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With Storm Dudley hitting the UK last week, Storm Eunice having wreaked havoc over the weekend, and Storm Franklin incoming today, the country has been facing high winds, heavy rain and weather warnings.  Here at ManoMano we are here to provide you with some advice to help protect your garden from the storms, whether that be Storm Franklin today, or another to come down the line.

Protect pots and planters from strong gusts of wind

Protect your garden including pots from storms

Terracotta pots can tip or break, and plastic pots can be thrown and cause damage to neighbors and passers-by. The best thing you can do with your potted plants is to put them safely inside your house, in the garage or in a shed.

They probably won’t get all the light they need to thrive during the storm, but believe us: it would be much worse to leave them outside.

Heavier pots should be placed against a wall and grouped together to protect each other. Those that contain raised plants should be staked to prevent their branches from breaking, and covered with a thermal blanket for the duration of the storm.

Prepare your garden before the storm hits

Use a thermal blanket to protect the plants you are growing in the garden, and secure it with stakes. If you have plastic or tunnel greenhouses and installed them without taking into account the direction of the wind, consider dismantling them so as not to lose them. Although it is sad to say so, perhaps the value of the plants is less than that of the greenhouse.

Cut all tree limbs that could break and fall on roofs, structures, vehicles, or bystanders. Use pegs to protect bushes or tall plants, and check the condition of climbing plant fixings. A little more string can make a big difference.

Check the condition of the roof of the shed and evaluate what materials you should urgently store on it. Sun loungers and garden sets can lie down or fly away depending on their weight. If you don’t have space to store them, place them as close as possible to a wall that acts as a windbreak, cover them with a cover and place something heavy on them.

Make sure that the door and window hinges fit well and that both the garden shed and the shed do not have holes through which water or wind can enter.

Collect any electrical installation, solar lanterns, empty pots, tools, watering cans and containers in a place where they are protected. If that place is the shed, try to be tidy to make the most of its capacity.

Check the rainwater collection gutters to remove leaves that could clog the downspouts. If you use it for irrigation by filling water tanks, make sure that the filters are clean and that they are in the “open” position.

Pool covers should also be well secured to prevent them from turning into huge sails and splitting. When in doubt, it may be better to put it away and store it, even if it means having to clean the pool of leaves and other debris when the storm passes.

Roses are one of the most beautiful flowers that we can give as a gift at any time of the year. And if we receive them, we can learn how to preserve a bouquet of roses so that they last longer. In this article, we will share how you can preserve your roses as well as some popular tips & tricks so that you can enjoy your flowers for longer. 

How to choose roses as gifts

The moment a flower is cut, it stops receiving the sap that will allow it to continue growing, open, and wait to be pollinated to form seeds. A good tip to make cut flowers last longer is to always choose those that have yet to open or are just beginning to open. 

This advice is also useful for flowering plants bought in pots: if the flowers have yet to open, you can enjoy their bloom at home or in the garden.

How to preserve your roses in 7 steps

1. Preserve your roses by removing the wrapping and putting them in water quickly

Preserve your roses by putting them straight in a vase

Although it is usual to receive a bouquet of roses wrapped in cellophane, the plastic prevents the flowers from breathing freely. As nice as it is, remove it completely so that the flowers get all the oxygen they need.

Help them recover from stress: use a container in which you can completely submerge the stems for a couple of hours. It doesn’t have to be the same vase in which you will place them later: a bucket will do.

2. Choose a vase and place it away from direct sunlight

It is important that the vase is very clean, with no traces of detergent. Rinse it several times if necessary and place it in a place where it will not be exposed to direct sunlight. We don’t want the sun to shine on the flowers as this will shorten their lifespan. Fill it halfway with water. Prepare the flowers, removing leaves and faded petals.

