When all is dead and brown and wintry one way to bring color into the garden is with brightly-colored durable materials. The easiest and most creative way is probably painting wood, you get great control over the color, but it discolors quickly and round here just gets covered in algae. Glass is incredibly durable, so long as you don’t whack it with something heavy. I got this blue glass bauble from a factory outlet in Bavaria – I was driving towards Munich from Passau and I saw hundreds of these things lined up on the fence. “If this were England all the local yobboes would be out smashing them” I thought to myself, but they tend to be better behaved in Bavaria. I pulled in and bought one and ever since have cursed myself for not buying more. The blue stand out against dead herbaceous and the dead foliage of the hornbeam hedge really well.
The other really durable material is the synthetic fabric used for making flags and kites. This is a traditional Bali design, called umbel-umbel on a fibre-glass telescopic pole. Takes nanoseconds to put up and they are very strong.
The pale green one is a bit subtle, but great in winter when there isn’t too much green around, it gets nicely backlit by the sun too, as the sun is behind it in the winter from this angle where we see it from. One of the great things about these flags is that they are so easy to move around. Before too long I think I might try and buy some of my own fabric and poles and DIY.
Or stick your junkshop finds to willow or other uprights! This was at the Chaumont-sur-Loire Garden Festival in summer of 2010. Not so sure about the next one, bit obsessive for my tastes, but gives junkshop rummaging a real sense of purpose.