Some of the best #LifeHacks you should be trying in your home & garden this summer

Whether you’re looking to save time, money, or impress your guests when they come round for a barbecue this summer, we’ve rounded up a selection of our favourite, nifty ideas to help you get creative around your home and garden…

 

Herb and fruit ice cubes are… cool

Freezing fresh fruit and herbs in ice trays is great for so many reasons, not least because they look so colourful.

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It’s a good time-saver; freezing fresh fruit means you can store it in your freezer for a couple of months, taking ice cubes out as and when you need them – add them to water for a chilled, refreshing burst of flavour, use them in smoothies for an icy blast and, of course, add them to cocktails for a classy decoration.

You can also freeze fresh herbs in the same way. Simply put a small amount of fresh herbs into an ice tray and pour water over them, making sure that as much of the herbs are covered as possible and not sticking out. Then store in the freezer until you need them –  and drop the ice cubes in as you’re cooking!

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Ice Lollies with a twist

Gin & Tonic ice lollies… one of the ultimate summer treats, and perfect for a garden party.

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You will need:

  • 100ml gin
  • 100ml lime juice
  • 600ml tonic water
  • 50ml water
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Cucumber slices

Mix all the ingredients together, pour the liquid into your ice lolly moulds and freeze. The amount of gin used may not sound like much but remember that alcohol does not freeze at the same temperature as water, so adding more than 100ml will mean your ice lollies never freeze completely.

Once the liquid has turned slushy in the moulds, add cucumber slices to each one to prevent them from sinking to the bottom (or you can add slices of lime, a bit more of a faff to eat but they look good!).

Likewise, if you’re using wooden sticks, don’t stick them in until the lollies have solidified a little first.

 

The sweet smell of Lavender

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Lavender is an evergreen shrub that can tolerate drought, and thrives in sunny areas of the garden. It will establish itself and spread slowly, producing hundreds of beautifully-scented flowers every year.

It also has many uses thanks to its aromatic properties. You can cut lavender around late May or early June, or just as the buds are beginning to flower. Make sure you keep the stems long as you cut, and cut off enough to fit a bunch in your hand.

Tie the bunch together with a rubber band (don’t use string because the plant shrinks slightly as it dries) and hang in a cool, draughty place in your home. After a few days, it should be dry and you can place it around your home in vases or use it to make potpourri.

To do this, remove all stems and dead leaves, leaving only the flower buds behind. Then using a pestle and mortar, a rolling pin, or your hands – crush the buds so that they crumble into little pieces. Then, place in a decorative container, add a few drops of essential lavender oil and mix together well. That’s it!

You could also add other things to your potpourri such as pine cones, dried orange peel or dried rose petals.

Be creative!

Georgina

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Paskett PR Visits RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2017

Here at Paskett PR, one of the perks of the job is being able to attend some of the wonderful, annual flower shows that happen up and down the country.

Last week Holly and I took a trip to the inaugural RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, which had the added benefit of being just up the road from us in Derby! Fortunately for us we chose to visit on the Friday, by all accounts the only day to not be blighted by torrential rainstorms. In fact, it was a rather balmy summer’s day as we entered the grounds, and we felt quietly smug that we had missed the previous days’ downpours.

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That said, I am sure that we would have enjoyed the visit just as much had we been rained on – the setting, of course, is breath-taking; anyone who has visited Chatsworth House will know that it is a masterpiece in architecture and landscaping, with the picturesque Derbyshire countryside providing a striking background and the imposing Emperor’s Fountain an ever-present reminder that this was once one of the most important estates in the country. It is, in fact, hard to imagine a more perfect setting for a day out.

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As for the show itself, this was a thoroughly enjoyable, and inspirational event. Not only were there a number of our very own clients, including the Posh Shed Company, Irrigatia, and Forest Garden, to name a few, but there were also a few interesting brands that were new to us, which is always good to find – we were particularly impressed by some beautiful, copper swinging seats – Myburgh Designs, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re in need of some pr!

The show gardens were diverse, with the Best Show Garden award going to the IQ Quarry Garden, by Paul Hervey-Brooks. This was, in my opinion, a worthy winner, with its design feeling both naturalistic and industrial, showing how nature can overcome areas once taken over by man, such as disused quarry sites.

The Great Conservatory was a real show stopper. The inspiration from the original Joseph Paxton build that once stood in the gardens was clearly evident, but the use of modern inflatable technology to create this incantation of it, along with the cutting edge, living art installation (CityScapes) at its centre, made it clear that this is a flower show that is proud of its heritage but not stuck in the past.

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Walking through the floral marquees, it took every shred of self-restraint to keep our purses firmly in our pockets, although I do regret not indulging in a couple of roses – two for £20 should not be sneezed at!

