The number of garden birds like sparrows, robins and blackbirds is declining each year in most countries because of habitat loss. In the UK, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and other environmental organisations are encouraging home owners to make their gardens ‘bird-friendly’ to help increase the bird population. We have 10 ways to make your garden bird-friendly this summer and to help stop the decline in the number of birds in your area?

Even if you do not have a garden, you can still create a small area for wild birds on your balcony or terrace and there are special bird feeders on the market that can be fixed on windows and windowsills that are particularly ideal for elderly people.

It is fun to create a haven for wild birds and it is a great project if you have children and are wondering how to fill their school holidays! Making your garden bird-friendly will teach them a valuable lesson about caring for the environment and nature and will definitely give them a great new interest as they spot the different species of birds enjoying time in your garden. (https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/creating-a-wildlife-friendly-garden/)

Here are 10 of the many things you can do in your garden:-

 

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A natural area provides valuable nutrition

Create a natural corner at the bottom of your garden. Let the grass and weeds grow naturally there and plant some wild plant seeds. Although this area will contrast sharply with the rest of your tidy garden, it will be perfect for the birds! It is best to choose a part of the garden that is well away from where your children play or where you enjoy al fresco meals as these activities could disturb the birds.

Packets containing a mixtures of wild plant seeds can be bought in most garden centres and these are ideal as the variety of plants that will grow are particularly rich in berries, nectar and seeds and these are all really nutritious for the birds. As well as attracting wild birds to your garden they will attract butterflies, bees and dragonflies too – what a bonus!

 

Plant thick climbing plants as the birds will like to be able to hide among the foliage. Don’t be tempted to have any trees cut down as they are valuable for wildlife and will attract woodpeckers and owls. Fruit trees are ideal for wild birds too as they will enjoy pecking the fruit – so make sure you pick what you need first!  Shrubs with berries are a valuable source of food for wild birds too.

 

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Sunflowers not only add colour to a dull corner, they are good for wild birds too

Plant some bright yellow sunflowers as these usually attract bees, caterpillars and other insects. Sunflower seeds are important for birds to eat. Asters and cornflowers are not only pretty in the garden, they also provide a good supply of seeds for wild birds too. Honeysuckle not only looks and smells gorgeous in the garden, the birds will enjoy the nectar too.

 

Don’t ‘dead head’ all your flowers as soon as they have finished blooming, as these seed pods are much appreciated by the wild birds and are very nutritious for them.

 

Don’t get rid of all your garden rubbish! Dead leaves can be swept up, but put them in a pile in the natural corner of your garden along with any decaying wood as these will soon become rich in insects and will provide food for the birds.

 

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This must be the top way to make your garden bird-friendly!        

Install a bird table, but make sure it is well away from where you sit in the garden as the birds could be put off by your presence. If you have cats, make sure the bird table is high enough for them not to reach. Effective deterrents to use for cats include planting prickly plants like holly around the base of the bird table stand or encasing the bottom part of the stand in plastic to make it slippery – large plastic water bottles can be easily adapted for this and are perfect.                                                                                                                            (https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/feeding-birds/all-about-bird-tables/making-a-bird-table/) 

 

 

Wild birds need food, water and shelter in your garden to find it attractive. Pick up a bird bath in the summer sales, eBay, Gumtree or similar. Ensure that it is always full of fresh water as birds love to clean they wings as well as drink. Ideally, place the bird bath in a place where it will catch rainwater. It will need a regular clean and the best way to do this is to wash it in nine parts cool water, one part white vinegar as this will get rid of limescale. You may need to give the bowl a gently scrub and then rinse it in clean water, before replacing it in the garden.

 

Install a small fountain in your garden. It isn’t only people that enjoy the sound of running water, birds are really attracted by the sound too – especially migratory species.

 

Make or buy a nesting box and fix it somewhere cats cannot reach. It is a good idea to do this well before springtime so that your local birds will know where it is located.  (https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions/how-build-nesting-box-birds)

 

Don’t use any pesticides in your garden as insects are an important source of food for the birds as well as frogs, bats and even dragonflies. You will enjoy a garden much richer in wildlife, but interestingly, the insects will still be kept well under control – the natural way!

