Give your garden the festive feel by David Domoney
Give your guests a warm welcome this Christmas by decorating your garden with festive displays inspired by the beauty of nature. Berries, pine cones and fruits, evergreen foliage and fresh flowers plucked straight from the garden can be made into festive wreaths and garlands which can be hung on fences and draped around porches.
Beautify the patio
A good place to start is the patio, which can be given a festive makeover with just a few props and seasonal plants. Dress up the area with a potted living Christmas tree decorated with treats for the birds. Suet cake stars, strings of peanuts and berries, apple baubles and slices of dried oranges will all draw in a crowd of feathered friends.
Make sure that you arrange the displays so that they can be viewed from your armchair inside the house. You can buy bespoke windows with high-energy triple glazing from Everest, so you can enjoy looking at your winter garden without feeling the cold.
Seasonal containers and hanging baskets
There are many plant combinations that work in containers, so let your imagination run wild. In general, you'll want trailing plants along the edge and taller plants in the centre—ideally the central plant should be no taller than twice the height of the container—especially if is going to end up in an exposed, windy place. This will help the container to look balanced as well as stopping the plants from acting like a sail and being knocked over by the wind.
To turn up the heat in the garden this winter, fill a giant pot with the fiery stems of dogwood flicking through the black embers of grassy-leaved Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’(lilyturf). Add pots filled with seasonal plants like ‘Potter’s Wheel’ Helleborus niger (Christmas rose), Chrysanthemum (pot mums), Cyclamen persicum ‘Miracle’(cyclamen) and Erica (heather) and give them a festive twist with pine cone mulch.
Erica ‘Springwood White’ (white heather) is an outstanding plant, which produces masses of white flowers from December to May above bright green foliage. It has a vigorous trailing habit so can also be used successfully in hanging baskets. Good companions include Heuchera ‘Silver Scrolls’ (coral bells) surrounded by a fringe of the grassy-leaved, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (black mondo), which is renowned to be the best “black” leaved plant available in the plant world.
Decorate your doorstep
For a cheery welcome on the dullest December day decorate your doorstep with a bright display of evergreen leaves. Scour the garden centres for the variegated Erysimum linifolium ‘Variegatum’ (perennial wallflower), scented thymes, golden-leaved Erica arborea ‘Albert’s Gold’ (tree heather) plus red-berried Skimmia japonica (Japanese skimmia).
Consider planting Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ (clematis) on the bare wall close to the front door where you’ll enjoy its lovely lemon-scented, red-spotted flowers whilst looking for your door key. It has glossy fern-like evergreen foliage, which takes on bronze tints when the temperature drops and looks good all winter long.
Add festive lighting
Stringing outdoor fairy lights around windowsills, doors and window frames will give your garden a true festive feel. Drape conifers and pergolas with net lights made up of hundreds of fairy lights or clip them onto trellis to transform the garden in an instant.
Wrap the bare branches of shapely trees and shrubs with strings of weatherproof outdoor lights and your garden will sparkle at night. You can get all different colours but I always think that simple white bulbs look best. If you choose solar lights that are charged by sunlight your festive garden will be both eco-friendly and free to run.
Candles are also a great choice for atmospheric lighting. They can be used to create magical effects as their flickering flames create patterns and shadows on the garden floor. Put scented tea lights in glass jam jars and use them to line a path or hang them in trees to spectacular effect.
Pond owners can use underwater lighting or floating solar lights, which create a soft but dramatic effect, especially when used in conjunction with a simple fountain. To add some mystery to your pond, install a pond mister, which is a device that creates a frosty mist on the pond’s surface.
Finally, Christmas wouldn’t be the same, without a few stolen kisses under the mistletoe, so make sure you hang at least one piece of this infamous plant over your front door!
'Give your garden the festive feel by David Domoney'