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As we stopped for lunch, during the only real rain of the day, we took advantage of the deck chairs surrounding the bandstand, which was playing host to a three-piece playing modern day songs in the style of a 1940s jazz band, as flower-strewn girls danced on the grass. What more is there to say?!

Well done Chatsworth, we will be back next year!

Fay

A day spent learning gardening tips & tricks from an expert

Last week we all had an exciting trip out of the office up to North Yorkshire to visit Martin Fish’s impressive garden – and what a day it was!

Martin Fish is a Garden writer, BBC Radio gardening expert, garden speaker and RHS judge.

We got our hands on a range of different gardening tools and were lucky enough to get all the tips and tricks that we needed to make – or attempt to make – our garden look as amazing as Martin’s. Any questions that we had were answered straight away, his gardening knowledge is limitless!

I have to admit that I had never used a lawnmower before, and if you were watching us test them out then you would see that we all weren’t quite prepared for the power that came out of it at first, with a sudden jolt we were away. We were even introduced to Monty, a robotic lawnmower which lets itself out to mow the lawn at certain hours of the day and then takes itself back to bed when it needs charging.

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Just to simply look around the garden you could see all the different bursts of colour coming through the greenery, it was truly magical and made even more perfect with the sun beaming down on us.

With a fruit and vegetable plot, green house, polytunnel and orchard on the ¾ acre landscaped gardens, there was definitely plenty to look at.

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After a lovely tapas-style lunch (yum!), we were all sufficiently refuelled ready to plant our own flowers into pots ready to take home with us. We will make sure to keep you updated with the progress of our flowers after using all of Martin’s advice, especially now that I am feeling a lot more inspired to get out into my own garden!

Olivia

Find Martin Fish on Twitter and Facebook

Don’t make your lawns unnecessarily hard work

Depending on whether you think looking after lawns is just a necessary chore or an enjoyable way to walk round the garden, I’m in either the unlucky or lucky position to have over an acre of grass that needs cutting.

OK, most of the time I use a ride-on mower that takes a lot of the effort out of it but, on average, I wheel out my trusty old 30” cylinder machine and happily walk behind it for a couple of hours.  To be absolutely fair, I do not have the grass collection box fitted or that would at least double the time taken.

The truth is that when it is cut, regardless of whether it is the ride-on or the cylinder, the lawns look attractive and lift the whole garden to a new level.  It pulls everything together and, somehow, gives the whole garden a cared-for appearance, making the effort of mowing worthwhile.

We are beset with badgers that enjoy turning quite large areas of grass over to looking like a ploughed field and the cylinder machine cannot cope with that.   But I believe we must look after our lawns because they are just so important to wild life and the environment.

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There are 20 million + domestic garden lawns in Britain.  Even at the most conservative estimate of size, that total is something like 780 square miles which is an area of grassland substantially larger than the South Downs National Park at a mere 627 square miles.  Inevitably, the majority of these lawns are in urban and inner city areas where they perform an absolutely vital role for birds, wildlife and helping prevent flash flooding.

But our lawns are under threat from two main sources: hard landscaping , often to provide parking for cars and caravans, and the dreaded artificial turf – why would anyone want to carpet their garden?

If you read some gardening books they make the whole prospect of looking after a lawn sound quite daunting.  But it need not be the case.  Lawns are there to be enjoyed, walked on, for playing football and watching the birds and animals enjoy their little bit of countryside.

The first recorded evidence of a garden lawn is a ledger entry from the 13th century, so they have been integral to our gardens for a very long time.  Let us all make sure they retain that vital position for at least another eight hundred years.  They provide so many benefits and, with just a little TLC, will repay garden owners time and time again.

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As Paskett PR we want to celebrate lawns and for 13 years have managed and run Britain’s Best Lawn.

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If you think your lawns is potentially award winning take a look at britainsbestlawn.co.uk and you could win an EGO Power+ battery powered mower and multitool kit as well as extensive bragging rights!

Love your lawn.

Graham

The UK’s leading gardening pr specialists head to the world’s leading gardening show!

The Chelsea Flower Show is one of the most iconic events in the gardening world. For Paskett PR, this year’s show was a particularly special event. We had five clients at the show so it proved to be a busy day!

Griffin Glasshouses and Irrigatia were exhibiting and The Posh Shed Company and Forest Garden also had their products on display in various show gardens.

Last summer we were contacted by Hillier who were looking for pr support for their 2017 show garden. Hillier is the most successful exhibitor in Chelsea history so we were absolutely delighted to be considered. Our pitch was successful and we soon got to work on putting plans into place!

The campaign that we suggested in the pitch process was the Memory Tree – an idea that Hillier loved! Months of planning later, it was fantastic to see the Memory Tree come to life on the Monday of the show, when the ground is open to journalists and VIPs – not to mention the Royal Family too!

Our Memory Tree concept asked visitors to the stand to take a moment away from the hustle and bustle of the showground to reflect. We were asking people to write down their most treasured gardening memory and then sign a plant tag which would then be hung from the tree.