3. Check the flowers and remove any petals that may have fallen off

If they are tied up, some leaves may have become trapped: remove any leaves that, because of their position along the stem, are going to be submerged in the water. Any part of the plant that falls into the water in the vase will begin to degrade, and its rotting will cause the appearance of bacteria that are precisely beneficial for our flowers.

This is where the famous trick of aspirin or drops of bleach comes into play: both prevent the formation of bacteria in the water, thus extending the shelf life of the bouquet.

4. Cutting the stems diagonally every two or three days will help preserve your roses

Submerged stems also degrade and this prevents the roses from staying hydrated. Trim the stems using pruning shears or a knife if you do not have them. Kitchen or craft scissors squeeze the stem before cutting it, so the part responsible for absorbing water is crushed and you can preserve your roses for longer. 

5. Change the water in the vase every day

You can imagine that cleanliness is vital for preserving roses. Change the water in the vase daily and wash it if necessary. You may need to use a smaller vase at some point if trimming the stems makes the large one unstable. 

6. Preserve your roses by taking them outside at night

If it is not too cold, it may be worth taking the bouquet outside at night. The change in temperature will improve their oxygenation and lengthen their shelf life.

7. Remove the wilted flowers

Preserve your roses by removing wilted leaves

Just as we did at the beginning with the leaves or petals, it is equally important to remove the flowers that are getting damaged. The reason: it can cause the rest of the bouquet to wilt prematurely.

Drying a bouquet of roses to make it last forever

Roses are flowers that can be dried easily and with which we can form new compositions in our home. However, it is important to start the drying process when the roses are still in good condition. We recommend using one of these 3 methods:

1. Let the bouquet dry naturally in the vase itself

Remove the water from the vase and add a centimetre of clean water. Absorption and time will take care of the rest, slowly dehydrating the flowers. They will be completely dry after a month or so.

2. Hanging the bouquet upside down

Dry your bouquet of roses

This is perhaps the oldest method, but you also need to know how to proceed: hang the bouquet upside down in a cool, dark place. Use hairspray to keep the petals in place. Let the hairspray dry thoroughly before handling.

3. Dry the flowers with salt or silica gel

Salt absorbs moisture very well, and flowers are no exception. Use coarse cooking salt in a container or tray, form a layer of a couple of centimetres and place the flowers on it. Turn them over every day and let them dehydrate slowly.

The silica gel works very quickly but you will need enough to cover the entire bouquet. The most common way to proceed is to use an airtight container in which a layer of silica beads is formed on top of which the flowers are added. They are then covered with more gel and left to act for a week or a fortnight.

Over 6 million Christmas trees are sold every year in the UK, and once the celebrations have passed, and the decorations go back into storage come Twelfth Night, it is time to deal with your Christmas tree. Just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean your tree has outlived its usefulness, and there are many ways to prevent it from ending up in the landfill. The experts at ManoMano give you some ideas on how to give your Christmas tree a second life, from keeping it alive to recycling it or reusing it in other decorative projects.

First of all: is it a cut Christmas tree or a rooted Christmas tree?

You may not have noticed at the time of purchase, but natural Christmas trees are sold rooted or cut. How do you know if both are usually sold in pots? If you bought it online, this detail is always indicated in the product description. If you bought it in a physical shop or at a Christmas market, the seller should provide you with this information. Very often Christmas trees bought in the UK are cut. 

If you are reading these lines when you have already put away the decorations, tinsel and garlands of lights, it will be easy to answer this question: hold the trunk at the base and pull it upwards out of its pot. Now look at the base… does it have roots or has it crumbled around a cut trunk? Here lies the answer to your question and the various recycling or reuse options below.

What to do with a natural Christmas tree after the holidays?

Now that you know whether your fir tree is cut or rooted, you know that you can only keep it alive if it is a rooted tree. Let’s take a look at the options to give your Christmas tree a second life:

Option 1. Repotting a Christmas tree to another pot or to the ground

If your tree has roots and is in good condition, you can transplant it to the terrace or garden. The most common variety of Christmas fir is Picea abies, also called Picea excelsa, European or Norway spruce. It is a tree that withstands low temperatures very well but suffers a lot from summer heat. 

