Finding Britain’s Best Lawn

For the past 12 years Paskett PR has set out to find Britain’s Best Lawn.

In the competition’s life time we have unearthed some fantastic lawns but what has been more of a discovery has been their owners.

Whilst the lawn is of course the key criteria, our winners are always real characters who are truly dedicated to their gardens and are true lawncare aficionados.

This year’s winner was no different to that and Stuart Grindle in Doncaster spends 30 hours A WEEK looking after his lawn. It definitely showed! When we turned the corner into Stuart’s garden we were astounded by his immaculate lawn and panicked slightly that it was fake!

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The edges were perfectly, and unusually fluted, and the grass mown to 5mm to keep it looking like a perfect carpet. There wasn’t a weed in sight and it definitely put my garden to shame!

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What was really nice about Stuart’s garden was that it was not just lawn, it was framed by beautiful borders, unusual planting and pathways leading to secret hideaways, water features, bird houses and seating – not to mention his amazing hanging baskets!

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It wasn’t surprising then that Stuart dominated the national newspapers when we announced the winner. His lawn took over page 3 of The Daily Mirror and The Daily Express as well as almost a full page in The Daily Mail and being discussed on BBC Breakfast TV. He was also in The Times, The Star and The Sun and became quite the celebrity!

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If you think your lawn can rival Stuart’s and you’re interested in entering the 2018 competition then please get in touch to register your interest. Email hollydaulby@paskett.co.uk and we’ll put you on the list to be notified when the competition reopens.

 

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Gabriel’s Hounds can quickly spot a dash of yellow

When they were young, our children used to call our home Kerrygold House because it is painted a lovely buttery colour.  It still is and, although it cannot be seen from the road, it must be a real beacon from up in the sky.   We don’t have fields of rape around us so this yellow dot on the landscape really will stand out.

The house is midway between two large areas of water – the vast lake outside JCB’s World Headquarters at Rocester and the lovely Blithfield Reservoir near Abbots Bromley, both in Staffordshire.  These two water features are home to many species of duck, geese and swans, with the incredible Australian Black Swans on JCB’s water.

As the evenings began to draw in after the Summer Solstice my wife and I, both avid gardeners so usually outside, began to notice that at certain times towards dusk we could hear the calling of geese out on the breeze.  This lovely, haunting sound is often known in the country as the cry of Gabriel’s Hounds.  Well, to cut a long story short, they clearly use Kerrygold House (not its real name) as a flight path beacon on their journey from JCB to overnight at Blithfield, and again on their return journey in the morning.

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You can virtually set your watch by them.  The only thing that seems to alter their time-keeping is if it’s an unusually cloudy or dark day, they are then five to ten minutes earlier than normal.  Jennifer, my wife, claims that I have very selective hearing – not true of course – but I can pick up even the faintest call of his hounds, particularly in the evening.   We usually have four separate fly-pasts over a ten to fifteen minute period and the largest number of geese – they are Canadas – I have counted 22 in a single skein.  It really is something we both look forward to.

We really must try to get out more!!

Happy Gardening – Graham

The Camden Highline

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog about a train line… In a previous post I talked about one of my favourite spots in New York, The High Line – a stunning escape from the busy city where a disused train line has been converted to an elevated public garden walkway.

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A new crowd funding project has been announced that will replicate the High Line in New York and personally, I think it’s a great idea. The Camden Highline, which has been backed by Sadiq Khan, comes at a time when the highly discussed Garden Bridge project has been axed, so it offers a new alternative.

The proposed project will see an old and overgrown railway line, which runs adjacent to the overground track, being transformed to provide a walkway for pedestrians and cyclists between the iconic Camden Market and Kings Cross. The space will be 800 metres long, 18 metres wide and 8 metres high.

Initiatives like this are a great way of taking unused, unloved and long forgotten areas and, instead of leaving them to go to ruin, transforming them into beautiful, usable public spaces for now and generations to come. One of the great things about the New York High Line is the way it is multi-functional so grants, not only a means of getting from A to B whilst avoiding traffic and having a more scenic view, but it also has seating, musicians, art displays and cafes. And, of course, a variety of intricate planting, all designed and selected with a different consideration in mind.

