Countdown to Christmas

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I can count the number of days I get to spend at home before Christmas on one hand. I’ve stopped buying an advent calendar because I’m never around to open the doors. Even though it’s the same every year, I am persistently overambitious about what I can achieve in those precious spells between work and travel. I plan as if I am a lady who lunches, with all the time in the world to be making wreaths, swagging the staircase with foliage plucked from the garden and cooking up a storm in the kitchen. These things are, I am sorry to say, highly unlikely to happen, but I live in hope.

It’s been comforting to acknowledge, via various social media, that I am not the only gardener still planting tulip bulbs. I have a few bags left that will be perfectly fine planted next weekend. I’ll be in The Netherlands this week, so I’ll doubtless return with a quantity of amaryllis bulbs for myself and for friends. I avoid those that have been dipped in red or gold wax and covered in glitter, which looks like torture for the poor bulb. I will also avert my gaze from the grotesquely flocked and flittered succulents which one often sees in Dutch garden centres. Quite who buys them I do not know. However, I will be on the look out for tasteful decorations and lots of moss and berries. I shall take great pleasure in taking these through the bag check at Düsseldorf airport, along with copious toothsome Stroopwafels and cheeky chunks of Gouda cheese. Christmas is coming, after all.

I went out yesterday to buy drawing pins and returned home with a Beswick Vase (in the Clarice Cliff style), a very substantial 1920’s oak coat stand and a little mahogany side table. I desperately needed the side table so that my guests have somewhere to put their tea cups down in the library, but I did not need (and nor could I really afford) the coat stand or the vase. That said, both spontaneous purchases have fitted in marvellously; the coat stand in the garden room, crowned with a lipstick vine (aeschynanthus) and with another dangling from one of its hooks. The stand is a good seven feet tall and has a very handy metal tray at the bottom, which I assume was meant to stop wet umbrellas from dripping on one’s parquet floor. My ancient Lino is not worth saving so I’ve stood an Arabian jasmine in it (Jasminum sambac). The vase is sitting proudly at the top of a bookcase in the library, out of harm’s way. The irony is that the drawing pins did not penetrate the surface I wanted them to. I went out again to buy some tacks and came back with a yellow cymbidium orchid and three schlumbergias, so after that I thought it was safer to stay indoors.

Last year the garden room was empty enough for me to fit a handsome Fraser fir at one end, but there’s no chance of repeating the exercise this year; the house plants have taken over. Instead I am going to tuck a few soft white lights in among the foliage, disguised by fresh moss. I’ve hung giant, olive-green baubles to disguise the unfinished walls near the boiler cupboard. Knowing me, I will keep adding and adding to the display until Christmas Eve. Despite time pressures, I enjoy the countdown to Christmas so much more than the day itself, and certainly more than the aftermath.

I’d love to hear how your preparations are going and how you decorate for the festive season with plants. TFG.

Categories: Bulbs, Christmas, House Plants, Photography, Plants, Uncategorized

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

Greetings Garden Lover! Welcome to my blog. Plants are my passion and this is my way of sharing that joyful emotion with the world. You'll find over 1000 posts here featuring everything from abutilons to zinnias. If you've enjoyed what you've read, please leave a comment and consider subscribing using the yellow 'Follow' button in the bottom, right-hand corner of your screen. You will receive an email every time I post something new.

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11 comments On "Countdown to Christmas"

  1. Amsterdam and Hamburg for me this week so I have the same challenge as you! Tulips not even seen the light of day – like half of the narcissi 😧.

  2. I don’t decorate for Christmas much. It is one of the most important Holidays of the year, and I really do not like what has become of it. I do like holly and some other evergreens that do not grow here naturally. We have so much evergreen foliage naturally that I do not need to add any more. Red berries like the native toyon, as well as pyracantha are so pretty. There is a little Eastern red cedar out there that would make a nice small Christmas tree. I really like it because it came from Oklahoma. We do not have Fraser firs here. I tried to grow them once along with other North American firs because I had never seen them.

  3. This is so lovely: the red, Christmassy floor and the glorious textures from plants, paint and oversized baubles.

    My sweetheart makes a Christmas decoration from a few branches of Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’, suspended from the ceiling or something handy, with sugar coated fruit gumdrops of different colours pushed on the curved spines. I think you’d approve.

  4. DO NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE WITH YOUR CC OR CASH!!!! I didn’t think there was anyone worse than me but I think you might be, lovely Mr. Christmas. However, we do our bit for the economies of many countries. Dan, the garden room is looking gorgeous. We have had over 80mm of rain in the past 24 hours – you should see what it has done to the veggie patch – the zucchinis and cucumbers are leaping out of the ground- the lettuces are so miserable as they are so waterlogged. At least no watering required for several days meaning I have time to get the tree and some decs up – as for baking, wreaths etc… that will go on next years list, again – just like you.. Have fun seeing all those lovely products … am jealous.

  5. I went to a Tour of Homes over the weekend in aid of the local garden club (executive homes, not statelies, people with pretension and the phone number of a hungry florist) that has put me off all but the most minimalist decorating efforts—wreath and tree, and if the oldest wasn’t home from the Service I probably wouldn’t do that much. The orchids are blooming early, though, and I have a pile of tropical s growing on to go outside in the spring, so the house isn’t bare… Would love to see your decked out hatstand.

  6. This post made me laugh ou loud 🙂 I’m leaving the decorating with plants until next week, but have actually managed to make a wreath (but I’m not a lady who lunches) for my door, does that count? Cornish mizzle is keeping its moss base nice and damp, so it may stand a chance of not dying by Christmas Eve!

  7. I’m so pleased that I am not the only one to go out for a pint of milk and come home with an Arts and Crafts side table – you are so right, we need these things for our guests. I told Mr TT so. You have the most wonderful collection of house plants, every one of them looking healthy. Where do you find the time to care for them so well?

  8. I so appreciate your refreshing honesty! This time last year, I made notes on this year’s calendar, urging me to have all the shopping/big cleaning done by the end of November then I would have time to make a wreath, to bake and to enjoy decorating the house, instead of flinging things around whilst cursing. Did it work? Nooooo! Oh well, maybe next year…

    1. Oh, you and me both Julie. I am at the frantic stage now. However, unlike last year I do have bedrooms with curtains up and I have written all my Christmas cards. Present wrapping will, I fear, be just as last minute, but I console myself by imagining this is how it was in the ‘olden days’ before preparing for Christmas became such an industry. Being a domestic God or Goddess is damn hard work!!

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