Gardener’s notes: Getting ready for Christmas

A wreath workshop at Preston Bissett Nurseries.
A wreath workshop at Preston Bissett Nurseries.
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Is it not the mulled wine, mince pies and preparation we enjoy the most? writes Jacky Richardson, of Preston Bissett Nurseries.

First on the Christmas to do list is usually a non drop Christmas tree. They are actually called Nordmann Fir and are native to the Caucasian Mountains which are between Russia and Iran.

It looks a lusher deeper green than most other firs and the needles are soft and waxy, almost plastic to the touch. They are loosely referred to as “non drop” because they hold their needles a little longer than the Norway Spruceor traditional Christmas tree brought here by Prince Albert to Windsor Castle.

It is a little ironic the moisture and sap leaving the needles creates the pine bouquet we love about our tree! Even so whichever you choose, help it to retain as much natural moisture as you possibly can. Cutting an inch or so off the trunk and having a stand which holds water is really beneficial. If you can keep it in a cooler room or away from the radiator that will obviously help, though this is not always possible.

Long before the popularity of the Christmas tree we have decorated our homes with winter evergreens from the garden so to do something a little different is perhaps not as big a break from tradition as one might have thought.

Not all of us have the space for a large tree or perhaps circumstances determine a tree is not practical.

There are lots of lovely alternatives. We decorated a tall twiggy Witch Hazel and planted small berry shrubs and heathers at the base.

Equally a conical topiary box plant can look a picture with fairy lights in a dark red pot. I love small silver lollypop olive trees and they look very festive when decorated.

I like to see twinkly lights and a big fresh foliage wreath on the front door.

Having made wreaths every Christmas for over 20 years and having spent many of them with numb bleeding fingers from the holly, it was an epiphany moment to discover using a mix of winter evergreen foliage and just a little bit of holly actually made a far more attractive wreath to put on the door.

They are great fun to make and I like to find foliage of all colours and textures and wire and thread them through a moss base. They decorate beautifully with dried oranges (for a sheltered porch way), cinnamon sticks, mock poinsettias or white Christmas roses, small twisted hazel branches, catkins and so forth.

The big decision is usually the ribbon choice, whether to use the traditional Christmas tartan or white, gold or a burgundy.

Like every part of Christmas everyone has very set ideas on Christmas fashions and colours and trends are always throwing up new possibilities but after a few mulled wines so do we.

We will be holding a holly wreath workshop on December 7, 10 and 13. Please see details on our website, thenurseries.com or call us on 01280 848038 to book.