Winter gardens | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Winter gardens and holiday flowers

winter garden advert
Advert – ‘Making dull gardens interesting, and unsightly gardens beautiful’ | Sheffield Daily Telegraph | 23 December 1913

Winter and your garden

Winters can present challenges to those of us blessed with a green thumb. But, perhaps, the challenges have, at times, been over-exaggerated. The Illustrated London News commented on an illustration of ‘frozen-out gardeners’ chanting out a street melody of ‘we’ve got no work to do-oo-oo’:

There are few but what have heard this miserable chorus, bawled out by half a dozen wretched-looking fellows, bearing bunches of frozen greens on the tops of long poles, as they paraded the streets of London in winter–looking as much like real gardeners as a St. Giles’s sailor looks like a real British tar. […] Your real “Frozen-out Gardeners” are generally fine-looking fellows, wearing a tinge of the summer sun on their cheeks, like a red winter-apple. They are generally round-shouldered men, and a little bent, through hard digging, and look about as much at home in our streets as we might imagine wild hares or rabbits would be, picking up a living in Covent Garden Market. They bring with them pleasant associations, turning the memory to spring flowers, which are as sure to come as the last were to wither and die; and, while you look at them, you remember the hundreds of sweet spots which you have passed in your suburban rambles, and the delight which their labours have afforded you, and you give them what few pence you can spare, with a “God bless you”. They look not up at the windows and down at the areas, like your hardened and common beggars, but on the ground, as if reproaching it for being so “hard” as to prevent them from earning a livelihood.

frozen out gardeners
Frozen-out gardeners | Illustrated London News | 21 December 1850

Despite challenges presented by winter, there is still work that can be done in the garden. An article in The Bystander speaks of the valuable late-flowering plant Schizostylis Coccinea, also known as the Crimson Flag or Kaffir Lily. The article notes that ‘it flowers, according to the locality, in October, November, and sometimes even December, not infrequently when snow is lying on the ground’.

children's gardens
Children’s Gardens; A Valuable Plant for Late Flowers | The Bystander | 7 December 1910



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Rock gardens

new rock garden
A rock garden on castle grounds | The Scotsman | 12 December 1932

The winter season is a good one for working on one’s rock garden. The Bystander notes that making or improving one’s rock garden ‘is most interesting work, yet, perhaps, a little disheartening. When one surveys the mounds of soil and heaps of stones after it is complete. and compares it with rock gardens in actual existence, such as the beautiful one at Chatsworth, it is impossible to help feeling a sense of hopeless failure. Yet, if the arrangement has been good, time will work wonders’.

The key to success, the article notes, is that the rock garden ‘must appear to have been formed by the agency of water, whether water be present or not’. Read more below.

making rock garden
Garden notes, the making of a rock garden | The Bystander | 26 December 1906



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Flowers for the holidays

Flowers and plants can be put to good use during the holiday season. Plenty of articles in The British Newspaper Archive highlighted how best to decorate for the holidays with greenery:

plants for decoration
Garden notes, plants for Christmas decoration | Sheffield Daily Telegraph | 23 December 1913
winter foliage
<ahref=”″>Winter foliage dressed in gold and silver | Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News | 22 December 1954


Why not put to good use nature’s own Christmas decorations? Check out all the varieties of pinecones in this article from the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News.


Conifer's christmas decorations
Nature’s trinkets, conifer’s Christmas decorations | Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News | 21 December 1945



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