Spring all year round

By Carol McGarvey, Better Homes and Gardens Books
Friday March 15, 2002

Many gardeners get through winter by holding on tight to seed catalogs and perusing every page. Others do that, too, but they also live with the garden look all year round to keep them inspired. 

It doesn’t matter where you live — cottage, suburban two-story or high-rise apartment — you can warm your home with garden trappings, such as potted plants, floral prints and fabrics and aged outdoor furniture pieces. 

In some climates, there’s little distinction between indoors and outside, but in others, the weather creates a firm definition. If that’s your situation, picture in your mind what you love about the outdoors. Then work to bring it inside. 

That doesn’t have to mean a total, costly remodeling. Sometimes castoffs and found objects like small urns, metal gates or an architectural piece provide the just-right touch. Combine those pieces with botanical prints, floral fabrics, vintage pottery and garden-bright colors, and you’ve got a fresh look. 

Mixing the old and new will remind you of the relaxed charm of the garden you love. Decorate with your watering can until it is needed outdoors. Place a garden lantern inside at a strategic spot, or bring an Adirondack chair out of winter storage and make it your favorite reading chair. 

Enjoy this season as a time to browse thrift shops and antique malls for garden ornaments. Then try them out inside your home first; don’t wait for the garden. Visit garden shops when they’re not full of plants to see some interesting pieces that you might ignore when you’re shopping for bedding plants. Shop for vintage and new fabrics that might enhance the garden look in pillows or window valances. 

Some simple projects can add to the overall garden feel of your rooms. Need an extra bedside table? Add a folding wooden or metal chair and stack gardening books for bedtime dreaming. Hang a small wooden garden ladder horizontally on the wall and drape antique quilts from it for colorful display. 

Add leaf motifs to white bed linens in a guest room or be fanciful in a painted fern-patterned screen. Fill a small child’s wagon with plants. Plant some ivy in colorful pots. 

As temperatures allow, treat your deck, patio or sunroom as an outdoor room. Invite colorful patterns into the mix or give a floor cloth look to the wood floor by painting a geometric or floral pattern. 

Introduce texture wherever you can. Hang dried flowers, vintage tools, small wreaths or even a straw hat to help create a restful oasis. Display some vintage or reproduction floral prints to create a focal point in a neutral room, and include touches of patterned fabric. If bold isn’t your style, fashion a restful, quiet spot with soft backgrounds and painted white furniture. Many shades of white, taupe and soft green work well together in subtle rooms. 


Better Homes and Gardens Garden Style and Garden Style Projects (Meredith Books, $34.95 and $24.95 respectively).