MEET GARDEN ENTHUSIAST AND BLOGGER
For the sisters, it is a true joy to find inspiration and pick up useful tips from passionate personalities.
Here, Anna and Clara meet the garden blogger Maria Christensen from livsnyderhaven.dk, who boosts her energy levels by communing with nature and enjoying outdoor living at all hours of the day and all year round, with breakfasts on the terrace, barbecues in the evening and decorating the greenhouse for winter.
What made you fall in love with outdoor living and designing outdoor living spaces?
I have always been passionate about designing outdoor living spaces. Being outdoors, under the open skies, is simply lovely. It gives me energy, and it is as if you think better. More freely. I draw inspiration from the world of interior design and apply the same principles when designing outdoor living spaces. Working with plants in the garden is particularly exciting because it is so challenging. Have you remembered to feed them? Have they been watered as they should? I like the pace of the process because there is no speeding things up in the garden. It is liberating in a way. Just think how long it takes for a small seed to turn into a flower. When you have had a go at cultivating your own summer flowers, you start respecting nature in a new way.
What is your favourite spot in your own garden?
My greenhouse, definitely. My greenhouse is my playroom. This is where I think great thoughts, throw some seeds in the ground and challenge myself. In my greenhouse, I enjoy living in the present moment as well as the process. This is also where my family and friends gather round the table for a glass of wine on a summer’s day and perhaps pick a tomato or a cucumber. I try to use my greenhouse all year round as it makes me feel fantastically energised.
When spring comes, and the days grow milder, what are you most looking forward to in your garden?
I look forward to sitting in the sun under a blanket and just enjoying that spring has finally sprung. The first rays of spring sunshine are almost magical. Sowing and transplanting seedlings is also a wonderful process. Inside, my windowsills are overflowing with sprouting seeds, which will soon be planted out in my greenhouse. The first sign of spring is the blanket of little snowdrops and tulips spreading across the ground. It is so uplifting!
What does the summer look like in your outdoor living spaces?
I use my garden all year round, but the summer is the absolute high point of my gardening year. All the beds are filled with perennials, roses and summer flowers. And the pots with dahlias and more summer flowers. My garden is always teeming with life. I’m constantly doing barbecues and summer parties for my family and friends. It is as if the garden springs to life when there are visitors around. Sensing other people’s enthusiasm is just wonderful. I usually also organise a few open garden events each year, where I open my garden to anybody who would like to experience it. You never know how many people are going to turn up, but people seem to be happy to drive a long way to find new inspiration for their own gardens.
How do you use your outdoor living spaces during the cold months of the year?
When it is miserable and cold outside, I try to create a bit of ‘hygge’ in the garden with torches and candles, or even ice lanterns which I make myself. The most important spots are by the front door and in front of the kitchen window. It is nice to have something beautiful to look at. In my greenhouse and on my terrace, I put lots of candles, pine cones and branches of spruce on the tables to create a genuine atmosphere of ‘hygge’. I try to create a fairy-tale atmosphere.
At what times of day do you use your outdoor living spaces?
Morning: I eat breakfast on the terrace, which is close to the house. Even when it is raining, I can sit out there, because it is covered, and I have actually also installed a heater on the wall, like the ones you see at cafés. I use the terrace from May to September. Having a covered terrace really prolongs the outdoor season. Even if it is raining a bit, you can still gather your friends around the barbecue.
Afternoon: At the weekend, I enjoy having a cup of coffee or a glass of white wine on a bench near my garden pond. It is a sunny spot, and sitting by the water is special. And when there is a heat wave, the pond is excellent for cooling your feet. If it rains, or if it is cold, I head for the greenhouse, which I can heat up in about 20 minutes. The greenhouse offers perfect shelter against the elements, and is a great place for family ‘hygge’.
I have a potting workshop in my garden, where I work with my flowers. It has a pent roof, which means that I can work away even if it is raining. I keep all my pots, sticks and twine there. During the day, I nip out to see my chickens. They love leftovers and sweetcorn. They come running if they think I have come to feed them. They are funny little creatures and with very different personalities. And they love porridge, spaghetti and grapes.
Evening: In the summer, we tend to eat supper on the covered terrace. If it is too cold and windy, I head for the greenhouse, if I want to be inside.
What are your dreams for your garden?
My dream is to get a water collection system going in the garden, so that I can water my pots with rainwater. Another dream which I have been toying with for a number of years is inviting the elderly people from the local nursing home for coffee in my garden. I think it would be wonderful for them to experience the garden.
Designing outdoor living spaces
Incorporate the elements of fire, water and earth into the design of your outdoor living spaces. You can light up your balcony with torches, lamps or lanterns with candles. A large zinc planter or a bowl filled with water and flowers introduces a water element. Plant lots of plants in pots and planters on your terrace, or in window boxes if you have a balcony.
SEATING FOR ALL
It is a good idea to have a number of places where you can sit down in the garden. A bench in the sun, and another bench in a sheltered position. It entices visitors to move around the garden and enjoy the various spots. It brings life to the garden.
INVITING AND ORGANISED
Make sure to organise all your garden things so you always know where to find them. You may like to keep your gardening gloves, seeds, twine, fertiliser, plant labels and sprayer in a small wooden box, which makes everything look very inviting. Any unused flowerpots can also be stacked in the box.
If you have space in your garden, you may like to erect a potting bench where you can work with your plants and flowers.
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR OUTDOOR LIVING SPACES
If space is limited, it is a good idea to use all available surfaces. A covered terrace or balcony is ideal for hanging flowerpots. Lots of them, preferably – for an interesting mix and a fantastic atmosphere. String lights are also a nice touch. Pure ‘hygge’. If you have a half-wall or a whole wall for that matter, then make sure to make the most of it. Use it for hanging up any folding chairs when not in use. Or you can hang a box on the wall and use it as a shelf for some of your gardening things. You can also plant herbs in deep beds on wheels. They can easily be moved around the garden so that you always have lettuce, parsley or chives to hand.
BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
Your garden and your balcony must be designed to suit you, your needs and your style. Find out what you like before setting to work. It is about being true to yourself.
About Maria Christensen:
Maria is 42 years old, has three children and lives in Aalborg, Denmark, with her partner. Follow Maria at Livsnyderhaven.dk and on Instagram @livsnyderhaven