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If you, like me, are tired of hearing your children tell you that "everybody else is going overseas in the holidays," I can recommend two courses of action that will instantly make you feel better as a parent, without the expense of air travel. One will help quell your child's argument and can be done on the spot, for about the cost of a drive around the neighbourhood; the other is to use artificial plants to give you an exotic drop of "otherness" - which is, after all, what most of us seek from travel. 

Not everyone's the same, but when I think of travel I think about romantic European destinations, countrysides peppered with villas where one could quite easily expect to turn the corner and see good looking young people in a vat, crushing grapes underfoot with a robust joy for their work. Of course, when it comes to the idea of drinking the wine that presumably comes from those same vats we might reconsider whether this particular part of the romance is for us; but one thing I'm sure we are all charmed by is the idea of alfresco dining under a canopy of vines trailing up poles and mingling overhead. 

One of our Garden Beet clients, a restaurant, wanted to enhance the environment, and subsequently the dining pleasure, of their clientele, so here at GardenBeet we created a linear garden just for that purpose. Clusters of different types of vines were brought together to create a lush contour of greenery along the walls. A little bit of European charm was instantly injected into the space. 

 

 

Seized with inspiration for how this might slake the thirst of my own wanderlust, I decided to bring a little of the same foreign sizzle to my own outdoor dining area. 

The effect very gratifying indeed, my own little corner of Tuscany injected in the inner suburbs, like a furtive European secret I would show only to my family and friends. Christmas rolled into the house, along with a gaggle of relatives, all who were suitably impressed by the newly enhanced environs in which they dined on their Turkey.

One of the unanticipated benefits, I discovered, was that by bringing visual interest of the plants to the edge of the space, the eye is drawn outwards, making the area actually appear larger. And once that discovery had been made, well, I couldn't stop; what would happen to the rest of my postage stamp sized-house if I put some plants inside? 

More charm, at least - a sense of spaciousness as well, with the eyes being drawn up to take in the syngonium cascading down from the top of the bookshelf

So my advice to anyone wanting to get away, without getting away, is to infuse some greenery into your personal space. Trail an outdoor vine, such as the cissus vine around your patio and take a mental holiday while you sip something good. Pop a little angel vine or green berry on the mantel piece, or even in the fireplace, to say that Christmas in the southern hemisphere is just alright with you. 

Oh, and the way to address your children's complaints? Drive them around the neighbourhood, and stop and ask anyone you see, anyone at all, if they went overseas this summer. I did. It worked wonders - they don't ask me anymore.