One of the latest trends in horticulture are terrariums where you can create and assemble a miniature plant world to admire in your own home. A terrarium is a small glass case that allows you to grow plants with little effort or specialist skills. They act as a unique living space between indoors and outdoors. This is not a new concept as in 1800 Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward discovered he could grow a plant in a sealed glass bottle which would provide enough carbon dioxide and oxygen, plus moisture for it to survive. After this the Wardian case, a sealed portable mini greenhouse, was invented by Sir William Hooker. The Wardian case was used by many plant hunters to bring back live specimens of plants from far away places. They would arrive in perfect condition after being at sea for months. Terrariums act in the same way like mini greenhouses which can be decorated with coloured pebbles, moss, lichen and pine cones. When designing your terrarium select small plants and nestle them into a mix of soil and light grit for drainage. If the terrarium is sealed select plants which prefer high humidity such as orchids, ferns and venus fly traps and create a mini greenhouse. If the terrarium is not sealed you can select drier plant species such as cacti and succulents. Let your imagination run wild and create a miniature plant landscape for your home.
Winter’s cold palette can even curb the interest of the most enthusiastic gardener. Colour is a very important element of any garden as it creates the scene that awakens the senses of the visitor. Winter doesn’t have to be depressing. Work with that palette to create subtle tones, highlights and contrasts of colour. Once the trees and shrubs have lost their deciduous leaves their skeleton branches become the backdrop of the garden. The gardener must work creatively to use striking flaming red and golds against the paler winter hues. Flashes of carefully placed plants will provide surprise, shock and joy. Brightly coloured berries look magnificent against evergreens like yew and holly. Allow the winter sunlight to filter through the branches onto the white trunks of birch trees as this will add atmosphere to any garden in winter. Each season nature presents a different array of colours that we must work to enhance and create the desired landscape we are drawn to even on the dullest winter day.
There is nothing better than foraging in your garden for winter foliage, berries and pine cones to decorate your special holiday wreath. Some spices such as cinnamon, star anise and dried oranges can even be added to your wreath. Use the foliage such as the evergreen material to pad out the wreath frame – put the same amount all the way around. Make sure it is even all the way round and not too heavy to hang on your door. Use florist wire to attach the plant material, berries and cones and allow your creativity to flow by decorating as you wish. Try using plant material like holly, pines and evergreen Magnolia that will last and still look good throughout the whole holiday season. Attach pine cones using wire pins and remember to attach wire or strong string that will allow you to hang carefully on your door. Now all you need to do is add a length of brightly coloured ribbon and attach using a loop of wire.
If you have a dry fountain why not create an attractive display of succulents in your garden. Use cascading, rosette and clump forming varieties. Simply add some compost if the growing depth is shallow this is ok as succulents tend to have shallow root systems. Ensure there are holes for the water to drain easily. As each tier is smaller than the one beneath work on arranging your plants with small rosettes at the top of the fountain and work your way down. Try to pick contrasting form and colours of succulents for visual appeal. The best part of this design feature is you can use trailing succulents placed over the edge to mimic cascading water. Why not illuminate with evening lighting to extend your enjoyment of this lovely garden feature.
A tree seat creates a sociable and relaxing area within a garden. The seat can generate a calming atmosphere that allows the visitor to view the tree canopy and garden from all angles. It can also draw visitors to an unusual specimen tree and help highlight its interest. A tree seat also provides shade from the sun for the visitor allowing a place to sit and admire nature. The seat wraps around the trunk of the tree and it can be enhanced by painting the seat white to lighten the area and focus the visitor’s eye. The seat can be made out of metal or wood to create a contemporary or rustic feel to the garden.
A container is the ideal example of horticulture theatrics. Pots can be moved to various positions and changed multiple times throughout to year to add colour and interest. Containers can also be a great place for small trees or shrubs to grow before being transplanted into the open ground. Containers allow us to play with planting combinations. Containers can range from a spectacular showpiece in a courtyard to a series of containers used to screen a view or brighten an area. Bigger containers are more dramatic and provide more room for planting combinations. It is important to make sure the container has good drainage and compost for the plant to last the season. Dark containers heat up in the sun and are good for early spring plant combinations.
Lawns set off borders but there are more naturalistic alternatives that do not require such high maintenance. Meadows tend to incorporate a mix of longer grass and mixed meadow flowers. The flowery meadow below is a mixture of fine leaf fescues. These fescues typically clump together to form an effective textured height of about 20cm. It is suggested that these fescues are mown annually in November to a height of around 12cm. To add further interest to the meadow spring bulbs and summer annuals are mixed throughout the meadow display. These flowers help attract butterflies and other beneficial pollinators. The meadow can be framed with turf cut edging to draw the visitor’s eye to the stunning display. For the last decade many gardeners have begun to question the sustainability of mowing lawns weekly. The beauty of meadows has been rediscovered. Meadows reduce noise in the garden, machinery wear, pollution and labour. They are beneficial to pollinators and visually pleasing. They soften edges and help deter garden visitors from walking in perimeter areas by guiding their route.
First impressions in a garden are very important. Entrances and gateways must make a clear statement to draw visitors into the garden. A change of areas in a garden can bring an element of drama into the space. A moon-gate has been used in Chinese gardens have an expressive purpose. They frame the garden and signal a new space lies ahead. It also has the ability to highlight the view capturing a sense of adventure for the visitor.
Terracotta flower pots can be grouped on steps, garden tables, in corners or beside seats to dress the garden. Some may contain permanent plants whilst others can be non-hardy summer display only. These plants can then be exchanged throughout the year depending on the season and what is looking at its best. The simplest designs tend to be the most effective when it comes to grouping and arranging your display. If your pots stay out all year ensure they are frost proof. Plastic pots can even be used and hidden behind more attractive clay pots so that only the plants are seen.