Christmas approaches, and my household has swelled to six people with students returning home.  People regularly turn up in the kitchen requiring food and for the last two and a half weeks there have been various family members in isolation requiring room service.  Little gardening has been done.

I have a few good winter jobs lined up for the New Year though.  Proper things to get stuck into, including clearing ivy in an area I’m going to devote to conifers.  And the snowdrops are beginning to emerge – they always keep me going in the depths of winter.

Meanwhile, look hard enough and the garden has winter beauty to offer.  Just getting out and taking these photos in the drizzle gave me a Christmas boost.

Christmas Rose – Helleborus niger

Christmas Rose - Helleborus Niger

I love the pure white of this early flowering hellebore – given the common name Christmas Rose for its advent flowering habit.  I think I bought this one to put in a winter container display a few years ago.  I then planted it out near the top path along the upper boundary of the garden.

Christmas Rose - Helleborus Niger

This path has original paving, laid out when the house was built in 1912 and I really like the pattern.  It deserves a bit more attention from me and this hellebore is looking mighty lonely in flower there at the moment.  It will soon be joined by more of the pink and mauve hellebore varieties and also lots of snowdrops.

Snowdrop – Galanthus plicatus ‘Three Ships’

galanthus three ships

The ‘Three Ships’ snowdrop has come sailing in for Christmas.  ‘I Saw Three Ships’ is a favourite carol of mine so I love the name but I also adore the shape and texture of this particular snowdrop.  When open it has the appearance of three billowing sails, each fully filled as if drifting downwind.  It also has the puckered and striped patterning often described as being like seersucker fabric.

We’re very fortunate to have Paddy Tobin as part of our group of garden bloggers and if you want to see his fabulous snowdrops growing his Irish garden click here.  He’s inspired me to plant a few more of my special snowdrops out in the garden.  This one is still in a pot through and is brightening the table by my back door where I can see it every time I venture out.

galanthus three ships

Witch Hazel – Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'

This witch hazel is a beautiful coral orange and is flowering in the woodland with the intensity of a glowing hearth.  Witch hazels are pretty slow growing and tend to be quite expensive to buy.  A year ago I was weighing up whether to shell out on this plant or not.  I’m so glad I did.  It’s smouldering  in the woodland garden just in time for Christmas.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'

Tree fern – Dicksonia antarctica

Tree fern - Dicksonia antarctica

Whilst we’re talking expensive plants, here’s another one.  This is my Christmas present from my husband – received early as it’s pretty hard to keep it hidden and it’s certainly too large to wrap.  Wrapping presents is all about building the excitement.  Here the heart-stop moment was generated by my car headlights panning across a large pallet on the drive.  I then spotted the huge green fronds.  I’m a lucky girl.

Tree ferns are understory plants, enjoying the shade of larger trees so I think this one will be very happy in this part of the woodland garden.  I’ve planted it at the intersection of paths so it can be see from multiple directions.

Tree fern in woodland garden

Twisted willow – salix tortuosa

Twisted willow - salix tortuosa

This willow has become a twisting eruption of twigs at the side of the steps down to the pond garden.  It was a single twig cutting from a friend when first planted and is now huge.  I’m attempting to curve it in an arch over the steps although so far I’ve done nothing to actually shape it – it’s just growing that way.

Twisted willow - salix tortuosa

This plant is very useful for making arrangements for the home, including Christmas decorations.  My daughter, who is at art college, has been weaving shapes with the willow as it’s so pliable.  I use the willow to make Christmas door wreath rings but they have many more uses than that so I’ve written an article about using twiggy cuttings from the garden for winter decorations.

home made willow wreath ring

Christmas Decorationshome made christmas wreath

With all the usual festivities cancelled in the run up to Christmas I’ve had so much more time to get ready with the decorations.

Last year the door wreath had fern fronds for decoration, this year I went for hydrangea heads faded to lime green and burgundy.  I’ve written up my methodology for making a foraged wreath using the willow ring and offcuts from the Christmas tree.

Meanwhile, I have made my first ever Christmas cake.  I’m a keen baker so I don’t know what took me so long.  I had so much fun with the decorations as I saw on a baking blog how to make these cute marzipan Christmas trees.  I love them so much that I’m wondering if I can bring myself to eat them.

marzipan christmas trees

Finally – a bit of mantlescaping.  I didn’t know that this was what I was doing when I decorated the mantlepiece in the hall but my Sunday newspaper supplement described mantlescaping as this year’s must do.  Happy Christmas everyone!


This seasonal diary is part of a weekly link-up of garden bloggers from around the world, called Six on Saturday.  For more information and links to other blogs crammed with gardening activity, check the blog of host The Propagator.