Thursday, 24 December 2015

Decorating with lights – inside and outside

There is a price to pay for too much of anything good. I think we can all agree that too much nice food ends up on your hips. Too much of this nice weather has resulted in record breaking rainfall with flooding many places here in Britain, and tomorrow we are facing storm number 5 in just 6 weeks. Here in the more protected and quiet corner of South East storm Eve will probably be just windy weather and a lot of rain though. Not that we need any more rain, whenever I walk around in the flower beds here in my new garden, my wellies make a ‘squish – squelch – splosh’ sound for every step I take, and the clay soil that was hard as concrete and I had such a struggle getting a spade through in the summer is now absolutely perfect - for pottery.

Anyone hoping for a white Christmas in London can just forget about that, here is the forecast for the next 2 weeks and the mild weather is set to continue. We had colder days in August! A white Christmas is actually incredibly rare for London, although it does happen in other parts of Britain from time to time. It is more likely to see snow in February than in December here in London, if at all.

Last night, as I was about to go to bed, I noticed a lovely moon right over the roof of the community centre behind my garden. I just had to go out and take some photos. I remember last time I stood out here taking photos of the moon at 5 am, that was when we had the ‘Super Moon’ – I could swear the moon was exactly the same size last night though.

It was 14 degrees C at 5 am, the birds had started to twitter and they kept flying around my bird feeder while I was sitting on my stool taking photos – in my nighty and dressing gown. Well, I had already got changed when I discovered the moon but I couldn’t pass an opportunity like this. The things we do for photos for our blogs, eh?

Eight hours sleep and a breakfast later - and this is how my garden looked, a nice, quiet day squeezed in between a couple of horrible rainy days earlier in the week and more horrible weather to come.

I have been trying to plant some lilies in the corner along the wall, but the clay soil is so heavy I can’t manage it right now. Every time I stick a spade in the ground it comes out with 5 pounds of clay clinging on to it. Hard work!

The mild weather is making plants flower all around me, here are Helleborus hybridus ‘Picotee’.

And this is Schizostylis coccinea 'Pink Princess', a newcomer to my garden, but I love it already.

I inherited a Syringa vulgaris, a purple lilac with the house, it was tall and leggy so I chopped off half of it in August, fully expecting to miss a year of flowers, but it is full of buds and some of them are just about to pop open. Anyone heard of flowering lilacs in December before??

I have been planning to present my houseplants in this last post before Christmas, and although I have posted about my orchids before, I have never showed all of them. I don’t have as many houseplants as I used to have when I lived in Norway, simply because when I lived in East Ham I had a rather dark, Victorian house and very few windows where I could have plants – most of the windows had big radiators right beneath. Here in my new house the radiators are placed elsewhere, but there were no windowsills so I had to come up with a solution. I bought some cheap TV-benches in Ikea for £9 each and they are excellent for plants, just the right height and dept.

This is the window in my bedroom and without heating on in this room it is excellent for getting my orchids to start to produce new flower spikes. When they have got well on their way I move them into the living room where it is warmer and swap with some of the other orchids.

Right now I have NO orchids in flower, which is rather unusual, but perhaps it was because I had so many of them in flower in late summer. There are however 3 orchids with flower spikes on their way, so it won’t be too long before I have some flowers again.

Here is my Dendrobium kingianum in flower from March this year, I hope to see it flower again next spring.

The miniature roses I have here are not very happy, despite being in a somewhat colder environment than my living room, I am going to put them outside as soon as Christmas is over and they will both be much happier there.

The Schlumbergera is 2 years old and just a baby, these plants can be well over 100 years old so this tiny tot has a lot of growing up to do.

Most of my orchids are Phalaenopsis, and with none of them in flower right now I just have to show you some I took in my previous house. They will flower again, soon :-)

The tall, spiky plant at the back here is also an orchid, an Oncidium and it is now gracing me with THREE new leaf spikes, hopefully they will all bear flower spikes too.

Last time it flowered was in the summer, and I have to tell you the scent is pretty unusual. I can’t make up my mind if I like it or not – imagine walking into a garage or car mechanic on a hot summer’s day and smell the smell of warm, used gear oil just come out of a car. Never smelled it? Well, that’s how this orchid smells like when the sun is shining on the flowers! It actually took a while before I realised what the smell was when I moved in here because where I lived before this orchid never had direct sun from any window. Here in my new house the sun was streaming in every day when this one was in flower and the scent was extraordinary. Definitely not my favourite scent but it si interesting enough so it gets to stay :-)

The bedroom window is towards the front of the house and I have a view out of the window to my front garden and the car park beyond. In my window I have decorated with a Christmas star.

