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for lovers of the great outdoors


On March 28th, 2014 Bea wrote on the subject of Competition,In The Garden,The Great Outdoors,Uncategorized.

RHS Competition header


In anticipation of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014 in May we are offering one lucky gardening enthusiast a joint Royal Horticultural Society membership for the year and £75 worth of National Gardening vouchers.

The lucky winner (as well as two runners-up) will also receive a best-selling Botanica design Turtle Mat, part of our Royal Horticultural Society Collection.

Botanica       Click here to find out more and to enter:

       Closing date for entries: 30/04/2014


Wheelbarrow final





Project Hatchling Innovation Design Competition: Win the Chance to Market Your Product with Turtle Mat

On March 24th, 2014 Bea wrote on the subject of Competition,Tales from Turtle Towers.

Project Hatchling Logo

This spring represents a great opportunity for anyone dreaming of seeing their idea become a commercial reality. Turtle Mat is giving one budding inventor, entrepreneur, or designer the chance to have their idea brought to life. Entrants can submit any innovative product idea that they think would be a great match with the Turtle Mat product range.

As an industry-leader, here at Turtle Mat we are looking to extend our consumer offering and share our expertise. As part of the deal, the winner will have the chance to enter into an exclusive arrangement with us and market their product through Turtle Mat, both directly and as part of our nationwide retailer network.

The Project Hatchling Team

We have also joined forces with D2M Innovation, Coller IP, and Brand Refinery, so the winner will receive full support to develop, protect, market and sell their product, as well as receive widespread PR and media coverage.

The competition opens April 1st 2014 and runs throughout the month of April. After the deadline, twenty candidates will be shortlisted and a final ten will be selected to pitch their ideas to the competition panel, “Dragon’s Den” style.

As our Commercial Director Susan Leaver explains, the competition is an exciting part of our 20th anniversary celebrations: “Turtle Mats are designed and made in the UK and we are passionate about supporting British entrepreneurship. When the Turtle Mat was launched 20 years ago it was seen as an innovation of its day. We want to impart the marketing skills and retail knowledge we have gained over the years combined with the expertise of our project partners, to give the next big idea the platform to succeed.

“We aren’t necessarily looking for a completed concept and would welcome applicants to enter even if their idea was in the early stages of development. That is the benefit of having our project partners on hand, they will be able to support and help develop it into a highly successful consumer product.”

The competition is free to enter and up to three entries can be made per entrant. This is open to those aged 18 & over.

For more information and to submit your entry, visit the Project Hatchling website here:

A Day in the Life of a Working Dog

On February 21st, 2014 Bea wrote on the subject of Paws for Thought.

With Crufts just around the corner, the nation’s top show dogs are busy preparing themselves for what might be the biggest moment of their careers. These hardworking dogs deserve every award that comes their way, but what about the everyday hard-working dogs that aren’t up on stage? In celebration of all the amazing work that dogs in the UK are doing for so many people, we spoke to a select few to find out what they really do, what makes them tick, and how they got to where they are today. When you’re done, why not check out our range of pet mats?


JJ Playing DominoJJ had a rough start to life. However, after being homeless for some time and going through a couple of unsuccessful re-homings, he began a glittering career as a Pets as Therapy dog. Since then he has brought joy to everyone he has met and discovered a hidden talent for dominos:

Likes: Going to work, cuddly toys, playing, and treats

Dislikes: Having a bath

What are your day-to-day duties?

As I work in a centre where the people who use the service are all adults who have disabilities including those with dementia, autism, learning or physical disabilities and mental health issues, my role is to be a calming influence and let clients in ABLE stroke and cuddle me. Sitting with individuals if they are sad or upset, playing fetch with them, doing tricks and playing dominoes

Quote 1Did you need any special training to become a therapy dog?

I did have to pass a test to become a PAT dog.  This entailed meeting an assessor in a very busy and noisy supermarket car park where he watched me interact with strangers, he made loud and sudden noises to see if I reacted in a negative way and gave me a treat to make sure I didn’t grab.

What has been the proudest moment of your career?

Being a finalist in the PAT Dog of the Year 2013 at Crufts was a great experience because not only did I get to strut my stuff in the centre ring and tell everyone what a fab job I have but I got a trophy and a rosette too and Katie my owner or as I prefer to call her, my friend, got a cheque for £100. I also got to stay in a hotel. Crufts was brilliant but I think my proudest moment was being chosen to be photographed by Rankin the celebrated Photographer for a photo shoot for the Dogs Trust who I am very fond of because they took care of me when I had been found wandering the streets in a very sad state, undernourished and wounded. The photos and article were in the Sunday Mail You magazine.  I was very happy to be an ambassador for the Dogs Trust.

What on-the-job perks do you enjoy most?

