Seasons Greetings & Free Seeds for the New Year

This will be my last newsletter of 2012, as I embark on an epic and exotic trip to the Orient! In the meantime, I thought you might appreciate some time to put your feet up, at least where your garden is concerned, whilst you embark on the inevitable whirlwind of Christmas and New Year party activities!

Although I won’t be doing it this year, my favourite way to decorate the house is to take a mix of shop-bought sparkly baubles and frittery and combine them with natural homemade decorations. Try spraying Allium and Hydrangea heads, Chestnut and Oak leaves with gold or silver spray paint, make your own garlands and wreaths and arrange them on your mantelpiece, window ledges and over your Christmas dining table. John Lewis always has a great selection of ‘make your own’ decorations and kits.

Have an absolutely marvellous time, whatever your plans and look out for my next newsletter early February.

Lots of Love, Helen x

PS. And don’t forget to read on for details of my little gift to you, your free seeds, for the New Year!

tasks for the months ahead

The main thing is to make sure your garden looks tidy and you’ve cleared up all the leaves, mainly so they don’t turn into a rotting, ugly mess!

Actually, emptying the compost bin is traditionally a winter activity for me.  I remove the fresh cuttings and peelings from the top of the heap, and set them aside whilst I dig out the composted material at the bottom of the container.  I then replace the top fresh section with a few worms from the mature pile. I spread the ready compost over the shrub and vegetable beds very roughly and let nature do the rest.

I see no need to make a fuss over the flowers beds, as too much goodness will make the plants straggly and tall which, in turn, will require them to be staked throughout the growing season and, if you’re always tight on time, like me, you’d probably prefer to avoid this if you can!

This article by Jane Perrone says it all with an insightful comments section at the end from readers.  Let me know what you think.

don’t get needled

Follow these simple steps to avoid needle drop in your home:

  • Buy a fresh tree – visit the British Christmas Tree Growers Association for approved suppliers.
  • Once home, saw off an inch from the bottom and stand in a bucket of water to give it a good drink.
  • Position the tree away from radiators and try and avoid extreme temperature changes.

Place the tree in water, rather than soil or sand, which will block the pores in the bark and top up with water every day.

buy British

In many countries, including our own, the Poinsettia (Latin name Pulcherrima) has achieved near-cult status during the Christmas season.

Look out for the British variety which is hardier and has a significantly lower carbon footprint.

Position the plant in good light, away from direct sunlight and draughts. Avoid low temperatures and overwatering, both of which will quickly damage the plant.

When the surface of the compost begins to dry out, water thoroughly. Place the pot on a pebble tray, as a humid atmosphere will prolong the coloured bract life.

avoid the shops

For those of you who have just started your Christmas shopping and prefer not to run the gauntlet with everyone else on the High Street, take a look at these gardening courses, which will surely be well received by anyone, whether green fingered or not!

  • Charles Dowding – for vegetable gardening available from Spring 2013 £75 each.

If you should buy or attend one of these, I’d love to receive your feedback!

free seeds

It’s very rare that we are offered anything free of charge these days, but I always like to buck the trend!

Just drop me an email, using this link, and complete your full name and address and details of the seeds that you would like to receive and I will post them out to you when I return in the New Year.

Please respond by Thursday 28 February (and don’t worry, I won’t pass your details to anyone else!).