Enjoy your Garden and Patio for longer with a Gas Patio Heater

With the increased new trend in outdoor living, which has undoubtedly been by TV Gardening DIY programs, we are all spending more money on our garden and patio areas. Creating an inspirational outdoor living space is something we can all do, with a wide range of hard and soft landscaping products, lighting, decorations and garden accessories available widely on the market.

Some of the latest innovations are in garden heating which allows us to spend more of our precious leisure time enjoying our garden or patio area, be it for entertaining family and guests or simply for relaxing. Gas patio Heaters provide instant controllable heat and warmth, thus making your outside room as comfortable and enjoyable as any of your inside rooms. On days when the temperature is not as warm as one would like, the patio heater can be turned on to give off a heat circle of around 6 meters and gas patio heaters come into their own after sun set, when they create atmospheres from party to tranquil.

When choosing a gas patio heater always ensure that it has the necessary safety features such as; a tilt sensor, which will cut off the gas and flame if the patio heater is knocked or blown over whilst in use and also an auto shut off switch will cut off the gas if the flame is blown out.

Patio heaters come in many shapes and sizes, but by far the most popular are the upright standing heater, sometimes available with a circular table around the gas bottle housing, and the table top patio heater. Heat output is measured in Kilowatts and sizes range from 12 kw up to 15kw gas patio heaters, which are usually used for pub, hotel and commercial environments. Finished gas patio heaters usually range from colored powder coated to the more expensive stainless steel models. The main difference in finishes relate to the likely life of the heater. Stainless steel patio heaters look by far the most impressive and will keep their luster for many years. Powder coated patio heaters tend to weather slightly less well and will rust if the powder coating is damaged.

Table top heaters are very popular but are a lot smaller and also have a much smaller heat output but they are a very effective way of providing heat to people immediately around the garden table.

Accessories for Patio heaters include covers ( which are a must is you intend to leave it outside during the winter), wheels ñ which will enable you to easily move the heater around the garden, ballast tanks which give extra stability and most good patio heaters actually come with a gas bottle regulator installed and ready for easy attachment.

Patio heaters run off bottles gas, mainly butane but sometime propane which is widely available in the UK and most other countries. The regulator which is usually supplied with the heater, clips straight onto the bottle and is easy to install. Gas regulators are supplied by all gas bottle suppliers, but ensure that you take you gas bottle along to the dealer as there are varying sizes of bottle head.

Patio heaters require very little maintenance if any at all, and will give extend your time in your garden or on you patio.

Some safety points worth remembering are;

Position in a fairly sheltered area, as this will both reduce the likelihood of damage in strong winds and also increase the amount of ambient heat output.
If the heater is outdoors during the winter, buy a patio heater cover and protect you heater with it.
Always leave the gas bottle in the heater to give it extra weight.
If you patio heater comes supplied with a ballast tank in the base, fill it with sand or if none is available, use water but mix car anti-freeze with it, otherwise the tank may crack when freezing occurs in winter.
Do not let children use the patio heater as a toy or climbing frame.

Enjoy long nights throughout the year with your patio heater ñ your life will take a new turn into outdoor living.

How To Choose a Storage Shed

How To Choose a Storage Shed
How To Choose a Storage Shed

If you own a house, at some point the need for extra storage space soon becomes evident. Arguably the most common solution is to purchase a storage shed. There are hundreds of styles and options available, but taking the time review these 5 key steps will enable you to make a smarter decision.

