It’s countdown time to Christmas

It’s countdown time to Christmas

Hannah Stephenson shows you how to create an advent calendar to complete your gardening to-do list.

In the run-up to the festive season, why not create your gardening to-do list in an advent calendar over 25 days, rather than make it a last-minute rush?

HANGING BASKET

Get the garden celebration-ready by brightening up a drab wall or fence with a festive basket, or hang one by the front door.

AMARYLLIS APPEAL

Little beats the exotic extravagance of amaryllis — their beautiful blooms make a bold statement and create a real focal point.

BE PREPARED

Look ahead to 2020 before the chaos sets in to make plans for seed-sowing. Buy your seeds early and you may find the chance to get things underway before you’ve even taken the tree down.

FEED THE BIRDS

Cold weather makes food and water scarce. Make sure feeders and tables are filled regularly, and ensure you have a constant supply of fresh water.

POT LUCK

Keep your containers in good shape with regular maintenance. Snip off blooms as they fade, and water regularly so compost doesn’t dry out in winter winds.

CONTAIN YOUR JOY

Brighten your doorstep or even just a window box with a container filled with Christmas cheer. A festive pot is easy to create — just choose seasonal plants, include lots of berries and finish off with festive trimmings.

HOMES FOR WILDLIFE

Support garden wildlife by supplying man-made houses for creatures to shelter in. They’re easy to install and attractive to look at.

FESTIVE FEAST

It’s possible to grow tasty crops on a windowsill to enjoy a festive harvest, even if you don’t have much outdoor space. Microgreen seeds are fast-growing, so try pea shoots, mizuna, coriander, or rocket.

OPEN UP

Give your front door the wow factor with a traditional Christmas wreath. Gather as much from the garden as possible, looking for evergreens, rosehips and berries.

PLANT DISPLAY

Given the right location, and regular care, houseplants can be used to create a beautiful Christmas display that will continue to look great well into the new year.

MAGICAL MANTELS

A roaring fire forms the heart of a Christmas scene, but why not add to the festive feel by decorating your mantelpiece? Combine fresh pickings from the garden with bought decorations to create a beautiful homespun feel.

FUN FORAGING

Make garden-foraged Christmas decorations. Seedpods can be transformed into decorations. Seed pods from poppies, iris and crocosmia work particularly well.

SPARKLING SEASON

Lights can add sparkle to a Christmas wreath. Thread battery-operated fairy lights through the berries and foliage of your door wreath or, if you have small conifers on your porch, add them to that for a festive effect.

BRANCH OUT

Set up your Christmas tree. Choose carefully and make sure the tree you select isn’t too wide or tall for the spot. If you have very limited space, you might choose an alternative such as smaller pot-grown trees.

POINSETTIA POWER

Brighten a room with poinsettias. If you’re careful, they should last well into the New Year.

NATURAL ATTRACTION

Make a rustic display by filling a simple glass vase with greenery and berries foraged from the garden. Top up the water regularly to keep everything looking fresh.

BIRD BAUBLES

Make edible Christmas baubles for birds. Mix warmed suet or lard into peanuts, raisins, grated cheese, sunflower hearts and oats. Mould into balls or fill paper muffin cases, each threaded with garden twine. Once cool remove the paper before hanging.

WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY

Decorate window sills with candle-filled lanterns, surrounded by strands of ivy and holly gathered from the garden, treating passers-by to a twinkly scene.

LIGHT WORK

Make candle decorations. Cut short stems of holly, popping into pretty glass jars with cones, cinnamon sticks and glossy red hips. Top up with water to just cover foraged treasures. Float tea lights on the surface.

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