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Visit Folies of Stansted to create the perfect summer outdoor space using solar lanterns and hanging baskets

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Sally and Lucy Lewis, from Folies of Stansted, on how to create the perfect summer outdoor space using solar lanterns and hanging baskets...

The swooping of swallows, swifts and house martins accompanied by long days melting into hazy evenings signal the approach of the wonderful British summer.

One of our favourite things about summer here at Folies, besides the tremendous growth in all the plants and flowers, is that the lines between inside and outside living become increasingly blurred, and the way we use our outdoor space is ever changing.

For some of us, it may be that growing our own veg has become a new and exciting part of our lives, while for some it may be the way in which we have used the space for entertaining in the open air.

Outdoor seating and outdoor cooking facilities have almost become a staple in many gardens over the last couple of years and on a sunny day it can really feel like you're in a beautiful villa in a little Mediterranean village, especially when you have a stunning display of perennials and annuals surrounding you.

The most fantastic thing about creating outdoor spaces is that you can let your imagination go wild. You can create magnificent displays within the tiniest of spaces by simply filling the area with pots and plants placed at different heights and levels.

Folies (56810629)
Folies (56810629)

It is, of course, hanging basket season where you can have hanging plants filling your space with scent and colour. Hanging baskets are simple to create and what you put in can vary from the standard geraniums, fuchsias and trailing petunias that will be sure to add instant colour and wow factor to your garden.

They will last all summer and only get better from May onwards, right into late summer and autumn until the frosts arrive again.

They are a great option for smaller gardens because they add texture, instant colour and can be placed in the most awkward spaces. If you have nowhere to hang them, you can stand a hanging basket on an old pot and you will be amazed at how incredible they look with all the wonderful foliage trailing down.

How about creating a gin and tonic basket filled with rosemary, mint, thyme and other herbs to tickle your particular fancy? Perhaps you'd prefer the mojito basket with a variety of mint, chocolate mint, spearmint, strawberry mint and lemon mint. Or why not try making a culinary delight basket with all your favourite herbs like coriander, parsley, dill, oregano, basil and so on? You could even add a hanging tomato plant in there for good measure.

Folies of Stansted (56809197)
Folies of Stansted (56809197)

When the evening draws in and you are sipping your favourite sundowner with it still warm enough to sit outside, we have decided solar lanterns are the way to go. They are stunningly beautiful, are free to run and create the most ethereal, dappled light effect.

These gorgeous lamps perform like clockwork and you can use them in a multitude of ways. Hang them in your tree, inside your garden parasol, place them along a washing line, place them on your table, or even on an inside window ledge.

The fab thing about our solar lanterns is that they are 100% weather resistant, so you don't have to ever worry about leaving them outside when the weather isn't very summer friendly. Solar lanterns are a win-win light option for everybody!

Folies of Stansted (56809205)
Folies of Stansted (56809205)

Why not pop into Folies and let your creations begin? We look forward to seeing you soon.

Folies of Stansted (56809203)
Folies of Stansted (56809203)

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