The biggest perk is actually having a job I love and everyone being happy to see me, and the cuddles and treats of course.

Billy and Carol Profile

Billy joined his partner Carol as a young pup. After showing great promise in his early training, he was able to undergo intensive training with Support Dogs and become a fully qualified support dog himself:

Likes: Squeaky toys, picking strawberries, sleeping under the duvet, emptying the washing machine, going to the Support Dogs training centre and getting lots of cuddles all day long.

Dislikes: Getting up before lunchtime, going out in the cold or rain, people who don’t look where they’re going, being picked up and having my ears played with.

What are your day-to-day duties?

I usually wake my partner Carol up at 9 am to remind her to take her medication, then fetch her slippers, pull the quilt off her and give her a big sloppy kiss. Carol has a form of chronic fatigue, arthritis and problems with mobility. I help her dress, fetch the post, let the cats in and out, find the phone when it rings, do the laundry, tidy up after the cats and any other tasks she asks me to do. When we are going out, I fetch the keys and her shoes, then I look after her whilst we are out, accompanying her everywhere she goes.Quote 2

When we return home, I help her unload the shopping, open and close the doors, turn the lights on or off and then make sure she gets to bed safely at the end of the day.

This means Carol doesn’t have to rely on other people to look after her.

What attributes do you consider important for your role as a support dog?

Patience is important, especially when we’re out in public and people keep stroking me and pulling my ears or tail. I must be focused, as many people do not know they shouldn’t distract an Assistance Dog. It’s very easy to be distracted from my work when people are trying to get my attention but I must ignore them and concentrate on my partner. I also need to be able to adapt quickly – one minute I’m working with my jacket on, then the minute I could be doing task work in the house or, when my jacket is removed, chasing tennis balls and playing with other dogs in the park.

Most of all, I need to be able to enjoy life as being a Support Dog is a lot of fun!

What training is involved to become a support dog?

Before I started my career with Support Dogs, Carol took me to puppy class and made sure I was well socialised out in the community. This gave me a good start in life and it is something I recommend to all puppies out there.

When I reached around 18 months old, I started going to Support Dogs training centre in Sheffield to start training with the big guys. It was a bit daunting at first seeing all the big dogs who knew what they were doing, but all the staff made me feel very welcome and gave me lots of cuddles. The training was great fun and we played lots of games. They soon taught me how to behave like a professional in public, how to solve problems and how to do the tasks that my partner needed help with. It was all so exciting and I made lots of great friends. After a few weeks, Carol came for her training and I could show her everything I’d learnt. She didn’t learn as fast as me but eventually she made the grade too and I received my Support Dogs blue jacket. When I put it on, Carol said it was the proudest moment of her life.

(It cost Support Dogs around £20,000 to train me to look after Carol and they rely on donations. So thank you to everyone who donated money to the charity towards the cost of my training.)

Who is your dog role model?

This is an easy question for me. It’s every other Support Dog, Assistance Dog or working dog that I have met along my journey. They are all heroes in my eyes, just like all the people at Support Dogs.

Ulli Profile

An established Canine Partner, Ulli’s secret to a long and rewarding career has been being lucky enough to do something he truly loves and getting the work/play balance right.

Likes: Being with my human partner, working for her, going out on long walks

Dislikes: Not being with my partner, the little small dogs that run through my legs when out on walks, people who try to distract me when I’m working even though it says on my jacket ‘Please Don’t Distract Me’

What are your day-to-day duties?

First thing, I get up on the bed for morning cuddles. I have my partner wrapped under my paws!! I help her get up out of bed. Then off I go out to toilet in my own patch, before coming back in to get a bowl out of the cupboard so as I can have my breakfast. After that it depends on what we get up to.  If we go shopping I help get items off the shelves; if doing the washing I help get in and out Quote 3of machine taking items out for her. I look after my partner; if she drops anything I pick it up and give it to her.  I fetch the post when it arrives. I love to fetch her slippers – that’s fun, and I get the phone.  Often she forgets when she is resting to get the phone so I just think “oh not again” and go get it for her! On a more serious note if she was to fall I go into emergency mode and will get the phone or if I have to I can activate the lifeline button to raise the alarm.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I had to think about this for a while and nothing is too challenging. I just love doing what I do helping my partner.

You’re a Golden Doodle, which other breeds have the right traits to become a Canine Partner?

I am a Golden Doodle so other gundog breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Lab cross Retriever, Flat Coat Retriever, Golden Doodles (like me) and Labradoodles. We are all at the right height and build for working with wheelchair users and we have soft mouths and love to retrieve items and bring them to our partners.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Lazing around the house in my various beds, playing with my toys; I might be ten but I am still a pup at heart. Having a long sleep after my walks. I love it when I get my stuffed bone and have good chew on that. But most of all I love being invited up on the chair to have cuddles, watching some TV… Oh ok, by that time I am usually fast asleep snoring!

