You may be warming yourself by the fire, indulging in some mulled wine and a mince pie and admiring the garden from afar, but take time to make natural festive decorations and grow festive flowers, plant fruit trees and bushes and get inspiration from winter walks.
Make festive decorations
- Take clippings from holly, cotoneaster and other shrubs with berries, plus pick up cones and seed heads. If you have to trim your Christmas tree, the cuttings make a great base for a Christmas wreath. Other essentials for indoor decorations include florists wire. Simple adornments might feature small terracotta pots filled with oasis, with a central slim, tall candle and then brightly coloured berries and foliage around the surface of the pot.
Festive fruit and veg
- Festive veg such as parsnips, sprouts and leeks all taste better after the first serious frost, so dig them up when you need them if the ground is soft enough. If you’ve already harvested them, keep them in a cool, dry, frost-free shed or garage packed with newspaper.
- If you’ve ordered bare-root fruit trees and bushes and they arrive in December, plant them as soon as you can.
- Having a Christmas party? Don’t let your guest park on the lawn, which will create ruts that will be difficult to mend.
- Continue to rake up fallen leaves from the lawn which may harbour pests and diseases.
- Give the lawn a lift by re-cutting any edges that are looking tatty.
- If your garden’s looking a little sombre, add colour with some eye-catching winter stems of dogwood, willow and rubus, which offer shades of red, yellow and orange once their leaves have fallen.
- Bag some bulb bargains at garden centres. There’s still time to plant tulips, alliums and fritillaries to have a good show next spring
- Add colour to containers and borders with hardy Cyclamen coum which will flower through the winter months, producing pink or white blooms against silvery, dark green leaves. They are happiest in a partially shaded spot under trees or shrubs, in well-drained soil.
Be inspired by gardens
- Blow the Christmas cobwebs away by going for a walk in one of the many National Trust or RHS gardens, which stage festive events and guided walks throughout December.
- If you can’t get to a public garden and you’re looking for inspiration, take a notebook and pen and go for a walk locally, noting which plants grow well and what schemes look good. It may be something you can add to your own plot.
Pamper Christmas house plants
- Poinsettias are Christmas favourites, but they are quite fussy. Keep them in a warm room, away from draughts and at an even temperature of between 16-24C and don’t over-water them.
- Place indoor azaleas, cyclamen and Christmas cacti in a cool room such as a hallway without a radiator or in a conservatory where there is little or no heating. Water them regularly so the compost doesn’t dry out, although Christmas cacti won’t need much water and can be dry at the surface before it needs re-watering.
- Forced hyacinths and daffodils should be treated like annual flowers and thrown away when they are past their best. If you have them on a windowsill, turn them regularly as they lean towards the light.