Feed the birds this festive season. Garden centres are filled with seed hearts or seed bells that can be hung up in the trees. They will attract loads of seed eating birds (red bishops, weavers) to your garden and are an ecofriendly way to celebrate Christmas.
For a last-minute living gift, consider a spectacular giant bicolour agapanthus (“Queen Mum”), poinsettia, anthurium, gloxinia or chrysanthemum.
For a last-minute centrepiece for a buffet table, fill a large fish bowl with red apples almost to the top of the container, add water and red roses or carnations. The apples will hide the stems and repeat the red of the flowers.
Branches of different evergreens, trails of ivy, fern and dried bracken will transform the mantelpiece and windowsills into miniature forests. Add small cones and clusters of nuts and red berries. If you prefer a more muted colour theme, thread dried hydrangea heads, dried Natalia bougainvillea, dried bracken and grasses and hang these garlands on the mantelpiece.
Should you decide to celebrate Xmas outdoors this year, fill containers and hanging baskets with plants to match the colours of cushions, tablecloths and crockery. There are plenty of summer-flowering shrubs for outdoor containers. Dwarf bougainvillea, mandevilla (dipladenia), hibiscus and miniature roses suit sunny spots, while hydrangea and fuchsia need filtered shade.
If you are having a sit-down dinner, fill tiny clay pots with miniature ivy and place down the centre of the table. Ivy is usually available in seedling trays at garden centres. Catch up the sides of the tablecloth at intervals with tiny wreaths made of ivy leaves, and continue the ivy theme by twisting pieces of ivy to form napkin rings.
Keep a watch for yellow and black caterpillars that damage leaves and burrow down into the bulbs of amaryllis, ifafa lilies, scadoxis, nerines and clivias. Moths lay eggs which hatch out as caterpillars that can devour a plant within a week. Spray with an organic insesticide, Ripcord or Karbaspray