Some ideas for winter decorations from the garden
Many of us like the idea that we can enjoy our garden all year round. In the winter months this often means just the bit of our garden we see as we trudge up the garden path from the car on the way home from work, or the immediate view from our sitting room window.
I wrote in a previous blog about the importance of siting winter shrubs so they can be seen from these viewpoints. But there is another way to bring the garden closer to us in winter; to bring some of our plants indoors – or at least onto the patio or by the front door.
Today, I want to give you some ideas about how you can do this. Most of them are very easy and they don’t have to cost you a penny!
These are deservedly popular hung on the front door, and there are some beautiful ones you can buy. But if you make your own it’s unique – made with a combination of your own evergreens, twigs, berries, cones and dried flower heads it will be a lovely reminder of your own garden.
I start mine off with a wire coat hanger bent into a circle. Then add your basic foliage — evergreens or twigs — and use thin wire to secure. Finally add your embellishments — shiny holly with bright berries, fir cones, dried teasels, and finally add ribbon or a couple of baubles in contrasting colours.
A lovely variation on a traditional Christmas wreath is a kitchen wreath. These look great if you have a farmhouse kitchen or open plan dining area.
They work best made with bay leaves, sage or rosemary as these are all evergreens and dry superbly. Or of course you could make one with the different herbs combined. And very convenient when you’re doing the cooking!
These take a bit more planning, as ideally you would have potted these up in November in order for them to start getting established.
You could temporarily pot up an evergreen such as skimmia or sarcococca from your garden, add some winter cyclamen with their wonderfully marbled leaves, and under plant with snowdrops – again perhaps dig up an established clump just peeping through the soil.
Pot up into a container which is frost resistant, and ensure good drainage by putting gravel in the bottom and raising it using pot feet.
As long as you keep an eye on these plants, and give them an occasional watering when the soil gets dry, you should find that they will be fine on your patio or outside area over the winter.
The shrubs can be returned to their usual position in the garden in late February, before they start into growth again.
I love using dried foliage, twigs and seed heads in indoor flower arrangements over the winter. If you want, you can even spray them with gold or silver spray paint to add a little extra Christmas sparkle!
The big spherical seed heads of alliums are very eye-catching; you could also use eryngiums or teasels, dried poppies or even lavender.
Stems of bright-red cornus cut from the garden and then arranged very simply in a vase look great too, and will last for weeks even without water.
Even more simply, just cut any holly, ivy or other evergreens you have and arrange them indoors on windowsills or the mantelpiece – or even tuck them around pictures you have on the wall.
Last but not least!
And of course there are some great plants which are actually in flower over the winter. Mahonia has bright yellow, scented flowers which last indoors for a week or more if placed somewhere away from a radiator.
Viburnum tinus has sprays of tiny pink-tinged white flowers on its evergreen stems which can look lovely bound as a simple posy.
And in February a bud vase of snowdrops on the mantelpiece or coffee table means you can see the miniature elegance of this slender flower without even getting cold!
Have a look at some more ideas for winter decorations on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/nlgardendesign/winter-decorations/