When we think of garden parties, images of Pimms punch bowls and cocktail dresses spring to mind. And yet, few summer afternoons can compete with the majesty of a garden in the early hours of a winter’s day, when leaves crystallized in frost catch the first of the morning sun. Our inspired winter garden ideas will help you make the most of your outdoor space during the winter months, encompassing everything from practical considerations to the perfect decorations.
Winter may not seem the ideal time to be hosting an outdoor event, but there are certain activities that just work best with a tinge of frost in the air. While barbecues are usually saved for summer, consider adding a fire pit to your garden for cozy campfire evenings. Whether you’re toasting marshmallows with the kids, preparing a party menu or simply roasting sausages, it’s a great gathering place for more intimate occasions.
For a more decadent addition, explore outdoor heated pools or hot tubs. Slipping into warm water is made even more enjoyable when the temperature drops outside, and the darker evenings set the perfect ambiance for a late night swim.
Nothing conjures up a little winter magic quicker than a garland of fairy lights. Whether draped across a trellis or wrapped around a tree, they can instantly transform your back garden into an enchanted forest. For an environmentally and economically friendly option, consider using solar paneled lights.
Fairy lights can also double up as a practical accessory where you have a long walkway or driveway. With early evenings meaning prolonged darkness, use garden lights to illuminate the path and guide your guests to your door. This winter garden idea makes a particularly lovely touch at a home wedding or any winter event.
To keep your garden looking luscious and full of life through the winter months, make sure to plant plenty of evergreens – that is, plants that keep their leaves throughout the year. In a large garden, this could include trees such as pine or red cedar, while smaller spaces can be brightened up with club mosses or shrubs such as Daphne plants.
Even amongst evergreens, certain plants flourish better in certain conditions than others. It’s important to take into account your garden’s soil type, texture and acidity as well as sun exposure when choosing the right florae for you.
As an alternative to evergreens, look into early-flowering bulbs. These are plants that flourish in the winter months as the cold weather breaks their dormancy. Because of their weather resilience, these flowers also tend to be very low maintenance and so are perfect for amateur gardeners.
Crocus Sieberi are perhaps the most commonly associated with winter, with their emergence from snow-filled grass-scapes signaling the transitioning of the seasons. Other early spring blooms include the bold hyacinth flower, which is provides both color and fragrance in abundance, and the aptly named Glory of the Snow, which appears in a delicate star shape.
When mixing early and late blooming bulbs in your garden, it’s important to consider your overall layout. Without proper planning, you could see large bare patches emerging or you could find that certain plant roots overpower others.
You could choose to enlist the services of a professional garden landscaper to bring your winter garden ideas to life. Not only will they understand which blooms will work well together, they’ll be able to advise you on larger structural changes such as creating garden paths or adding hedges.
When hosting winter garden parties, one of the most important things to consider is shelter. Depending on the scale of your redesign, this could mean anything from a conservatory to a retractable awning. For a comfortable middle ground, add a heated patio floor to your outside space and use spacious parasols for wind blockage.
As well as serving as a great gathering space during your events, they’re also handy for making sure you can get the most use out of your garden even in cooler weather. Those with children might also consider a traditional Wendy House. Giving them their own miniature winter chalet is a great way to spark their imaginations.
As always, the final proof is in the finishing touches with these winter garden ideas. Once you’ve designed your outdoor space, make sure you tie the look together with a few pieces that are as stylish as they are practical. One such example is a thick tartan blanket that adds to your cozy winter theme and is perfect for draping over your shoulders as you gather around the fire pit.
As well investing in new accessories, it’s important to remember to winter-proof the pieces you already have. Invest in snow-proof coverings for your outdoor furniture, and consider adding a patio heater and a parasol to your terrace to make eating alfresco possible whatever the weather.
We’re often tempted to escape to winter sun destinations at this time of year, but with a little preplanning, a handful of hyacinths and a garland of fairy lights in place, there’s no need to winter anywhere but at home.