I am still feeling groggy and full of face ache so, rather than work outside, I have been searching online for more inspiration for the new garden layout. I have been adding ideas to my Pinterest "Dream Gardens" board and watching the new ( to us) pair of Buzzards wheel and call over the fields outside the house.
Today I have mainly been looking online for wicker garden furniture. I love the texture of wicker and I have always been keen on weaving with rushes or reeds or flexible sticks. One of my earlier memories, aged about three, is of us stopping the car in a layby in Wales (so my brother could be car sick). I got out with my mother and we walked to a boggy area by a stream and picked green rushes.
I remember being fascinated when my mother showed me how the green rushes could be plaited, twisted and knotted together, without breaking apart. Later on, I learned how to plait my own long hair and I also learned how to plait rushes and later still to make make coiled, sewn baskets and mats out of the rush plaits. My mother taught me how to do this also, she could make hats out of plaited straw and I remember her making several summer hats for her, and for me.
I don't know if that is where my love of wicker comes from, but I do like making baskets and twig stars and willow structures and little corn and lavender favours and garden obelisks...
I also have lots of storage baskets and boxes made of various natural materials - willow, straw, raffia etc. I like the different textures on display.
I am looking for new garden furniture because ours is getting really rather old and tatty. I am interested in new furniture which can live permanently on the newly redone patio (whenever that will be). I found some rather nice metal and some FSC wooden sets last week, this week I have been searching for wicker garden furniture.
I have always liked the look and idea of natural rattan wicker furniture but in my younger days all the sets I saw, in other people's gardens, seemed to rapidly go brittle - I have painful memories of getting splinters and I suspect they were not really weather proof! My memories are also mainly of big, cane three piece suites and big flowery cushions in very bright colours.
How things have changed! From my on-line searches I have found that the modern outdoor wicker/rattan sets are mainly made of woven resin on an aluminium frame, rather than rattan, so I guess no more splinters now, which is a relief.
My search came up with the usual garden superstore sites but I also found a lot of interesting independent suppliers. I liked the garden furniture sets displayed on the Bents website - they are a third generation family business based in Glazebury, Cheshire. I was very impressed with their Our green credentials pages as well, where Bents itemise the things they do.
Looking at the selection of wicker garden furniture on the Bents website there is a wide range of prices, styles, colours and materials to chose from - all of the furniture is made from resin weave so the splinter/rot problem has gone away :-)
I called the Bents customer helpline to ask about the resin material and if it could really live outside? The answer was, yes, resin rattan weave furniture really can stay outside all the time, although the fabric cushions need to be brought in out of the rain. I was impressed with the customer service I received when I called Bents and I was even more impressed that you can also wash the furniture, which is handy to know with the Ginger Gang of incontinent chickens hanging around us all the time.
I am a bit concerned that synthetic resin rattan is made from HDPE (so made from oil) but on the other hand it should last a very very long time and not have to be replaced as often as wood (especially if the Hornets are around!) and is recyclable at the end of its life. That is an aspect I will have to take into account before deciding what to finally buy.
Of course what I could also do is make a living willow chair for the garden - something I have been thinking of doing for a long time now, ever since I made various willow wigwams and domes. But not really very portable and also not likely to survive on the patio!
Anyone else have a patio set made from either resin or real wicker? Or a living willow chair?
Disclaimer - I am writing a series of posts about my plans and hopes for our garden redesign - this post features a paid link to a company I would be happy to order from, in the future. As always, the words I write are my own and are my honest opinions.