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Magical outdoor spaces year round

Fabulous ideas for your winter garden from The Garden Studio

There’s no denying it, winter is well under way on the Maltese Isles and enjoying your outdoor spaces can have its obvious challenges. Yet in this part of the Mediterranean, we are also blessed with temperate climate and many beautiful days with clear blue skies and gentle warming sun. Outdoor spaces can be magical and enjoyable year round and even a winter garden can become a pleasant space with the addition of a few key elements.


Start by analysing your space holistically like a professional designer would. Outdoor spaces are made up of several elements. The architectural portion, referred to as the hard-landscaping, consisting of flooring, lighting, planter walls, pergolas, fountains and any built or architectural element. The soft-landscaping consisting of the vegetation. The decorative elements, such as furniture, rugs, pots and lanterns, just to name a few. Ask yourself some basic questions to establish your use, context and budget. How often are you planning to use your outdoor space: is it daily, once a week or just occasionally? What will you use your space for: outdoor entertaining or simply to relax outside? How large is the area you have: is it an open space garden, a terrace, a verandah?


Determine if you can “Winterise” your space by excluding the elements, only through heating, or ideally a combination of both. If you can enclose your designated space with a temporary or permanent structure so you are repaired from wind and rain, half the job is already done. Next think about heating the space according to what is most appropriate for size and budget. If you have a large space, one of the most attractive ways to generate heat and create a focal point at the same time, is by adding a custom built outdoor fireplace or fire pit. Roaring fire and outdoor entertaining go hand in hand and there is something absolutely mesmerizing about live fire: it looks great, it smells great and it creates the most wonderful atmosphere. Natural log fire in fireplaces or fire pits is an excellent heat source and with the right comfortable seating arranged around it, it makes the perfect destination point in the garden. Fire pits should always have some sort of fire break surrounding them, such as gravel or paving stone, which can also double either as a surface on which to place seating for your guests or as a coffee table.


If your space is a little smaller, you may opt for radiant heating elements which can range from wall mounted, hanging as a pendant light fitting or freestanding. There are also plenty of well-designed Eco Smart fire elements, both portable as well as to be incorporated in a bespoke built structure. Whether you are considering a fire pit or fireplace, these eco-fire elements work by filling up a specially designed vessel with bio combustibles and burn a beautiful, clean, odourless and smoke-free flame.


The next stage in creating a cosy space is with furniture you can sink right into. Go to outdoor retail specialists to look for items and advice on decorating your garden for the winter time. Choose warm fabrics for your seating and add visual warmth with outdoor rugs and candle lit lanterns. Place throws and soft woolly pillows on your outdoor loungers to contribute to the feeling of comfort and cosiness, and surround your seating with a composition of large pots with a mix of tall and medium plants to further cocoon and shield the area.


Undeniably the focus of any outdoor space should be the garden itself. While winter is generally a dormant season in the botanical world, there a number of cool weather loving plants which can be added for foliage and colour in your Mediterranean garden. In a well planned garden the backbone, or structure of the planting scheme remains throughout the year and can be provided by evergreen trees and larger shrubs or architectural plants and succulents. These can then be balanced out, but not necessarily, with softer underplanting which provides seasonal interest through leaf shape and texture, blooms or berries. Some plants actually appear in winter making a bold statement with their bright flowers or beautiful leaves, only to completely disappear in summer. These are perennials which come up year after year. Other splashes of colour can also be given by winter flowering seasonals such as pansies, Cyclamen, Nasturtium and Lobelia or early flowering bulbs like Freesias, Crocus and daffodils.

The final aim should always be to achieve the right balance of harmony and contrast between plant forms, heights, textures and colours, which results in the most pleasing and restful effect for the eye.

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Content supplied: The Garden Studio

Copyright 2017/18 - Temple Concierge Ltd


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