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Action Plan: Nigel Colborn’s essential jobs for your garden this week

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Action Plan: Nigel Colborn’s essential jobs for your garden this week

  • Nigel Colborn says it’s time to sow seeds for spring and early summer biennials
  • These include forget-me-nots, wallflowers, Sweet Williams, foxgloves, pansies
  • British gardening expert said if sow Sweet Williams, they’ll flower next summer

Now is the time to sow seeds for spring and early summer biennials.

These include forget-me-nots, wallflowers (pictured), Sweet Williams, foxgloves, pansies and more. They’re all easy to grow from seed.

So if you’ve bought them as plants in the past, try some from seed instead this year. All you need is an outdoor area of soil which is usable as a seed-bed. Work the soil down to crumbly, friable consistency. Mark out the area and then sow your seeds in rows, thinly and not too deeply. If the weather turns dry, irrigate the soil to keep it moist.

When the seedlings come up, it may be necessary to thin them out.

Nigel Colborn says it's time to sow seeds for spring and early summer biennials These include forget-me-nots, wallflowers (pictured), Sweet Williams, foxgloves, pansies

Nigel Colborn says it’s time to sow seeds for spring and early summer biennials These include forget-me-nots, wallflowers (pictured), Sweet Williams, foxgloves, pansies

If there’s enough space, you can transplant your ‘thinnings’ to provide more young plants. Allow the plants to develop during the rest of summer.

At any time between early September and late October, dig up your young plants, and move them to their final homes. They can be potted up in containers or bedded out — perhaps with tulips or other bulbs — for a spring display. Or plant them in a border.

If you sow Sweet Williams, those will flower next summer, rather than spring.

ENJOY A BERRY GOOD SHOW  

After such a stop-start year, dessert gooseberry varieties are ripening later than usual. If you want large, extra-sweet fruits for eating raw, they could still benefit from thinning.

Dessert gooseberry varieties (pictured) are ripening later than usual. If you want large, extra-sweet fruits for eating raw, they could still benefit from thinning

Dessert gooseberry varieties (pictured) are ripening later than usual. If you want large, extra-sweet fruits for eating raw, they could still benefit from thinning

Remove alternate fruits alongt he branches. Those will cook beautifully or may even be ripe enough to eat raw. But if you leave a gap between each fruit, they will grow larger, sweeter and more luscious. Gather those when soft to the touch and in full colour

READER’S QUESTION  

We have a grape vine outside; the variety unknown but bearing tasty black fruits. This year, healthy seedlings have appeared, growing near the parent plant. Are these worth saving?

Mr F. Simpson, address supplied.

No harm in growing your baby vines on, but they’re probably of minimal value. They’ll flower when mature and could bear edible grapes. But those have little chance of being plump and delicious.

Named grape varieties result from years of breeding. To come true, they must be propagated by grafting or from cuttings.

PLANT OF THE WEEK: Giant Vipers Bugloss

In any  sunny garden you may notice plants with huge, three-metre flower spikes. These are crowded all summer with pretty blue flowers and are irresistible to bees. Each biennial plant flowers copiously for a long summer period. Self-sown seedlings usually follow and are easy to transplant. They may take two years to flower.

Giant Vipers Bugloss is related to our common wildflower, Viper’s Bugloss,

Echium vulgare. Native to the Canary Isles, its bizarre size results from an evolutionary quirk known as Ocean Island Gigantism. Island creatures can evolve to become larger than their continental relatives. Giant Galapagos tortoises and Komodo Dragons are examples. Among plants, the Canary Islands also have Sonchus, giant sow thistles, growing 8ft tall. 

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Bloom secures planning for London ultra-urban warehouse developments (GB)

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Bloom has secured planning consent for two developments in central London. The developments are located in Hackney and Brixton and are the first to be carried out by Bloom for its €290.4m (£250m) ultra-urban warehouse joint venture with Angelo Gordon to acquire and develop sites in central London. In Hackney, on a site by the A12 next to 331 Wick Road, Bloom will develop two units, totaling 14,045ft², designed by Michael Sparks Associates. Construction will start next month, with completion expected in April 2023. In Brixton, at 146-156 Brixton Hill and Units 5 & 6 Waterworks Road, Bloom will develop five units, totaling 35,360ft², designed by Chetwoods. Construction will start in September, with completion expected in August 2023.

 

Both developments will be targeting a BREEAM sustainability rating of ‘Excellent’ and an EPC rating of ‘A+’ in accord with Bloom’s core sustainability objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through construction and operational efficiency. The schemes will include extensive urban greening through the implementation of green walls, green roofs, increased landscaping, bird boxes, and insect hotels to significantly improve the biodiversity; renewable energy in the form of solar photovoltaic panels on the roofs; and lorry, car, and cycle EV charging points to encourage sustainable and active modes of transport as well as enhanced power capacity to accommodate future EV transport technologies.

 

Tom Davies, co-founder of Bloom, said: “Our first two planning consents represent an important milestone for the Bloom team, which is working hard to deliver high-quality and design-led industrial and logistics schemes in supply-constrained inner London sub-markets”.

 

Sam McGirr, co-founder of Bloom, said: “These planning consents for well-located sites give us the opportunity to meet the high demand for convenience and speed from businesses, such as F&B delivery, post and parcel, e-mobility, self-storage and urban logistics and consumers in the local communities”.

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Could equity release be used to help more younger homebuyers?