 

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Enjoy wild birds in your garden all year round

Within a short time you will soon enjoy seeing more wild birds in your garden and may well spot Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Goldfinches and even Wrens.

If you do decide to build a bird table to feed the birds, it is important to keep it well supplied all year round, as the birds will view it as a safe refuge, where they can always find food. Seeing many more wild birds in your garden is definitely a win-win situation as the birds will enjoy visiting your garden and you will feel as though you are definitely doing your part for the local environment…. .

 

 

 

Use every available space

Even if you are living in a modest-sized flat or house or working in a tiny office, with some creative thinking and smart ingenuity, you can make space for some flowers and indoor plants. If you do manage to find room for indoor plants you will be able to experience all the benefits that come with them. Indoor plants can lower stress levels and because they purify the air, if you have one in your bedroom, you will find yourself sleeping better too. We suggest 10 clever ways to have indoor plants in small spaces…

You will find several of our display ideas that will really work for you – which is great! Before you buy the indoor plants, it is worth assessing exactly which type of plant will be happiest in each location. Sometimes because of lack of space, you cannot offer the plant optimum growing conditions, so it is best to choose good-tempered, easy to care for plants. If you feel that the growing conditions will be a challenge to any indoor plant, why not opt for beautiful artificial plants? The secret to success is that if you are planning to display the plant in a place that is quite shadowed and gloomy, choose an artificial plant in a species that normally can thrive in such a spot and in doing this, friends and family will never suspect that your plant is artificial- clever thinking!

1. Create a living room divide

A fun way to divide up your living space is with a live living wall. This can be as simple as some garden trellis set into a large rectangular planter, Choose interesting plants with different coloured or textured foliage. Alternatively, you can hang plant covers on the intersections of the trellis and pop in a variety of interesting trailing plants.

2. Small tiered shelves

Cheer up bare walls with shelves of plants!

These are ideal when you don’t have too much space on a desk or shelf and are a fun way to display a collection of different plants. In the kitchen, this idea is perfect for displaying an array of herbs on the windowsill. The shelves look lovely in wood but are easy clean if they are in white plastic. The plants can either be in flowerpots with drainage sauces or in flowerpots popped in a pot cover. These can be in a uniform shape and colour, or an eclectic selection of different sizes and shapes in shades that mirror the colour scheme of the room

3. Baby succulents look great in tiny pots

A group of small terracotta pots each filled with a tiny succulent can look really cute. This year’s trending pot containers are glazed square plant containers, which work really well as they can easily slot next to each other to take up the minimum of space.

4. Hang a plant in a bird cage!

If you don’t have too much floor space, be creative and use the ceiling! A small metal bird cage filled with a leafy plant like a Spider Plant or Boston Fern looks really good and add colour to the room, you can paint the cage in a colour to match your chosen scheme.

5. Wall mounted looks great!

You can make your own wall planters by attaching rustic basket pot covers to squares of wood that you have painted with wood stain or in your chosen colour. Don’t forget to place plastic plant saucers in the bottom of the pot covers to ensure that no water runs down the wall when you water the plants. Another fun idea is to attach a section of garden trellis to your wall – either wood stained, or painted to complement your colour scheme. Clip planters containing a fun variety of plants on all the intersections of the trellis.

6. Add a row of hanging baskets!

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Hanging baskets can cheer up a bare wall and look great in front of windows

These can make an interesting feature if you have a large bare window. Suspend a collection of similar hanging baskets at different heights and fill each with an interesting leafy plant such as different ferns and a spider plant -if the window gets plenty of direct sunshine, choose your plants carefully.

7. Grow herbs on your kitchen door!

Use every available inch of space to enjoy your indoor plants! Use a lightweight plank of wood, cut to size and painted to match your colour scheme. Attach smart metal plant pot covers at regular intervals and pop in pots of fresh herbs – for fun, add luggage labels to each pot, describing each herb.

8. Buy some hanging glass planters

A row of stylish round glass planters instantly adds interest and colour to a dull wall! Hang the planters from the ceiling, just in front of the wall and fill them with good- tempered flowering plants such as kalanchoe or chose leafy plants with coloured or textured leaves.

