Let’s Go Outside!

Some great Christmas decorating ideas for the garden this Christmas, share the love! Even of you can do very little, hopefully these creative endeavors will inspire you to bring some outdoor cheer to your space this month. People going wild on trees…

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Light ball joy1

Martha Stewart goes large…2

Convert that fallow window box into something festive10

Be inventive with a sprinkling of lights4

I adore the use of those empty summer hanging baskets into Christmas delight5

Don’t care how cold it is, this porch would get me out there with mittens and hot chocolate6

Home made ice lanterns7

Simple and chic – even on a balcony. Sp pretty. 8

Magisterial tree decoration9Merry Christmas to all you gardeners from Forget Me Not Gardens!

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The Most Beautiful Trees In The World

Trees by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

(August 1913).

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Still time to get the most out of the garden as winter sets in? If you have an outside fireplace there is! It’s remarkably easy to DIY a basic fire pit outdoors and there are plenty of helpful sites with tutorials, but what I’m bringing today is the inspiration. Whether you get an art fire pit or build a chimney with mantle, if you have an outdoors there’s a way to bring fire into it without losing your party overspill area during the holidays. Grab a mug of hot chocolate or mulled wine and come on out – it’s cozy!

The Artist:

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6ef883b5738e04f78081e98a46d5a175The Film Fanatics: Death Star

96f14aa3a4240b20f7a2498be695baf9Minion

2e16471d84ff752298aff2e8416bd738Lord of the Rings:

d02bccd05916feea4582e71034d02756The Elegant:

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85284329bd2647912637f5ab3df1bd9bThe Hipster:

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5e819635e6f0f58da12dd9a13279dca7The Fire Glass, gas powered:

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7294196f5d4a21b6b83852a48f544b6bThe Minimalist:

68bfe799f035d59e484d540348e893e8…and The Comforter

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Mad Trees

Nature will not be stopped. Relentless growth is the familiar bane of all gardeners, keeping it in check and persuading it to go only in the directions you are coaxing it to. Not just wayward trees, but today we’re also appreciating the mad, bad and dangerous to know variety that have been left to their own devices and thrown back some delicious results. Euphoric, insatiable, decorative and bizarre, they’re gathered here like an Ent council. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Joyful:

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7Lightly hysterical:

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13Decorative…Yarn Bombing:

9London’s South Bank8Rainbow Eucalyptus, Hana, Hawaii16Insatiably greedy trees:

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18Confused:

12A cat, a chair and a T.Rex:

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Elder-ly Trees

This week Nottingham’s Major Oak was voted tree of the year. It is purported to be over a thousand years old. However, it’s not the oldest tree in the world, not even the oldest in the UK. But fear not, I’m going to tell you what is.

4000 years old, Abarkooh, Abadeh-Iran

11West Wales, 1000 year old Yew tree

1The President, third largest tree in the world at 75 m, oldest living Sequoia at 3,200 years

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1000 year old Baobab, Madagascar

3The Tule Tree, or El Árbol del Tule, is a Montezuma cypress tree on the grounds of a church in Santa María del Tule in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. It measures more than 119 feet around but is only 116 feet high (To put that in perspective, the General Sherman is 275 feet high and 102 feet around). It’s believed that the tree is about 2,000 years old.

4The oldest known olive tree on Earth, with a tree ring age of at least 2,000 years. Carbon daters have estimated it to be about 4,000 years old, and it still produces tasty olives today. It is 15 feet thick at the base, is not particularly tall, as olive trees go, but is, quite literally, gnarly. Totally gnarly. The trunk is magnificently swirled, knotted, and bulbous. This one may be the tree Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) wrote of when mentioning a sacred Greek olive tree 1,600 years old.

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The Crowhurst Yew in Surrey. The door was in place before 1850. Thought to be up to 4000 years old.

9Best til last…Old Tjikko – the Oldest Tree in the World (9,550 Years Old) The oldest individual clonal tree in the world is believed to be 9,550 years old (carbon-dated)! This Norway Spruce is located on the Fulufjället Mountain of Dalarna province in Sweden and was discovered by a professor of Physical Geography, Leif Kullman. The tree has been nicknamed “Old Tjikko” after his dog.

10Next week..the world’s maddest trees! There’s no stopping them!

Lady of the Lake

All image credits at 1st-option

Lake dwellers have to be the luckiest gardeners around. There’s nothing more beautiful or with the scope to create reflective heaven. What you don’t generally get to see are those curated in private hands, which is where I’m taking you today for an exclusive peek at some of England’s loveliest private lakes in grand, formal gardens.

