December tips

It's Still Festive in the Garden...  

I know that the dark months lie ahead and everybody’s mind is on the ever increasing subject of Christmas. A subject that grows with such velocity every year, that our normal lives somehow seem lost in it. Especially the lives of gardeners.

Its ironic however, that although the forces of consumerism march on, so does the garden and its plants. I find this time of year fascinating, at a time when most people are preoccupied with gifts, the garden is giving out some blinders.

Trees, for example, now produce a personality that I feel is their finest. Stripped bare of their foliage, the true beauty of their figures comes to life. Speaking as a Londoner, the London Plain, with its ex-foliating bark, looks stunning in winter. I know though that not everybody has the room for such a grand display of wooden grace. The choices though are huge, Acer pensylavnicum in its naked form provides an excellent silhouette on a winters evening. Acer Griseum, with its copper bark is another finer example and will top any Christmas decoration. For the eccentrics amongst you, the Corkscrew Hazel or Corylus avellana ‘ contorta’ is a must for a specimen plant, centred in a bed against a grey winter sky.

Its not all about shapes however, for those of you with busy lives, who just want to look out the window, contrary to belief there is a wide selection of plants that will show of flower in December. Mahonia ‘Sunshine’ produces sprays of bright yellow flowers this time of year and warrants a place in any seasonal border. The old classic Viburnum x bodnantense ‘dawn’ with its never ending pink fragrant winter flowers is a must. The Quince or Chaenomeles japonica will knock out endless red flowers all December and these days, cultivars of the same plant will also give you pink. Then, for those of you with a taste for the herbaceous type plants, lets not forget the Hellebores are in fine form at the moment, both orientalis and niger are at their up most in the winter months.

It's not just about the outdoors at this time of year. We will be gathering together in a few weeks and spending time with our loved ones. So here is my Christmas tip for the dinner table. Get your self a good terracotta container, fill it with compost and plant Ardisia crenata in the centre, this is a waxy leaved plant with amazing corrugate edging and beautiful red berries, it should be available in most garden centres and is an underrated Christmas plant. Then around this plant a few small Poinsettias and some Ivy. A proper living indoor Christmas display for the Christmas table.

Well, I hope I’ve made you think that the garden cracks on all year round, even at Christmas, and while we are on the subject, a happy festive season to you all.

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