Picked because of her mum and dad’s fine pedigree, excellent health history and temperament, Poppy was trained by the Seeing Dogs Alliance to become the experienced guide dog she is today.Poppy profile

Likes: Working, pleasing her handler Sally, love and praise

Dislikes: Vehicles left blocking pavements

What are your day-to-day duties?

Sally lives in a busy place and goes to work each day. I need to guide her through very crowded areas and cope with all sorts of obstacles.

How old were you when you began training to be a seeing dog?

At six weeks old, I went to live for twelve months with a puppy socialiser. After being introduced to all sorts of strange things like buses and trains during my first year, I then started proper training Quote 4as a guide and qualified with my blind owner when I was just two years old.

What advice would you give to puppies aspiring to enter your field?

Any puppy wanting to become a guide dog needs to be friendly to all people, sound in all conditions, and must enjoy being a working dog. Checks will be made to ensure they are as healthy as possible because the work is so important.

Will you ever retire from your job?

I hope to work for about seven to eight years and then I’ve been told I will be retired and live as a much loved pet dog with Sally.  She hopes to then have another guide dog to continue my work.

Sera Profile

At only 12 months old, the enthusiastic Sera is currently studying on the job to become to become an assistance dog, with the help of DOG A.I.D.

Likes: Mum! Tennis balls, my frisbee, playing “find me” in the garden with mum and her friends, clicker training, woodland walks, mud and water… LIFE!

Dislikes: Having my nails trimmed, carrots, heavy rain especially with wind

What are your day-to-day-duties?

At the moment my duties involve making Mum smile as much as I can, she seems to really love it when I’m hanging on her every word but also I’ve noticed that she can’t quite hide her amusement when I gently remove her mobile from her lap and carry it off (it gets far too much attention!) I’m just starting to realise though that I get her to smile more when I bring it back and give it to her.

Every day I have home schooling in the form of games (in between playtime and sleep) from Mum and her helpers. A nice lady from Dog A.I.D. comes to visit sometimes and shows Mum how to add to our repertoire.Quote 5

A very important job for me is cuddling up to Mum at night to keep her warm.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Seeing the joy in Mum’s eyes and hearing it in her voice when I get a new task right or am quicker at one we’ve already been practising.

Did you go to school or did you train on the job?

I came to live with Mum at 7 weeks old when she was sad. She said she’d lost a very dear furry friend recently who she’d trained with the help of something called Dog A.I.D. and that I was destined to fill her paw prints. Over the last 9 months she has shown me loads of different sights, sounds, creatures and environments. I figured that if this kind lady was happy, confident and calm in the company of these things, it was ok to just look and learn. Mum says we’ve a long way to go before I earn the right to wear the red Dog A.I.D. jacket in public but I’ve been honoured to be allowed to try one on just for the camera lady and I look forward to having my own and an ADUK ID book in the not too distant future.

How do you feel towards cats?

Urrm fascinated at the moment but the visitors in the garden won’t stand still long enough for me to investigate.

Do you know any hard working, successful dogs? Let us know about them on our Facebook and Twitter!

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

On January 20th, 2014 Bea wrote on the subject of In the Home.

2014 is going to be a busy year here at Turtle Mat so, like many others at this time of year, we’ve been thinking hard about our new year’s resolutions.

After pondering about what we can do to become more organised and find the time to appreciate the smaller things in life, we decided to make our new year’s resolutions for in the home. Creating a space you enjoy where everything can run smoothly and that you’re proud to share with friends and family is something many of us think about – why not make it your goal to realise these ideas in 2014?

We’ve come up with a couple of home resolutions of our own, such as no more muddy paws in the house and to pay attention to our gardens all year round. Although we also know that making resolutions that you will stick to is a task in itself! We spoke to some experts in interior design and home organisation to find out their advice for creating New Year’s resolutions for the home that you will want to keep.


Rachael - Interior ThinkingWhether it’s a quick spruce up you’re looking for or a complete revamp, Rachael from interiors, home décor and lifestyle blog Interior Thinking, gave us her thoughts on giving your home a fresh look for the New Year:

What would you say is the smallest change someone can make to their home interiors that will have the biggest impact?

It has to be either lighting or soft furnishings. Lighting is so important for creating the right mood and feel in a home. By switching from overhead lights to ambient lamps and vice versa, it can completely change the look of an interior. In a similar way, soft furnishings are the easiest and one of the cheapest ways you can completely refresh an interior. Simply by adding a few choice cushions and throws you can transform a scheme.

