Winter is here whether we like or not, but the cold weather doesn’t mean that we can’t still enjoy the outdoors in our gardens. So put on your jacket and grab something warm to drink while we take a look at some ideas for utilizing your garden in these frosty months. Luckily, most of South Africa is blessed with a mild winter, but at night the thermometer still dips lower than we’re comfortable with. I, myself, am a ‘winter-baby’, however it is probably my least favourite time of year. I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, and winter makes it even more loathsome. However, we are here to talk winter gardens and not me ranting about the cold.
Light my Fire
One of the best ways to pull us out into our garden during winter is by introducing a toasty fire pit along with uber-cosy and luxurious seating. Outdoor gas fireplaces and pits have become increasingly popular as a smokeless option. Add some blankets, roasted marshmallows, s’mores, hot chocolate, a potjie, good music, good company, perhaps a splash of sherry for the grown-ups and you have the making of the perfect get together for us ever social South Africans.
When considering a fire pit area, keep it relatively close and accessible to your home’s general entertainment area. Make it more comfortable for the winter months, by positioning it in a protected area of the garden. It should ideally be where it is protected from the prevailing wind, to keep that cold draft from getting to your bones. If this is a bit difficult, use plantings such as taller dense shrubbery or hedges and consider hard landscaping features such as screens as wind breaks.
Add a Warm Glow
I would also suggest introducing warm white lighting into the garden. Nothing too glaring, it should be subtle to create a cosy and comfortable ambience. Lighting tends to make you feel warmer immediately, especially when it makes a dim and dreary winter garden brighter and more inviting.
Consider a simple roofing structure or pergola. You can get very creative with these structures by introducing different materials, heights and angles to them. A roofing structure also has the psychological effect of making us feel less exposed and vulnerable, thus making us far more comfortable in the space.
If you already have existing garden structures such as lapas and patios, using canvas flaps or stacking doors can help keep the icy temperatures out. Outdoor portable gas heaters are another option to introduce more heat, although sometimes they look like big and scary fire-breathing Terminators in my humble opinion.
Utilising some evergreen plants with interesting and vivid colours will instantly make the garden brighter and add colour. Head to your closest nursery for advice from professional staff members on what you can use. Remember to ask the important questions! “How big does it get?”, “How much light does it need?”, “How much watering is required?” and “Is it safe for children and pets?”.
I also suggest including deciduous trees and large shrubs that will let the sun in during the day to warm up the garden and your house. The last thing you want is a frigid, dark and gloomy garden and home in winter. Letting the sun in will make you much happier!
For more gardening advice contact Kerwyn on 064 658 2815 or email email@example.com. You can also visit the Purple Turtle Concepts and the Guild of Landscape Designers (GoLD) pages on Facebook.
By Kerwyn Fourie