Hygge for Horti-types: 10 ways to enjoy Hygge outdoors November 01, 2016 18:52
Unless you have been living somewhere v. obscure and social media free, you can't have missed the current craze for 'Hygge'. Originating from Denmark, that notoriously happy place that created series such as, erm, The Killing, Hygge does not have a direct, one word english translation but is widely interpretd by that happy, contented feeling you get from simple pleasures. Cue lots of images of candles, cosy firesides, wood burners and cashmere socks. However, as lovely as these images are, for me, they only tell half the story.
While much of that sense of 'cosiness' associated with indoor warmth, I firmly believe that green fingered, horti types have had the whole hygge thing sorted long before the current fascination. For years, gardeners have quietly enjoyed precious, simple pleasures outdoors. It is especially evident at this time of year. Extra layers of clothes start to pile on - your body is warm, your (facial) cheeks cold and crimson. There is a crunch of leaves underfoot and a wisp of woodsmoke in the air. Lovely stuff.
Here are 10 ideas for getting your hygge on, horti style...
Firelight: Bonfire night is all too often associated with noisy bangers and howlers. Try a quieter, more chilled out affair. A fire pit in the garden, outdoor candles dotted around the place, comfy seats, blankets, hot toddies and friends. What a perfect way to switch off from the hurly burly of work / chores / stress and just enjoy good company & conversation for a few hours.
Collect and repurpose fallen leaves: There is something about the smell of autumn. During the last week the damp, fog filled mornings have sooner or later given way to warm, sunny afternoons. The earthy smell of the garden first thing is lovely and a great time to get your hands dirty. Move fallen leaves away from paths and grass and onto beds, borders or the compost heap. Leaf mould is garden gold. All that goodness seeps back into the soil over the winter months, providing nutrients ready for Spring. Playing a v. small part in that cyclical process is simple but enjoyable. And it smells amazing.
Take a tea break outside: In fact, take any break outside, night or day. Enjoying a hot steaming cup of tea or your beverage of choice is heaven. Enough said.
Plant Spring Bulbs: It is not too late to add a few bulbs in and around the garden. In fact, it has been so mild, now is probably a really good time. Planting bulbs a little later just means that they will appear a little later than any existing ones. This is a good thing, providing successional colour, foliage and flowers for you to enjoy and any bugs and beasties visiting your garden next Spring.
Plan a winter prune: It may be a tad too early to actually start pruning, but I've got my eye on a few suspects that need a little attention later this year. In the meantime, I'm still dividing hostas and moving things around to make better use of the space in my garden. Garden planning and pottering is one of the best parts of gardening. You don't have to necessarily 'do', just the act of thinking about it, immersing yourself in your space and what it might look like, is enough.
Protect your plants: While there is no sign of a frost yet, adding a good layer of leaves and /or mulch to your flowerbeds sets them up for a great little hibernation. The sheer act of looking after a plant, shrub or tree is mood enhancer. Mary Reynolds talks about looking after the earth as you would with any other living body. The result is that your little patch of earth, no matter how large or small, will look after you back.
Eat what you sow: We have had pumpkin soup for lunch and/or dinner four times in the last week. There is literally a vat of it sat in the fridge, made from the pumpkins that have been growing in the front garden. Eating something you have sown, tended, harvested and cooked is really satisfying. Particularly when woofed down with a kilo of bread based carbs, smothered in butter. Ultimate comfort food.
Meet 'Gordon' down the Garden: For years, my friends' Mum and her mate used to go down to the bottom of the garden to see 'Gordon'. This lady's husband actually thought they had a gardener called 'Gordon'. Instead, they were heading out of sight from the house, to enjoy a drop of gin and a chinwag. Brilliant. We all need an escape and sometimes it is just not possible to head off to far flung places. But a garden can provide an equally mischievous, comforting retreat, with or without Gordon.
Sow wild seeds: Have you ever deliberately hid a tenner in a book or handbag, only to find it a few weeks / months later? What a feeling. For me, sowing seeds creates the same kind of contented glow. Fab. Now is a great time to get wild flower seeds into the ground in advance of happy, hygge filled summer days ahead.
Create your own autumn watch: Now, I'm not averse to that lovely television programme. But is it not slightly insane that we have become used to, and accept, that it is normal to watch other people watching nature through a television screen. It is LIVE telly! We've become accustomed to thinking that nature is something 'far away'. Somewhere we visit rather than something that exists everywhere, including our own urban spaces. So here is a thing: why not switch it off and go outside. Take it all in. The spiders webs. The noises, man made or otherwise. The stars. The moon. The rustle of leaves. Whatever is there, enjoy it. Nurture it. Plan for more. The watch what you've missed on Sky+.
Take a nap: Cor, a daytime snooze. Now that is the ultimate indulgence. Wrap up and park yourself in a nice sunny spot after lunch for a little outdoor siesta. Nothing beats an illicit daytime snooze to make your feel like a new person. Turn the phone off, shut the back door. No one will ever know...