The living room is towards the back of the house and with a view out onto the garden. I have used the same TV benches here for plants, and one for my TV too. Here I have a mix of more orchids, a huge Spathiphyllum (peace lily), a smaller Spathiphyllum and a few other smaller plants. Just behind the TV is one of the oldest plants I have, it is normally standing on the floor to the right, but because I have a Christmas tree right now I have had to tuck the plant behind the TV.

It is a Dracaena marginata, a dragon tree and it is 14 years old. Whenever it has grown too big and up to the ceiling I just cut it down and it will grow up again. I cut it down in August and you can see it is already shooting again.

I have actually one orchid in flower right now, not a Phalaenopsis, but a Dendrobium nobile, it is lovely and keeps its flowers for many months.

Here is a Phalaenopsis not far from flowering.

Next to my Christmas tree is another 14 year old houseplant, a Ficus robusta. In my old house it grew so big it filled a whole wall in my guest bedroom. It had 3 main branches and some smaller ones and under that very tall ceiling I had there it actually reached all the way up and had one ‘arm’ in each direction reaching the corners of a 3.5m long wall. I had to prop it up with thick bamboo and also support the branches and I could not move it so I never got to vacuum behind the pot! I finally decided some years ago to cut down the whole thing and start again to make it more manageable. The plant did NOTHING for 6 months after having been cut down, then produced quite a lot of very small leaves the next 2 years, but look at it now – it is growing at the speed of light and will soon have to go on the floor as there is no room on the bench for it, the leaves are squashed up against the window. This Ficus robusta has never had any fertiliser and has only had a new pot and compost once in its life. All it gets is water and light.

At this time of year I like to surround myself with light, it gets dark so early and Christmas is a lovely excuse for filling the house with all sorts of lights.

I found these great tea candles online, they are actually battery lamps but look so real so when they are hanging in the window you can’t tell the difference. Much better with battery tea candles though, both safer and no heat.

I have added more light outside too, I have showed you my solar blossom tree before, but this is my plumtree, decorated with 200 fairy lights run on batteries.

Once the lights are switched on they will stay on for 6 hours, than go off for 18 hours and then turn on again for 6 hours and so on. Smart!

I love how the lights add another dimension to my garden.

One more photo, almost completely dark. I chose the plumtree so I could see these lights from where I sit on my sofa in the living room.

Once inside again and with the lights turned down - you can better see the Christmas tree inside, the lights in the window and the plumtree with fairy lights outside. This is the view from the corner of my sofa where I usually sit.

We have already passed the darkest day of the year. Yay! Every day from now on will be a bit longer and I know that once we have passed end of January it will feel like the daylight lasts a lot longer than now. My garden is already in spring modus though so I hope this weather can just continue – it would be a shame if we got a long spell of cold weather and some of this got ruined. The price to pay for continued weather like this is more rain though, possibly a lot more. We are fortunate in London and have no flooding issue, not at my end of London at least.

I better round up this post by wishing you all the best for the Festive Season, whichever way you are celebrating - and I aim to post a new garden movie on the last day of the month as usual so I hope to see you then. Until next time, take care.

40 comments:

  1. Hei Helene!

    Ja, dette "nye" været er ikke bare av det gode, nei. Det er 5 plussgrader her også, og mine to nye Helleborus trives utmerket ute på trappen! Så nydelig din Picotee er :)
    Fantastisk med syrinknopper til jul!

    Jeg samler også på Phalaenopsis, og har 3 stk. som står med store knopper nå. De er så enkle å få til å blomstre igjen at det er en fryd, og hyggelig å ha de å se på inne nå.

    Riktig god jul, Helene!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Og en riktig god Jul til deg også Marit, det er så mange nydelige helleborus i salg her men de riktig fine er også veldig dyre – skulle gjerne hatt flere!

