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MAKING homes look fabulously festive and tip-top for the big day is the focus right now. But as the seasonal snow and ice melts away, what about dressing up the garden? With trees looking bare and fewer plants flourishing at this time of year it can be easy to focus on the inside rather than the outside.

However it doesn’t mean the great outdoors can’t look as fabulous as the sparkly indoors at this wonderful time of year. We asked three garden experts currently planning ahead for next year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival (May 10-13) to share their top three tips on getting your garden looking its festive best.

Internationally acclaimed gold medal winning landscape designer Paul Hervey-Brookes, from The Cotswolds, offers ways to create a welcoming glow with intoxicating scents.

  1. Subtle strings of white lights in box balls or in jars in a porch add a sense of wintery glow.
  2. Fill containers with wonderful foliage or winter flowering plants. Empty urns or larger terracotta pots can be filled with cut Cornus, corkscrew hazel or even a potted ‘Christmas tree’.
  3. Plant more winter interest shrubs, this is the time of year that intoxicating scents can be found with winter box, and winter honeysuckle – a real treat and Christmas welcome.

RHS Ambassador Jamie Butterworth is currently crafting a new green living spaces feature for RHS Malvern. He suggests embracing a little laziness at this busy time of year.

  1. Hanging baskets can be filled with a mix of winter spruce, pine cones and baubles. Decorate them with outdoor lights and dangle from the porch to welcome guests.
  2. Be lazy – Don’t worry about cutting back all those perennials and grasses that have died. The skeletons and seed heads left behind can be beautiful on a cold, crisp, frosty morning – they can really sparkle and come back to life. Leave until February and cut back then, for maximum enjoyment and minimum work.
  3. Plant up window boxes with winter flowering plants such as Helleborus niger and sprinkle with outdoor lights for a festive sparkle.

Eco landscape designer Hannah Genders, from Worcestershire, will be bringing sustainable gardening to the fore at next year’s show. She suggested some wildlife friendly tips to give the birds in your garden a merry Christmas.

  1. Solar lighting – Even at this time of year with low light levels, the new solar fairy lights are a must for your garden. Use them near your front door to welcome visitors.
  2. Choose a tree in the garden and decorate with bird feeder baubles. Cut and hollow half an orange and fill with a mixture of fat and seeds as a colourful Christmas treat for our feathered friends.
  3. Hang heart and star shaped ‘wreathes’ of seeded fat balls from strategically placed branches throughout the garden to make your outdoor space look seasonally pretty and to help the birds keep up their fat reserves during the winter.

If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas present tickets are now on sale for RHS Malvern Spring Festival, which takes place from Thursday 10 May until Sunday 13 May 2018. Free entry for children under the age of 16 is available throughout the festival. For more information on ticket prices, please call 0844 811 0050 (calls cost 7p per minute plus network extras) or visit

Image credit: Andrew Walton

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