As we head towards summer, we can head out into the garden to eat, drink and live.
There’s no greater indicator of the British capacity for optimism than in our love of eating and living out of doors.
In spite of the extreme unpredictability of our weather – and the fact that we have perfectly comfortable kitchens, dining rooms and conservatories – the outdoor furniture market at the last survey was worth something in the region of £975m.
It’s not just the increasing sophistication of barbecue equipment. We love to add sheds, summer houses, shade sails or canopies, and sun umbrellas into our gardens, to create outdoor living spaces. And it takes only a few days of good spring weather to bring about a profound change in mood.
Spending time outside in the fresh air and sun is relaxing and increases your vitamin D levels, which in turn makes you feel happy.
In terms of design, I treat the outside area in the same way as an interior by creating zones and generating different experiences as you journey through them. As well as the usual planting I try to do a couple of larger projects a year around the garden.
The great thing about garden design is that it’s seasonal; the colours and plant structure are forever changing naturally and this can be used to your advantage. Adding layers of colour and structured architectural plants can add variety and total flexibility, swapping them around as the plants come and go.
You don’t need to buy “garden furniture”. Imagine extending your social evening by moving your dining table and chairs outside, recreating your dining room. Use simple strings of exterior festoon lighting, scatter tea lights in sparkly jam jars, and add a full dinner setting with candelabra for a dreamy and memorable event.
It’s easy to add comfort and colour by throwing in some bright funky scatter cushions and fleecy throws for later in the evening when it’s cooler.
However you do it, just get outside and make the most of the sun.