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Younger first-time buyers could be given more financial help from the Bank of Grandma and Grandad, through the use of improved equity release products, a new report suggests.

The document written by Tom McPhail, of consultancy The Lang Cat, claimed that younger buyers are missing out because older members of their family are unable to satisfactorily tap into their property wealth.

Mr McPhail said: ‘Releasing some of the equity in a property means older homeowners can choose when and how they share their wealth with younger generations.

‘An equity release by grandparents of say £20,000 now, could be transformational for a 20 something struggling to raise a deposit and get on the housing ladder but would make only a very modest dent to the value of the grandparent’s house.’

Releasing some of the equity in a property means older homeowners can choose when and how they share their wealth with younger generations, says new report

Releasing some of the equity in a property means older homeowners can choose when and how they share their wealth with younger generations, says new report

The report acknowledged that equity release has endured a poor reputation in the past after customers suffered ‘severe’ financial knocks.

The sector has been criticised for encouraging people to take on debt, particularly later on in life.

There has also been other concerns about equity release, such as customers falling into negative equity where the value of a property is less than the loan taken out against it when house prices fall.

The report suggested that while the equity release sector has since begun to put ‘its house in order’, it is ‘still not perfect’ and some regulatory safeguards need to be strengthened.

It called for several issues to be looked at, including early redemption charges on equity release products.

It said that most providers apply a simple sliding scale of charges, for example 10 per cent in year on to 1 per cent in year 10.

However, it claimed that some providers apply an early redemption charge based on prevailing gilt rates at that time, putting customers at an ‘unfair disadvantage’.

This is because the fees are not transparent as there is no way a customer can know in advance whether they’d be liable for a charge and if so, how much. 

In the past, customers have also fallen foul of the small print on their equity release loans when it comes to early-redemption penalties – such as couples who must pay an exit fee unless both of them need to go into care.

The report also raised questions about interest rates on equity release products. It said providers should be consistent with their lending criteria and not move the goalposts after customers have taken out a loan, as this can make it harder for them to access a top-up loan in the future, potentially forcing them to remortgage. 

Equity release products could help people access their property wealth to help younger members of their family onto the property ladder

Equity release products could help people access their property wealth to help younger members of their family onto the property ladder

The report argued that equity release products could help people access their property wealth to help younger members of their family onto the property ladder.

Mr McPhail added: ‘Raising a deposit has become an increasingly significant barrier to getting on the housing ladder, with increasing numbers of first-time buyers having to rely on financial help from older generations.

‘Releasing some of the equity in a property allows older homeowners to choose when and how they share their wealth with the younger generation.

‘This more targeted approach gives them greater control to use their assets to the maximum benefit at the point of need.’

Raising a deposit is a barrier to getting on the housing ladder, with increasing numbers of first-time buyers having to rely on financial help from older generations, says the report's author Tom McPhail

Raising a deposit is a barrier to getting on the housing ladder, with increasing numbers of first-time buyers having to rely on financial help from older generations, says the report’s author Tom McPhail

Equity release: How it works and advice

To help readers considering equity release, This is Money has partnered with Age Partnership+, independent advisers who specialise in retirement mortgages and equity release. 

Age Partnership+ compares deals across the whole of the market and their advisers can help you work out whether equity release is right for you – or whether there are better options, such as downsizing. 

Age Partnership+ advisers can also see if those with existing equity release deals can save money by switching. 

You can compare equity release rates and work out how much you could potentially borrow with This is Money’s new calculator powered by broker Age Partnership+.* 

 * Partner link

Jonathan Harris, of mortgage broker Forensic Property Finance, said: ‘Equity release has historically been viewed as a ‘murky’, high-risk sector, fuelled by minimal regulation, poorly-qualified advisers, only a handful of lenders and extortionately high interest rates.

‘Fast forward to today and we see a dramatically transformed sector, benefiting from strict regulation, highly-qualified advisers, multiple lenders and access to very competitive interest rates. 

‘Not surprisingly, equity release is now a viable and growing market for older borrowers looking to utilise the gains seen on property prices to bolster lifestyles, as well as pass on wealth to children when they need it.

‘Those considering equity release should make sure they understand the implications and involve family in any decision-making. It is always important to seek advice from suitably-qualified advisers.’

It comes as a separate report by Legal & General suggested that one in every £90 spent by retired Britons is funded by equity release.

It said that equity release funded an estimated £3billion in retirement spending last year, although it didn’t mentioned the money going to younger generations towards buying a property.

Instead, the report’s survey of 2,000 homeowners found that those with equity release have most frequently used the product to finance home improvements, at 26 per cent.

It said equity release is also being used to support costs such as medical expenses at 17 per cent, maintaining living standards in retirement at 16 per cent, and paying off personal debt at 16 per cent, for example paying off interest-only mortgages. 

It suggested that equity release is likely to play an increasingly important role in financing care-related expenses, with 19 per cent of prospective homeowners citing it as a consideration.

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Allianz Real Estate buys prime office building in Rome (IT)

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Allianz Real Estate, advised by Dils, has acquired an office property in the centre of Rome. The transaction, worth circa €175m, is one of the most important to have been carried out on the real estate market in Rome in recent years.

 

The building, consisting of eleven storeys, comprising nine above-ground and two underground, has a gross lettable area of circa 22,000m² and has undergone a major refurbishment, offering the highest environmental sustainability and energy efficiency standards (LEED Gold Certification). The strategic location, between the CBD and Termini Station, is enjoying great success, especially among corporate occupiers. 

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