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Discover articles on garden design, seasonal planting tips for your garden and other news and views from Gillian Goodson Designs.

Rejoice in the festive season

 The dainty bells of  Clematis napaulensis   (Gillian Goodson Designs)

The dainty bells of Clematis napaulensis (Gillian Goodson Designs)

December is dancing at our doors and with it the ecstasy that is Christmas! A time to rejoice, celebrate, a time to go that little bit crazy! Channel your inner fairy and sprinkle some cheer and magic on those around you. If you are more from the Ebenezer camp then save a bucket load of sprinkle for yourself – if you can’t beat them, don’t just join them but run a riot with laughter! Give yourself a shake, let go of the grump and bring in joy! 

For those of us whose eyes pop (and not in a good way) at the sight of tinsel, then it’s time to go foraging – look for evergreens such as yew, holly, maybe a little green and cream variegation from, say, Euonymous fortunei, a pop of colour from red berries whether holly berries or some crab apples, a few pine cones, a bit of ribbon and hey presto you have the makings of a home-made wreath. Use also the shiny, dark green leaves Sarcococca confusa (a type of sweet box; 2m). From now through to March, its pure white flowers emerge – a winter treat for your olfactory glands with scents of vanilla. 

Lesser-known and more difficult to source is Clematis napaulensis. A remarkable and delightful climber (3m) with dainty yellow-green bell-shaped flowers contrasted beautifully by purple stamens for a sheltered spot flowering throughout winter. 

If in need of a little escape – rake up the leaves, feed and put water out for the birds; if the ground isn’t frozen relocate established shrubs, prune deciduous trees including apple and pear. Time to harvest Brussel sprouts, leeks, parsnips and carrots – whether they end up on the Christmas menu is entirely up to you! 

Here’s to roasting chestnuts, crackling fires, popping corks and noisy banter with friends and loved ones… here’s to knocking on doors of those who might be a little lonelier at this time of year and making a nuisance of ourselves. Here’s to new and unexpected friends – may we all be swept away by the happiness and goodness of the season… cheers and Happy Christmas everyone!