Winter can be a pain in the derriere for a gardener. It can be an absolute slog trying to get even the simplest results when battling against the elements. The autumn is particularly bad, often spending all your time dealing with dead leaves. (Hint: get a mulcher. The vacuum mulcher folds up flat for storage, so once the leaves are gone you can chuck it in the cupboard and forget about it until next summer!). However, there are some tricks and techniques that you can use to help give your garden a bit of sparkle during the more barren months of the year.
With natural plants more or less a non-starter in the colder months, one of the best ways to give your garden a bit of character is to make use of some more rustic, rough-and-ready visual pieces. One particular example (which was first created by Anthea Guthrie and Nicole Burnett, and can be viewed online) offered a great example of this style. Essentially, they create a shelf feature by using two piles of foraged bricks for the supports, and a piece of reclaimed slate playing the part of the shelf itself. To this they added ‘pots’ made from an old pan and a disused kettle. For the finishing touch, they simply made use of an old, galvanised watering can. If you use your imagination, what seems like garden waste can be modified to give your outdoor space a real sense of character during the bare weeks ahead.
Strings and things
In a smaller garden, it’s often a good idea to try some more ‘vertical’ design features, just as an interior designer might add features to the walls when working in a smaller room. One particularly option is to hang items like tea light holders from available branches (in keeping with the recycling theme, you can use old cans if you don’t have any actual holders). Alternatively, you could add a plaque to any empty spaces on the wall or the fence. And remember, if you’re going vertical, a climber plant such as ivy remains a great option if you want to add some green. Just make sure you keep these plants under control to prevent them taking over!
Adding the wildlife
Whilst there is a lot that you can do to try and attract wildlife naturally, it inevitably becomes trickier during winter, with many of the animals inevitably going into hibernation or taking a trip somewhere warmer. As a result, many people use small models of wildlife made of clay, porcelain or stone to replicate that ‘nature reserve’ feel. Whilst this is definitely a good way to give a winter garden a bit more character, it’s important to make sure that the models don’t get lost in the design. Try putting them near a centrepiece, such as by the pond, or on the garden table.
Eric and Urn-ie
Pottery is another great way to give your garden design a bit of depth and character during winter. All garden centres sell a range of pottery, with everything from handmade pots to huge, Grecian style urns available for purchase. Pots can be used in a variety of ways, such accentuating small pathways or ‘guarding’ doorways. They’re also good at drawing the eye in the direction of a particular centrepiece, such as a flowerbed.
Snazz up the outdoor living space
If you make use of your garden as an extension of your living space (as many people now do), then taking the time to accentuate the space will help increase the homely feel of it. Even adding a few pot plants or glass sculptures can help give your garden a bit more character and bring colour into what can otherwise be quite a drab area.