9. Jazz up a dull corner!

Invest in a tiered corner unit and fill it with a variety of interesting and eye-catching plants..Choose your plants carefully so that they have different colours and textures to make your display look interesting. Display them all in pot covers that are in toning covers- but a variety of textures to add interest.

10. Add a terrarium

A large bottle containing a handful of plants can look really dynamic! You can buy some snazzy ready made ones that even have optional lighting and because of humidity they only need to be watered every couple of weeks. It is great fun to create your own terrarium and not as difficult as you think! Alternatively, you can grow several cacti or air plants in an opened topped bottle and these can look very dramatic.

https://www.kew.org/read-and-watch/how-to-make-terrarium

Whether you have a tiny office, cramped reception or small home, it is possible to add plants to your space – and you will definitely feel better for having done so!

Bonsai trees are growing in popularity. They first appeared 1,500 years in Ancient China where they were called ‘Penjing Trees’. The miniature trees were exchanged as gifts among the rich. Five hundred years later, Buddhist monks took the idea to Japan. The Japanese developed the art of cultivating and caring for Bonsai. Today the hobby is growing. People all over the world, are fascinated by the idea of owning such a beautiful type of tree and are discovering the magic of the miniature world of Bonsai trees.

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The miniature world of Bonsai comprises of evergreen, deciduous and flowering trees

Bonsai is both the art and science of growing beautiful miniature trees and shrubs in ornamental pots. Bonsai trees come in many different varieties, some suitable for indoors and others outdoors like the Juniper Bonsai. There are evergreen and deciduous varieties and even flowering Bonsai. Some species such as the Ficus group are relatively easy to care for, whilst others are notoriously challenging.

Many plant enthusiasts are apprehensive about caring for a Bonsai tree, but it is not too complicated to master but can be time-consuming because the process involves nurturing the tree and keeping it in its miniature size while also making it as aesthetically appealing as possible by shaping it. There are fundamentals to master too, as the size and shape of the pot the tree is planted in, the level of humidity and temperature can each make a big difference.

Why are Bonsai trees so expensive?

All Bonsai trees are more expensive than other plants. Their larger price tickets reflect their rarity, the age of the Bonsai and how much expert care has been needed to nurture it  – and of course, there are transportation costs on top of this. If the Bonsai tree has been nursery grown, it is often not ready to sell until it is 6- 7 years old and many are much older and will have taken many hours of care by experts.

 

Older trees are more expensive because they look so spectacular with their gnarled and twisted trunks. At the top end of the price range are Yamadori Bonsai. These trees are ones that naturally grow in miniature in the wild, but are incredibly rare to find. The most expensive of all is the Japanese Pine – often up to 800 years in age and priced at over one million dollars. As well as buying the Bonsai, you will need to buy an array of miniature gardening tools and fertilisers.

 

Where can you display a Bonsai

 

In the last ten years, Bonsai trees have become popular around the world. Spot the Bonsai in hotel and company receptions and also on office desks. If you buy an outdoor variety, it can become a stunning focal point of your garden.

 

What care does a Bonsai need?

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Each Bonsai has so much character and history

Caring for a Bonsai can take years to master which is why many people find it so challenging and rewarding. The Bonsai will need regular watering and pruning as well as certain light conditions, levels of humidity and nutrition. Unexpected pests and disease can present problems too.

Taking care of a bonsai tree is different from attending to the needs of just about any other type of plant.  Bonsai owners are disciplined, well- organised and patient. Dedication to the idea of creating a beautiful miniature tree is key!

Are there certain Bonsai suitable for beginners?

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It is fun to create the perfect shape for your Bonsai

The best Bonsai for beginners is Ficus. This attractive indoor evergreen Bonsai has a thick knotted trunk and dark glossy leaves. Ficus is a tolerant and resilient Bonsai and can grow in spaces with low humidity. The Ficus is easy to shape and will forgive you if you forget to water it!

 

The Chinese Elm is another good choice as it is an attractive semi-evergreen with numerous small leaves that can be placed outside in the warmer months and can survive a frost. This Bonsai does need regular pruning, but it is easy to create and maintain an attractive shape. If you would like a deciduous Bonsai, a Japanese Red Maple or Cherry Bonsai are both good choices for beginners. For further inspiration about which Bonsai trees are best for beginners, log onto:

https://www.bonsaitreegardener.net/bonsai-trees/best-beginners

 

How can I have a Bonsai without all the effort?

