Christmas Garden Trends

by Camilla Grayley

Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'

Christmas Trends 2020: Choose your favourite Art Movement from Renaissance to Bloomsbury

When it comes to Christmas inspiration and trends John Lewis often lead the way, whether it is ideas for decorating the tree, laying the table for Christmas dinner or scattering a few incidental decorations around the house. There is no reason why the garden or any outside space can’t be part of any theme, whether is to create a view or focal point when looking out or an outdoor space to enjoy and this year in particular has been more about the outdoors than ever. 2020 is all about art movements from the ornate theme of Renaissance, the Post Impressionism of Cézanne and Van Gogh and the Pop Art of Jeff Koons and Warhol. To the distinctive brush strokes of Impressionism, the cosy feel of Bloomsbury, Art of Japan (think traditional Christmas reds and greens with a kooky twist of pink or a Japanese cat ornament) and the architectural qualities of Art Nouveau.

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postil’


The Renaissance theme is drawing its inspiration from books and music and the decoration is ornate in colours of blush, mint and warm neutrals with copper and gold accents but used in a contemporary way. Shades of blush can be found in abundance in winter flowering plants, particularly shrubs from the evergreen Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Rose’ with its tiny pale pink flowers or the deciduous Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ with its pale pink high scented flowers standing out against the bare branches. Daphnes are a smaller shrub for a hint of blush, ranging from varities such as Daphne bholua ‘Jacqeuline Postil’ (grows up to 4 metres) down to the small compact Daphne x transatlantica ‘Pink Fragrance’, a more hardy variety than its cousins.


Where there isn’t enough space for a new shrub Hellebores will cover up bare soil in winter and early spring, in blush shades Helleborus × ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’ or the white with pink splashes of Helleborus × hybridus ‘Pretty Ellen Pink’. Cyclamen are another perfect winter flowering plant for dotting around the base of deciduous shrubs and adding colour through the winter branches and twigs. Or adding to pots and planters for a splash of colour near the house, particularly the pale pink of Cyclamen hederifolium.

Hammamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’

Copper tones are also in abundance in winter gardens from the spidery flowers of Witch hazels, Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Jelena’ or ‘Ruby Glow’ are lightly scented or the sweetly scented Orange Peel, if spaces allows. To the vibrant stems of Cornus, Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ has the graduated colour from pale orange rising to bright orange with red tips at the top or Cornus sanguinea ‘Anny’s Winter Orange’. To add smaller hints of copper and amber Violas provide much needed colour in winter, ideal for adding to planters from Viola cornuta ‘Tiger Eye Red’, yellow and orange flowers with deep red veins which starts flowering in September carrying on all the way to into June. Larger varieties include pansies such as Beacon Caramel, a pale to deep orange coloured flower that will provided a bigger hit of colour than its smaller cousin the viola. Mixing the two colours in the garden would give a contemporary feel to the space.

Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’

Shades of gold aren’t colours typically associated with plants but adding lighting will make the garden sparkle, uplighters will highlight a focal point, a favourite tree or piece of sculpture or scattered amongst the borders will add a diffuse glow to the plants. Strings of outdoor lights will give that Christmas feeling, wrapped around the bare bones of a large shrub or deciduous tree or around topiary at the entrance to a house or garden.

Christmas outdoor lights (RHS Harlow Carr 2017)


Bloomsbury has a cosy feel in warm copper tones mixed with bold jewel-like colours in shades of purple, red and blues mixed in with leather and wooden furniture. Many of the plants mentioned above for the Renaissance theme would work just as well for Bloomsbury from the copper stemmed plants and flowers to the violas, hellebores and cyclamen. With a few different varieties swapped in, deeper hellebore shades from Helleborus orientalis‘Red Lady’ to the purples of Helleborus x hybridus‘Harvington Dusky’ and Double Chocolate and viola varities such as Viola x wittrockiana‘Frizzle Sizzle Burgundy’ or Matrix Sangria. Holly berries are the perfect jewel-like colour for Christmas one of my favourites is Ilex aquifolium ‘J.C. van Tol’ due its lack of prickles or the variegated leaves of Ilex × altaclerensis ‘Golden King'(despite its name it’s a female plant that needs a male variety to guarantee berries). Add in a wooden bench to enjoy the winter colours and the Bloomsbury theme is complete.

Ilex × altaclerensis ‘Golden King’

About the Author

Camilla Grayley is a garden designer based in York, mainly working in and around Yorkshire but has travelled up and down the UK to design gardens and is always happy to travel to help clients with their gardens. I love creating gardens with strong architectural outlines softened by voluminous planting that draws on year round interest, ensuring there is something to capture the eye whatever the season. Gardens should always evoke all the senses from the colour palette on the eye, to the rustling of plants swaying in the wind to the amazing perfumes that can be inhaled, whether on a summer’s evening or the depth of winter.


If you would like to know more working with me please feel free to have a look at my Garden Design and Garden Consultancy Services or contact me.

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