With each year that passes, we have come to appreciate the sculptural and fragile beauty of winter, more and more: The charcoal wash of trees silhouetted against the low light in the sky: The filigree, lace like bare branches, the space that hibernating herbaceous shrubs and plants reveals in a garden, a space we don’t think you should be in a hurry to fill up. There will be plenty of time for new growth in the garden, for the riot of colours that this will bring, so we urge you to go out and enjoy the contemplative mood in your gardens, terraces and community open spaces.
That said, there is always a little bit of room in a garden for the vibrant red berries of Cotoneaster horizontalis, and the emerging pinks on the bare branches of Viburnum Bodnatense Dawn. We are even rather enjoying the rather sultry looking yellows of Mahonias, which seem to having a bumper season.
We urge you all to not follow the lead of one of our clients (sorry R!) as wonderful as he is, who recently informed us that he does not go out in the garden between October and April! We at OBAB say, get out there and host a winter barbie – we recently did. Get that camp fire stoked up in winter, cook tandoori chicken, root veg and halloumi kebabs and serve with kale and hazelnuts, its great, invigorating fun!
Talking of fire and light, winter is also a great time to experiment with garden lighting, we are working on a lighting design project for a number of clients. Don’t limit yourself to enjoying a garden by daylight.
The team at OBAB are also feeling in a very fruity mood. We are currently designing a really lovely courtyard project for another health centre in Camden called, ‘The Listening Space.’ A garden which will hopefully inspire many of the patients who devastatingly are victims of war and torture: victims of social exclusion. Social prescribing in community gardens is a project which are very close to our heart. The first part of our design which will be planted up later this month, includes planting espaliered fruit trees all around the perimeter of the garden: Apples, pears, peaches, cherries, plums. Incorporated into our design, there will also be step-over apple trees, which are very lovely and add structure. We visualize a time when all health centres will have bucolic outside space and offer a place of peace, refuge and inspiration.
Talking about fruit, why not get out there and host a night of waissailing. Waes hael means good health. Based on ancient custom, mid January is the time when we toast the health of our apple trees for the forthcoming year by banging pots and pans.
Wassaile the trees, that they may beare
You many a Plum and many a Peare:
For more or lesse fruits they will bring,
As you do give them Wassailing.
This time of year also sees us working on several hardscaping projects. It’s all about landscaping and water features. Are you happy with your garden layout? Could some of your hard landscape be turned over to naturalistic soft landscaping? Do you have room for a pond with a lovely organic shape? Do you have a long thin garden which could be re-imagined in the form of several inter-linked spaces. And not forgetting our favourite, working with coppiced hazel and chestnut. How about building that honeysuckle arbour this spring.
Enjoy your outdoor spaces this winter: they are a place of connection and change.