Winter Finery - Bright Spots on Dull Days

By Sara Malone
Lecocq 20161225 1077 edit

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.


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:


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:


Hydrangea quercifolia

Is nature imitating art or is art imitating nature?


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.


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:


Berberis x media

Decisions, decisions!


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.


Banksia spinulosa


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.


Perfect pair: Ilex 'Longwood Gold' and Libertia peregrinans

Now we just have to collect and string the 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.




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.


Mexican blue palm (Brahea armata

Here's the one that we finally chose:


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.


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