1. What is the primary function of the shed? In most cases, storage space is the key requirement, so figure out how much space is needed. A small 4í x 8í lean-to style provides sufficient space for small tools, but larger items do require more space. I strongly recommend choosing the largest size that you can afford, which still blends in with your landscape. Remember that most municipalities require building permits for any building over 100 sq. ft.
2. Is the shed going to play a prominent role in your day to day activities? If so, make sure that you choose a style and options that give you good access and provide adequate lighting. Windows and skylights provide plenty of natural light, but it is common to run electricity to the shed. For easy access, make sure that the doors are at least 34î wide, as most lawn mowers will easily pass through.
3. How important is the look of the shed to my property. Remember that anything you erect will either add or impair on your property value. Metal and vinyl are the least expensive options, but these tend to look ordinary. Wood and pre-finished sidings normally add character and value, but are usually more expensive.
4. Consider the grade and accessibility of the location. A level site is the starting point for all shed construction The greater the grade, the more work needs to be done. Typically a grade of 6î or less over the dimension of the shed can be compensated for by using patio stones, especially for smaller units. In areas faced with frost upheaval or poor drainage, it is recommend that at least 6î of topsoil be removed and filled with screening stone (1/2î or smaller gravel is also acceptable).
5. Be considerate to your neighbors! Donít put up something that belongs in a junkyard beside your neighborís manicured backyard. Most municipalities require that storage sheds be 2 ft from the fence or property line, so be sure to check ahead of time to avoid any aggravation. Talk to your neighbors about your intentions ñ 99% of the time they will appreciate your concern and be very supportive of your project.

The internet is an excellent source for information on the hundreds of suppliers and styles available. If ordering online be sure to read the warranty and returns information carefully as often goods of this nature cannot be returned. Just because a company has a fancy website it does not mean it stands behind its product ñ try searching for articles or information on the particular company. Most companies offer either pre-cut or pre-fabricated kits delivered to your residence. If choosing a fully installed product, deal with a local company with a fixed location (avoid the ones that set-up at seasonal locations), and again be prudent with your research. I strongly recommend avoiding companies that require more than a 30% deposit ñ youíll end up waiting longer than you should. A storage shed is an important purchase ñ a little research will go a long way in helping making the right decision.

Colour in the Garden

Colour in the Garden
Colour in the Garden

Colour affects our emotions, moods, physical, and spiritual well-being. It has a significant effect on everything we eat, drink, and touch and influences our physical environment including our home, office, and garden. Colour reflects our personalities. The colours we prefer for home interiors carried out to the garden, provide continuity between our interior and exterior living spaces. Colours are a useful tool in creating different moods in the landscape. In order to effectively create with colour it is important to understand the meaning of the different colours.

Red creates vitality. It tends to command attention and will make areas seem smaller. It is a good colour for dining areas as it increases appetite. It creates a feeling of warmth, movement, and drama. For those who may find it too stimulating, use pink instead. Red plants to use in the shade include begonia, coleus, and impatiens. In sunny areas use salvia or verbenas. To augment your plantings use glazed pots, red sandstone gravel, red clay bricks or tiles will bring that vitality to your landscape.


Brian Minter: Plants to support important pollinators

Camellias are a great source of nectar and pollen.

Even with the world in turmoil, nature simply carries on providing the normal progression of colour and beauty.

As our birds return and we see hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators back in our gardens, we really need to support them by providing nectar- and pollen-producing plants that open in sequence all through the seasons.

Because much of their habitat has been lost mainly through development, I think it is vital to add more pollinator-attracting plants into our gardens, especially those that begin their blooming cycle early in the season.

In coastal areas, once the temperature hits 10 C, the bees are out, and depending on the species, they are searching for both nectar and pollen.

 Heathers are bee magnets.

Last week, I was trying to pick out a few winter-flowering heathers, and I was delighted to see them smothered with bees. Not only do heathers provide colour from late October until late April in zone 6 regions, but they also produce both nectar and pollen for our bees. If pollination of your early-flowering fruit trees and small fruits is a concern, planting these winter beauties is a great solution because they attract bees to your garden.

Winter-flowering camellias (C. sasanqua, zone 7) have also been in bloom since November, and they will continue flowering well into April.

I recently noticed that both bees and Anna’s hummingbirds were attracted to them, especially to the brighter coloured blooms. As the early-flowering Camellia japonicas begin to open, they, too, will be a great source of nectar and pollen.