But this does not mean that it cannot survive, on the contrary! It needs two or three waterings a week and a special conifer fertiliser, especially in spring and autumn.

For a successful transplant, ideally you will have kept the tree inside for no more than two weeks, away from heat sources such as fireplaces or radiators and you’ve provided enough water at its base. Before replanting the tree, give it a few days to re-enter dormancy by keeping it in a cool sheltered area outside, like a garage or a shed.

If you want to transplant it to a garden, bear in mind that in optimal conditions, it is a tree that can grow up to 60 cm per year. Think about this when choosing its location. 

If you prefer to keep it in a pot, transplant it into a larger pot and take it outside. The heat and lack of light it may have experienced over the Holidays may have affected it, but it will recover quickly. Use universal compost and add some perlite to improve drainage.

Option 2. Compost your Christmas fir tree

Give your christmas tree a second life  through composting

All Christmas trees can be composted. City councils in large cities often set up a tree collection programme in public squares or parks at the end of the Christmas season. The gardening service will collect them and turn them into compost. 

If not, you can always put it in the organic waste bin. You can reuse the pot (they are usually large, and that’s always good) or put it in the plastic container. And of course, you can also compost it at home.

Option 3. Use it for mulching

You can use the whole tree to create a mulch that will be very useful for acidophilic plants. If you have hydrangeas, azaleas, gardenias, camellias, rhododendrons or heather they will appreciate it.

If you have a wood chipper, the task is very easy. But if you don’t have one, cut as many branches as you can and let them dry a little before spreading them over the soil in your pots. The trunk can be used as described below.

Option 4. Leave it to dry and use it for handicrafts

Give your christmas tree a second life by getting crafty

The branches that are still green can be used to create some crafts: wreaths, bouquets and centrepieces can still bring some green into your home. Combine it with colours other than red to avoid associating it so much with the holidays that are over.

The trunk can be cut with a saw to create coasters, table mats or for future projects for next Christmas. Or if it was a good size (and you aren’t lacking space), why not let it dry out completely? Next year it can become a minimalist Christmas tree that you can decorate in a totally different style.

Did you enjoy this article on how to give your Christmas tree a second life? Why not read our guide on beekeeping for beginners

One of the most fun parties of the year is coming and it’s time for the whole family to get down to work to create a terrifyingly fun atmosphere. Halloween is here! We’re here to make it easy for you and share ideas on how to decorate a Halloween party so that it will be a hit – you just have to follow these simple decorative tips. Roll up your sleeves and get ready for a spookily good article.

Star colours: Orange and black with touches of purple and white

Decorate a Halloween party decoration ideas

If there’s one thing you should bear in mind when it comes to decorating a Halloween party this year, it’s the base colours, where oranges and blacks, together with touches of white and purple, take on a leading role. From the unmissable pumpkins, to the typical cobwebs, balloons of different shapes and different scary costumes, where the kids can enjoy themselves.

The classics never fail: the Halloween decoration that can’t be missed

If there is one decoration that can never be missing at any spooky party, it is pumpkins. You can buy them in lots of shops and supermarkets and hollow them out and decorate them yourself. There are many crafts on the internet to make the spookiest faces and have a great time with the family. 

Spider webs are another must-have for any spooky party, as well as skulls or ghost garlands and monster piñatas. You can make them with papier-mâché, cardboard or old fabrics. You can also hang balloons of different shapes and sizes on the walls, as well as paper bats.

If you want to add a special touch to your Halloween party decorations, don’t forget to create a ghoulish atmosphere with good music and dim lighting – it will give you goosebumps!

