Alan Titchmarsh: Don’t festoon your foliage with fancy fairy lights this christmas | Garden | Life & Style

Alan Titchmarsh: Don’t festoon your foliage with fancy fairy lights this christmas | Garden | Life & Style


This isn’t the year to indulge in flashy outdoor fairy lights or illuminated Santas.

Such highly charged outdoor Christmas displays simply send your electricity bill sky-high and risk overloading the national grid just when you want to roast your turkey.

So go natural. It’s easy to create magical views from your windows using plants, everyday garden items and a bit of inspiration.

Start by taking a good look around the garden to see what can be turned into a festive focal point. 

Concentrate on areas that are always on show – round the front door, on the patio and the views from your living-room window.

If you have a tree or shrub with some seasonal interest – evergreen foliage, architectural shape, winter flowers or berries – a few smaller plants will turn it into a centrepiece.

Maybe you can move something from elsewhere or invest in a few new plants. Shrubs, ground-cover plants, evergreen sedges and grasses create a festive impression.

If you don’t have a key plant, a statue, garden bench, showy tub or potted topiary can be moved or a few small plants can make a superb cameo.

A good trio is winter heather, slow-spreading evergreen ground-cover plants such as Prunus “Otto Luyken” and Gaultheria procumbens. 

Make it visible from all your main windows and try to arrange a different view from each. If you decide to splash out on one or two new shrubs, choose things that will add to the long-term structure of your garden and think where they’ll make the most impact.

If you have a bare wall on view, then a winter jasmine teamed with a large-leaved variegated ivy makes a bold splash or use a wall-trained pyracantha with a good crop of berries.

If you want a key plant in the centre of a border, go for a midwinter-flowering Mahonia japonica “Charity” or Mahonia lomariifolia with its intense starburst of “tails” of bright yellow flowers.

If there isn’t a natural centre of attention down the garden, create one nearer the house using tubs planted with perhaps Viburnum davidii and winter pansies.

To complete the Christmas-card effect, put out bird feeders, a bird bath and a rustic bird table and keep them well stocked, since an easy meal will encourage the ultimate virtuoso to play a starring role in your tableau – the robin.

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