June 23, 2018

So, you’ve got some spare time on your hands. Well, what better way to spend it than in your garden? Whether you’ve got a cottage garden or a huge lawn, there’s always something to do out there. Summer’s the perfect time to get stuff done (or do something fun) because it’s drier and warmer than spring.

In fact, you know what? Scrap the chores. Let’s have some fun! In this article, we’ve created a collection of things to do in the garden this summer. They’re fun, they’re quirky and they go down a treat with the kids. Perfect for the school holidays.

Let’s begin!

  1. Get out the Garden Games

There’s just something therapeutic and fun about kicking a football around. Footie isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but ball games always get people playing together. Throw down your t-shirts to create some goal posts and have some fun!

Or how about trying your hand at Pétanque (French boules)?  All you need is a decent stretch of (cut) grass and a garden boule set. The rules of pétanque are simple - there’s 8 boules in a set and each player gets two boules. You have two throws to get your boules as close as possible to the little seed boule. You can score a maximum of two points per round. The first to ten points wins!

Something easier?  A simple obstacle course is a great way to keep young children entertained. Put a few obstacles on your lawn to create a makeshift obstacle course. Time the children running around it. This tends to work best if there’s more than one child. Great fun!

 

  1. Blow some Bubbles

Homemade bubble wands and bubble mixture are super easy to make and will keep everyone entertained for hours on a long, hot afternoon.

For the wand, grab a 30cm length of garden wire and a 20 – 30cm length of bamboo cane (the type used to support tall plants in the garden). 

Make a small circle or other shape out of your wire and twist the loose ends together.

Push your twisted wire into your bamboo cane.  Tada!  Easy bubble wand.

For your bubble mixture, combine 5 tablespoons of glycerine and 250 Fairy Platinum washing up liquid in a bowl.  Once thoroughly mixed, stir into 1 litre of warm water and get blowing.

 

  1. Plant some bedding flowers

If you have a stretch of wall or garden that’s a little bit bare, plant some nice bedding flowers to liven it up. Young children absolutely love getting their hands dirty and it’s a great way to teach them about nature too.

My absolute favourites are begonias, just because they’re so easy to look after, with next to no dead-heading needed, but you could also take a look at sweet peas, busy lizzies, snapdragons, or if you prefer plants in pots or hanging baskets, Lobelia looks amazing with thousands of tiny cascading flowers.

Planting flowers is an amazing way to attract bumble bees to your garden.  Buddleia and wildflower seed mixes are best thrown down in spring, but it’s not too late if you want to add some to liven up your garden space.  You can plant out an established, potted lavender or buddleia right into the summer months.  And they are rather partial to most kinds of herbs.

 

  1. Make some homemade herbal tea.

Herbal teas can be an acquired taste, with many people preferring to stick with what they know, a good old cup of Yorkshire tea with a dash of milk, or a nice flat white.

Herbal teas also have an iffy reputation for not exactly tasting of what they’re supposed to (or tasting of very much at all come to that), but fresh herbal teas are a little different.

You do need to have quite a lot of fresh ingredients to make tea.  As a general rule, a small handful of fresh flowers or leaves per cup of boiling water is about right, but it’s definitely worth trying.

So if you’re looking something to do and for a refreshing caffeine-free change from your usual brew, try experimenting with a few of these.

Even if you have next-to-no space to grow anything at all, most people can find a little room somewhere for a patch of lavender or a few pots of herbs. 

Most of these plants should really be planted in spring for a summer harvest, but you can find a lot of them available as established ready-grown plants in most plant nurseries or supermarkets.

Many herbs will even grow in pots on your kitchen windowsill throughout the year.

Lavender, Mint, Chamomile, Rosemary, Fennel, Lemon Grass, Lemon Balm – Plant in Spring and then Harvest through the Summer.

 You could also try growing Winter Jasmine, although this needs a bit more room.

 

  1. And while you’re at it, how about homemade herbal infused oils?

Herbs and flowers don’t just make great tea.  It’s actually super easy to make your own infused oils at home with ingredients straight from your garden, for cooking with or for making bath and body oils.

I tend to make mine in my little 1 litre slow cooker (because it’s easy and I don’t have to stand, watching over a hot pan), but if you don’t have a slow cooker, there is a technique using a saucepan that works just as well.

All you need is a sterile jar (or other suitable sterile container) to store your infused oil in; a sieve or strainer; 300ml grapeseed oil or olive oil and 100g of whatever herbs or flowers you want to use.

Pick your herbs or flowers from the garden and dry thoroughly.  The easiest way to do this is to lay out your flowers, petals or leaves on a baking tray and bake at the bottom of your oven, on the lowest oven temperature for a few hours.  Chilli’s will take longer than other herbs.

