Thursday, 19 July 2012

Home Help: 20 July

Put the soggy season behind you, Hugh St Clair forecasts an Indian summer and has chosen some garden umbrellas to shade you from the sun

Written by Hugh St Clair
For those who believe we can expect a late heatwave, the Indian Garden Company should be your first stop for outdoor garden umbrellas and parasols. The Raj Collection (from £165) comes with a beaded canopy in lavender, blue or eau de nil. The Paradise Collection (from £240) is certainly fit for a maharajah. The canopy maybe polyester to prevent shrinking and fading, but it is hand-painted in silver, with a traditional design and silver balls that hang from the edge. The finial and wooden pole are hand-carved. The Limited Editions selection features one umbrella that has the appearance of a large, stretched-out handkerchief (£240). The inside is studded with tiny mirrors, sequins and appliqué embroidery all crafted in Orissa, India. But a word of advice – don't put these topquality parasols away when they are wet.

Homebase does simpler and cheaper umbrellas. Thanks to adverse weather conditions, the Shanghai Parasol in purple has been reduced in price, so there are some upsides to the appalling weather.

The Garden Furniture Centre has parasols that can be tilted and rotated as the sun moves and ones that can be fixed to a wall (£249.99), so no heavy base is needed. They offer a waterproof cover and also  replacement canopies if, like me, you have an umbrella with rotting canvas in the garage.

Barbed in Barnes, London, stocks a parasol with canvas and raffia trim called Frou Frou (£1,900), but also sells Powersol garden umbrellas (£269) for use in the rain. The other day a friend from South Africa rushed inside from the picnic as the heavens opened. 'I can't just sit there as if nothing is happening like you English do, she exclaimed. Perhaps if we had the waterproof Powersol, she would have stayed outside with us.


From left
  1. Shanghai Parasol, £19.99 (was £49.99), Homebase: 0845-077 8888,
  2. Cream Pearl from the Lifestyle Collection, from £240, The Indian Garden Company: 01491-575367,
  3. Riviera, £150, The Indian Garden Company: as before


  1. Roma cantilever parasol, 3m square, £499.99, The Garden Furniture Centre: 01564-793652,


  1. Paddo, £800, Barbed: 020-8878 1994,

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