How can a home project be broken down into manageable goals?Living Room

I like to break an interiors project down in to two main areas – base projects and accent projects. Base projects are larger things such as walls, floors and large furniture. Accent projects would be your lighting and soft furnishings. When decorating a space, always start with your base projects – they act as the foundations, and you can’t build a successful scheme without them. By looking at a project in this way, it is easier to identify manageable goals and not get carried away!

What is your personal new year’s resolution for your home?

I want to create more of my own pieces for my home. Although I love finding a home décor bargain, I love making things myself, and I think that it’s the best way to really add personality to an interior. Similarly, instead of just buying new things I want to approach my existing pieces in a different way in order to create a new look with no extra cost!

For more inspiration, view Rachael’s recent post on statement furnishings:


Chrissy - Organise My HouseChrissy’s blog Organise My House is dedicated to organisation in both the home & in life. She gave us her advice on how you can get your 2014 journey off to a better, more organised start:

What would you say is the biggest step someone can take in the home to become more organised?

There are 2 big steps to really get you organised (and stay that way) – and they are as follows:-

Firstly, set up your home to work for you – create zones or areas where certain things are done. For example, this could be that your kitchen is split into eating / cooking / socialising / baking / food areas, or your guest bedroom has zones for out of season clothes / wrapping paper, cards and presents / spare bedding. Whatever works for you – but have a specific place for everything you need and do in your home. That way you will know what roughly goes where, and you will find you immediately stop lots of clutter as clutter tends to happen more when we have to bring things from room to room to do something.

Secondly – create habits that work for you.

Getting organised isn’t a thing that you do in a day and then you stay organised for life – it’s about setting up systems and routines that become part of your daily habits – so much so that you don’t have to think about them anymore.

How can we create resolutions that we will want to stick with?Living Room2

I don’t believe that resolutions by themselves work. They are usually things that are attached to quick fixes after over indulging at Christmas – such as losing weight, getting fit, eating more healthily. But more often than not they are too vague and your heart’s not really in it.

What I suggest is to create goals instead. Goals are more tangible as they can be specific and have a time limit on them. Split your goals up into 12 equal parts and then you have a mini goal for each month of the year. Having smaller goals to aim for means you can start to track yourself and stay motivated to continue. Resolutions tend to fail because you don’t have the same accountability.

What is your personal goal for your home over the coming year?

I want to create more time for having fun with the family. We don’t do too badly at the moment, but it would be nice to have more!

To achieve this I intend to get more organised (yes, even more so!). The more organised we are as a family, the less time we need to spend at the weekends and in the evenings trying to catch up with errands, jobs and chores – so the more time we get to do more interesting things.

For more ideas, view Chrissy’s recent post on setting goals for the New Year:


Whether you’re facing a year of big change and challenges or simply want to focus your time on doing the things you never seem to find time for, setting new year’s resolutions for the home can be both the boost you need and great fun at the same time.

What are your resolutions for 2014? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook or Twitter!


Announcing the Turtle Mat Christmas Blogger Challenge Winner

On December 16th, 2013 Bea wrote on the subject of Competition.

TM Comp

We’re thrilled to announce the winner of our Christmas blogger challenge, who will receive a sold out Deer Forest Christmas Mat and a Virginia Hayward Season’s Greetings Basket.


As the first blogger competition we have hosted here at Turtle Mat, we were overwhelmed by the quality of all of your entries. So much so we’ve created a Christmas Pinterest board especially to show off your moodboards – with a few more bits and pieces of inspiration for good measure!


After some tough deliberation, we’re delighted to announce that our winner is Antonia from Tidy Away Today with her welcoming Christmas living room.


Inspired by our own Winter Wonderland Mat and the stunning work of artist Su Blackwell, we loved the magical Narnia-esque theme. We couldn’t resist the soft cosy touches, snowy decorations and enchanting tealight holders – truly a warm Christmas welcome!

TM Moodboard


Congratulations to Antonia, whose prize will be making its way to her in time for Christmas, and a big thank you to everyone who took part!


Turtle Mat Christmas Blogger Challenge

On November 29th, 2013 Bea wrote on the subject of Competition.

The competition has now ended – thank you for entering!

For many of us, decorating our homes is part of what Christmas is all about. Whether we have relatives visiting, friends popping over, children coming home, or just want to make things more cosy for ourselves, Christmas is the time to do something special. Giving a warm welcome can be done in many ways and here at Turtle Mat we want to hear what you love to do.

TM Comp

We’re offering the chance to win one of our sold out Deer Forest Christmas Mats and a Virginia Hayward Season’s Greetings Basket in our Christmas Blogger Challenge.

The Challenge:

Create your perfect Christmas theme – it could be for your doorway, living room, or dining room – and tell us how you would make your home warm and welcoming.