 Camellias are a great source of nectar and pollen.

The soft pink blossoms of Viburnum bodnantense ‘Pink Dawn’ (zone 6) have also been supplying winter colour since November, and will continue to do so until late April.  This remarkable plant may not be as much a bee attractor as other varieties, but it certainly still attracts some.

A very old variety of flowering cherry, Prunus ‘Autumnalis’ (zone 5), with its soft pink single blooms, puts out colour from November well into April.

Some brilliant folks with Vancouver Parks planted them on Nanaimo Street, just south of First Avenue, and what a treat they have been for the people who live in that area, and for pollinators.

Cornus mas is a unique dogwood that is, unfortunately, seldom seen in today’s gardens. It is blooming now with tiny yellow blossoms that look very much like witch hazel flowers.

Similar in size to Cornus florida, its early blossoms attract pollinators. Once fertilized, the blossoms turn into edible fruits that look like cherries. As an added bonus, its fall foliage colour is stunning.

Speaking of witch hazels, the hamamelis family (zone 6) is still in bloom, and the selection of varieties today is amazing from shades of yellow, orange and red to amethyst. I prefer the yellow varieties for their delightful perfume, and pollinators like them for their nectar.

 Hummingbirds love King Edward VII flowering currant.

The starting gun for hummingbird season is the red flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum ‘King Edward VII’ (zone 6). Depending on winter temperatures, its long, drooping flowers will begin blooming later in April, and they are hummingbird magnets.

This variety is fairly shade tolerant, allowing for more versatility in planting sites. In colder areas, the native alpine currant Ribes alpinum is hardy to zone 2.  It’s a must have for anyone wanting to introduce more native plants into a garden.

Flowering quince are just about to open. Chaenomeles (zone 6), with their vibrant red, pink or white blooms, are particularly loved by pollinators.  I like to espalier them against a wall or fence for a spectacular look year-round, but especially so once the apple-like fruits form in summer.

Kerria japonica (zone 5), with their single or double yellow flowers are just budding up and will provide a vibrant April and May pop of colour.  They, too, are on the hot list for pollinator favourites.

As the seasons progress, many more flowering shrubs, perennials, annuals and trees will be producing both nectar and pollen, but it’s now, early in the year, when it is most important to have some of these plants in our gardens to help sustain emerging populations of pollinators.

As the blossoms of our small fruits and fruit trees begin to open, we will appreciate the role pollinators play and the hard work they do to provide us with fruit.

There are still mason bees available.  So, if you can, introduce them into your garden as well.

With many stores closed at this time, it may not be possible to get these amazing plants until later in the season, but consider finding a spot for them, both for their beauty and for their nectar and pollen.


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Brian Minter: How to bring ‘True Blue’ into our gardens

Veronica Moody Blues Dark Blue.

Classic Blue is Pantone’s Colour of the Year for 2020, and indigo is one of this season’s most winning shades. Although blue is one of the most sought-after colours for gardens, surprisingly, it can be one of the more difficult colours to find.

Indigo, always recognized as one of the seven colours of the spectrum, is borderline between blue and violet. A richly saturated colour, indigo has a long history of being indicative of wealth and prestige. From early Mesopotamian and Roman times to Indian and West African cultures, cloth and clothes dyed with indigo were highly prized.

 Black and Bloom Salvia

The indigo plant was a source of early dyes, and with today’s renewed interest in organic dyes, indigo is making a comeback, both in interior design and fashion. It’s a colour that can be stimulating as well as calming, depending on how it is used.

In the garden world, not many annuals have a rich blue colour. Dark blue salvias, such as Salvia farinacea ‘Evolution Violet,’ could be the closest you will find. ‘Evolution Violet’ is very heat and drought tolerant and is an All-American Selections and Fleuroselect award winner. Another new, much larger salvia is an interspecific annual named S. ‘Big Blue.’ It grows 61 to 91 centimetres, is very weather tolerant, has a long bloom period and attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators.

