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How to make the most of your outdoor space (even if it’s tiny)

Small garden? Me too. And yet we’re currently spending nearly all our time out there. I started this post with my feet in a homemade tent (complete with tea towel “curtains”) and ended it perched next to the open doors as darkness fell and the (solar-powered) lights strung in the apple tree started to glow. Use it wisely, and even the smallest outdoor space turns into an extra room in the home. Here’s how to make the most of yours……

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Garden Party

I love this time of year. Everything is just so alive. It’s a time when I hate to be inside and yearn for a walk in the park surrounded by the lush green trees, an afternoon spent lying in a field or simply just sat outside drinking a cup of tea or glass of wine. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden – whether it’s large, small or London-sized postage stamp (that’s me folks), you’re bound to be spending quite a bit of time in it over the coming months (fingers crossed). Which means it’s time to get decorating……

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Everybody out!

At the merest glimmer of warmth and sun, my family head outside to eat al fresco. My husband is always keen to point the sheer joy of dining outside. It is the simplest of pleasures – yet it is true that food always tastes better when consumed outdoors; be that a sandwich on your lap or a candlelit garden supper.Be that a potter around my pocket handkerchief garden before work, coffee in hand, doing a spot of dead-heading; porridge and fruit at our (now woefully rusty and in desperate need of replacing) table at the weekend; nipping in and getting that last table outside your favourite cafe; lunch in my parents’ garden (where, appositely, C had her first ever taste of food). Glorious. In my dreams (one day, one day…) my garden dining facilities look something like this……

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How to…design a small garden

I would love to have a big garden. Somewhere to lounge outside, surrounded by trees and flowers where the boys can play football and I can drink wine/tea/fizzy elderflower (oh yes, I’m a wild one) whilst basking in the sun. Unfortunately, this dream isn’t quite reality, just yet. But, no need to reach for the world’s smallest violin, I am lucky enough to have a small, urban garden which was transformed from basically a dodgy old side return and patch of patio into something really quite gorgeous by the lovely and very talented Dani Nash of Pollinate Garden Designs. Dani is basically your garden design dream come true. She knows her onions (or to be more accurate alliums), listens to exactly what you want as you explain it very badly and comes back with ideas that are really quite wonderful. An expert on gardens of any size, Dani is just the person to talk to if, like me, your garden is teeny-postage-stamp-tiny. If you have been inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show (on until Saturday), then here’s some tips on how to turn your little outside corner into a patch of heaven.…

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Indian Summer: 5 of the best tipis for children

I love tipis (or teepees or wigwams), so much so that we slept in one on our wedding night. I particularly love this tipi pictured above, although admittedly I am neither creative, green-fingered or energetic enough to try and reconstruct one at home. But, it’s a great idea, no? If you had the space, the time and the know-how, then wouldn’t it be amazing to build one in your garden? Failing that, you could always go the easy route and buy one of these below. Some are for outside, some are for inside, but all are designed for children (although Hearthworks also make amazing ones for adults), and who other than me, loves a tipi more than a small child?…

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Whatever takes your floral fancy

It must be the sunshine – which has been glorious (sorry if it’s been less than glorious where you are) – but both my garden and I are coming over all floral abundance this week. I’ve also discovered that there are some seriously talented girls out there, setting out on their own flowery path. Bookmark (or just book) them NOW before demand goes crazy. I have to start with my ridiculously talented friend, Sarah Cooper-White (check out her work – above and below). A beauty journalist by day, she’s a floral genius by evening and at the weekend. I’d get married all over again just to have her do the flowers for the wedding. (Look out for more from her at a later date on W&W.) Contact her via her blog, Poppy & Peonies (Poppy is her lovely little girl).…

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The first picnic of the year?

With temperatures looking good for the bank holiday weekend (the timing! the timing!), we think we might just be brave enough for the first picnic of the year. While hardier souls may have been eating outside for the last few months, we have been holed up inside, pining for sun like a forlorn lizard, and it’s not until now, that we feel ready to take the leap. And leap we do. We’re going ALL OUT for picnic chic. Here’s what’s on our picnic wishlist…. If you’re going all out, you’ll need a picnic basket and this one from Anorak is lovely. With cutlery, ceramic plates, wine glasses, napkins and a bottle opener, for four, it brings a touch of country chic to the proceedings. More of a duvet, than a standard old rug, this striped little Cox & Cox number (£150) is made for lazy day lounging. It might be a pain to lug around, but once you’ve set up camp, you won’t be moving for hours. Or try this gorgeous Hamptons-esq rug from The Garden House. Machine-washable and vinyl backed, it’s practical and pretty. If you have room in your hamper, you might want to include this French-style water…

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Spring (garden) shopping by Joanna Archer

The wonderful garden designer Joanna Archer turned our flowerless urban oasis into a little pice of the countryside in the city – and we love it (even though I am still very much the novice gardener…’Um, is this a weed or what?’). So when C and I met her and her little boy at Kew gardens (not, alas, for a stroll through the greenery, but for babyccinos and gingerbread men followed by frenetic play at Climbers and Creepers) – I pretty much twisted her arm into giving W&W the lowdown on giving your garden a spring makeover. “It’s a daily ritual now. Nipping outside and peering at the ground longing for SPRING to appear. If you’re an impatient gardener, like me, you might just want some instant ways to bring much needed cheer to your plot. Here are some ideas for your shopping list: 1. Spring flowering plants Ranunculus sp. [ABOVE] are joyful lollipops of colour, flowering from now to early Summer. Happy in full sun or part shade they look pretty in a pot or at the front of well drained border. I’m obsessed with pink as you will see but they are equally lovely in white, red, orange……