When we were house hunting, we had a fairly exhaustive list of wants and needs. One of these was a decent garden. We wanted a space that would be low maintenance, but enough room for our children to run around and play football in.
When we found our house we knew the garden was as close to perfect as you can get (there is a rather annoying concrete step on the patio near the house that we will need to watch very carefully once the twins are running around): it had a patio, a lawn, a shed…and not much else. My parents bought us a lawn mower as a housewarming gift and we were good to go.
We dreamed of summer evenings on the patio enjoying dinner outside and parties and barbecues that weren’t anything like the sweaty gatherings we used to have in our flat because we couldn’t open the windows wider than a crack in case the cats made a suicide bid. Of course, having tiny babies pretty much puts paid to any of that, so last year, having moved in mid-June and managing a barbecue to celebrate L’s birthday 5 days before the girls were born, we didn’t see a lot of the garden. We were even a bit cautious of sitting out there as the girls were so tiny and we were worried about them being too hot or too cold or not shaded enough.
This year, though. Oh this year will be so different. We have an assortment of inherited garden furniture (L’s parents moving to London and consequently downsizing was a massive blessing for us!) which includes a gazebo for shade. I can’t wait to slather some heavy duty sun cream on the girls and let them run around half-dressed and splash in the paddling pool. Because I’m not returning to work until mid-June (and then only for six four-day weeks) I should have the whole Spring and Summer – give or take – to enjoy the garden with the girls.
So imagine my delight a couple of weeks ago when the sun came out and I realised the air temperature outside was really quite mild. I immediately relocated us outside and we spent a good half hour or so playing in the garden.
I was even able to take my iPad and keyboard outside and get some writing done sitting on the grass beside the girls. I went to Bluewater the next day and bought a new picnic blanket from John Lewis as our one has seen better days and I needed something that wasn’t frayed around the edges and a temptation for a small girl to pull at/chew on.
Of course, this meant that within days the temperature dropped and the snow returned. My wife would say that my purchasing the picnic blanket was directly responsible for the inclement weather (I would call it an unfortunate coincidence).
However, the sun seems to be returning. The world is slowly warming up and today is the Spring Equinox. I have just under three months left at home with my girls before I go back to work (oh I SO don’t want to think about that), so in addition to a new picnic blanket, L and I need to start thinking about how to make the garden the best it can be – particularly bearing in mind that I am planning on having THE BIGGEST garden party ever for the girls’ birthday in July and basically inviting everyone we know. (Let’s hope it doesn’t rain!!)
It was pretty good timing then, that a marketing agency representing John Lewis should approach me, asking me to write a featured post for their online garden department.
I love lights, and the only lighting we had for the garden last year was a couple of tea light holders from Ikea. I love these solar string lanterns – they are so bright and funky. We will probably also invest in some solar stakes and these are great at 10 for £40.
Although we have a dining set for the garden, we definitely need something a bit more comfy to sit on for when we just want to kick back and relax in the sun. (Don’t worry, I know I’m just kidding myself that I’ll be able to do that with two toddlers running around!) Something like these deckchairs would be great.
Neither of us are particularly green-fingered (hence our need for a low-maintenance garden), but L is hoping to grow some herbs in a wooden planter that I bought her for Christmas and it would be nice to have a couple of pot plants on the patio. And on my totally-aspirational-and-in-no-way-realistic list of things I would like for the garden goes something like this patio swing. The couple we bought the house off had one and it looked fab and great for curling up in the sun with a book. (Again – I know; never gonna happen!) We also need to invest in a second barbecue at some point as my parents bought L one for her birthday last year, but in order to feed more than about four of us, we’ll need another one.
But I promise not to buy anything new for the garden just yet. Because even though I don’t believe in jinxes, I’d hate for the sun to do another disappearing act on us just yet!
Disclosure: This is a featured post for a marketing agency representing John Lewis Online and I have been compensated for my time.