      Delete
  2. God Jul Helene!
    Hoppas det blir en riktigt skön helg.
    Marika

    ReplyDelete
  3. You have your new house looking beautiful Helene. I have that 'smelly' orchid too and I reckon the scent is chocolate.. the Belgian variety! I love it, even if it does give rise to a craving.
    Happy Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know the perception of smell is very individual, but your orchid smells of chocolate?! That’s very far from my gear-oil-orchid! Happy Christmas to you too!

      Delete
  4. Lovely post about your houseplants Helene, your house looks so cozy with the plants and all the books. I´m a book lover too. It´s just a great idea to buy IKEA benches for your orchids and other plants.
    I wish you a Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Janneke, and hope you have a lovely Christmas!

      Delete
  5. I was going to comment how cozy your new house looks HELENE but Janneke beat me to it.
    Happy Christmas

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Roger, hope you have a lovely Christmas!

      Delete
  6. Beautiful inside shots...I love your cozy house and decorations. And the lights on the tree outside reflected in the bird bath are beautiful. We have had the warmest December on record with flooding rains....everything is sodden in my garden and the frogs are still awake chirping with the birds...they think it is spring....but winter will return. WIshing you a very Merry Christmas Helene !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Donna, the mild weather is continuing here too, I am so fed with all the rain as I just want to be out gardening. Hope you have a lovely Christmas!

      Delete
  7. Wonderful blooms and lights! Lovely! Merry Christmas Helen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tatyana, Merry Christmas to you too!

      Delete
  8. You've settled in to both home and garden nicely! The house looks festive and welcoming and the garden is so neat I'm envious. I wish you could ship some of that rain this way as we're still starved for it but the forecasters contend that the El Nino rains are coming in the new year so I'm trying to be patient. We may get a little light rain overnight, which will be a nice Christmas present. Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas Helene!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kris, if I could I would have sent you as much rain as you want – we certainly don’t need any more for a while! I hope El Nino will provide you with some rain :-)
      Have a great Christmas!

      Delete
  9. Dear Helene, gosh you have a lot of rain in the forecast. Looks like what we are getting too little you are getting too much of.
    I absolutely love your Schizostylis coccinea 'Pink Princess'. Its color and bloom form are so beautiful. I have never heard about this plant and will research it to get some more information.
    I admire your Dendrobium nobile as well. You really have it down with orchids. I don't even get my Phalaenopsis to rebloom, which are easy orchids.
    Your living room is very beautifully decorated for Christmas so nice, warm and cozy.
    Merry Christmas to you, Helene, and a Happy New Year as well!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Christina, I have always liked orchids and I find it rather easy to get them to re-bloom, perhaps because in order to save money I turn my heating down at night and the orchids like this temperature change between day and night. If they have above 20 degrees 24/7 they are less likely to re-bloom. Perhaps that’s something you might look into? I keep some orchids in my bedroom while they are resting, waiting for them to develop a new spike and when they flower they can come into the living room again – my bedroom has a lower temp during the day too. Nothing fancy, I don’t walk around with a thermometer measuring this! I just know orchids prefer a distinct difference in day and night temp, and after 15 years of doing this I know it works for the type of orchids I have :-)

      I hope you will get some rain with El Nino, too much and too little are both not what we want! Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year!

      Delete
  10. Hi Helene, you certainly appear to have stamped your style on both your house and garden in a very short period of time, all credit to you. I particularly like your use of lights both inside and out. Schizostylis coccinea pops up late and takes me by surprise every year just as I think I have seen the last of the herbaceous flowers, I only spotted it a couple of weeks ago. Merry Christmas and All you wish for the New Year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rick, good to hear your Schizostylis coccinea is just as late as mine – it said flowering from September to December on the label so I was a bit disappointed when I got it in October with no buds, thought I would have to wait another year, but here we are, lots of flowers! I need to find a good place for it in the garden, it is a rather big plant in a small pot. Have to think about what to plant next to it, something that comes up in the spring but goes away in the autumn would probably be best, utilising the space :-)
      Merry Christmas!

      Delete
  11. What a lovely warm livingroom. You are doing great getting the orchids in bloom again. Overhere we have the same weather. One after the other storm is coming in and the lights are on during the day, so grey and dark outside. The weatherforecast for coming week changed overhere. It seems to be that winter is coming in!!!
    It's better to have some frost and sunshine.
    Have a wonderful christmas and all the best wishes for 2016.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No winter in sight over here yet, just lots of rain for the foreseeable future…..but a few clear days in between so I have to be ready to go out in the garden when the weather is OK. Got so much to do, so many plants still to get in the ground!

