Author: Coreen Connell

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Saturday, December 10th, 2016 at 6:29 pm
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Gardens

Festive December

Here we are in the last month of the 2016 and what a year! I love this time of year, where we’re encouraged to bring a real tree inside or to put up an artificial tree to embellish our house.

We can also decorate for Christmas making use of other plants, with garlands, wreaths, holly and mistletoe.

Still time enough to make a wreath – and there is bound to be a ‘How To’ clip online instructing those who are keen but haven’t made one before. Traditionally made with conifer, holly, ivy and decorated with cones or fruit, and cinnamon sticks are an alternative. A living wreath can be made from alpine plants such as saxifrages and sedums. Pictures of ivy.

There are also a number of plants such as the poinsettia, not only with the common red leaf/bracts but now variegated varieties are available,  and bulbs e.g. Narcissus ‘paperwhites’ or hyacinths could be bought, (or if you were organised, grown) that will flower in time for Christmas with the added bonus of fragrance.

Real Christmas trees are now for sale – everything from Nordman or Fraser firs, spruce with their blue foliage to the traditional pine – there are ‘needlefast’ varieties available to save on any mess – or how about decorating your own tree(s) in the garden?

Sprigs of holly preferably with their red berries, and some mistletoe, although this is much harder to source and costly, add to the festive decor. The flower market has a wide choice of colourful and fragrant flowers, my favourite is the jasmine.

Due to the milder spell of weather we are experiencing in the Lothians, there are hydrangeas and cyclamen still flowering, but Hellebores and Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ are beginning to flower too. The Christmas rose is a favourite of mine (Helleborus niger) a lovely white, ageing to a light pink and is shorter, avoiding most wind damage. However, all hellebores are notorious for carrying black spot fungus, so inspect your plants and remove and burn any infected leaves.

Shrubs such as the Viburnum bodnantense is flowering already, or the evergreen Sarcococca, otherwise known as the Christmas box (sweet box) – see picture – will flower soon and their scent will waft around the garden, great idea to plant near the front door. I recommend S.hookeriana humilis. Some berries are still clinging to trees and shrubs such as on the rowan/sorbus, cotoneaster and the snowberry particularly adding a colour mix to the evergreen shades to the garden.

Winter is traditionally the time of year to sit in front of the fire and sift through the spring catalogues, especially to order seed, but it is also the time to get the notepad and pen out – jot down those jobs to do, jot down ideas and list any alterations to the design of your garden to be carried out in better weather.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy holidays and all the best for the New Year. x

 

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