 

Bonsai are always fascinating

Does having a Bonsai tree appeal? Do you feel that realistically you not have the ideal growing conditions or the time to dedicate to nurturing one? The perfect answer is to cheat a little! An artificial Bonsai trees is impossible to tell them from a real Bonsai! Why not enjoy discovering the miniature world of the Bonsai tree without a single fallen leaf?

 

 

 

As the world is progressing towards globalisation, sustainability and environmental issues have become a significant concern. This is especially true in the interior design industry.  We often hear the term ‘sustainable interior design’.

So what is it? 

What is Sustainable Interior Design?

Sustainable interior design takes into account, environmental concerns and issues when designing a space. It uses eco-friendly design techniques and materials that are proven to have a healthy impact on the surroundings and the users. Thus helping to reduce energy consumption, pollution and waste.

Things to Consider When Designing Sustainably

Take a look at how you can incorporate sustainable interior design techniques into commercial spaces. 

Energy

  • Keep energy consumption factors in mind when creating interior spaces, especially in commercial buildings and more importantly the hospitality industry.  The energy usage per square foot is pretty high in hotels than any other buildings and heating and lighting play a crucial role. Windows should provide enough ventilation and natural light.
  • Consider using carpets, they are known to be excellent thermal insulations capturing 10% of the room’s heat.
  • Using energy star equipment, low flow faucets or sensor-controlled ones can reduce the water consumption.
  • Fluorescent, LED lights are considered the right option. At the same time, sensors and other energy controlling equipment can be used for controlling light and heat in spaces where it is not frequently used.

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Materials

  • As a designer,  opt for locally sourced products when creating a space. Buying local has a positive impact on the environment as it lessens the cost of transportation and reduces pollution.
  • Scope out manufactures that keep the eco-friendly concept in mind. You can find manufactures and furniture designers who make luxury furniture products out of reclaimed wood and recycled materials which all goes to minimising the cost and reducing waste.
  •  Construction engineers, architects, designers and consumers alike have started incorporating natural, environment-friendly materials into their designs. Materials such as concrete, wood, bamboo, cork, organic cotton, natural stone, recycled plastic. Make it a priority to pick materials which have a low environmental impact.

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  • Regular paints with harmful chemicals can be replaced with low “volatile organic compound” (VOC) paints that reduce the negative impact on the environment. Light coloured walls reflect more light, therefore choosing the right wall colours tend to reduce the usage of artificial lighting in interior spaces.
  • Last but not least, beautifying the surroundings with plants and trees. Not only do they have a positive impact on our health, but they also affect climate control and noise reduction in an interior space.

Research shows that with the beginning of the new decade, sustainability has become the most popular global trend in 2020. Especially in the commercial design industry.  We expect to see rapid growth in the next five years compared to the past decade. With this in mind, interior designers should look to the more sustainable approach for the protection of our environment.

Covid-19 is a global pandemic affecting each and every one of us – in all aspects of our lives. How we live, how we move around and importantly, how we work. Some businesses and markets have been forced to close. Others have taken this opportunity to adapt to the ‘new normal’ of isolation, self-distancing and quarantine.

For interior designers, this may mean that some projects have been ‘put on hold’. This doesn’t mean you have to stop working and offering a high-quality service. There are still things you can do during this period. This phase in time will be significant in many ways, both for you and your customers as everyone adapts.

Tips for Working Through Covid-19

1. Keep working!

Although times are difficult, as lockdown eases, interior designers can certainly get back to business. Quoting on new jobs is perfectly possible. You can proceed with designing and costing for new projects just as before. Designers will be able to progress further with some projects if social distancing can be maintained and all the materials easily obtained.

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2. Source online

Although some of your suppliers may not have re-opened yet, it is possible to source many items including paints, light fittings and furniture from online companies with no supply chain problems. If you are looking for antique and vintage pieces of furniture, this is easy too. There are many antique shops with excellent websites. As for bespoke pieces, almost all craftsmen are already back in their workshops.

