Christmas Day is not far away and always seems to sneak up more quickly when it falls on a Saturday or Sunday! Mrs McGregor has visited our local garden centre and brought back a beautiful Nordmann Fir, which won’t drop its needles in the house. I prefer the pine forest scent from Norway Spruce, but the ‘needlefast’ trees save us one of the traditions of Christmas – getting the vacuum cleaner out every five minutes! This is made worse when our cat, Thomasina, decides to investigate the tempting shiny things hanging before her eyes – even though she is now a teenager and should know better! I cut a few centimetres off the base of the tree and put it in a bucket of water in the garden shed, still in the net, until we were ready to bring it into the house and decorate it over the weekend. We have a heavy duty stand which holds water, so the tree can continue to drink and be merry whilst in the sitting room!
We have a house full of guests this year, so my thoughts are turning to decorating the house with greenery from the garden as well as feeding our friends and relatives from my allotments! As I write this, we are in the grip of yet another gale – I think this winter will be wet and windy rather than particularly cold but don’t quote me on that! There is still a long way to go and the late spring frosts always do the worst damage to tender young shoots and leaves. I just hope my Brussels sprout plants are not rocked out of the ground before the Big Day!
Back to the greenery! I always hold on to any lower branches that are taken off the Christmas tree in order to fit it into the stand. The tips of these are useful to add into arrangements or to make a wreath for the front door. It is time to trim our lovely green and silver variegated Holly (Ilex aquifolium ‘Argenteovariegatum’) so that I can use sprigs above the picture frames in the sitting and dining rooms. The bolder coloured gold and green varieties look great in table arrangements with big red candles and I think I will combine these with some dark green Choysia ternata (Mexican Orange Blossom), whose leaves will add to the shiny, rich effect. Because of the mild weather, our Box plants have put on lots of fresh green, fan shaped growth, again useful for flat table arrangements. Viburnum tinus (Laurustinus) has started to flower with beautiful clusters of white blooms and these will look great with some bare stems from our olive green Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ (Dog Wood). Despite the rain and windy weather, our winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) is still flowering well and I may even include some of our early flowering daffodils as a surprise for our visitors!