 Blue Marvel Salvia

Vibrant purple-blue violas and pansies are the earliest and latest to flower. Matrix ‘Deep Blue Blotch’ and ‘Denim’ pansies are stunning, especially when contrasted with whites, soft primroses or pinks.

For blue flowers that are fragrant, it’s hard to beat heliotrope . The sweetly perfumed H. ‘Sachet’ has the most intense blue blooms.

Early in the season, before the summer heat sets in, deep blue lobelias, like ‘Regatta Marine Blue,’ Regatta Midnight Blue’ and ‘Regatta Sapphire,’ provide stunning hues that look great in both containers and hanging baskets.

Whether planted in the ground or in containers and baskets, all varieties and sizes of petunias are some of the longest-flowering summer annuals that can carry a rich indigo colour during the intensity of hot summer days. Blue petunias also have a soft perfume that often attracts pollinators.

 Magadi Blue + Eye Lobelia

In the perennial world, many varieties of lavender, like ‘Ellagance Purple,’ ‘Lavance Deep Purple’ and the new ‘Blue Spear,’ provide vivid blues.

For longer colour in the summertime, perennial salvias are certainly coming into their own, especially with the new, longer-blooming and repeat-blooming varieties . Many series are now more compact as well. The ‘Fashionista,’ ‘Bumble,’ ‘Color Spires’ and ‘Profusion’ series all contain varieties that provide strong indigo colours. Like lavender, they are all pollinator magnets.

Nepeta, too, is growing in popularity because of its new, improved longer-blooming habit. Proven Winners’ ‘Cat’s Meow’ and ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ are just two of these exciting must-have varieties.

From deep blue geraniums, Siberian iris and late-blooming asters to rich lupins and lovely delphiniums, they all add a seasonal punch of indigo in our gardens.

Whether it’s the colour of the year or not, indigo is always an inspired choice to add interest to our gardens.


Add Some Magic With Garden Lighting

Anyone who knows me well knows that there is no place I would rather be at the end of a long day than out in my garden enjoying a cup of tea. In the cool fall and spring months, I prefer a cup of hot peppermint tea in my garden, and in the heat of summer I apt for a cup of iced lemon tea. There is something magical about being in my backyard garden that I just cannot get enough of. I have read more books, journaled more pages, and shared more great conversations with my family in our garden than almost anywhere else. The atmosphere of my garden was recently made even more magical when we strung garden lighting throughout the entire thing.

I have no idea why I hadn’t thought of using great garden lighting before, but I was definitely open to the idea when my artistically driven teenage daughter suggested it as we sat on our back porch one night with tea cups. She thought that garden lighting might do something special for the mood of the garden and that it might make us want to spend even more time there.

Before I knew it we had sat our tea cups down and were headed to a local gardening store to see what kinds of garden lighting we could find. We were amazed when we took time to look through the store at how many garden lighting options we had. We choose a few strings of tiny Chinese lanterns that we in bright teal and olive colors. We both loved them and knew that they would be the perfect garden lighting for our needs.

We rushed home and decided not to wait until morning to put the garden lighting up. Instead, we went immediately to our backyard garden and began stringing the lights from tree to tree to tree. After checking to see that all of the bulbs worked, we decided not to let ourselves turn the garden lighting on until we had it all up and hanging in place. I’m so glad we waited because when we finally turned on our new garden lighting it was amazing. The small and colorful Chinese lanterns did a lot for the look and feel of our garden. The garden lighting only made it more inviting than it was before.

We gathered the rest of our family and brought them outside to see our work. They enjoyed the garden lighting as much as we did and within minutes we were making popcorn and had plans to enjoy the backyard garden together that evening. I love the way my garden lighting looks, but even more than that I love the way our garden has become a gathering place for the people I love most.