Throughout the winter months nature goes on providing us with inspiration of all kinds. There is nothing more beautiful than a woodland walk to raise the spirits during the short hours of daylight that winter allows us to be outside. The woodland also provided me with lots of inspiration for Christmas decorations, making the home feel festive. I always carry a bag to bring back bits found along the way.. Using my findings to decorate continues to inspire on the days that don’t allow physical connection with the woodland as modern day working life pushes us to connect more with the internet!
Looking around outside most days seem dark, dank, bleak and the plants in nature are dormant and quietly slumbering. But on closer inspection I realise all is not lost. The snowdrops are starting to bloom. Alongside, and well on their way, are the first narcissus of spring and just beginning to appear are the sprouting bluebells. The beginning of the regeneration of the spring garden. Hope once more swells within.
If you haven’t been organised enough to pre-plant bulbs in autumn, now is a good time to buy some sprouting bulbs to plant up in containers and window boxes to herald some spring cheer to your space over the coming months.
I’ve been fortunate enough to leave my slowly awakening blooming winter garden here in England to head to more temperate climes where winter means temperatures in the late twenties and upwards and winter blooms take on a whole new meaning
At a glance it might look like an artificial silk flower but no these huge flowers were blooming abundantly in a city park in Saigon
These beauties, which judging by their leaves and stamen I am guessing are from the lily family, were abundantly blooming in parks and gardens. With their tall stems and multi flowering heads they would make an ideal accompaniment to the wild grasses with seed heads like ears of corn, spotted growing along the roadsides. Placed in a long slim vase together they would make a million dollar flower display.
I can’t help but admire the unique topiary of south east Asia
Who is the fairest fruit of them all? Growing abundantly the dragon fruit makes a refreshing snack but who could bear to peel a fruit as pretty as this?
Fresh greens were being grown and sold and added to every dish by the bucket full adding flavour and the unique taste of Vietnam to many of the dishes sampled during my travels. (Coriander, mint, basil, and leafy greens similar to spinach and bok choi)
When travelling I always like to pick out my city dwelling (just in case the path of life should take me to live there). I loved these tiny blooming places and couldn’t help but image getting my hands on one and really making it sparkle! (in fact I’d take on the whole block if they’d let me)
As we prepare for Christmas in a frenzy let’s not forget to add Christmas cheer to our gardens and patios which deserve to be loved all year round. Decorating outside with seasonal plants not only continues to bring the outside in during the festive season it also guarantees you that the glamour will remain long after the last Christmas chocolate has been scoffed. Extend the “look ” by decorating with seasonal plants indoors as well. Planted pots will last longer than any cut stems, keeping your spirits high until the delight of all delights appear – the first blooming spring bulbs – heralding the re-birth of another year of non stop blooms in the garden. Remember gardens are not just for Summer! There is something for every season and there is nothing prettier than a winter plant inspired patio or porch. It is the festive season after all – pump it up.
The bright orange berries of the solanum – nature’s answer to christmas baubles – hanging outside in these lovely christmassy pots help extend the festive feel to the garden
Nature adding it’s own seasonal decorative touch to the bay tree last week when the siberian winds headed this way bringing with them a frost like none other seen in a long time. It certainly looked like Jack Frost had been busy the night before!
Nature sprinkles the bay tree with a seasonal dusting of frost
Frosty Cobwebs – only nature could produce something as beautiful as this
It’s beginning to feel a lot like winter………….
For the days when Jack Frost fails to deliver plant up some seasonal cyclamen – they give a lovely wintry feel here planted under the potted bay.
Cyclamen planted under a potted bay tree
The magic of nature – fuschia bells chiming. Unusual for this time of year and adding a great seasonal touch to the garden with colour and structure
One of the many reasons I am always late for work!
White Heather – still in bloom, taking a little piece of the season outside to create a festive feel inside
Forage anything you can find and decorate – holly, ivy, fir trees are all abundant and blooming this time of year
Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly
Fa la la la la, la la la la
The Holly and The Ivy
Glitz up the Garden, add some baubles to a potted plant ,
’tis the season to be jolly
Baubled up bay tree
Baubles hanging from a pot of ivy
decorated lemon tree
Pussy Willow and baubles
Collect Twigs and seeds heads from the garden – sprayed with silver they make a glittering, natural display
The glittering twigs remind me of stags antlers (well then I do have a vivid imagination!)
Just like some people there are lots of plants that don’t like the cold harsh Winters. Some tend to die back underground in the depths of it all and reappear in Springtime. There are others who have less chance to survive that way, so to keep them going I have acquired for them a special house of their own and placed it in the garden in a spot that will get any winter sun that happens to be about. Endlesss pots of geraniums and mint are amongst those who have sought refuge as well as various pots of bulbs that have been under squirrel attack.
The mini greenhouse also has a top that opens up separately which will be ideal for starting off seedlings for next year. It will help keep the seedlings free from any late spring frosts that can sometimes unexpectedly appear and sabotage young seedlings. mmmmmmmmmmm cosy!
It’s also time for the lemon tree to come inside as the risk of freezing night temperatures become more of a reality. The tree has now grown so big and it could not be housed by the mini greenhouse – so I brought it inside to the conservatory for winter protection.
Meanwhile in the garden……………………..
The pretty heathers are still sweetly blooming, and the joy of all joys, the hellebore , is just beginning it’s flowering season and popping out generous numbers of beautiful white blooms. Last Springs primroses are also “having a go” at adding some winter colour alongst the landscape.
Just back from a trip to Ireland and judging by what I saw blooming about over there they seem to be having a pretty mild Winter so far. (or are the plants getting hardier??) There was a giant fuschia in my mums garden, keeling over with flowers, blooming like it was mid summer. It was coupled with the deep red fading heads of a huge hydrangea bush opposite . True poetry in motion. (note to self get some cuttings for my garden when the time is right!).
Fuschia blooming in early December
The blooms were so bright and vivid and the colours were so seasonal it was almost as if the celebration birthday cake (made by me and a friend) which was topped with pommegranate was specially commissioned to work hand-in hand with the garden. A beautiful blend and celebration of food and nature befitting a queen!
Happy 80th birthday mum
I have now finally given up on resistance – let the festive season commence
Well the garden is pretty quiet this time of year apart from the snowdrops dainty pretty heads bopping about, and the “how does it do it in the middle of winter” hellebore blooming it’s head off interspersed with the occassional early appearance of a primrose. It’s also an exciting time of year thinking about what lies beneath and what is to come. With winter dormancy comes a chance to clear up, trim up, think of the big picture and sort out the detail with the future envisaged. Where do those spring and summer bulbs need to be popping up from and what would look fabulous where. Sketch it, draw it, write it down for later. Next autumn is when you can get your bulbs in for the following year or pop a few ready grown bulbs where required in place for this spring.
read on for some magical inspiration………
In the fairy garden “If you believe in fairies then what you see here is real, If the sight of one eludes you just stop, stand still and feel the gentle breeze as it goes lapping past your eyes, the soft damp dew upon your nose, it’s fairy dust did you realise
Smell the air it’s always full of sweet perfume you know, its left behind lingering around by fairies as they go close your eyes imagine the magic they can do, then jump right up go on your way and know that you can too” fen – inspired by my little niece Isabelle 2010