xxx

Undated Handout Photo of  from The Winter Garden by Emma Hardy (photography by Debbie Patterson) is published by CICO Books. See PA Feature GARDENING Winter. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/CICI Books. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Winter.
Undated Handout Photo of from The Winter Garden by Emma Hardy (photography by Debbie Patterson) is published by CICO Books. See PA Feature GARDENING Winter. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/CICI Books. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Winter.
Share this article
0
Have your say

As the festive season gets underway, there’s no better time to have a wander in your garden to see what greenery you might be able to use to make your own decorations.

“If you have common plants like holly, cotoneaster, rosemary and ivy, they can all be put to good use in Christmas displays both inside and out,” says Emma Hardy, author of The Winter Garden.

“Little pine conifers will be fine to have indoors over Christmas. I bought some Picea glauca (white spruce) from Ikea, which are really good for Christmas displays. Look indoors at garden centres and they will have those little conifers.”

Add softer greenery like bun moss or even moss from your lawn to create a trough for the table, including other plants such as Soleirolia soleirolii and bead plant (Nertera granadensis). “You can pick moss off the lawn or if you have a lovely bit on the roof of your shed, use that. You may need to mist it a bit to keep it moist. Ivy, especially if it has the berries on it, looks great and lasts for ages. Pussy willow can be used, as can rosemary, which keeps its shape, and eucalyptus.

“For a cheap display, consider bulbs. I bought some hyacinths the other day at 69p each. Get a few, pot them in an old vase with pine cones round them and it makes a special display.”

Making holes in the bottom of any trough is essential for drainage, but ensure you put a drip tray underneath or the Christmas table will get wet. Add a thick layer of gravel to the bottom of the container, levelling the surface, and half-fill the trough with potting compost before adding your plants. “If you want a bit of sparkle, put some of those battery-operated fairy lights around the tree and it’s just the sweetest thing,” she says. “You could put pine cones around the base of it, or anything with berries, such as a sprig of holly or snowberries.”

Use succulents from an existing rockery to make a fantastic wreath which should look good all year round and can be refreshed and reused next year too.

Use moss to line a metal wreath frame, pulling the moss into pieces and laying it in a ring shape slightly larger than the wire frame, root side up on the table. Lay the wire wreath frame on top of the moss and place handfuls of potting compost on the frame, then wrap the moss around the frame and the compost, securing it with copper wire. This should provide enough nutrients to keep the succulents happy.

“Mine has lasted all year, although there are a couple of things that need replacing,” she says. “It’s easy to extract sedums or sempervivums by breaking a bit off from their main plants, keeping the roots intact. Use floristry wire to secure them to the wreath. If you are using succulents from your garden, work a bit in advance and then you can leave the wreath flat for a couple of weeks to let the plants start rooting a bit.”

Window boxes can be given pizzazz via violas and miniature ferns, while white cyclamen and silver-leafed plants such as cushion bush (Calocephalus brownii) and hairy canary clover (Dorycnium hirsutus ‘Little Boy Blue’) can give a frosty feel to a container.

If you want a burst of colour outside your front door, consider a larger container crammed with a mixture of plants with bright berries including pyracantha and winter cherry.

“With all winter displays, it’s not worth doing anything that you can’t see from your house,” she says. “If you have space by your front door, back door or back window, position your plants so you can see them.” n

The Winter Garden by Emma Hardy

is published by CICO Books,

priced £14.99