Island Life Magazine Ltd December 2008/January 2009 - Page 79

GARDENING Bringing the outside in Just as you might cut flowers from the garden over the summertime to use in the house, there are lots of ways to use some of the winter garden to decorate the home. Birch prunings or other spent twigs look attractive in large, tall vases, with tiny fairy lights wrapped around them. Look around the garden or when out walking the dog for pine cones, and either spray white or keep natural and put in a large shallow dish with clippings of evergreen Eucalyptus (such as gunnii species) and a couple of church candles. How about filling a stout glass vase with sand or seashells, and standing seedheads such as teasel in it for a beach-inspired look? The Christmas period is a great time for partying and catching up with the family, but it can also be a time when finances are stretched. ‘Decking the halls’ using natural, homemade decorations is not only money saving but it will also give a very festive feel to your home. A few days before Christmas walk around the garden collecting any evergreens that catch your eye. For a traditional look, twine ivy around mirrors and picture frames, and snake holly and laurel foliage and berries up the stairs. For something a bit different, pine tree branches and Hypericum (St John’s Wort) berries look good together. Rosehips and Chinese lanterns can be used to create an unusual wreath for the front door. life Sally's gardening tips for December and January • This is a good time of year to take stock of your garden and make plans for any re-design of areas that need a revamp or change. This might involve taking out shrubs or trees that have outgrown their spot or planting out new hardy specimens. Most trees and shrubs are best planted out now (bare-rooted plants can only be planted out during the dormant period) as they have a better chance of establishing. During dry spells, you can still lift and divide herbaceous perennials. This will increase stocks, and revive tired or poorly flowering clumps. • Order seed catalogues, if you have not done so already, to select next year’s bedding and perennial choices. You will have more chance of finding all your choices in stock if you order well before the spring. For something a little different in the garden next season, try Thompson and Morgan’s new tree lily. They are reported to reach up to 8ft and take on a shrub-like appearance over the years. Ask in your local garden centre for availability. • Prune down tall-growing bush roses by about a half to help prevent wind-rock loosening and damaging their roots and shorten all the branches on standard roses. Plant bare-rooted rose bushes now. • Repair fences, trellises and wooden features. Once annual climbers have died away and perennial ones have lost their leaves, treat timber with wood colour or preservative. Replace loose posts and those rotting at the base before they collapse and cause greater damage. Next issue: Preparing the greenhouse for spring and ideas for growing unusual veg, whatever space you have. The Island's new funky radio station 79