As I sit down to write this on the final run up to the festivities I have just spent a couple of hours out in the garden, doing a final tidy up. Sweeping and cleaning down paths, cutting back some grasses that I’d hoped would last through to the New Year to give some structure but the storm two weeks ago gave them a bit too much of a bashing so they are cut down to the base and I’m adding a layer of mulch to each area of garden as I go along to not only keep it looking clean but hold in that moisture in the Spring and I adore the smell of fresh bark mulch.
I have cleaned my garden furniture, the one that is under cover and brought into the cover the pizza oven too, I do aim to have friends over during the Christmas and New Year period and I love to light the stove and a couple of firebowls and enjoy the evenings with pizza and glass of something in hand. I’ll probably make some of my highly praised mulled wine to keep the hands warm, I’m not sure if you have a favourite recipe but here is mine if you are looking for inspiration (not sure why I picked it up from and how much is tweaked)
A full bottle of red wine (nothing you wouldn’t drink on its own)
2 cinnamon stick,
2 star anise
2 strips lemon zest and the same of orange zest
4 tbsp caster sugar
I think the original recipe had cloves but they’re might pet hate if you like them add 3-4
The juice of the orange
Put all the ingredients in a large pan. Cook on a low heat for 10 mins.
Remove from the heat and cool, leaving to combine all the flavours
Serve hot but not boiling, pour into mugs or heatproof glasses.
Getting back to the gardening, there is still so much to do and if like me are finding all the news somewhat draining then in the garden, wrapped up is the best place to be. Any leaves still still on the ground are ideal for adding to the compost heap, or turned into leaf mould – and this time next year you will have lots of free, nutritious mulch for the borders. Ideally put all the leaves into a large bin bag, puncture a couple of holes into it and full it to the brim, leave somewhere out of the way until next year. I would always have 4 or 5 bags on the go and my roses and potted trees and plants are happier for it.
Don’t forget that bare-root season is only until March so any hedging, trees, fruit and other plants available rootballed or bare-root need to be planted before then, but earlier the better as it gives them the time to settle in and put down roots before the growing season.
If really is last call for any bulb planting, if you have any bags that you’ve been meaning to get planted, do it, do it now, you’ll be thankful for it in the spring. You may have seen my post a week or two ago so sorry if I’m repeating myself but for those that didn’t. I use a number of vessels for bulbs from old stainless steel bins to stone troughs and where I can I bring them into my glasshouse for the winter and bring them out as they are ready so I always have a continuous stream of Spring colour, I usually layer plant too so that as one bulb finishes flowering the next one is almost ready.
In terms of my favourite plants for this time of year believe it or not some of my absolute favourites are coming into season.
Saracocca confusa and its many variants will be flowering very soon and filling the air with its heady scent, who could ask more from a plant at this time of year!
Hellebores are in season and although mine isn’t yet flowering it promises too very soon, I have an array of Hellebores in the garden, who wouldn’t they are so reliable and flower for such a long period. I just adore the Harvington Double Chocolate, its such a rich coloured Hellebore.
Hammemilis is coming into flower, another sweetly scented plant with feathery flowers along bare branches making this one so very dramatic with its golden yellow colouring.
Cornus Sanguinea Midwinter Fire may not be flowering but those rich red stems are just made for this time of year, it looks best planted in a swathe block and does best in damp areas of the garden or beside water. The yellow variety looks almost as striking and can be used in layers of colour.
Well that should keep you busy and away from both the bad news and the family members that you only see once a year for a reason. Next week will be about Garden Planning and preparing for what 2022 has in store until then from Ian and I, our family and everyone on the Nursery wish a very Merry Christmas to you all, may you and yours enjoy a Happy and Peaceful Christmas and Stay Safe.