To enter, you need to:

  • Choose your theme: “A welcoming entrance” “A welcoming living room” or “A welcoming dining room”



  • Post your Christmas moodboard on your blog along with a short description telling us what you think makes a warm welcome


  • Leave a comment here with a link to your blog post.


Here’s some inspiration to get you started…

Living Room TM Xmas dining table TM Xmas Doorway

Due to the nature of the prize, this competition is open to UK bloggers aged 18 and over only. T&Cs apply.

Christmas Blogger Challenger 2013 – Terms and Conditions/Rules

  1. You must meet the required challenge outlined to be entered into this competition. The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. (or companies working for the Turtle Mat Company Ltd.) will use your personal details for the purposes outlined above/below and as outlined in our Privacy Policy.
  2. The competition closes at 12pm on Friday, 13th December 2013. The winner will be notified by The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. by 12pm on Monday, 16th December 2013, via the details supplied when entering the competition (see above) and we will then announce the winner on our blog.
  3. Entries must be submitted by posting a link to a published blog post hosted by you with your mood board showing how you would create a “warm welcome” for Christmas; this moodboard must include a Christmas Turtle Mat to be considered a valid entry. Entries submitted by any other method will not be accepted.
  4. Unless otherwise stated, competitions are only open to UK residents/bloggers only over the age of 18 at the closing date. The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. reserves the right to request proof of age.
  5. By entering this competition you agree to grant The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. the right to reference your entry in all media for all purposes in connection with the competition.
  6. The competition winner will be contacted personally by midday on Monday, 16th December 2013. In the event of their being no reply from the contact details supplied by the winning blogger The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. reserves the right to offer the prize to a runner up or withhold it for use in another competition.
  7. The prize – one ‘Deer Forest’ design Christmas Turtle Mat and one Virginia Hayward Season’s Greetings Christmas hamper must be taken as stated and cannot be deferred. There will be no cash alternatives.
  8. The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. does not accept any responsibility for late or lost entries.
  9. Entrants must comply with all rules to be eligible for the prize. Ineligible entries or entries made fraudulently will be automatically disqualified.
  10. This competition is not open to employees of the Turtle Mat Company Ltd. or any person directly or indirectly involved in the organisation or running of the competition, or their direct family members.
  11. The Turtle Mat Company’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  12. The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. reserves the right to cancel the competition at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, and if circumstances arise outside of its control.
  13. Entrants will be deemed to have accepted these rules and to agree to be bound by them when entering this competition. Entrants may be asked to take part in post competition publicity.
  14. No purchase necessary.
  15. This agreement is governed by the laws of England and Wales.

WIN – Discover Dogs Show Tickets

On November 6th, 2013 Bea wrote on the subject of Competition.

r Dogs Competition 2013

Prize Draw Terms and Conditions, Rules

If you are one of the lucky six winners of our Discover Dogs prize draw, we will contact you via Facebook message associated with  your entry(supplied via and ask for your full name and address in order to send you your prize on the afternoon of Thursday, 7th November 2013 to arrive on Friday 8th November 2013.

Only the Turtle Mat Company Ltd. and companies working for the Turtle Mat Company Ltd. have access to the details you provide and we do not share them with anybody else for their marketing purposes, without your permission to do so.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You are providing your information to The Turtle Mat Company and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used in accordance with the following competition rules and privacy policy.

  1. You must provide the Turtle Mat Company Ltd. with the required details if you wish to enter this competition. The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. (or companies working for the Turtle Mat Company Ltd.) will use your personal details for the purposes outlined above and as outlined in our Privacy Policy.
  2. The prize draw closes at 11am on Thursday, 7th November 2013. The six prize winners will be notified by The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. by 2pm on Thursday, 7th November 2013, via the Facebook details supplied when entering the draw (see above).
  3. Entries must be submitted by liking the Turtle Mat Facebook page and the Discover Dogs competition post on the Turtle Mat Facebook page and an extra entry can be obtained by sharing the competition post via Facebook . Entries submitted by any other method will not be accepted.
  4. Unless otherwise stated, competitions are only open to UK residents over the age of 18 at the closing date. The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. reserves the right to request proof of age.
  5. By entering this competition you agree to grant The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. the right to reference your entry in all media for all purposes in connection with the competition.
  6. The competition winner will be contacted personally. In the event of their being no reply from the contact details (Facebook) supplied by the winning entrants The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. reserves the right to offer the prize to a runner up or withhold it for use in another competition.
  7. The prizes – six pairs of tickets to the Discover Dogs Show in Earl’s Court, London of  must be taken as stated and cannot be deferred. There will be no cash alternatives.
  8. The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. does not accept any responsibility for late or lost entries.
  9. Entrants must comply with all rules to be eligible for the prize. Ineligible entries or entries made fraudulently will be automatically disqualified.
  10. This competition is not open to employees of the Turtle Mat Company Ltd. or any person directly or indirectly involved in the organisation or running of the competition, or their direct family members.
  11. The Turtle Mat Company’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  12. The Turtle Mat Company Ltd. reserves the right to cancel the prize draw at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, and if circumstances arise outside of its control.
  13. Entrants will be deemed to have accepted these rules and to agree to be bound by them when entering this competition. Entrants may be asked to take part in post competition publicity.
  14. No purchase necessary.
  15. This agreement is governed by the laws of England and Wales.