Chris Evans kicked off proceedings with a visit to the Hillier garden during his Radio 2 breakfast show, who returned later for his ‘Pause for Thought’ segment, soon followed by none other than Alan Titchmarsh – true gardening royalty!

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Alan Titchmarsh pictured with Paskett PR Account Director, Holly Daulby

Throughout the day, we arranged for a whole host of famous faces to take part in the Memory Tree and sign a tag which will be auctioned for the Wessex Cancer Trust after the show. Stars included Dame Judi Dench, Joanna Lumley, Carol Klein, Anton Du Beke, Nigel Slater, Matt Baker, Alex Jones, Jo Whiley, Piers Morgan, Nigel Havers and Cerys Matthews.

The Hillier Memory Tree (8)

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A huge highlight was when Kate Middleton visited the stand during the Royal visit and was photographed underneath the huge Spring structure that ran through the centre of the Hillier garden. The garden was absolutely stunning and saw Hillier winning its 72nd consecutive gold medal. A fantastic achievement!

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Alongside the feature on the Chris Evans breakfast show we also secured coverage in many national newspapers as well as inclusion for Hillier on the BBC TV broadcasts with interviews with the designers and Hillier team taking place throughout the week.

 Holly

London’s Secret Garden

It’s sometimes referred to as ‘London’s Secret Garden’, and with good reason.

Walking along Royal Hospital Road in Central London, the long, straight path is lined with impressive buildings. Eventually, you reach an imposing-looking wall, a modest front door and a small, slightly faded hanging sign above that reads ‘Chelsea Physic Garden’. You’ve found it. London’s Secret Garden.

On the other side of that wall is a small area of land that is teeming with life. Thousands of shrubs, trees and flowers, some of which you have never even seen before, let alone heard of.

Founded in 1637 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, Chelsea Physic Garden was first used for training apprentices in the identification of medicinal plants. It is now the oldest botanical garden in London and is home to many rare and endangered species of tree, including the world’s most northerly outdoor grapefruit tree.

In fact, there are over 100 different types of tree in the garden, including eucalyptus, mulberries and pomegranates to name a few, many of which are rare in Britain.

There is also an impressive Davidia involucrata, or ‘Pocket Handkerchief Tree’. Its flowers are so delicate they almost look like tissue paper.

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The garden is split into different areas, which include ‘The Garden of Medicinal Plants’ and ‘The Garden of Edible and Useful Plants’, as well as glasshouses that are home to tropical species.

Last month we helped organise a press day at Chelsea Physic Garden for our client Forest Garden and they, and the visiting journalists, were similarly bowled over by the beauty of the garden.

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You could spend all day walking around here, and if you can find it, I recommend that you do!

www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk

Georgina

The UK’s leading gardening pr agency heads to the UK’s leading gardening show!

As experts in gardening and lifestyle pr, a key event in our diary each year is the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It’s always a great show but this year’s show is set to be more exciting than ever for us!

In November last year we were appointed by Hillier to handle the public relations for its 2017 show garden. Hillier is the most successful exhibitor in Chelsea Flower Show history, and this year sees them seeking to continue its winning streak by winning its 72nd consecutive gold medal.

Plans have been well underway for the past few months and now the show is just 29 days away things are really ramping up!

We’ve left the garden design in the expert hands of the Hillier team and its lead designer Sarah Eberle, and instead we are focussing on how we can involve people in the show garden. We were keen to open up the Chelsea experience to as many people as possible, not just visitors to the show but also those not fortunate enough to visit. Our answer? The Memory Tree.

We came up with the concept of the Memory Tree as part of our pitching last summer and, thankfully, Hillier loved the idea!

In a nutshell, visitors to the Hillier stand will be asked to write down their favourite gardening memory, they will then be given a copper plant tag upon which they sign their name. The plant tag will then be hung on the Memory Tree, a Davidia involucrata (also known as the Pocket Handerchief Tree).

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By the end of the show we hope to have a book packed full of gardening memories and a tree covered with tags glistening in the sunlight – it should be quite the show stopper!

We’re inviting famous faces visiting the show to take part, and gardening legend, Alan Titchmarsh, has agreed to be the first person to place a tag on the tree. After the show, the celebrity tags will be auctioned to raise money for the Wessex Cancer Trust.

Alan Titchmarsh

Those unable to attend the show are still able to partake with the Memory Tree as people are encouraged to share their gardening memory via Twitter using the #HillierChelsea17 hashtag.

What’s your favourite gardening memory? We’d love to hear from you!

Holly

Why is the bee population in decline and what can we do to help?

There are more than 200 different species of bee found in the UK – and it is no secret that their population numbers are declining.

