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…
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
A tree that looks at God all day,
A tree that may in Summer wear
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Poems are made by fools like me,
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!
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.
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
1000 year old Baobab, Madagascar
The 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.
The 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.
The Crowhurst Yew in Surrey. The door was in place before 1850. Thought to be up to 4000 years old.
Best 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.
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
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.
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:
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.
And 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.
Beautiful topiary, for no other purpose than to brighten a day. Job done!
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.
2. Devil’s Urn, America, Europe, China, Japan…actually edible!
3. Sky Blue Cap, New Zealand and India
4. Hare’s Foot Inkcap, woodlands of the UK
5. Golden-scruffy Collybia, Tropical, not found in North America or Europe
6. Microglossum Viride, California
7. Black Bulgarian Inquinans
8. Black Amanita, Northern California, Oregon
9. The Coral mushroom, Olympic Peninsula, Washington State
10. ‘Barbie’ Pagoda, New Caledonia…not discovered until 2009