Getting Your Garden Ready for Winter

On October 30th, 2013 Bea wrote on the subject of In The Garden,The Great Outdoors.

After such a glorious summer allowing plenty of opportunity to spend time outside, many of us will have spent ample time out in the garden getting our hands dirty. As one of the warmest summers on record and in stark contrast to last year some of us might have even embarked on our first foray into gardening.

No amount of sunshine this summer has halted the sudden chill in the air however, so as winter rapidly approaches how can we prevent all our hard work being undone and keep our gardens beautiful over the colder months? Whether you’re wondering how to protect your veg patch and keep it fertile for next spring, pondering how to best safeguard your florals, or simply keep your garden beautiful and full of life, we spoke to four experts who gave us their tips on getting your garden ready for winter.

Of course, here at Turtle Mat, our biggest tip for getting ready for winter is to make sure that mud and dirt stay outdoors where they belong. The wetter colder weather makes having a good quality indoor mat and hard-wearing outdoor mat more important than ever! Read on to see what our experts recommend:

Autumn Gardening

Elspeth BriscoeThere are lots of steps gardeners should be taking now to ensure that all of this summer’s effort isn’t lost. Elspeth Briscoe from MyGardenSchool shared her top tips for this time of year:

What steps would you recommend for gardeners at this time of year?

Autumn is a great time for those who love wielding the clippers – all that summer growth will need a trim back now to keep the garden tidy. But many off-cuts will strike well in the humidity right now so think about planting some of your cuttings into pots.

Remove plant debris and diseased leaves from flowers and vegetable patches. Dig up the annuals – plants that last only a season – and put them on the compost heap. Winter gives cuttings and leaves a chance to break down and produce nutrient-rich compost, which will be ready for boosting the garden in the new year.

Flowering perennials – plants that spring up year after year from their roots – should be cut back. Remove yellowing or dead leaves or flowers before rot develops, as well as any weeds hidden under the plant foliage.

How can you make sure the work you put in this year will still show by spring?

For a lovely lawn next spring, start to mow less frequently and raise the height of the grass as the growth rate slows down. Scarify your lawn by raking out dead grass and moss that has built up over the summer. Follow this with applying a high-potassium autumn lawn feed, which will release the correct balance of nutrients throughout the winter.

When there is no more need for garden furniture, store it in the shed or garage to protect it from the winter weather and allow it to dry out. If you can’t do this, cover it with a tough waterproof sheet securely fixed down, taking care to allow plenty of air to circulate so that the furniture is not damp all winter. Wooden items, such as benches or pergolas, may benefit from a treatment of chemical preservative.


Winter in the Veg Patch

The seasons may be changing and temperatures dropping as we hurtle towards the final furlong of 2013, but by no means will vegetable growers be packing away their forks and spades just yet. Lucy of the Smallest Smallholding showed us Lucy smallest smallholdingthere’s still plenty to be getting on with in November in the veg patch:

What steps would you recommend for home-growers at this time of year?

Before the frosts arrive, it’s probably best to pull up the last of your more tender root vegetables and store them. Whilst some carrots can be left in the ground if covered properly, storing in sand will help to preserve them perfectly, giving you a winters’ supply of home-grown veg. Celeriac can be covered with straw until later in the season, leeks can be harvested into winter, and parsnips will actually benefit from the frosts. A frost converts the starch into sugars in the parsnip, making the root taste sweeter.

There are many vegetables and winter crops that can be sown or left to over winter – garlic can be planted in late October/early November, ready for harvesting in early summer. Brassicas – including Brussels sprouts, spring cabbages and broccoli – will be quite happy left in situ, but will need covering to protect them from foraging pigeons! Taller brassicas will also need staking, as gusty weather is more persistent at this time of year.  Some autumn onion sets can go in during late October and early November for an earlier harvest next year.

Lastly, make sure you pack away any vegetable growing tools and sundries to protect them from the harsh elements.

How can you keep the ground fertile over the winter months and prepared for spring?

During the milder temperatures of mid-late autumn, it’s best to weed any empty areas of your plot, digging in some well-rotted manure and organic matter. This will break down over winter, helping to stabilise the soil structure and prepare beds for the following spring.