A creepily delicious sweet spread

Decorating a halloween party: sweet treats

We don’t want to just focus on how to decorate a Halloween party; to make it even more memorable for the little ones, you can make original devilish snacks. From sandwiches with googly eyes, terrifying biscuits decorated with spider webs, to pumpkin-shaped cupcakes, or simply fruit that looks like ghosts or mandarins that look like pumpkins. The idea is to use your imagination and create easy, simple and especially entertaining recipes that the kids will love!

A great activity during the party is to decorate biscuits. To do this, you can have toppings in the main party colours and some sweets or chocolates to decorate them.

The spookiest fancy dress costumes

Fancy dress is key when planning how to decorate a halloween party

Always bearing in mind the age of the children you are going to organise the party for, there are a series of characters that have to be at any Halloween party. If the costumes are homemade, all the better. 

You can make the classic ghost as a sheet, simply cutting out the shape of the eyes and creating a chain tied to the children’s feet, or fold black cardboard to make a witch’s hat and a broom.They can dress up as vampires with a face, fangs and a big red cape made from scraps you have around the house. Also monsters, mummies made with bandages, skeletons… If the children are a bit older you can propose a more themed party with science fiction characters such as Jack the Ripper, Maleficent, Edward Scissorhands, the Joker and many more. The point is to enjoy this frighteningly entertaining party!

The scariest party of the year is already here! Let us know how your Halloween party looks by tagging us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Winter is just around the corner, where it gets dark much earlier and just by having the lights on for more hours we increase our energy consumption. In addition to using our lights for longer hours each day, in order to combat the cold we also switch on the heating – this will mean a big increase in our energy consumption and monthly expenditure at home. Energy saving has become one of the main concerns in the UK, not only with a view to saving on bills but also because of the environmental impact this entails and the current fuel crisis. We have put together a few energy saving tips to try out at home and significantly reduce your energy consumption.

Top energy saving tips

Tip 1: Ventilate the house early in the morning

energy saving tips: open the windows in the morning

The house should be aired out every day to let fresh air in. Ideally, this should be done in the morning with the windows wide open for at least ten minutes. If, on the other hand, this is done in the evening when the house is warmer, extra energy will be required to recover the heat coming out of the windows, thus increasing the cost of our bill. 

Tip 2: Insulate doors and windows effectively

Good insulation is the key to preventing heat from escaping from your home through doors and windows. If you notice that your front door has a gap between it and the floor, you can fit rubber weather stripping to prevent heat from escaping. A small rug can also be useful, simply slide it towards the door and block the heat from escaping. When it comes to windows, opting for double glazing will significantly reduce energy consumption.  

Tip 3: Turn off the heating in empty rooms

If your house has several rooms and they are not being used, why have them heated? Keep the radiators on in the rooms you are in or are going to use for a while, turning off the radiators in the rest of the house. Don’t forget to close the doors once you have switched off the heating, otherwise we will lose the heat from the rest of the house.

Tip 4: Maintain an optimum temperature

Believe it or not, the optimum temperature to save energy is between 20°C and 21°C, and it is advisable to lower it by at least a couple of degrees at bedtime. Moreover, it is much more economical to keep it on at a constant temperature than to turn it on and off every time we feel cold. 

Tip 5: Wrap up warm

energy saving tips: wrap up warm

The most economical way to keep away the winter chill at home is to have warm clothes at your disposal, such as sweatshirts, dressing gowns and woollen socks. If just wearing one of these is enough to keep the cold at bay, why keep the heating on? Also, keep thick blankets handy so you can cover up on the sofa when watching a movie and have warm drinks during the coldest hours. At night, cover up with a winter duvet to keep you warm and help you fall asleep. All these small changes will help to significantly reduce your electricity bill. 

Did you enjoy this article on energy saving tips? Why not read our blog post on how to prepare the garden for winter or even our guide on how to bleed a radiator!

Are you trying out some ways to reduce your energy consumption at home? Let us know how you get on via Instagram using the #mymanomanoway#manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!