: Better Homes & Gardens

Think all Petunias are boring?  Think again! The ‘Blue A Fuse’ Petunia is anything but boring. Like snowflakes, no two petals are alike. Each bloom sports stripes and blotches of violet, yellow, and white with purple centers. The plants have a mounded habit that makes them a good choice for containers or the landscape. Like other petunias, ‘Blue A Fuse’ blooms from spring till frost.

Blue a Fuse Petunia Source: Better Homes & Gardens

Blue a Fuse Petunia
Source: Better Homes & Gardens

As for me, I went with mini roses in dual tones for my balcony box. While I have lots of roses in my garden beds, I pretty much only thought of the miniature variety as indoor plants. Was I wrong! And Bougainvillea now replace Mandevilla vines. While neither are cutting edge, new-to-the-market species, they’re new to me and that’s all that matters 🙂

Mini Roses Balcony Box

Mini Roses Balcony Box

Bougainvillea vine

Bougainvillea vine

Pretty In Pink

It’s April and all around me are gorgeous spring flowers in bloom.  The inspiration for this blog came from the stunning pink flowering tree which is currently in full glory at the back of my yard.

Since I didn’t plant it, I don’t know what kind of tree it is!  It puts out these lovely pale pink flowers for about 1-2 weeks at this time of year and then that it is.  The rest of the year it has ‘weeping’ branches of green foliage. It got me thinking though that pink is a very popular colour in nature.  Maybe pink is not something you would want to incorporate in your inside decor, but you can have fun with it outdoors!

I’ve included here some of my favourite pink flowers/bushes that you can plant in your own garden to make it ‘pretty in pink’.

  • Flowering Almond

Flowering almond bush

This is an easy-to-grow bush, that like a magnolia, blooms for a few weeks in early-mid spring and can grow quite large (I keep mine groomed because it’s at the front of my garden bed). But if you put it somewhere on the side or at the back of your garden, it grows really fast and can get pretty large.

  • Peony

Pink peony

A super easy perennial flowering shrub that requires bright light (sun) and not much else 🙂 They make fantastic cut flowers to bring indoors to add some colour and fragrance!

  • Bleeding Heart

Bleeding heart flower

This perennial reminds me of my grandmother’s garden because she had them blooming all over the place. Another easy-growing, little-work-required type of shrub. I’ve planted a white version, but the pink colour is truly impressive and romantic in your garden. It flowers for a long time in late spring, but once summer is in full swing, their leaves will shrivel and not look great. I cut them down to almost nothing and sure enough it comes back year after year!

  • Trumpet Lily

Trumpet or Oriental lily

In my mind, trumpet lilies (also known as Oriental lilies) are much more impressive than the more common Asiatic types that you find everywhere. Here’s a useful article that distinguishes between the two: http://www.ehow.com/info_7968522_differences-between-asiatic-oriental-lilies.html

The trumpet lily in pink helps to make my summer garden pop with colour, fragrance and also makes for fantastic cut flowers.

  • Shrub Rose

Shrub rose

They bloom forever- all summer long in various shades of light/dark pink.  Bright sun is a must and rose food will certainly help to keep the blooms going and going…

And last but certainly not least:

  • Pink Hydrangea

Pink hydrangea

A little tip on hydrangeas… mine all seem to turn pink after a while, even if they started out blue.  There is a way to turn a hydrangea blue (if one was so inclined), all you need to add is some aluminum sulfate into the soil.  It really does work!

So why not add a little pink to your garden? I promise it’ll put a smile on your face 🙂