It’s traditional to bring the outdoors in for Christmas, though you needn’t restrict your pickings to holly and ivy. Add contemporary tones and silvery sparkle with the seed heads of wispy silver clematis (Old Man’s Beard), and sprigs of aromatic eucalyptus, rosemary and cotton lavender. I also buy bundles of willow for making the base of wreaths and what’s left over makes excellent supports for beans and sweet peas to scramble over in summer.
Experimenting with new plants for Yuletide arrangements has become a tradition at home, as has heading out to the woods to collect a yule log for the woodburner. When aflame on the grate, everyone makes a wish for next year. My hope, as always, is more immediate – that I don’t burn the Christmas dinner, easier said than done when sipping festive cheer!
Food is the central theme of the month, with the last of the carrots, red cabbage, beetroot and swede gathered from the veg plot. Once cleared, I tickle over the soil so the lumps are left for frosts to break down and to expose any slugs to the birds. One other job I always do – egged on by three excited children – is dig out and dust off the sledge from the back of the garage, just in case...