A Gift From The Garden
Your garden gives up some beautiful gifts of its own at this time of year – allowing you to bring the outside into the home with foliage and ‘green’ decorations
By using your garden as a resource you can create some simple, yet beautiful decorative displays for the Christmas season. What better way to celebrate than by bringing festive cheer to your home and garden with two traditional Christmas favourites – holly and ivy.
They are perfect garden plants, with many boasting beautifully variegated leaves along with fruits and berries that provide seasonal food for hungry birds. Holly is hardy and evergreen, making it an ideal shrub to form part of the backbone or structure that every garden needs. Most holly plants are either male or female, so to ensure you get a crop of berries you’ll need to grow a female variety and ensure there’s a male nearby to pollinate its flowers. With thick evergreen growth and spiny foliage, holly is also a good choice of shrub to form a dense and secure boundary hedge to your property and it can also be tightly clipped into formal shapes and topiary.
Ivy is a valuable climber or ground cover plant, perfect for a shady spot or for cladding bare fences or garden structures. However, it must be kept under control with regular pruning to prevent it spreading too far or becoming invasive. Established ivy carries flowers late in the season that provide valuable nectar for late-flying butterflies and bees, as well as great nesting site opportunities for blackbirds and others.
As an alternative to the traditional red colour scheme of Christmas try mixing white and silver for planters inside and outside for a clean and stylish look. Put grey-leafed lavender and senecio together with white cyclamen and decorate with strings of silver beads and small LED white lights. Or go for a beautiful Christmas rose – Helleborus niger – and plant with pale pink or white cyclamen and training ivy around the edges to make the container feel like it’s overflowing.
December is definitely a time to catch up on some indoor jobs and have a rest, but for those that are out and about, here are some top tips from the Royal Horticultural Society:
• Make sure there is food for garden birds
• Check that greenhouse heaters are working
• Prevent ponds from freezing
• Prune acers, birches and vines before Christmas
• Harvest leeks, parsnips, winter cabbage, sprouts and remaining root crops
• Deciduous trees and shrubs can still be planted and transplanted
• Take hardwood cuttings
• Keep mice away from stored produce
• Reduce watering of houseplants