For cooking; garlic, chilli’s or basil leaves work particularly well.  Whilst for homemade skincare, daisies, lavender or roses make beautifully scented oils.

If you have a slow cooker, pop your oil and dried ingredients inside and cook on the lowest setting for 2 hours.

Otherwise, pop your oil and dried ingredients into a glass pyrex bowl (heat proof) and place the whole bowl into a saucepan half-filled with water.  Allow the water to simmer away for 2 hours, adding more water as needed, as if you were melting chocolate.

Sieve your scented or flavoured botanical oils into your sterile jar and enjoy.

 

  1. Put out a bird bath - and watch the birds fly in!

On a hot summer’s day, the birds will thank you for this. Put out a large (flattish) bowl, such as a Pyrex casserole dish, and fill it with cool water. A variety of birds will fly in so long as you’re not doing anything to scare them away.

Of course, you could go for something more ornamental if you would like a more permanent garden fixture.

Or how about a bird box house?  Birds like high up, partially concealed places, to if possible place about 3 meters up a nice leafy tree.

 

  1. Make a butterfly feeder

Everyone loves butterfly’s.  They’re like beautiful, fluttery flying flowers  and they brighten up any garden space.  If you want to see a few more of them, you might want to put some food out for them.

Make up a mixture of 100ml warm water, 1 teaspoon of white sugar and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce.  The warm water just helps the sugar to dissolve.

Take a flat dish, fill it with your mixture.  If you want to, add pieces of cut up fruit to it. Alternatively, put the mixture into an upturned bottle (with the end cut off) and hang from a tree. 

Put your container next to a flowery bush and you’ll start seeing butterflies of all colours fly in before long.

Just remember that sugary water and fruit will also attract wasps, so it might be a good idea to place your container away from where you’re eating, gardening or have children playing.

 

  1. Animal and Insect houses.

It’s not just bees, butterflies and birds that like to visit gardens in the summer months.  In many places, gardens are alive with a myriad of living creatures, so why not make them a little more welcome?

Adding animal and insect hides has the added bonus of making your garden a much more interesting place to be.

An animal hide can be something as simple as a decent sized pile of leafs and logs for hedgehogs or other small animals to make a next beneath.  They’re often partial to a nice grassy compost heap, but if you want, you could have a go at making something that looks more like a house. 

Summer evenings are the perfect time to spot the odd hedgehog!

If DIY isn’t really your thing, you could consider a ready-made hide.  Insect and bat homes can be bought online from £10, with or check out your local pet store!

Be careful where you position bat and insect homes.  Bat homes should really be over 3 meters from the ground on a flat wall, so nowhere a local cat can easily reach.  It should also be placed on a sunny wall, so it’s toasty warm and away from bright artificial lights.  

If you’re putting food out for animals, you also need to be especially careful.  You can make a hedgehog incredibly ill by feeding it bread or milk.  Instead, try putting out meaty cat or dog food.  If you’re feeding squirrels, stick to tree nuts instead of peanuts and never feed them anything sugared or salty.

  1. Have a picnic - Summer Food and drink.

You don’t have to travel far to have a great picnic - you can have one in your own backyard, whether it’s for lunch or tea! Throw down a few blankets, create a table out of anything you find and get the family together for some food.

Nothing beats a long, hot summer day in the garden with a freshly made ice cream, a sorbet, or tall glass of homemade cordial on ice.

Strawberries or raspberries are an obvious choice for ice cream or sorbet as they have a distinctive flavour and are in season from June onwards. They’re also perfect when added to fresh lemonade to make a refreshing pink treat.

If you’re looking for something seasonal and a little different to drink, why not go for a wander and see if you can find some elderflowers (June) or rhubarb.  Both make the most amazing summer cordials and cocktails.

If savoury food is more your thing, why not break out the barbeque.  If you don’t have space for something built in, check out the disposable kind. They even come in family size!

 

  1. Make a garden tepee and go Camping!

Don’t have a tree for a treehouse? No problem - make a tepee instead! All you need is a bunch of long and strong sticks or poles and some chicken wire to wrap around them. Make the tepee as big as you want and cover it with an old bed sheet at night. This will create a little den for your children to spend time in, a bit like a tent.

Speaking of camping, who here put up a tent in their garden when they were little? How about camping in someone else’s garden?

If you’ve got a tent and some sleeping bags, you don’t need anything else to get started. This is the perfect way to spend some quality time together as a family. It’s also a great way to get older children out of the house. Just make sure you supervise them, and all will be good.


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

JOIN THE SOPHIA ALEXANDER VIP CLUB