As the colder months approach it’s natural to retreat indoors and put the garden to bed for a few months. But with a few savvy adjustments to your outside space, you could be spending every evening outside, enjoying the crisp air and starlit nights with friends. It’s just a matter of changing your mindset. Shelter, warmth and light are the key words in planning your winter garden, and you can provide these elements in the most simple forms or spend a bit more to incorporate long-term design changes in your garden.
A sense of enclosure is all-important for an area you are entertaining in, to impart a sense of intimacy as well as provide shelter from the elements. Plant an instant hedge from Hopes Grove Nurseries or commission a handmade willow screen from Somerset willow specialist Jay Davey. Then add an overhead sail canopy to protect you from the rain. SD Sails make bespoke sail canopies to suit your site, or choose from the rainbow colours of Kookaburra sail shades from Primrose.
Perhaps all you’ll need for a shelter is a simple gazebo, and once you start your research you’ll realise how much choice there is, from basic canvas gazebos that can be put up in minutes, to more permanent wooden-framed structures with integral roofs. Cheap and cheerful pop-up gazebos are available aplenty from House of Tents. For something with a little more style and longevity, choose the Wooden Frame Canvas Safari Tent from Bell Tent Village.
If you have the budget and are prepared to create more integral spaces within your garden, you could consider a new terrace with a wooden gazebo or pergola. The Gazebo Company make oak framed gazebos with shingle or slate roofs in bespoke sizes and styles, and if you’re really buying in to the concept of outdoor living, then you could build your dream outdoor kitchen underneath, from Gordon Stone or Grillo. Just adding a pizza oven and a trestle table could do the trick. Wood-fired or gas pizza ovens are available at many price points, from the portable Fyra Wood-fired Pizza Oven (uk.ooni.com) to the deluxe Clementi range from The Pizza Oven Shop.
Staying warm is crucial if you want to enjoy an extended season in the garden, and an open fire creates plenty of atmosphere. You can’t beat the traditional Kadai fire bowls which come in sizes to suit your garden space, or choose the corten steel Jotul Froya chiminea from Bonfire. You could even build a stone or brick outdoor fireplace with chimney to sit at the end of a canopied outdoor room. However if you are outside night after night, the quickest and most efficient source of heat is from an electric patio heater such as the Firefly range from Primrose, including hanging, wall-mounted and free-standing lamp-style heaters. Herschel have a similar range of infrared heaters. Other low carbon options include fires fueled by bio ethanol, which is produced by the fermentation of vegetable matter. Eco Smart Fire and Easyfire offer a range of ethanol-fuelled wall-mounted fire places, fire tables or fire boxes with a sleek modern look.
Keep cosy with layered lambswool knee blankets from The Tartan Blanket Co, which can hide a sneaky hot water bottle, and invest in a comfortable sofa where you can wallow in sheepskin cushions from Nordic House.
Creating the right ambience with clever lighting is key to a welcoming outdoor space. You might be lucky enough to have an existing greenhouse or conservatory that you can transform into an impromptu dining area. Hang a Wickham Candle Chandelier from Jim Lawrence above a table and you have suddenly created a magical dining space that can be used in all seasons. You can buy off-the-peg garden lighting from outdoor lighting specialists such as Lighting for Gardens or commission a lighting designer like John Cullen Lighting to design a comprehensive lighting scheme for your garden.
Create a party atmosphere with solar-powered festoon lights from The Solar Centre or a more intimate, cocooned feeling with an outdoor table lamp like the Eva Solo Sunlight Small Solar Light from Made in Design, arranging several lined up on a table. For a more traditional look, invest in a reproduction antique hanging lantern or globe from Jamb to create a wonderful centerpiece.
For natural candlelight, arrange a cluster of candle lanterns in different sizes around your seating area. Amara have a good selection of hurricane lamps and lanterns in different materials to co-ordinate with your outdoor furniture and garden style, from coloured glass to natural rattan.
This article originally appeared on House & Garden UK | Author Clare Foster