The Grange, Hertfordshire

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formal39Norton, Somerset

formal62Manor, Oxford

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manor2Swan Court, Teddington

swan courtHayling, Hampshire

haylingPinewood, Berkshire..Lily pads

pinewoodTaunton Farm, Somerset

taunton farmSaving the breathtaking best until last: Tudor Rose, Suffolk

tudor rose 3 tudor rose 2 tudor rose 1 tudor rose 4Don’t you just know the giant foliage has been growing for as many centuries as the house has been standing?

Haute Floral

Flowers – the go-to decoration for all artists. So it’s not such a leap when couturiers, photographers, designers and florists take it a step further and make wearable art from flowers. These days you can even have a wedding dress specifically tailored to you as ‘Living Couture’. It sounds alluring, but it’s unclear whether one has to water the bride all day long.  Better kept for catwalks and photo shoots, probably, but what genius the fruits of those labors produces! Exquisite renderings of the highest art at best, and something wondrous and cheerful at worst that enables us to see a garment in a new light. If only they could be preserved forever…but then, that’s the temporal and fragile nature of a flower.

So sit back in your front row seat and prepare to be amazed at the fashion show.

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The Gothic Gardener

Loads of pictures to share with you this week! I’ve been musing on the possibility of creating an entirely black floral garden, mostly because I haven’t ever seen it done. Of course when we speak of Gothic we have to really encompass Neo-Gothic, which is in fact Victorian. Unless you live in a fabulous European castle with genuinely medieval grounds and architecture. Taking the universally recognized design cues and creating a space which has the romance of decay and the elegance of something slightly sinister is the concept, and I want to show how even just a little addition can bring that flavor to a garden. I generally find that one needs architecture or furniture to properly evoke an era or a theme and Gothic is no exception. Nevertheless, even if you wanted just stylish, dark foliage, you’re covered. After all, little in the world of design cannot be improved with a dash of black. There’s a surprising number of black versions of familiar plants, as you’ll see.

Just a soupcon…Furniture, bird houses and planters:

Raven planterravenplanter etsyFireplace converted planter

planterMid 19th century planters…very Pugin-esque

mid19thcplantersCreative planting!phoneboxGothic Birdhouses…

birdhouse2 birdhouse3 birdhouse4Glorious Victorian furniture

rust chairs..although these 1880 upholstered beauties best suited to a conservatory…

chairs1890Go all out with a Gothic shed

shedOr some custom cabbage gates…really wonderful form and color

cabbage gateSome varieties of black planting you won’t expect – my favorite of all, and I have planted these in the UK, is the Black Cat Petunia, such deep velvet petals!

petunia black cat3 varieties of Iris, Black Lightening..

blk lightening irisDevil’s Baby Dwarf Iris…

devil baby dwarf irisThe marvelously names Dracula’s Kiss

draculas kiss irisBlack Cherry Hollyhocks

hollyhocks black cherryPeonies

peonyMorning Glory

morning gloryTulip

tulipViola

violaVelvet Elephant’s Ear

blk velvet elephant earSunflower

sunflowerLily

lilyHyacinth

hyacinthAnd most dramatic of all, the very rare Halfatty Turkish rose. Worthy of a Hammer Horror feature all to itself. Yep. Unhappy Planting!

halfatty rose

Hedge Fond

When I was a child growing up in the south east of England, we’d be taken once a year to see ‘the illuminations’ at Southend-On-Sea. To give you a feel for the scope and majesty on offer, I present you with this example of splendor below.

southendAnd that was about it. To our eyes it was marvelous which gives you an idea of the paucity of entertainment of the era. It’s fair to say that attractions have come a long way since then, and in general, landscaping has a deal more imagination. I’ve been collecting samples of the eccentric, marvelous, delightful and purely bonkers so I hope they make you smile as much as they do me.

cactus horse

lizard

hare

hedgecats

horse

ziplock

laid back

lion

peacock

Beautiful topiary, for no other purpose than to brighten a day.  Job done!

Mushroom In Here?

Ten fungi from around the world you never knew existed…

1. The Texas Star, the world’s rarest mushroom…grows only in Texas and two places in Japan..go figure.

texas star

2. Devil’s Urn, America, Europe, China, Japan…actually edible!

devil's urn

3. Sky Blue Cap, New Zealand and India

sky blue NZ

4. Hare’s Foot Inkcap, woodlands of the UK

hare'sfoot

5. Golden-scruffy Collybia, Tropical, not found in North America or Europe

golden scruffy collybia

6. Microglossum Viride, California

microglossum viride

7.  Black Bulgarian Inquinans

bulgarian inquinans

8. Black Amanita, Northern California, Oregon

black amanita

9. The Coral mushroom, Olympic Peninsula, Washington State

coral

10. ‘Barbie’ Pagoda, New Caledonia…not discovered until 2009

barbie pagoda