Easter fountains (Osterbrunnen)
German Osterbrunnen are fountains and wells decorated with ornate arches of evergreen branches, interwoven with flowers, ribbons and decorated Easter eggs, and topped with a crown. If you already have a water feature in your garden, a German-style Easter fountain can can be a beautiful way to highlight it and create a stunning spring feature.
The fountains date back to 1900, when the earlier tradition of drinking rejuvenating Osterwasser was married with contemporary Easter celebrations. Today, towns and villages are as likely to have Osterbrunnen as that other great German tradition, trees decorated with beautifully painted eggs.
Flying church bells (cloches de Pâques)
When decorating trees, it’s not all about eggs and bunnies, however. In France, Easter treats are delivered by a flying church bell. This is because church bells are traditionally silenced from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. During this period, legend has it that the bells fly to Rome to receive the Pope’s blessing before returning, picking up eggs along the way to scatter into gardens.
This tradition is well-suited to outside Easter decorations. Try suspending bells of various shapes and sizes from your trees to create a melodic welcome for visitors. Alternatively, use large antique bells as planters to raise spring blooms from the rest of your flowerbeds.
The exploding cart (scoppio del carro)
If you really want a statement display in your garden, however, the Florentine tradition of the ‘exploding cart’ is the ideal inspiration. This 18th-century ritual occurs on Easter Sunday, when oxen garlanded in flowers pull an elaborate wagon filled with fireworks through the city. Once at the Piazza del Duomo, the Archbishop of Florence lights a dove-shaped rocket that ignites an enormous firework display.
Depending on the size and location of your outdoor space, the fireworks may not be totally practical. However, a traditional wooden cart spilling over with spring flowers is a spectacular addition to any outdoor space. Try mixing different colours and textures to create a truly explosive display.
Baskets, wreaths and whips (pomlázka)
Fresh garden growth isn’t all about flowers – spring also delivers the supple tree branches necessary to produce baskets and wreaths. Known as Easter garlands, they're becoming as popular as the Christmas wreath, particularly when decorated with pastel-coloured tulips or glorious golden daffodils.
To spread the colour around, fill those fresh-woven baskets with cut or potted flowers for outside Easter decorations that can be re-arranged when needed. If you want to include spring climbers in your arrangement, try using Central European braided willow rods (pomlázka) to support them. Traditionally used as whips that supposedly rejuvenated whoever they struck, these rods make excellent supports with an intriguing story behind them.
When modern customs feel tired and overdone, it pays to delve into tradition to find inspiration. The wonderful thing about these ideas is that elements of them can be retained to lend a distinctive look to your garden year round.