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Hello One and All! It’s been a while.

Like everyone else, The Beau and I have been ducking and diving, trying to tackle this crazy year unscathed. Arriving at the eve of Christmas feels like an achievement in itself, although it’s not come a moment too soon for our sanity. That said, we are all in one piece and have far more to be grateful for than to complain about. We have good food, ample drink, games, books, music, warmth and each others’ company to see us through this festive season. Max and Millie, our beloved pups, have been living their best lives throughout the pandemic. They’ve enjoyed having attention all day, whilst exploiting additional opportunities to pester us for treats.

This little display in one of our guest bedrooms is normally staged for my niece, Martha, but this year she will have to admire it via FaceTime.

Gardening has taken a back seat during December. Despite having no visitors to entertain this Christmas, we have still assembled and decorated eight Christmas trees at The Watch House. We will be leaving them up for as long as it suits us. Having discovered that the whole twelfth night superstition was a Victorian invention intended to curtail the festivities, I have chosen to observe Candlemas on February 2nd. This was the original end of Christmas celebrations and is still observed in some countries. The Queen, I understand, leaves her decorations in place until February 6th. Since Kent is likely to be locked down until March, no-one apart from us will see our baubles brazenly displayed beyond their traditional ‘best before’ date in any case. I am in strong agreement with novelist Nora Roberts when it comes to the solace a beautifully dressed Christmas tree can offer a home:

“Nothing ever seems too bad, too hard, or too sad when you’ve got a Christmas tree in the living room.”

Nora roberts
Making a time-lapse video of our Fraser fir in the library being decorated has become a family tradition.

It’s been mercifully mild on the East Kent coast, which is so often the way winters begin here. The weather has presented precious little impetus for us to clear away the last vestiges of summer. The Gin and Tonic Garden has barely been touched since October. Although the plants look a little ragged, Fuchsia boliviana, Sparmannia africana and Abutilon ‘Tango’ will all be flowering prolifically on Christmas Day. I don’t have the heart to curtail their last hurrah. Before the New Year, weather permitting, we will get outside and pack up the remaining gingers and cannas so that they can have a winter rest. On the allotment we still have to lift half the dahlias and start making repairs to the edges of the beds. Neither of us feel terribly motivated to do this right now, but given a cold, crisp day rather than a grey, soggy one, we might just muster the energy.

We’ve decorated a full-size tree in the morning room for the first time this year.

The Beau ordered the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalogue from the USA in September and it arrived about three months later. More a book than a catalogue, it was worth the wait and the expense. It’s unlikely we will be able to order from it due to import regulations, but each page is so beautifully produced and packed with information that we will reap ample benefit from adding the tome to our library.

Also on our ‘to do’ list this holiday season is placing our order for dahlias and chrysanthemums with Halls of Heddon. We’re giving Halls a try now that the National Dahlia Collection has closed and having found some other suppliers to be unreliable in 2020. Whittling our wish list down to match the space available could be an interesting challenge!

The Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalogue is jam-packed with exciting ideas for our allotment next year.

It just remains for The Beau and I to wish you and yours a very happy and peaceful Christmas. It’s easy to forget what a tough year this has been, to overlook the toll it’s taken on our mental and physical health as well as our working lives and relationships. For many of us our gardens have been an important source of comfort, strength, exercise and joy. Let’s be thankful and pray for the energy, imagination and good weather to be able to enjoy them even more in 2021. TFG.

A few of my favourite Christmas things, as displayed on the tree in our dining room at The Watch House

Categories: Christmas, Musings, 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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  1. Thank you Dan for this post and Christmas wishes. I hope you and The Beau can spend the beautiful time of the year together in the warmth of your house, having a glass of wine or a mug of tea in your hand and dreaming of coming spring. Happy Christmas to the both of you. Stay healthy and safe. Greetings from Poland.

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    And a Merry Christmas to you and The Beau, Dan. I’ve very much enjoyed your posts this year.

    Have a safe and comfy break,

    Heather McS

  3. Thank you for cheering us up in this strange year. I hope in 2021 you both keep safe. Enjoy Christmas and I look forward to reading your next comments.

  4. Your big trees are gorgeous. I could just melt into one of those chairs in the morning room to gaze at all the baubles on the tree. It is good to hear that you, The Beau and the pups are healthy and enjoying the holiday season. By all means leave your trees up as long as you wish. After all the effort involved you should enjoy every minute. I wish you both a Merry Christmas.

  5. Love your posts, Thankyou, so much . I also love your John Piper in your sitting room!
    May I ask where you got the wooden hanging rail in what is usually your niece’s room.
    Have a Happy Christmas all of you.

  6. Your niece is a lucky girl! And your photography has gotten better and better, more and more professional, over the years I have been following you. So wonderful. Love from across the pond.

