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The Gardening Coach - December 2015
I took this picture last winter at Anglesey Abbey Gardens and it made me realise what stunning effects can be achieved with simple garden lighting. In our gardens we tend to think of lighting as having a functional purpose, lighting paths and steps and perhaps illuminating the occasional feature tree. But if we view garden lighting as purely functional we’re really missing out on the colour and drama that can be created by feature lighting, which is particularly important during long dark winter months. I’ve recently designed a garden which included lighting a huge 50ft blue cedar (Cedrus atlantica), using a large blue uplighter sunk into the lawn. The effect was spectacular, with the intricate shape of the cedar branches breathtakingly backlit in blue. But you don’t need a 50ft cedar to achieve incredible lighting effects, small garden trees often have great structure and can look equally impressive when uplit. Warm white or cool white lighting in gardens can look nice, but why not be bold and try purples, blues, greens and even red lighting? It creates a theatrical effect, bringing a whole new dimension to a garden.

Top Tips for December

Plant wallflowers with tulips
Try perennial wallflower Erynsimum ‘Winter Orchid’ with beautiful flame coloured tulip ‘Ballerina’.

Plant a tree
Bare-root or container grown trees can be planted now. Amelanchier  lamarckii is a beautiful tree for smaller garden.

Plant evergreen shrubs
Evergreen shrubs aren’t just green - Variegated shrubs such as the new plant Photinia ‘Pink Crispy’ has stunning ‘marbled’ green and pink foliage!
 
Plant winter flowering heather
Winter flowering heather such as Erica x darleyensis ‘Kramer’s Rote’, is beautiful and lime tolerant, so ideal for clay soil.

Spike lawns
Now is the best time to aerate compacted lawns with a garden fork or hollow tine aerator. You can also brush in sharp sand to improve drainage.
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