      Hope you have a great Christmas, all the best for the New Year!

      Delete
  12. Hi Helene
    I just saw your weather forecast and heard in the news about the flooding in the north of England. I wish we had a little bit of your shower... it's much too warm here as well and we haven't seen any proper shower for a long, long, loooooooong time. Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog and of course, I will let you know. So kind of you! And I hope it will be possible sometime to see your lovely garden in real life :o). Probably we gonna spend our next summer holidays in Suffolk, my hubby wants to visit Duxford airfields... I don't mind because I love England, as you may have guessed :o). Have a Happy New Year and I hope, it will bring you a new furry friend... maybe even two :o).
    Take care
    Alex

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alex, I have actually been to Duxford airfield and the Imperial War Museum! May years ago I dated a guy for 2 years and he was mad about planes, especially old ones, he took me to Biggin Hill too, perhaps your hubby would have liked to go there too! I didn’t mind so much about the planes but there were lovely photo opportunities both places :-)

      I wish I could send you some of our rain, we have plenty to share!!

      Delete
  13. Helene, thank you for your nice card and greetings!
    Love your garden, so calm and cozy. What a wonderful rose!These tea-candles are very amazing.
    Merry Christmas to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Nadezda, and Merry Christmas to you too!

      Delete
  14. Your garden is amazing for December, may you get some respite from the rain so you can get those lilies planted!

    Have a wonderful holiday season!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Shirley, it doesn’t rain all the time every day – but with such short days still it’s hard to find a good time to go outside. I guess many of my plants will have to flower in their pots in 2016 too!
      All the best for the new gardening year!

      Delete
  15. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you, Helene :-). My God! you have a green thumb. You not only have a lovely garden but such beautiful orchids and houseplants inside. I find growing orchids and houseplants very difficult.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I grow all my houseplants at the same principle; ignore and neglect them for as long as possible, and it works a treat – that’s how I have grown houseplants for almost 30 years! I water them about every 10-14 days, sometimes even less than that. And some of my plants have never had any fertiliser at all, but my orchids get a squirt of orchid fertiliser when they are watered.
      Most people who kill their orchids water them too often - or never ever. If you water them more often than once every 7-10 days you are probably in the first category.

      Hope you have a great Christmas and all the best for the new gardening year!

      Delete
  16. Happy new year to you! Lovely photos of that fantastic moon !
    Loving your healthy looking houseplants !

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love to see so many colors on your garden, this season. Your shlumbergera reminds me into my neglected shlumbergera.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Endah, my shlumbergera is just a baby still, I hope to get another one in white this year.

      Delete
  18. Beautiful lights and plants! Wishing you a peaceful and happy festive season.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, and the same to you, happy New Year!

      Delete
  19. I love your bench full of houseplants! So pretty and green! I would have so many more houseplants if my cat didn't eat them, though since I honestly tend to neglect my houseplants they would have to be pretty hardy ones. I love your tea lights that you have hanging in the glass orbs - such a great idea! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and have a wonderful New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Indie, the tea lights and the orbs were both a lucky find, I plan to swap the tea lights with miniature plants for the spring and summer, if I can manage to find any small enough to go inside the orbs – watch this space :-)

      Delete
  20. We've had mild weather here too. Finally it snowed-just after Christmas. Since then, the temperatures have moved back up. The snow melts during the day and freezes again at night leaving the roads and sidewalks slippery.
    Your little house looks so cozy with all the candles and Christmas tree lights. I envy you the few flowers in the garden. (It's been warm, but this is Canada! LOL) Your house plants and orchids look so well looked after. It makes me want to try again with orchids. I never seem to do well with them though.
    All the best for the new year Helene!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jennifer, I am so used to having houseplants from growing up in Norway, I guess it is more common to have the house filled with houseplants since the summers are shorter and the choice of plants you can grow outside are not that good so people grow a lot more indoors. I tend to neglect my houseplants though, and that keeps them well, I have deliberately chosen houseplants that are OK with water every 10-14 days. Between watering I don’t tend to them at all, leaving me to concentrate fully on my garden :-)

      Happy New Year, all the best for 2016!

      Delete