In the spirit of this month’s sleek minimalism topic, Life is a Garden brings you a lavish lavender DIY that’ll fit right in with a more is less approach to gardening. These stunning Lavandula varieties are perfect for adding colour to big beds and containers on the patio, plus – they are low-maintenance, water-wise, and attract a host of beneficial pollinators.
Top plant picks
1. Lavandula angustifolia: compact and bushy with small, grey-green leaves and long flower spikes in deep purple.
2. Lavandula dentata (toothed lavender): spreading habit, bushy shrubs with scalloped foliage, which are either dark green or grey depending on the variety. Fragrant, purple-blue flowers.
3. Lavandula x intermedia (English lavender): a vigorous hybrid with a spreading growth habit and aromatic grey-green leaves. Tall flower spikes covered in small mauve flowers.
4. Lavandula stoechas (French lavender): numerous hybrids available of this compact bushy shrub with slender green leaves. Short spikes of purple or pink flowers topped with two colourful bracts looking like rabbit ears.
How to keep it simple
- Entrances and walkways: Replace many small stepping stones with large square slabs. Fill the remaining area with either black gravel for a dramatic feel or white pebbles for a clean look. Choose one lavender variety to be repeatedly planted alongside the walkway. Remember to space them evenly and keep plants neatly groomed.
- Containers on the patio: Carefully consider your colour scheme and think about how to bring in subtle purple accents through your garden furniture, window frames, and table accessories. Having three colours at most, complimented by other neutral colours, will create a minimalistic look. Container colours and texture are essential, so go for fewer and larger containers rather than multiple coloured ones.
- Beds: Repetition of the same one or two plants is key when designing a minimalist bed, as well as the bed shape.
Life is a Garden is calling on all the fairies, princesses, queens and creatures of the garden to come out and DIY with us. We’ve got a little something special for the girls this October - drum roll, please… enter the flower crown! In celebration of October rose month as well as Garden Day on the 9th October, we are blushing shades of pink and green to bring you these lovely flower crown ideas using succulents and roses.
Here’s a step by step to creating your up-cycle can masterpiece.
You will need:
- An Alice-band and/or pliable craft wire
- A few glorious succulents, roses, and some viney plant strands (Ivy may work nicely)
- Green insulation tape, twine or ribbon
- Scissors and maybe some pliers
- Bits and bobs of pretty arts and crafts goodies like shells and beads if you like
The first thing our DIY fairies need to decide on is whether they would like to decorate an existing Alice-band or if they would like to create a crown from scratch. Secondly, have a look in the garden at what kind of succulents, roses, and other vine-type plants are available. Head off to your local GCA Garden Centre for those special flowers and vinery you may want to add. Gather your arts and crafts goodies and prep your creation station.
Preparing your headband
If you are using an existing Alice-band, we recommend you choose one that is a little wider to give you more of a surface on which to stick and wrap your goodies. Alternately, if you’re creating a headband from craft wire, we recommend using at least two strands of wire together for more stability and also for more surface area to work with.
Breathing life into your creation
- Step 1: Single out your centrepiece succulents and roses.
We love upcycling almost as much as we love gardening – and that’s like, allot! For this month’s DIY, Life is a Garden is inviting you to accept our eco-friendly, trash to treasure project, all about cans, creativity, and décor. If you also get that funny feeling whenever you throw away a can, that’s probably because: A – you care about the environment and just can’t bear the thought of a turtle choking on baked beans packaging, and B – like us, you can see the exciting, uncharted, open canvas of that baked beans tin that just screams “decorate me”.
Here’s a step by step to creating your upcycle can masterpiece.
You will need:
- Some empty washed cans with a few holes made in the bottom (time to put that buying in bulk stage to good use)
- String/twine/ribbon (natural fibre string or coloured string, depending on your vibe)
- Some pebbles (store-bought or from the garden)
- Moss (real moss available at your GCA Garden Centre or visit your local craft shop for fake moss sheets)
- Arts and crafts accessories you have lying around
- Super superglue or double-sided tape
How to decorate:
- Start by thinking about which cans will be for outdoor and indoor decoration to determine which décor accessories would work best.
- Have a look at all your goodies and think about the theme/colour scheme you’re going for to spice up your chosen area.
- Use the superglue or double-sided tape to secure your string/twine/ribbon around the can.
- If you are using pebbles or shells, pop them on too with some superglue.
- Add a little texture to your can by tying a different piece of string/twine/ribbon around it. This will also help to keep your design together.
Décor tip: You could always decorate half of the can one way, and the rest with a different accessory.
No doubt some of you organised and de-cluttered over lockdown, but there are some items that we just cannot bear to part with. We’ll show you how to transform your sentimental doll into something functional with a new look to exhibit the beauty of the memories. After all, it’s not considered clutter if it brings you joy.
For this upcycle planter project, you will need:
- An old doll
- One and a half cups cornstarch
- One cup white liquid school glue
- One tablespoon vinegar
- One teaspoon body lotion
- One tablespoon glycerine or baby oil
Start by mixing the cornstarch and the glue. Add the vinegar, body lotion and glycerine, keep mixing. Warning: it will be messy! But mission on, the texture will improve the more you combine the ingredients. If you find at this point that the mixture is too flimsy, add a little extra cornstarch until the mixture is smooth, soft and squishy. Prepare a clean countertop with a little cornstarch and spread out the mixture. Knead it as you would dough for bread.
Top Tip: dust your hands with a little cornstarch to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands. Once the clay mix is firm but still soft and pliable, you can cover it with plastic and set it aside while you prepare the doll.
Wipe the doll clean and remove any clothing or accessories. Take a craft knife and cut the head open. Make sure that the doll you choose can sit upright without any help, otherwise the planter might be too top-heavy and topple over.
Once the doll is prepped you can now cover it with thin layers of clay. We’ve covered the one side and let it dry overnight before we flipped the doll over and covered the other side. The drying time is about 12 hours but may be more depending on the thickness.
Our gardeners from Life is a Garden conducted this family-friendly, insightful little seed germination experiment during the lockdown days. Our gardeners set out to grow some spinach in a glass jar, allowing them to enjoy every step of the growing show, from above to below ground. Our gardeners watered each jar differently to determine how much water is too much, too little, and just right. The results may surprise you!
What you need:
- Large spinach seeds
- A glass jar
- Kitchen roll
Setting up your seed experiment:
STEP 1: Get your little-handed scientist to assist you here, by folding and scrunching up a few pieces of kitchen roll. Place the folded kitchen roll inside the perimeter of the glass jar, then stuff the scrunched pieces into the middle.
STEP 2: Carefully push seeds down into the paper towels around the edge of the jar so they can still be seen. Make sure they are firmly held in place.
STEP 3: Gently water your seed jar to wet the paper towels. Be careful not to flood it as this spells certain disaster for our seeds.
What do you see in your seed jar?
- You are looking for a root to pop out of the side of the seed.
- Next, you are looking for roots to push down into the towel.
- Also, you are looking for root hairs.
- Next, you are looking for the seed to push up while the root hairs push down.
- Lastly, you are looking for the shoots to come up.
Our watering findings:
Our gardeners wanted to see how much water would be best for the spinach seedlings. They set up their three jars and measured the same amount of water to be given to each jar. The water quantities were the same; however, the frequency of watering is what made all the difference:
- Jar one: Watered once a week.