In the Garden:
Bring your birdbath indoors for the winter and turn it into a plant stand, or add a submersible motor and rocks and create an indoor fountain.
Bringing the Garden Indoors
For my birthday one June my son and husband made me a beautiful, two-story bluebird house, white with blue trim. Since it was past nesting time, I set it on a table inside where I could enjoy it up close. I was almost sorry to see it moved outside the following spring, and I realized how it helped bridge the gap between summer and winter, between inside and out -- a gap that widens to a crevasse during New England winters. Since then I've looked for ways to bring a touch of the garden indoors at summer's end.
Garlands, Wreaths, and More
Wild grapevine can provide the foundation for many indoor decorations. It's worth some time to scout a supply in the fall and keep it in the garage until you need it.
Wound in a circle, grapevine makes a simple wreath that you can decorate with pinecones, bittersweet berries, or your favorite dried flowers. You also can turn a small grapevine wreath into a table centerpiece by setting it on top of a base of felt and attaching nuts and pinecones and other sundry items with a glue gun. Set a bowl of floating candles or a grouping of pillar candles in the center.
Grapevine also makes a unique wall garland. I like to hang some long pieces above my kitchen doorway, attached at the upper corners with wire and hooks so it drapes down either side of the doorway. I weave in some dried hydrangea flowers and eucalyptus leaves and berries, and secure them with green florist's wire. You also could add your favorite seedpods, dried baby's breath, and tiny white lights.
Tabletop Bulb Gardens
Plant amaryllis and paper white narcissus bulbs in small pots and then cluster them together in large planters or wide baskets -- even ceramic casserole dishes. Use sphagnum moss to hide the individual pots and create the look of an indoor garden.
Don't overlook the tiny bulbs when you're potting up bulbs for forcing. Fill a decorative, shallow container with grape hyacinths, scillas, dwarf Iris reticulata, or crocuses, and after their cold treatment place them where you have limited space -- on the kitchen counter or next to the bathroom sink.
Before you retire garden ornaments to the shed or garage for the winter, consider whether they could join you inside instead. Perhaps a diminutive garden statue could fit into a nook in your kitchen or entryway. If you have a small birdbath, you could fill it with water and pebbles and set small pots on top so the plants will benefit from the added humidity. Or float candles or glass balls in it.
I have a small outdoor trellis that I place in the pot of a large indoor plant every winter. Wound with tiny, white lights (and hung with tiny ornaments over the holidays), it lifts the spirits during dark winter evenings.
Even a dead tree branch has possibilities. A friend has salvaged a large branch pruned from a backyard tree and set it in a container in the corner of her living room, where it's now festooned with strands of tiny, electric lanterns. There are endless ways to keep the spirit of the garden alive during the long winter's nap.
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