Plans are still in the early stages for the Camden Highline but with the funding now secured I’m sure there will be more to come on this very soon and we look forward to hearing about the design and types of planting, as well as the sustainability of the walkway.

Holly

 

Find out more here www.camdenhighline.com

#CamdenHighLine

Instagram @camdenhighline

5 Useful Things You Can Do With Grass Clippings

Many people will be continuing to mow their lawns until at least October and, for many, the resulting grass clippings, and how to dispose of them, pose a real problem.  But they are valuable in the garden and here are five really useful things you can do with the grass clippings:

  • Use them as a mulch around the base of fruit trees to help retain moisture and nutrients
  • Spread them liberally along the base of raspberry canes. This not only helps retain moisture but suppresses weed growth

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  • If growing runner beans either in rows or wigwams, weed and then water the area between the beans. Next spread several inches of clippings in the same area to seal in the moisture

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  • Mix them with falling leaves in the autumn, particularly beech if you have these trees, and make a separate compost heap. The resulting mixture is excellent to use in the garden the following spring

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  • Use several inches of grass clippings as a non-dig method of growing potatoes, mixing the clippings with straw.

In really dry weather remove the clippings box from your machine and leave the cuttings to simply mulch down and benefit the grass, by returning nutrients and moisture back into the soil.

Happy gardening!

10 Tips for a Productive Workday

We all know the feeling, sometimes the more work you have to do, the harder it is to get any of it done, with even just knowing where to start being a task in itself. With a small team, and a lot of clients to look after, the Paskett PR team know a thing or two about creating a productive, creative environment – here are some of our favourite tips.

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  1. Declutter and organise your desk

Declutter anything from your desk that you have not used for a month. Do you need three pads of post-its and a pot of pens with no ink? Sorting your desk will make you think clearer and feel more organised. For items that you use every day, keep them neat with trays and desk tidies. Not only will this make you feel more ordered, but you will be able to find what you need much more easily!

  1. Make room for a plant

Whilst we love a clear workspace, we believe that there is always room for a plant. In fact, research shows that having plants in the office can increase productivity by up to 15 percent. Not only that, but they can boost happiness and purify the air, making your space visually, mentally and physically more stimulating.

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  1. Implement Friday action plans

We like to block off half an hour on a Friday, sometimes more, to sort out and organise our desks, and get planning for the following week. This is a good opportunity to go through what has been achieved in the week, and what action needs to take place after the weekend. This type of organisation means you will get back to work on Monday with a tidy desk, and a clear plan for the coming week; meaning the Sunday night panic doesn’t hit so hard.

  1. Take regular breaks

It’s really important to take scheduled breaks throughout the day in order to maintain a constant level of performance. This may be a tea and biscuit break, or a short walk around the block, but stepping away from your desk for a few moments can really reinvigorate your motivation and creativity.

  1. Set yourself deadlines

Self-imposed deadlines can be really helpful in giving you a focus and helping you to meet your goals, and can also help to schedule your work so that there isn’t a mad rush to get everything finished on the same day. Just make sure that your deadline is realistic so you don’t end up demotivating yourself.

  1. Stop Multi-tasking

We are often told that multi-tasking is something that we should strive towards, and that it increases productivity, but, in fact, the opposite may well be true. It has been found that attempting more than one task at a time can result in lost time and productivity, as well as poorer quality work being produced. Try, instead, to focus on one task at a time.

  1. Turn off notifications and be proactive, not reactive

When working on a project, switch off email and phone notifications so that you can give it your full attention. If you allow incoming emails and phone calls to dictate your working day, you will be able to deal with these issues as they come in, but everything on your to do list will be pushed down the line and may not get completed by the end of the day. Try and schedule a few points throughout the day to check any messages and emails; enquiries will still be dealt with, but in a timeframe that works more productively for you.

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  1. Get small tasks done when you get the chance

If you find you have five or ten minutes to spare throughout the day, it’s a great time to check off those little jobs that fill up your to do list. These are often the jobs that we keep putting off, because we know that they don’t take long – but that’s exactly why it’s best just to get them done when you have the chance. In the space of 10 minutes, five of these little jobs can be ticked off your list, and we all know how good it feels to do that!

