Gar­den mas­ter­class

Hertfordshire Life - - CONTENTS -

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...

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