At Home Edition: Winter Festivities: Lighting Your Garden
Ho Ho Ho... it is the first day of December and we woke to a beautiful crisp blanket on the grass, leaves encrusted with icy coats and the cars had that lovely spidery pattern on their bonnets that I believe comes from the frost dancing in the night air then flopping down on the cold metal floor to rest.
We've had a bout of sickness in the house today with Husband coming down with a cold/flu after we had our flu jabs this weekend. Although I don't feel quite right, I'm soldiering on and finding that tapping away on this little blog to be rather therapeutic.
But onto the reason behind this little note from our kitchen table today. As many of you are aware the Tier system got brought into place a few days ago and will be effective as of this Wednesday which sadly puts a lot of people's plans into dismay and means a lot more time stuck inside our homes. I have seen on social and on my daily walks people starting to transform their homes into beautiful grottos and winter wonderlands and I wanted to share with you a few images and hints and tips with how you can do that by foraging for some fantastic foliage, hanging beautiful lights and bringing the outdoors in through this little At Home Edition: Winter Festivities Series.
Firstly let's talk about your front or back gardens... and for any of you naughty minded people let's get your head out of the gutter... especially before I start talking about maintaining your bushes....(!)
From twinkling fairy lights wrapped around your window, to draping them in your outdoor bushes, I have always found this to be the most perfect welcome home after a day at work. The warmth that glows from their little heads, reminds me of snuggling around the fire, roasted chestnuts and hot mulled wine that comes with the beautiful winter months and should definitely not be just reserved for Christmas but the whole season. I'm not thinking you need to light your whole home up like the home on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, your neighbours may not be quite so pleased, but the odd twinkle as you walk up your path, find your keys at the door or just whilst you look out your window can lift the spirits.
The best outdoor lights to use are LED lights to get your twinkle on as they are more energy efficient (by 75%) than your standard incandescent bulbs but they also cost less to run.
Lighting is suitable for most types of trees, including evergreens, deciduous trees, palm trees and even yucca. Should you have a bare tree who has shed its leaves, perfect! They are the perfect structural framework for hanging lights and can create a beautiful shape in the dark.
Choosing your colour is down to personal taste, but I myself prefer the warm tones (super traditional!) however there are the multicoloured lights and that of cool white which gives off a bluish glow. I'd definitely stick to one colour palette though rather than mixing up the lights as this gives a far more refined look.
Top Tips for Hanging Lights Outside:
Test the lights before you wrap them (sounds obvious but also so annoying when you have to take it all down again when you find a bulb is blown!)
Choose a tree to start with that is a focal point in the landscape of your garden. Depending on your garden, this might actually be a large shrub, or perhaps pots along the path.
Figure out if you have enough lights for the space you are illuminating by loosely using string that can easily be measured against your light length. It usually looks better to have a few key pieces lit, than lots sparsely.
Make sure your plug that is outside has ground-fault-circuit-interrupter protection (GFCI) (mouthful I know!) but this is so important as it protects against shock hazards. This cord will get wet most likely and as such the cord must be plugged into a GCFI outlet or use a GFCI-protected outdoor cord. Should you not fancy this or you don't have a power source handy, you can use outdoor battery operated, or solar operated lights instead.
When winding around the trunk, wind upwards. Move from the bottom upward with each wind, and to ensure even spacing you can use your hand, foot, ruler, small child's head to make sure it is even all the way up.
Once the trunk has been done, wrap the lights around each limb or large branch making sure that you leave double the space between each wind as you will be doubling back on yourself and winding back down the branch.
Securing the light string by tucking it into a branch, in on itself or tie with a natural piece of twine. Do not use metal wire as it could create a shock or fire hazard if the metal cuts through the insulation on the wire. You can use a plastic zip tie, however only if you remember to remove as soon as you do not need it there. By placing a plastic zip tie around the branch or the trunk, you could be in essence restricting the trees growth and could cause damage.
You can also attach lights to your door or windows by cleaning down the frame you want to attach your lights to, taking extra care to dry them. You can then use outdoor clips (from brands like Command) and place them at the measured intervals. Stick them firmly onto the surface and hook your light wire into the clip.
I absolutely love using baubles not just on the Christmas tree indoors, but also to add a little sparkle and joy to the outdoors spaces. Perhaps don't hang your Great-Aunt Agatha's glass baubles from yesteryear, but the more durable plastic baubles hung tightly on ribbon or natural twine is a sure fire way to bring festive cheer to your garden.
Make your front door that little bit special with a wreath made from lovely festive spruce. There are so many options when it comes to colours, materials, adornments and even placement. You might like to support a local florist (like me!) and ask them to make you your special wreath, or you might like to give it a go yourself! If you have a garage door, you could also think about placing a wreath on this too or instead of if your front door doesn't permit you.