  1. Say no to meetings – when possible

Many meetings, especially internal ones, can be a waste of time – five people at an hour long meeting converts to five man hours used. Before calling a meeting, think about whether it is really necessary, or if a group email would be sufficient. It is necessary, set a time limit for each topic and stick to it.

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  1. Track how much time you spend on tasks

There is research that suggests that only 17 percent of people are able to accurately estimate the passing of time. This means that it is possible that you are spending more time on projects than you think. In order to keep track of how long you are spending on each task throughout the day, make a note of when you start and finish, and any distraction that take place. This way you can identify how long tasks realistically take you, and how much of your time is spent of irrelevancies. This will also help when it comes to planning your work for the following week, by allowing you to set realistic, achievable goals.

National Garden Scheme partners with UK’s leading gardening pr agency

We are delighted to have announced that we will be working with the National Garden Scheme (the NGS) on a charitable basis.

Paskett Public Relations, which was formed in 1976, will help to promote the charity’s fantastic work. This partnership ties in with the NGS’s rebrand which was launched this year to celebrate its 90th anniversary, and marked the start of its new strategy to increase public awareness about its work.

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Paskett PR works with many gardening brands including Wilkinson Sword, Cobra, The Posh Shed Company, the BASF Nemasys and Nemaslug ranges, Forest Garden and, most recently handled the pr for Hillier’s record-breaking 2017 Chelsea Flower Show garden, where Paskett PR created the popular Memory Tree campaign.

Holly Daulby, Paskett PR’s account director, will be heading up the work and commented: “The NGS carry out some amazing work so we want to help them shout about it to raise their profile, and ultimately raise more money for a range of fantastic causes. We have a long history with the organisation and many of our clients already support the charity in various ways. Planning is already well underway and we’ve got some exciting campaigns up our sleeves – we can’t wait to get started!”

George Plumptre, chief executive of the NGS, said: “Paskett PR has a fantastic reputation in the industry and I have worked with the team there for many years. We are delighted that they have kindly chosen to donate their services to the NGS and are very grateful for their support”.

The NGS was founded in 1859 and has grown to be the most significant charitable funder of nursing and caring charities in the country, donating over £50 million so far, through money raised via its open gardens programme. Currently, more than 3,700 gardens nationwide open their gates for the NGS each year.

What does Fake News mean for PR?

The term Fake News has become synonymous with Donald Trump and whilst on the surface it may just seem like an easy get out of answering even the most straightforward questions, I hate to say it, he may have a point.

I want to be very clear here though – I’m not saying I agree with him! Absolutely not! But to some extent news agendas and their reliability and credibility is under scrutiny. Particularly with digital platforms and social media facilitating rapid growth in rumour and speculation.

In its “‘17 for 17’: 17 Recommendations for Great Communications in 2017”, the PRCA says that “While 2016 saw much discussion of political fake news; in future, businesses will also be subject of aggressive campaigns based on misinformation.”* Fake news is resulting in a new role emerging for pr professionals, as our job is now also about stopping misinformation whilst protecting and promoting the truth. The good thing for us as PR people is that this means that journalists are coming to rely on us more than ever!

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For me, PR is all about reputation. Not just the reputation of your clients and the agency you work for but also your professional reputation. It may often seem there’s an easy option to take but that may put your reputation on the line and frankly, it isn’t worth it! All material a pr person puts out – every press release, every email, every tweet – is a reflection of their credibility and effects their reputation, not just the client and their agency.

In this industry, your reputation absolutely proceeds you and word soon gets around! Journalists need to know that they can trust you, if they do your relationship will flourish and they’ll need you as much as you need them.

At Paskett PR our media relationships are one of the accolades of which we are most proud. Just take a look at the “Blooming Brilliant” page on our website to see what they’ve got to say about us!

Holly

Go wild in your garden!

Wildlife not only makes the garden feel alive but also helps keep it beautiful.  Making your garden a haven for wildlife doesn’t have to be a daunting task.  With a bit of consideration, your garden can attract a variety of birds, bugs, hedgehogs and bees and become the perfect habitat for them.

Here’s some top tips:

  • Choose the right flowers & plants

Flowers provide pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and manyother insects that perform the important task of fertilisation.  Planting roses, honeysuckle or clematis against walls or fences will make ideal nesting habitats.   Hardy salvia, redbeckia, lavender and nepeta are all good examples of pollen and nectar-rich plants and will help to encourage bees.

