A WARDROBE TO DI FOR
Don’t give up on having beautiful flowers just because the weather has turned colder. Here are some options to consider
WE need to talk about Corrin. Emma Corrin. If that name means nothing to you, I can only assume your television is broken.
Because, even if you have somehow managed to avoid the powerful pull of Netflix (if you have, please tell me how you are filling your days while the pandemic rumbles on), she has been all over the press of late and on the cover of countless glossy magazines.
The reason for this near omnipresence? The 24-year-old is starring in season four of The Crown, playing the young Diana Spencer, later Princess of Wales, aka the most famous woman in the world.
And much like her on-screen alter ego, Emma has gone from unknown to internationally famous overnight. But whereas the young Diana was like the proverbial bunny in the paparrazi flashbulbs, Emma has embraced her new-found fame as if she were born on a soundstage.
Like Di before her, she is being feted by the world’s top fashion designers and quickly making a name for herself as a style icon.
That said, it is hard to imagine the People’s Princess wearing some of the edgier outfits we have seen on the young starlet from Royal Tunbridge Wells.
Diana would certainly never have been photographed for a men’s magazine in a mesh slip dress, with just a bit of tape over her nipples! Then again, Emma is not at the mercy of royal protocol.
One can only imagine what the Queen would have made of the puff-sleeved design the actress wore for her Graham Norton Show debut.
It was not lost on me that the fabulously over-the-top number was the work of British designer Richard Quinn. A fitting choice, given that Her Majesty sat front row at his 2018 London Fashion Week show. Someone with less confidence would have been devoured by such a dress. Emma wore it like the rest of us wear sweatpants.
Likewise the custommade Miu Miu blue tartan tunic and matching leggings that she donned for the virtual premiere of The Crown.
Given her fondness for the avant garde – I was not surprised to learn that Emma’s stylist is Harry Lambert. He is also behind many of Harry Styles’ most iconic outfits and the singer’s not exactly what you would call a conservative dresser.
Emma has already starred in a Miu Miu campaign and experts predict she could pocket £5million from fashion and film deals in the next year.
With Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki having been confirmed to take over as Diana in season five of The Crown, Emma is canny to capitalise on this moment in the spotlight. Especially when her spotlight has been largely reduced to a Zoom window thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
Yes, this Di has been very well cast.
THERE’S no need to shut yourself away indoors for the winter. Even out of season there’s nothing like a changing sequence of flowers to tempt you outside. Witch hazel’s spidery yellow flowers stand out well from bare branches. They have a lovely scent, though you need to get up close to appreciate it. Red and orangeflowered varieties are also available.
Although witch hazel is not generally grown in containers, I’ve kept one in a tub very successfully for years, so I can move it up close to the house when it’s in flower. Delightful.
Not so well known is wintersweet (chimonanthus praecox), a shrub with fragrant pale yellow flowers dotted along bare branches.
It’s quite big, so best trained flat against a wall that gets reasonable sun. Put it somewhere you’ll walk past frequently to reap the benefit.
Viburnum tinus is an old favourite. In midwinter its best feature is its flower buds, which are grouped in tight clusters at the ends of the stems.
The variety Eve Price is especially attractive with red buds, while Gwenllian has fairly bright pink buds.
Winter jasmine is a favourite for growing on trellis or on a fence, but it’s also brilliant for training up into a tree. It flowers even in shade so it’s often used for a north-facing wall.
The yellow star-shaped flowers appear on bare stems making them great for cutting. Put a few sprigs with evergreen foliage to make classy arrangements.
Winterflowering clematis (clematis cirrhosa Freckles) has large cream flowers halfway between stars and bells. It needs to grow up a high trellis, through a tree or over an arch. It will keep flowering from now until late
March and is a great favourite with early bumblebees.
When it comes to perennials, the choice is restricted. The Christmas rose is the earliest of hellebores to bloom with its large white flowers. Connoisseurs often seek the variety Potter’s Wheel, which has even larger flowers.
The Christmas rose rarely flowers by December 25 unless grown in pots and helped along under glass. Outside, it’s usually not in bloom until January.
It’s worth creating some mid-winter displays all round the garden. Besides giving a new dimension to the ‘dead’ season it’s a perfect excuse to get outside for a walkabout, whatever the weather.
Winter clematis is a great favourite with early bumblebees...