For most of us, one of the joys of a Mediterranean summer holiday is that you can live outdoors all day long. They know how to create comfortable outdoor spaces, for relaxing, for cooking, for having fun, so there is hardly a need to step indoors at all. With the British climate being rapidly turned on its head, we should be learning from our neighbours how this stylish outdoor lifestyle is done. Here are our top tips on getting that Mediterranean villa feeling back here at home.
Setting the scene
As the garden design experts, Hambrooks could write essays on creating beautiful gardens. Suffice to say here, think about the immediate surroundings of your seating area and what atmosphere you want to create. Can you top up with some lush leaved annuals to create a tropical feel? Do you need to think about something bigger as a privacy and noise screen? If you’re night owls, what about some flowering plants that will provide a beautiful evening scent? If you have a dark or shady corner, would a carefully placed outdoor mirror or two brighten it up? And don’t underestimate the power of a statement pot or a tinkling ornament to draw the eye or catch the ear for creating that mood you’re after.
Really comfy seating
Remember those white plastic garden chairs that everyone used to have? Yes, they are still handy in an emergency, but (luckily) outdoor furniture has moved on so much since then. Start by thinking about what you are going to be sitting outside doing: eating at a table or relaxing to read a book, for example? Some modern garden furniture looks absolutely beautiful but is the wrong height for eating at and devilishly uncomfortable if you want to put your feet up to read a book. Think about your outdoor seating like it was your new sofa or your new office chair: sit on as many as you can before you make decisions just based on how elegant they look. (We have a range of garden chairs in stock at Titchfield and are quite happy if you want to try sitting on them all!)
Shade for when it gets hot
Noël Coward once wrote that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. With hotter temperatures and better knowledge of the dangers to our skin, let’s hope those Englishmen take their sunscreen! For when we do need a break from the sun, think about providing a source of shade in your garden. Whether that’s a sturdy umbrella with a solid base that you can raise or lower as you wish, or a more permanent structure, like a pergola with climbers trained up it, think about what suits your lifestyle and the size and style of your garden. Deciduous climbing plants often work well as their leaves help cool the air down in summer and fall off to let all the light through in winter. Talk to our garden experts if you’d like some advice on which might suit your garden.
Heat, light and atmosphere for when it cools down
If you want to prolong your outdoor day into the evening, you’ll need to think about some sort of lighting and perhaps a heat source – or something that will provide both, like a firepit!
There are so many types of garden lighting available today, with much of it solar powered too, that we are spoilt for choice. We would caution against buying the ‘cheap and cheerful’ lights that many of the bigger chains sell; they are largely made of plastics (bad for the environment) and are not made to last, so you’ll likely have to replace them next summer. It is probably a wiser spend to go for something a little more robust which will last you for many summers to come. A mix of soft uplighters that provide subtle depth around the garden coupled with some table or over-head lights for meals alfresco will provide a good balance in most gardens.
If you’re not content with toasting marshmallows over your firepit for the evening, you might want to think about sources of outdoor entertainment. We have some stunning water features in stock if you prefer your evenings on the more meditative side, but we also know there are many suppliers around of rocket-powered barbecues, outdoor sound systems and even outdoor TVs if you prefer to ‘go large’!
Whatever you do in your garden this summer, we hope you enjoy it.