Winter Finery - Bright Spots on Dull Days

By Sara Malone
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We love the soft light of winter and how it shows almost everything to advantage. In the shot above, conifers, yucca and the lingering leaves of a mix of deciduous trees illuminate the landscape. It put us in a party mood, so we thought we'd check out what's being worn this season.

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Juniperus cedrus

Tweeds are always a favorite in the winter months, and this Canary Islands juniper wears a blue-green version, with a double-white stomatal band which acts like flecks of white on the darker cloth. If you suspect hyperbole, compare to the 'real' thing:

tweed

The subdued, workmanlike tweed needs a bit of livening up, so we looked for something peppier to pair it with. Perhaps the tapestry of winter-tinged leaves of Hydrangea quercifolia? The oak-leaf hydrangea is the only member of its clan that can take full sun and doesn't require a lot of water, making it suitable for drought-tolerant gardens. We think that the winter foliage beats the summer bloom:

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Hydrangea quercifolia

Is nature imitating art or is art imitating nature?

tapestry

What accessorizes the garden's tweeds and damasks? A winning strategy is to seek contrasts of color, form and texture. A shiny patent leather would work well with the soft, light-absorbing fabrics.

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Coprosma repens

The shiny purple-burgundy foliage of the mirror plant, Coprosma, would certainly do the job. 'Red Jewel' barberry's brighter, glossy foliage also caught our eye:

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Berberis x media

Decisions, decisions!

patent-leather-shoes

While we're enjoying the finery, we thought we'd do our hair. Banksia spinulosa 'Schnapper Point', or koala blooms banksia, has candle-like (or curler-like!) blossoms that stick out through the foliage. This year it was extremely floriferous so we can cover ourselves in curls.

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Banksia spinulosa

curlers

So what about jewels? We found that Ilex x attenuata 'Longwood Gold' has lovely orange beadlike berries. This natural hybrid of two native North American hollies is rarely seen in cultivation and we don't know why. It makes a perfect pairing with orange libertia.

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Perfect pair: Ilex 'Longwood Gold' and Libertia peregrinans

Now we just have to collect and string the beads:

beads

Now that we're all dressed, a bit of cosmetic enhancement is in order. Lipstick, nail polish and blush, in the wintery shade of brilliant red.

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Leucadendron

nail-polish

And now, the finishing touch. We're completing our outfit with a fan. We just have to choose which one. This Brahea armata is simply loaded with them.

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Mexican blue palm (Brahea armata

Here's the one that we finally chose:

fan

Now there is nothing left to do but to wait for Prince Charming. It may be a long wait. The coach is simply not materializing.

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What kind of finery do you have in your winter garden?

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