  7. Thanks for taking the trouble to write a Blog, it is always an interesting read. Best wishes to you both for Christmas and lets hope 2021 is better for us all.

  8. I have loved reading all your posts and seeing all your photos. Your trees look amazing and I hope you and the Beau, Millie and Max have a wonderful Christmas together.

    You mention buying dahlias, can I recommend Farmer Gracy in the Netherlands. I have ordered from them and found them to be a great firm and they supply good plants. I ordered iris bulbs, geraniums and colcassia.

  9. Your decorations look amazing. Order your Dahlias early – I work for a Bulb Nursery and the word is that Dahlias are going to be in short supply in spring 2021! Merry Christmas

  10. Fraser fir really has become popular. It is naturally quite rare. The native range is limited to a small area on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, and into Virginia. I did not expect it to be popular outside of North America.
    Merry Christmas!

      1. It is very closely related, or at least very similar to the balsam fir. The balsam fir is supposed to be the most aromatic fir, but grows slower than the Fraser fir, and might need more work for a narrow conical form. The native Douglas fir is still the standard Christmas tree here, but a few others are sometimes available. Giant redwood is even cut as a Christmas tree!

      2. The trees are shorn so that their outer stems are not so sparse and flimsy. They support ornaments adequately, but they look . . . shorn. Other firs look more like . . . well, ‘trees’, but they are expensive. The only North American fir with a more confined natural range is the Santa Lucia Fir, which lives in the Santa Lucia Mountains south of here. It is a stately tree with stiff branches, but the foliage is too prickly to be appealing as a Christmas tree. When I grew Christmas trees briefly in the early 1990s, I noticed some strange ones! Arizona cypress is popular among those from Arizona.

  11. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts this year, Dan and this one is no exception. Your Christmas trees are a sight to behold! And that weighty catalogue…..I wonder if I’m alone in thinking it’s perhaps a good thing that you can’t order from it?!
    I wish you and the Beau a wonderful Christmas, and a healthy and happy year ahead. Sending a virtual red wine toast from the vineyards of Mudgee. Jane

  12. A very Merry Christmas to you and The Beau from across the pond way and over yonder on the left coast. I confess a spot of envy concerning Fuchsia boliviana blooming still for you -all my Fuchsias are toast -but only til spring . And shocked to hear that Her Maj. keeps her decos up so late–here in the Northern California suburbs the neighbors who keep their exterior lights up past Little Christmas are quietly frowned upon as somewhat well, tacky. I hope it’s an unfounded rumor .

  13. I have enjoyed reading your posts and seeing your photos this year. I completely agree that you can never have enough Christmas trees, they give such a festive spirit when we need it.
    Best wishes for Christmas and happy gardening for 2021. (from Canberra, Australia)

  14. Fabulous trees! Love the idea that your niece gets her very own. And how sweet of you to put one up for her even though she can’t enjoy it in situ this year but most certainly will over FaceTime! Our own tree will go up and be decorated in a few hours time – after I’ve caught some sleep :-).
    Wishing you and The Beau a lovely, peaceful Christmas and a happy, hopefully less turbulent, new year ahead – but most of all good health throughout.

  15. Love your trees! Now they are what I call very tasteful! And I love those chairs too! Glad you and the Beau are doing OK. I always love to read your posts. Wishing you both a lovely Christmas and a safe and healthy year ahead – look after each other in these turbulent times.

  16. Thank you for your blog it is always uplifting and inspirational. There has been so much rain in North Wales but today the winter sun is making my garden sing again! I too am Dahlia hunting this year so will be interested in how you get on. Trying to get hold of Ken’s Coral. Merry Christmas and keep safex

    1. Thanks for that suggestion Toni. Dahlia ‘Ken’s Coral’ looks right up my street! Likewise here we have slightly better weather today but it’s turning really cold. We are out for a brisk walk and then it will be cosying up all way! Happy Christmas x

  17. I love your decorations and am joyful that I will no longer have to tear down mine on 6th January. Glad to hear that you have everything in place for a Happy Christmas. I am off to put on the greenhouse heater as we are forecast a good nip of Jack Frost tonight. We might wake up to a ‘White Christmas’!
    Stay warm and well, and hopefully we will be able to meet our friends in person in 2021.

  18. Happy tinsel tidings to you. Your trees look beautiful and I love the time lapse video. I shan’t show my daughters your niece’s tree – as they will want one in their own bedroom! We have a sole weird twiggy ‘Druid’ tree, that lives in the corner of the living room all year round, and is festooned with whatever’s in season. Thank you, you have reminded me I need to get on with ordering Dahlia tubers! (I’ll allow myself three new ones this year). Lulu from Long Mizzle, Cornwall x

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