Grid, Coral, and Paint

To stop the bamboo grid in the Square Foot Gardening bed from warping, touching the soil, and rotting, I propped it up with some old bits of coral I had.

CoralThe downside is that they soon go grey with mould (and I don’t really want mould spores near something I’m going to eat), so I dipped them in a mild bleach solution to kill the spores, gave them a bit of a scrub, and left them to dry in the sun.

Then I painted and varnished them, and left them outside for quite a few days to allow the toxic fumes to evaporate, before putting them anywhere near my future food source.


I wanted hot pink spraypaint but it’s not available here, so I had a litre of paint mixed in the closest thing I could find to hot pink – I even took the paint chip out into the sun to check.

What I’ve ended up with isn’t even remotely close – more like fluorescent pinkish apricot – and I’m sure it glows in the dark!

Not hot pink paintWhy don’t they sell sample pots here? And why do paint chips never represent what you actually get?

I had to varnish the coral because the paint’s too flat – there’s no sheen whatsoever to it.

It looks chalky and weird.

Varnished coralVarnishing also made the paint slightly darker and slightly less ugly.

And will stop the return of mould, though a sheen to the paint would have also have served that purpose.

I was planning on using the paint on the bamboo grid once it faded.

I obviously won’t be doing that now – it’s too ugly and too flat.

I’m annoyed in case you haven’t noticed.

However, I suppose that at the end of the day, while it’s nothing like I wanted, and caused me extra work, it adds colour to the garden, and serves a practical purpose to boot.

What more can you ask for?

(Well, maybe some hot pink paint with a slight sheen!!!)

My advice?

Buy Permoglaze paints – if they don’t have the colour you want, pay a little extra to get Permoglaze paint mixed in a Mauvillac shade.

And don’t listen to the guy at Espace Maison who tells you that Permoglaze and Mauvillac paints are of equal quality!!!

Painted coral

Spice up Your Spice Jars

I can’t remember where I saw this idea, but I do remember thinking “How simple – why doesn’t everyone do it?”.

I store all of my herbs and spices in recycled asparagus jars (yes, I eat a lot of cheese and asparagus toasted sandwiches).

Before shot

I don’t have the jars on display, so I don’t really need to do this, I just want to – plus I have some paint left over from when I painted a napkin holder:

Napkin holder

I’m not a fan of Shabby Chic, so a quick spray, and…

Blue napkin holder

…much better!

Anyway, back to the spice jars (or any storage jars, as long as the lids are metallic).

Even if all your jars are mismatched, this will unify them, and beautify your kitchen (or in our case, the inside of our cupboard).

Alf’s shaking his head.


Rest the lids on wooden skewers so that they don’t stick to the newspaper (I only thought of that after I’d sprayed the first coat, and spent a few panicked minutes picking off shreds of newspaper).

LidsThen spraypaint them. Two or three light coats.

Painted lids

They’re not baby blue, I’m just a bad photographer!

Don’t get paint on the insides as:

a) they won’t screw back on properly, and

b) your herbs will taste of paint

Let them dry in a well-ventilated place, till the fumes evaporate, and the paint hardens. At least 24 hours.

In the meantime, print off some labels, glue them on to the jars, cover them with stickytape to protect them…

Attaching labelsand, voila!

After shotAs I said, simple.

Stop shaking your head at me, Alf – you’ll thank me next time you open that cupboard!

Or probably, because you’re a man, you’ll never notice the difference.

It’s a sad, but true, fact.

Universally, not Alf-specific.

Colour – Decorating the Garden


I treat the garden like a room in our house.

Generally, I don’t like white walls either in or out – to me, they do nothing to show off your furniture, ornaments, or plants.

Having said that, our kitchen and spare room are both white.

And all the rooms downstairs are white.

I did say, generally.

A painted garden wall also adds colour, even when nothing is in flower.

The exterior of our house is cream, so I didn’t have to worry about anything clashing.

For this garden, I chose a colour as close to terracotta as I could find. Depending on the time of day, it can look orange, pink, and if I’m lucky, terracotta.

The foliage, flowers, and shadows really stand out against it, and it feels warm.

I’m very happy with it.

Pots and Ornaments

I like continuity in the garden – an element of contemporary garden styles – so I chose one main contrast colour, with tiny touches of other colours.

Having said that, I am planning on at least one gaudily-painted statue peeking out from the undergrowth.

When the undergrowth grows.

If it ever does.

Anyway, the contrast colour I chose first was a tuscan blue, as we were tiling the outdoor shower with blue mosaic tiles.

But after our builder, Joselito (no wasps for him – he was great!), finished the tiling, I decided to go with purple, or aubergine.

I’d bought terracotta tile glue and grout, which caused the tiles to take on a purple tinge from a distance. It looks warm and soft against the terracotta wall – very subtle.

Without the terracotta glue, the bright blues of the tiles would probably have been pretty stark, and although Joselito did a good job, I really wouldn’t have wanted the shower to dominate the garden.

outdoor shower

I also used the blue tiles on the corners of the raised bed – but I forgot about the terracotta glue, and used epoxy to attach them. So they just look blue.

Anyway, having chosen the colour, I then went to town.

1 litre of aubergine paint later, and my old scrubbed-down and washed cement pots look brand new.

cement pots

square pot

I also bought some sturdy plastic pots, and a metal pot, which I lightly sanded, wiped well, and painted.

An old light fitting with an interesting shape got a new life as a pot holder, and received the same treatment, as did some MDF sharks I found in a second-hand shop.

wall pot

painting the sharks


With these, I added a couple of coats of exterior varnish to stop the artists’ acrylic on the sharks from fading, and to stop the light fitting from falling apart any further.


The Buddha head got a dye job – his hair used to be turquoise so he’s pretty happy about it.


See him smiling?

Passionfruit Climbing Frame

This is made from left-over timbers that the builders used as scaffolding, and in their formwork. So it’s full of nail holes and character (and termite damage, but I repaired that).

passionfruit frame

It will be made up of 4 lengths of wood screwed to the wall, with wire mesh stapled to it, and finished off with wooden beading to stop the mesh falling off when the humidity and salt in the air rusts the staples.

I think of everything – it’s all that staring I do.

The wood is a bit warped from sitting around for two years, so I was prepared to paint it terracotta, if the contrast of aubergine against the wall emphasised the distortion too much.

But it’s fine – cottage garden rustic!

Once it’s up, I might tile the top corners because I have hundreds of tiles left that I don’t know what to do with.