As the frosts and snow begin to arrive, there’s not much you need to be doing with your soil. In fact, the frosts, snow and ice will do a lot of the work for you; freezing the soil into clumps and then breaking it down when the temperatures begin to pick up again. With the addition of organic matter, this process helps to create that crumbly texture of loamy soil.

If your compost heap is open to the elements, you can help keep your compost ‘active’ over the winter by insulating the compost with layers of ‘brown’ matter like straw, leaves and dead plant cuttings – leave turning the pile until spring. The outside of the heap can also be insulated with old compost bags (with holes for ventilation!), cardboard or weed suppressant membrane.

Put in the work now, and you’ll reap the rewards come next year’s harvests.


Keeping your Garden in Bloom

Helen EllisonAfter a long, hot summer of being surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers, bare trees and empty flower beds is a rather gloomy prospect. Experienced garden designer Helen Ellison of Floral & Hardy gave us some recommendations on how to keep your garden in bloom, even in the winter:

Which plants would you recommend to plant now?

Now is the ideal time to plant spring flowering bulbs such as Daffodils, Tulips, Convallaria (Lily of the Valley), Crocus, Galanthus (Snowdrops), Fritillaries and Hyacinths, as they will have time to develop roots before the soil freezes. Choose locations that will have full sun come spring.

For winter interest, pots and hanging baskets are ideal. Winter flowering Erica, Gaultheria Mucronata, Skimmia ‘Rubella’, Cyclamen, winter flowering Pansies, small-leaved and trailing Ivy are all great options for a splash of winter colour.

Aside from these, autumn is also a good time to plant deciduous hedges, shrubs and trees. Bare-rooted specimens are particularly good value. Evergreens are best left until the spring though.Flowers

How can these be best maintained over the colder months?

Once planted, bulbs should need no maintenance. Once the flowers have finished in the spring, leave the foliage on the plant for at least six weeks so that nutrients can be drawn back into the bulbs for next year.

In order to keep winter-interest planting looking good, simply dead-head faded flowers and take off any dead or damaged foliage. Remember to water pots in porches, etc.

If we get heavy snow, shake it off the branches of shrubs and trees in order to prevent damage.

Are there any actions that should be taken during the winter in preparation for spring to keep things beautiful?

After all leaves have fallen, be sure to rake them up and either place on compost heap in pierced black bags (to make leaf mould which can be used as a mulch), or get rid of them. This not only makes the garden look tidy but also reduces places for slugs and snails to hide.

Protect any tender plants from frost either by putting them in a greenhouse, or by mulching with straw. Covering the soil in this way will protect the roots of your plants.

Try to stay off planting beds and lawns in very wet weather so as not to compact the soil.


Accommodating Wildlife

Harsh weather can be a challenge for local wildlife and birds often seek refuge in our gardens. Clare Simm, of the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden BirdWatch Project, offered us some great advice on how gardeners can help to support Clare Simmgarden birds during the coldest months:

What steps would you recommend for gardeners at this time of year to make their gardens bird-friendly over the winter?

Winter is a good time for pruning your trees and shrubs but don’t cut them all back – leave some to provide shelter and potential roosting sites for smaller birds. Birdboxes are also used in the winter to roost so, if they are unoccupied, make sure you’ve cleared out any old nests. If you don’t have nestboxes, now is a good time to put them up – many birds use the winter months to have a look for potential nesting sites for the spring.

Are there any winter plant choices that would encourage birds?

Winter BerriesThis is a great time of year for planting for birds. Fruit and berry-bearing trees/bushes will provide food for birds during the winter as well as providing cover all year round. Native species that are good for birds include Rowan, Holly, Dog Rose, Hawthorn and Elder. Non-native species that are good include Cotoneaster and Pyracantha.

What can gardeners do during the winter months to support bird populations?

Naturally available food can be scarce during the winter so help birds by putting out supplementary bird food. To attract aGarden Robin range of species, put out a range of different foods including seed mixes, peanuts (either chopped or in a peanut feeder with mesh) and fat cakes. Remember to keep your feeders clean to prevent the spread of disease between birds.

Water is very important during the cold months as a lot of natural sources freeze over. Provide a clean birdbath and make sure to break the ice if it freezes over.


How do you get your garden ready to survive the frost and freeze? Do you keep your garden beautiful over winter? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook or Twitter!


On October 15th, 2013 Bea wrote on the subject of Competition,The Great Outdoors.

National TrustTurtle Mat Competition Banner



To celebrate the launch of our new luxury designs in partnership with the National Trust, we are offering one lucky winner £150 worth of National Trust Holiday Cottage vouchers.

The lucky winner (as well as two runners-up) will also receive a NEW Formal Leaf design Turtle Mat, part of our National Trust Collection.