  • Create a water feature or pond

The single easiest way to add wildlife benefits to a garden is to install a pond if you have space.  Alternatively, consider a small water feature to attract different creatures.  The use of plants like water lilies and broad leaf pond weeds can help to create your underwater habitat.

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  • Put up nesting boxes

You can provide new places for birds to nest by putting up nest boxes.  They will encourage birds to breed in your garden. Ideally put the bird box up in autumn, which will allow the birds time to become familiar with them in time for the nesting season the following spring.

  • Hang a bird feeder

Hang a bird feeder filled with unsalted peanuts.  You can get squirrel-proof bird feeders to ensure the squirrels don’t steal all the food!  Fat balls and seed mixes are ideal for attracting a range of bird species.

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  • Don’t clear up all the garden mess!

Piles of leaves and twiggy debris provide both food and habitat for many species.  Piles of stones can also make good habitat, particularly for hibernating reptiles and amphibians.

  • Grow a hedge

Hedges provide additional nesting areas for birds and small animals.  Suitable hedge plants include blackthorn, buckthorn, cherry plum, elder, hawthorn, hazel and privet.

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Good luck and enjoy the wildlife in your garden from your window!

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Gardening?… Just what the doctor ordered!

The benefits of gardening are widely reported. Not only is the physical side of gardening a great means of exercise (raking leaves can burn 250 calories per hour – the same as two packets of crisps!) but getting outside in the fresh air is also a great way of clearing your head and forgetting about your everyday stresses.

A new report by the King’s Fund, a charity that aims to improve health and care in England, has urged the NHS to prescribe gardening to patients and, here at Paskett PR, we couldn’t agree more!

The report suggests that gardening can aid patients, particularly the elderly, to reduce social isolation and can significantly help those with dementia. This method, called social prescribing, is rapidly becoming a recognised means of treating patients, whilst also reducing pressures on doctors and the NHS.

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Social prescribing is the means of referring people for non-clinical treatments for illness and problems. It encourages patients to take control of their illness without a dependency on medication and clinical support. This holistic approach isn’t just about gardening, other examples include volunteering, reading, arts activities, group learning, cookery, and getting involved in sports.

By offering people social and emotional support, whilst providing a means of distraction and a sense of belonging, social prescribing is believed to be key to improving quality of life and well-being, as well as reducing depression and anxiety.

Whilst there is yet to be any empirical evidence as to the impact of social prescribing, we can’t help but think it’s a great idea and that more people should be getting out in the garden!

Even Mary Berry agrees with us, having said “I have long been aware of the therapeutic benefits of gardening – you don’t need pills so get out in the garden and enjoy it.”

Want to know more about benefits of gardening for your health? Click here https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/files/kf/field/field_publication_file/Gardens_and_health.pdf

Find out more about social prescribing here: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/topics/primary-and-community-care/social-prescribing.

Holly

The weeds – they are a changing

I don’t know what the reason for this change is but so far in 2017 the crop of weeds in my garden has undergone a subtle but fairly dramatic change. It could have been the virtually frost free winter, or some other meteorological pattern shift, but changes are most certainly afoot.

The mainstay of my usual weed crop is dandelion, closely followed by groundsel. But this year their presence has been eclipsed by shepherd’s purse and the dreaded rosebay willowherb. The latter is everywhere from cracks in paths to infestation in the vegetable case and even under the benches in my greenhouse. The miserable shepherd’s purse really is a nuisance as it sheds its little white seeds at the slightest touch.

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We have always had both around the garden but nothing like the quantities of this season.

Has anyone else witnessed a change in weeds this season? Any thoughts on what the cause might be will be welcome.

Another strange phenomenon is the sudden appearance of an almost blue coloured, low growing and very tough grass in the vegetable cage. Even if the soil is damp, I need a trowel to get the roots out. It is all very strange.

The vegetables too seem to be changing. Last year we had so many broad beans that my wife was giving carrier bags full of them to neighbours and friends. I have grown the same quantity this year but fear we will be lucky to get half a dozen pickings from them. 2016 was the most brilliant year for apples, eaters and cookers. We had the most lovely blossom this year and, with little or no frost, will it be an even heavier crop? Time will tell.

Happy gardening.

Graham