December Gardening Tips 2023
This is the time of year when houseplants really come into their own, bringing colour, texture and, in some cases, scent inside. But before we explore some of the best festive flora for indoors, what about a plant that flowers its socks off outside, from winter to early spring? I am referring to Christmas Roses, or Hellebores. Easy to maintain and long flowering, they thrive in a fertile, well-drained soil, in a semi-sun semi-shade position, reaching a height and spread of about 50cm. Just deadhead any faded flowers and enjoy. If you are in the Christmas spirit already, look out for a variety called Christmas Carol.
I am always drawn to scented plants inside or out, which is why at Christmas I invariably buy baskets planted with bulbs on the point of flowering for my own home and to give as presents. I just love the scent of hyacinths in a room, giving that promise of spring. The bulbs can be planted out in the garden when they have finished flowering to enjoy again year after year. Jasmin and Stephanotis are also both highly fragranced houseplants and carry pretty white flowers.
If it is a blast of colour you are after, then Poinsettias are the customary Christmas choice. Available not just with traditional vibrant red bracts but also in an increasing range of pinks and creams. Poinsettias are tender and love a warm space. They hate draughts, so always make sure they are well wrapped up leaving the shop and never leave them locked up in a cold car. Equally colourful, Azaleas and Cyclamen prefer a cooler spot in the home.
For a sophisticated look, statement foliage houseplants will give you colour, texture and movement for a long time to come and represent great value. Stylish terrariums, or bottle gardens planted with greenery, have become increasingly popular in recent times. With their own microclimate, you can create that Kew atmosphere in miniature. They make a really lovely gift.
Of course, the ultimate festive houseplant is a real Christmas tree. I love the scent and movement of a real tree. When you get your real tree home, always cut a piece off the stem before immersing the bottom of the stem in a bucket of water. Do keep your tree cool outside until you are ready to bring it inside to decorate. Use a tree stand that holds water and keep your tree watered, as you would a vase of flowers, and away from a radiator or other heat source to prolong needle retention. We source Christmas trees grown in Scotland because they are good quality and don’t have to travel as far as trees from the continent. Grown as a crop, more trees are consistently being planted on land which is usually unsuitable for other forms of farming or horticulture.
It isn’t just people who deserve a treat this time of year. Our feathered friends are well worth cosseting throughout the winter, with a good supply of quality bird food, fat balls and a supply of clean fresh water. I always feel repaid many times over by the sight of beautiful birds in the garden from tiny blue tits and festive robins to more haughty woodpeckers. Bird feeders, bird tables and bird houses make a great gift idea too.
On behalf of all the Squire’s team may I wish you and your families a Christmas full of light, joy and hope and a peaceful New Year.