Reupholstery and curtain making is usually undertaken by people in their homes. So again, you will find that most are already back at work – if they ever stopped!

3. Keep up with creativity!

Many artisans have used lockdown to create wonderful new custom made wallpapers, light fittings and fabric designs. So it’s the perfect time to keep abreast of the latest ideas that you’ll be able to incorporate in your work. Several interior designers are currently looking at offering clients ‘decorative consultations’. A service where you can advise on colours, fabrics as well as accessories to give rooms a fresh new look. Budget is an important consideration as many people do not have so much disposable income right now.

4. Offer Virtual consultations during Covid-19 !

Communication methods have changed dramatically in the last few months and these changes are here to stay! You may well have been using CAD for drawings and designs, but you can show these to clients and discuss all aspects using Zoom/ FaceTime / WhatsApp and be able to give your clients digital presentations at every stage and minimise face-to-face meetings.

A number of interior designers are now offering house owners short, reasonably priced virtual consultations to advise them on how to make changes to their living space and these are proving very popular – especially those with clever recycling and upcycling ideas.

5. Time for marketing

Whilst you have more time at your disposal, it would be good to research the contact details of companies that could be interested in your services once lockdown has eased. Rethink or adjust your sales pitch accordingly and show that you are very happy to undertake projects of all sizes – especially those making socially distancing easier as health and safety will now have the highest priority. Consider whether your website is current and adjust the text to make reference to the last few months. It may well be worth exploring advertising opportunities that will reach the many house owners who have discovered through lockdown that they need to make modest alterations to their homes.

Lockdown doesn’t have to be an end to work. With creative thinking, this could be a new opportunity to develop your skills and your business.

Mental health issues have long been the elephant in the room until recently when people and organisations around the world started to talk about the epidemic it has become. According to a survey by the NHS, 1 in 4 people in the UK is subject to a mental health problem annually. Pretty grim, we know… but what’s good is that, now, more people are open to dealing with the problem. 

From relaxation apps to forums and social media, there are now plenty of platforms sufferers can use to fight it. Did you know that one other good avenue is interior design? 

As for how you can optimise interior design to bring about positive benefits for the mind, you can begin with these steps.

Pay more attention to colour

Colour is a good place to start because there are hues that are, simply put, more calming than others. Blue and green, in particular, have been shown to ease most people’s anxieties. Who among us does not get relaxed by strolling through a park brimming with verdant greeneries or gazing at the immaculately azure ocean? 

The same applies to rooms as far as its dominating hues are concerned. Naturally, those that incorporate lighter colours will help in reducing stress and anxiety.  

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Let the light in

Maximising on natural lighting has always been a preference. And, again, this really just hinges on the keyword “natural”. Anything that is associated with nature helps in human stress response and brings about positive feelings. It’s not for nothing why staying in a dark room has always reinforced depressive thoughts. 

So, if anything’s blocking out the light (from needless walls to dark, thick curtains), by all means, remove them all. You don’t really need to invest time in learning more interior design theory to see the almost immediate positive effects it will bring about. 

Minimise

Because once you do, you free up more space. And, for most people, more space readily translates to happiness. Wide, open spaces evoke feelings of freedom, after all, while enclosed spaces cause the exact opposite. And if there is one factor that eats up space it’s furniture. So even if the room has adequate space, it might still have that claustrophobia-inducing effect that not a lot of people can put up with. This underscores the need to opt for minimalisation. Include only what is necessary and what the person loves – which brings us to one last element. 

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Prioritise subjectivity

Designing interiors should never really depart from the owner’s subjective taste. Yes, most humans share elements that relax them or help them deal with stress better, as evidenced by the facts above. But, in the end, how the person feels about a room or space is what matters more. 

Some may find the presence of plants to be more relaxing, for example, but this is definitely not the case for everyone. How high should the ceilings be? What are the objects that give you meaning or happiness? What do you find beautiful? These are but some of the personal questions that should be asked to help figure out how to make interior design more beneficial to mental health. 

These factors, after all, directly affect one’s mood. And to surround oneself solely with them, minus those that don’t, is definitely one good step towards the right direction.