Formal Leaf Turtle Mat       Click here to find out more and to enter:

       Closing date for entries: 30/11/2013urtle Mat Compeition Banner






Muddy Paws – A Dog Owner’s Guide to Keeping Your Home Clean & Tidy

On September 12th, 2013 Bea wrote on the subject of Paws for Thought.

As autumn approaches, the evenings get wetter and paws get muddier. Keeping muddy paws under control can be a challenge to say the least. Having a dirt trapper pet mat is a great place to start but what else can you do to keep your home clean, tidy and muddy paw-free? We asked some dog owners for their top tips.


AceAce the Lab mix & Lindsay from That Mutt

“Ace is a Lab mix and loves to dive into mud or water any chance he gets, so having at least one towel in the car is a must. The easiest way to get him clean is to use the hose outside while standing on pavement or concrete. If we stand on the grass, the water just creates more mud and more mess! Another option is to quickly wipe each paw with a non-toxic hand wipe. This may not be the best for getting mud out of the nails, but this is a simple way to clean his paws.

I use a door mat as a “holding bay” for my dog. He knows to sit on the mat and wait for me while I get a towel to wipe his paws. It’s very important for all dogs to learn to obey a solid sit and stay command. I practice this every day with Ace. He knows to wait until I say “OK,” even if his paws are not muddy.

While quite a few dogs will sit on command, not all dogs will sit and remain sitting until released. I highly suggest all dog owners work with their dogs every day to teach the dogs that “sit” means “remain sitting until I say OK.” You could use whatever release word you want such as “free!” or “All done.” You also want the dog to learn that just because you walk away, it doesn’t mean the dog is allowed to follow you. Obviously this is a greater challenge for certain dogs, and you have to start small and slowly build the dog’s self-control over time. Sometimes it helps to tether the lead to a door knob.

It’s also important to begin handling your dog’s feet every day so he gets used to having his feet touched and cleaned. A lot of dogs don’t like having their feet handled, and they’ll try to get away. Some will make a game out of it by dancing around and mouthing on your hands. So, it’s very important to remain calm and reward the dog for calm behaviour.”


Alfie the Entlebucher Mountain Dog & Linda at Alfie’s BlogAlfir

“Muddy paws are one of Alfie’s specialties. I never stop Alfie from running in the water or mud; he just loves it so much.

We have a Turtle Mat door mat, and it is great during the mud season. We always have a bath towel lying near the door so we can towel him off directly when we get inside. My mum gave us a microfibre towel glove that’s been really useful too, and it takes up less space than a regular bath towel. Apart from that, I simply close the doors to the bedroom and living room and wait for the dog to dry up!

Another problem with mud, that doesn’t involve the paws, is the shaking! As soon as we step inside Alfie wants to shake out the rain water and mud from his coat, leaving a lovely splatter pattern on the walls. So as a dog owner, next time we paint the hall – we will make sure to use the most durable and washable wall paint available.”


KolchakKolchak the Puggle & Jodi at Kol’s Notes

“We see more than our share of muddy paws through the long wet winters. Combine our excess mud with the fact that I have a painfully white apartment (white carpet, white walls, white tiles) and it could be a recipe for disaster. Luckily we’ve learned a few easy ways to cope.

1. Have a HUGE absorbent mat by your front door. You get bonus points for choosing something mud-coloured. The mat isn’t so much to soak up the mud, more to keep it from being tracked all over. We also consider our mat to be the “holding bay” while we deal with the muddy mess.

2. If you have a long hair dog, get some extra-absorbent automotive towels. They’re the BEST at soaking up all that water in their foot fur.

3. Keep a pack of organic, unscented baby wipes squirrelled away by the door. Once you’ve wrung out all the excess water, they’re great for wiping the last of that stubborn mud off fluffy paws and they’re all you need to clean up short haired paws.”


Snoopy the Bearded Collie therapy dog & Annette at Snoopy’s DogblogSnoopy

“I take Snoopy running every morning and when we get back I hose down his paws and then dry them with a towel in the garage before letting him in the house. Before we go on a visit I give him a good grooming which takes 1-2 hours, then I put him in the car and also bring his brush for any last minute touch ups.

We were also thinking recently of putting a spray water bottle in the car to deal with any mess on Snoopy’s paws whilst we’re out and don’t have access to a hose.

We do have mats outside our doors, but actually in addition to paw dirt Snoopy has things that get attached to his long coat and hitch a ride into the house where they promptly fall off, so that’s probably our biggest challenge but between the two of us we take care of it. Snoopy normally shakes most of it off in the garden or pulls at it with his teeth to get it off; I usually brush them off with my hands or follow him around the house picking them up as he drops them. We also have an animal vacuum!”


What are your top tips for keeping muddy paws under control? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook or Twitter!

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