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Different types of bee include bumblebees, honey bees and solitary/masonry bees. All of them play a key role in the pollination of commercial fruit, nut and vegetable crops across the world. Without bees, these crops would have to be pollinated through other (very costly) means, ultimately increasing the price of our supermarket fruit and vegetables.

The plight of bees is largely due to changes in the UK’s countryside and agriculture over recent decades. Areas which were once covered with wildflower meadows have now been destroyed to make way for more agricultural activity.

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Bees, especially bumblebees, pollinate wildflowers, allowing the flowers to reproduce and produce seeds. The wildflowers themselves are the start of a very complex food chain that helps to sustain birds, mammals and other insects – if the bumblebee population declines so will the wildflowers – and vice versa – affecting thousands of other species of wildlife.

Fortunately, efforts are now being made to help farmers provide bees with areas rich in flowers and nesting sites. If you’re a farmer or landowner, find out how you can help here.

Gardening for bees

We can all make a difference to encourage bees into our garden – even if you’re a beginner gardener or have a small garden, it doesn’t matter, just planting one flower can help!

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The RHS’s website has a great list of wild and garden plants that bees love. Generally, bees are most attracted to purple flowers because that colour is most visible to them. It is also important to make sure the flowers you choose are not too narrow or tunnel-like, otherwise the bee will not be able to get to the centre.

The use of pesticides can be harmful to bees – it is better to use biological control or non-pesticide, organic treatments where possible.

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Flowers which we consider to be weeds such as dandelions are actually firm favourites amongst bees, so leaving one or two in your garden won’t hurt!

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You can also make a nesting site in your garden. This is particularly beneficial to masonry bees who like to nest alone in small holes and tunnels. Small tubes placed around the garden or holes drilled into pieces of wood are great ways to create a home.

Share with us how you’re helping bees in your garden!

Georgina

Exploring the beautiful gardens at Thrive

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Thrive gardens in Reading.

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Since 1978 the charity has been helping change the lives of people living with disabilities or ill health through gardening, and I found the scale of the work undertaken at Beech Hill in Reading truly remarkable.

I saw the Thrive Trunkwell Garden Project which is set in a Victorian walled garden next to Thrive’s head office.  It features five small gardens, known as the Garden Gallery, for people with specific disabilities.

Each garden has a name:

  • Hearts and Minds Garden – created for stroke survivors or people with heart disease
  • Out of Sight – created for people who have a visual impairment
  • The Journey – created for people recovering from a mental illness, particularly depression.  I found this garden a beautiful and inviting place to sit and relax
  • IMG_7060The Unexpected Gardener – a stylish garden for older people

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  • Just for Fun garden – created for children and young people with special educational needs

Run by volunteers, the Thrive Trunkwell Garden Project enables disabled gardeners to develop their skills using a variety of plants and has areas for growing herbs, fruit and vegetables.  The site also includes a glasshouse and polytunnels, a bee border, a tree nursery, a large wildlife pond and a shop selling plants grown at the project.

Thrive therapists work with more than 100 disabled people each year ranging in age from 14 to 70 years.  The charity also runs gardening programmes in London, Birmingham and Gateshead helping people who want to garden at home, on an allotment or in a community setting.

The work the charity do is amazing, giving confidence and independence to all those that attend through gardening.

Aroonaa

Paskett PR become graffiti artists!

Graffiti tends to have a negative effect on communities, and is a blight on city centres across the country, with people seeing it as serious form of vandalism, which can cost councils huge amounts of money to remove.

There is, however, a new style of graffiti that has been popping up, transforming walls into stunning, green pieces of art. It’s called Moss Graffiti, or Green Graffiti, and it uses moss to create ecologically sound public art, which can be easily removed by spraying with lime juice.

After seeing some beautiful examples, we decided to have a go ourselves and here’s how we did it!

Ingredients

  • Two handfuls of moss (kindly donated by Holly from her shed roof)
  • Two cups of natural yogurt
  • Two cups of water (you can use beer, but, sadly, our office is lacking in that department)
  • Half a teaspoon of sugar

Step One

We washed the moss to remove as much soil possible from the roots – an interesting thing to be caught doing in the communal kitchen!

Step Two

The moss was broken into tiny pieces. It’s recommended that a blender is used to get the moss as broken down as possible, but none of us was willing to sacrifice our blenders to the cause, so we spent a considerable amount of time ripping the moss to shreds.IMG_2933

Step Three

We added the yoghurt, water and sugar, and stirred with a big stick that we remembered was behind the bookcase.

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Step Four

We disembarked into the Friar Gate Studios courtyard and began to paint our design, which I had drawn with chalk on the wall.IMG_7098

Step Five

We wait.

Step Six

We wait some more. And keep the design spritzed with water to encourage it to grow…

We’ll keep you posted on how the Moss Graffiti comes along and ‘the big reveal’ when it’s lush and green; why not try some of your own?

Fay