Tips on how you can have a green Christmas by using plants from the garden
By using your garden as a resource you can create some simple, yet beautiful decorative displays for the Christmas festivities – giving your home a more natural look while remaining festive, stylish and environmentally friendly.
A thrifty tip of the month is … bring nature into your home this Christmas. A great use for your winter prunings is to arrange bare or lichen-covered twigs in a tall glass vase and festoon with tea light holders or use lengths of trailing ivy and evergreen foliage such as holly twisted into swags for looping along mantelpieces or winding round banisters.
Sprigs of aromatic leaves and herbs – bay, rosemary, sage, thyme and anything else you can lay your hands on – arranged around a large candle in a deep fluted dish makes a fragrant table centrepiece.
Hollies take centre stage this month as they really are the jewel in the winter’s crown. Aside from their value as evergreen plants, they have stunning seasonal berry displays that provide a buffet for birds.
Their leaves range from bold and glossy to tiny and fine-textured, and from smooth to spiny with numerous colourful variegations. They are true garden all-rounders, offering a combination of structure, dazzling seasonal fruit displays and excellent evergreen foliage.
Other berry producing plants also come into their own during the winter months. As well as being attractive to gardeners, they are often delicious for wildlife.
These energy rich offerings provide important nourishment for birds, mammals and insects. They also give borders colour and interest at a time when many plants are dying back.
Whether you have them in your garden, or love a woodland walk, some of the winter berries to spot through the colder months include: Spindle (Euonymous europaeas) with vibrant pink fruits that split to reveal bright orange seeds that are loved by birds, mice and foxes – but beware, the leaves and fruits are toxic to humans.
Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) which has small orange-red berries from August to January that are popular with many types of birds and safe for people to eat, but have a sour taste. Juniper (Juniperus communis) an evergreen with fragrant needle-like leaves and purple-black berries that are a favourite with birds and are also good for flavouring gin and sauces.
Apart from tending to festive foliage other jobs for December, on the RHS Gardener’s Checklist, include…
Take hardwood cuttings
Prune deciduous shrubs
Prune apple and pear trees
Leave parsnips in the ground until needed, they taste sweeter after a frost
Start forcing rhubarb either in the greenhouse or outdoors
Trees and shrubs can still be planted outside
Reduce watering of houseplants
Plan your planting and crops for next year