Ditch the rickety deck chairs and spruce up your "outdoor lounge", says Mick Sharp
"The purest form of human pleasures" is how philosopher Francis Bacon described spending time in his garden. According to outdoor furniture specialists billyoh.com, green-fingered Brits will spend the equivalent of three working years of their lives mowing, trimming, weeding, pottering about and generally ensuring everything in their gardens is rosy. And that doesn't include leisure time spent enjoying the garden.
Despite our somewhat changeable climate, we aren't easily dissuaded from attempting an as adventurous and al fresco a lifestyle as the elements will allow. And catering for that desire is big business. "The garden has become a focal point for many families," says Carol Lewis in The Times's Bricks & Mortar supplement. Vicky Angell, a partner and buyer for outdoor living at John Lewis, says gardens are increasingly used as an "outdoor lounge" and "living space". Rather than making do with some rickety deck chairs and a teetering trestle table, people "are really investing in their garden furniture", Angell tells Lewis. Spending on gardens was 27% higher last year than in 2017, analysis by John Lewis Finance shows, with sales in the company's outdoor-living departments more than doubling over the last four years. Here are a few of this year's best garden accessories.
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"All of the flavour, none of the labour" is eco-friendly solar-powered cooking equipment firm GoSun's catchy tagline for its GoSun Grill. This is "a grill for modern times" that is cool to the touch, heats to 260 degrees even under cloud cover, and allows you to steam, bake and roast without having to worry about empty gas tanks or scraping burned carbon off the cooking surface. It's portable too so you can, in effect, cook anywhere as there is no fire hazard. Brett Tortorello on feast.media says he feels like "a good person" when he uses the GoSun. "Call me crazy, but I feel I'm doing a real service to the environment when I'm cooking on this grill." £699, gosuneurope.com
The Husqvarna RC320Ts AWD ride-on mower combines ease of use and excellent handling with power and performance. The manufacturer perhaps better known for its motorcycles says that "the all wheel drive (AWD) rider with a high-torque V-twin engine is a pleasure to operate and delivers great results". It has a turn-key start, LED lights and can be fitted with 94cm and 103cm cutting decks. And if you thought a mower was just for summer, think again. "Thanks to attachments such as a snow blade, trailer, moss rake and spreader," says radmoretucker.co.uk, "it can help maintain your garden all year round." £6,240, redbanduk.co.uk
If a traditional, old-school swimming pool is not eco-friendly enough for you, and taking a dip in "life-sustaining water and connecting with nature" is more your style, the Swimming Pond Company has the answer. Its ponds integrate beautifully with the landscape, offering the opportunity to swim in fresh, clear water without a trace of chemicals. The ponds attract and sustain a wide array of wildlife, "drastically increasing the biodiversity of your garden", says company founder Paul Mercer. "A swimming pond is something beautiful to look at all-year round," says Catherine Howard in Country House magazine, "and perfectly in tune with the zeitgeist." From £75,000 + VAT for an 80 sq m pond, theswimmingpondcompany.co.uk
To the outside world you just look like a cool dude/dudette with sunglasses. What the outside world doesn't know is that you are, in fact, wearing a pair of Bose Frames, an ingenious new design of shades with a micro embedded speaker in each arm. Available in two styles, Alto and Rondo, with a variety of coloured lenses, they're Bluetooth-enabled, leaving you "free to hear and interact with the world around while discreetly listening to music", says Bose. The sound quality is superb, says Ryan Waniata on digitaltrends.com it seems as as if the sounds have been "magically beamed within the boundaries of your skull". £199.95, bose.co.uk
If your idea of the perfect summer's evening is to tilt your Panama hat at a rakish angle, sit back and relax in the sunshine, the silence punctuated only by the gentle cork popping on another bottle of Dom Perignon 2006, it's probably best you don't go within a country mile of Marshall's Tufton portable Bluetooth speaker. The Bletchley-based amplifier builder has its own hallowed place in rock history, a true British global success story based on a simple USP: Marshall = Loud. The Tufton will rock your socks off. "If you even edge towards top volume," says Audley Waugh in The Mail on Sunday's Event magazine, "it will blast across your neighbourhood and you will stop being invited to barbecues". Sounds like a win-win situation. £349, marshallheadphones.com
Mick is a former writer and production editor for MoneyWeek and he wrote about art and how to spend your money. He was also a writer for The Week online. Previous to that, Mick was a production editor at MJS Media for 30 years and now he is a production editor at The Open University. Mick is also an experienced website designer.
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