Gardens - Indoor Gardening

Bring the outside indoors

7 ideas for adding a touch of nature indoors

Soon you'll be putting your garden to bed, reflecting on this year's triumphs and planning for next year. But why suffer garden withdrawal all winter long when you can extend the season by applying a touch of your horticultural style to your home? Bring some of those precious plants, patio furniture and accent pieces indoors to complement and enhance your existing decor. This doesn't mean cramming in every little garden tchotchke. Introducing the garden motif to the rest of your room's furnishings is a lot like pruning: too much is disastrous but just enough will result in pleasing form and balance. So maybe that concrete frog should stay outside, while a pair of comfortable wooden armchairs “winterized” with tapestry or floral cushions definitely have their place in the living room. And fragile objects, such as marble tables, should be brought indoors to preserve them. But instead of putting them in storage, put them to good use. We'll show you how.

Why suffer garden withdrawal when you can extend the season?

Overwintering dwarf myrtle (Myrtus communis ssp. tarentina) topiaries flank the fireplace at the hearth and atop the mantle. Mist the foliage frequently to compensate for drier indoor conditions, and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. The topiaries need light but keep them out of direct sun; a quarter turn every few days will keep them growing straight. Ivies planted at their bases spill over the containers' square edges, softening their appearance. Zinc containers with curvy lines complement the small hearth while the mantle pots blend with the muted wall colour and the white-painted wooden finial accents.

Candles & tropicals
Low-light lovers asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus) and moss fern (Selaginella pallescens) create a forest floor in front of the unused fireplace. Available year-round in stores that stock tropicals, they're priced modestly enough to green up a large area. When lit, the candles add a moonlight effect, but care should be taken to ensure plants are at a safe distance from flames.

Coffee table
A sturdy coffee table, constructed from a French cast-iron panel is reminiscent of a garden gate and continues the room's garden theme. Able to withstand the elements, it could remain outdoors all season but looks right at home in front of the sleek, modern sofa. A pair of cast-iron gates flank the fireplace.

Kitchen office
No need to banish the home office to a dark basement or share your bills with house guests in the spare room. Set up a small area in the kitchen with garden furnishings that have to be stored indoors for the winter; the potting table scrubs up handsomely as a desk, while mini urns function as pencil holders. The iron garden chair, with just the right amount of rust, sports an attractive new cushion and fits neatly beneath the desk; an oxalis transplanted from a shady spot in the garden thrives in a classic fluted urn.

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