Thrifty decorations, inside and out
If you are looking for inspiration to liven up your indoor and outdoor spaces this festive season, the answer might be as close as your own backyard.
As the weather warms up, the cobwebs are being dusted off barbecues the length and breadth of New Zealand. It seems only natural that many people are keen to freshen up their entertaining areas in anticipation of another great Kiwi summer.
Most of us cannot afford new outdoor furniture or a total garden makeover every year, but with a few clever tips from the experts you can add some low-cost designer touches to your indoor and outdoor entertaining areas.
It is as easy as dropping into your local garden centre and grabbing some basic terracotta or plastic pots. These can be transformed into designer pots with a little paint. Tester pots are usually all you will need.
Plant them up with the likes of geraniums or impatiens and you have a big impact for a small price.
If you are using a variety of coloured annuals then it is a good idea to choose a uniform colour for the pots so that they do not compete with the flowers. If you are displaying them in rows, odd numbers look best.
With coloured annuals available at garden centres for as little as a few dollars, you can afford to buy twice as many and alternate your colour schemes regularly for an entirely different look.
If you prefer the permanence of perennials, try planting up red and white roses. These create a festive yet stylish look perfect for this time of year, and will be handy for cut flowers as well if you choose a variety such as Iceberg (white) or the gorgeous Ingrid Bergman (red).
If you have planted them in pots you can simply move them around next year or underplant them with contrasting coloured annuals such as petunias to change the look.
Plants are also a great way to refresh the look of indoor areas. Try introducing some potted indoor plants such as begonias and co-ordinating them with cushions and a contrasting table runner (which you can easily make yourself) and instantly your indoor space takes on a different look.
Refreshing your look is not just about tantalising the visual senses. Scented candles have had a resurgence of late, but why go to that expense when mother nature has living scent on tap? Try planting lavender or lemon verbena by entrance ways. It is a lovely way to make your guests feel welcome before they have even stepped over the threshold, and you will not need a smoke alarm.
TV presenter and makeover expert Simon Shreeve from TVNZ’s new programme has some tips for creating a million-dollar look on a shoestring budget:
Do not overlook your local garden centre when it comes to festive decorations. Making a Christmas wreath yourself has never been easier. Most garden centres offer a selection of wreath bases or frames which can be combined with whatever is in your own garden. There are no rules, so go wild. If you are not sure where to start, try with a green base such as ivy if you have some handy, or camelia leaves if you fancy a rich glossy finish.
If your garden boasts a bounty of hydrangeas at this time of year, why not incorporate these into your wreath? Add some baby pine cones, and whatever other materials are handy such as sea shells or driftwood. Depending upon what materials you have chosen for your wreath, you could finish off with lashings of organza or silk ribbon to complement the rest of your Christmas decor.
When it comes to your Christmas table setting, less is definitely more. This year, I am favouring a simple yet elegant theme for our Christmas table. All of the materials will come from the backyard or a garden centre, so it is easy. For us, that will mean homegrown red and white roses. Because old is the new ‘‘new’’, we will also have soy candles placed in old Agee preserving jars. Each place setting will feature a small buxus plant in a tin, with the guests’ names etched on the side and tied with vine from the garden. It will not break the bank but it will look special, and that is what Christmas entertaining is all about. Sometimes people try too hard with fussy tinsel and plastic table decorations when some greenery from the garden and a little imagination can work wonders. Design is about marrying texture, depth and colour and most Kiwi gardens provide unlimited inspiration if you look hard enough.
For many, Christmas is a time to remember those who cannot be with us and one way of doing this is to create a table centrepiece from oasis foam, cover it in greenery and place a candle for each loved one who is not able to be with you.
This year, take the stress out of gift buying with Gardening NZ gift cards. They allow recipients to choose their own presents from an array of items on offer at garden centres nationwide – not just plants. You can buy Gardening NZ gift cards either online at gardengiftcards.co.nz or from your local Gardening NZ retailer. These pocket-size cards fit neatly into an envelope, allow you to nominate the value and are redeemable at Gardening NZ retailers nationwide.
Do not forget to ask at your garden centre for your free Go Gardening Magazine. The summer edition is out now.
Keep it simple: Simon Shreeve from TVNZ’s new Hotel SOS programme says sometimes
people try too hard with fussy tinsel and plastic table decorations for the Christmas table, when some greenery from the garden
and a little imagination can work wonders.
Nature’s beauty: When it comes to your Christmas table setting, less is definitely more. A simple arrangement of homegrown red and white roses can look stunning.