If you’ve not put two and two together yet, I’ll let you into a little secret: when I am not writing this blog and working in my garden, you’ll find me buying Christmas decorations, food and hampers for a well-known department store. At work they call me Mr Christmas rather than The Frustrated Gardener. I’m happy to answer to either. The day job keeps me safely out of mischief, permanently covered in glitter and in imminent danger of falling into a chocolate coma. (My waist measurement has had to remain top-secret since I started five years ago.) Despite what you may think, buying for Christmas is a full-on, year-round role which, at this time of the year, pretty much takes over my life. Blogging is done in transit; in airport lounges, on trains and from hotel rooms wherever work takes me.
For the last three weeks I have been living out of a small suitcase, travelling around the UK to source next year’s products. Stretching in front of me are another four weeks of trains, planes and automobiles, carrying me as far as Belgium and Holland, but sadly not to the USA this year. I can live with that, thanks to a very kind colleague who picked up the 2018 edition of the Snow & Graham wall calendar, an iteration of which I’ve displayed at home for over 15 years.
Although the constant travelling is quite disruptive for me personally, it gets me out to other parts of the country, where I often pick up inspiring ideas for my Christmas decorations at home. At Newbank Garden Centre at Radcliffe in Lancashire, my attention was instantly drawn to a clever display of green and natural decorations arranged in a potting shed setting. Last Christmas I adorned my unfinished garden room with a similar collection of greenery and ornaments, including an old green step-ladder, tools and a pair of brick-red boots. I would have expanded on the theme this year, were it not for the burgeoning jungle that’s grown up in its place. No room for a tree there this year, but I will still hang decorations from the ceiling, and perhaps scatter some fake snow on the floor. I will soon regret that when it gets trodden into the library carpet.
The visual merchandising team at Newbank always do an outstanding job of dressing their trees and creating little areas of magic in their garden centres. I especially admired the discipline of using a single colour, the use of faux ivy cascading down the tree (real ivy would look better, but only for 5 minutes) and the casual way rustic containers were filled with artificial, yet natural-looking stems. It was not an ostentatious, spangly look, nor too pared-back. Little details, like the broken terracotta pot with compost spilling from it, gave the impression a mischievous cat had just exited the potting shed stage right.
A potting shed theme would be very easy to achieve at home, and feels highly appropriate for an enthusiastic gardener. It’s a theme one could comfortably build on from one year to the next, and would look all the better for mixing in some fresh elements, be they airplants, succulents, or fresh-cut greenery from the garden. I am coveting several decorations I’ve bought for my shops this year, including a miniature glass greenhouse, a bundle of mossy pine cones and some plain, light-gold, glittered baubles. There’s even a soft gold tinsel with oak leaves instead of the usual skinny strands of foil. Happily, in my job I don’t need an excuse to buy as many Christmas decorations as I like, if only I can find the time to shop. TFG
Get the Potting Shed Look