December Gardeners’ Blog

This year, 23 November – 1 January, we have the Magical Lantern Festival back in the Gardens. This event was a great success two years ago and, due to increased demand, we are pleased to welcome the incredible illuminated sculptures back to the Gardens once again.

Clerodendrum splendens

The Magic Lantern Festival is a spectacular fusion of art, heritage and culture – visitors will enter through a giant 12-metre wide lantern entrance, before following a stunning trial around the gardens. From Santa and his reindeer to flowers and animals, these giant lanterns will light up and guide you around our stunning site, taking you through the trees, past the pond and all the way up to our glasshouses. We are delighted to be able to highlight the gardens in this way. Even members will relish seeing the Gardens in a different light, literally!

Moreover, in the external areas, planting has been carried out on the North-American bank (by the eastern end of the Wilson Walk). You will now be able to see a mix of woody and herbaceous plants and flowers, including Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’, Phlox subulata ‘Snowflake’, Eurybia divaricata, Ilex cornuta ‘Burfordii’, Pinus aristata, Picea engelmannii, and Hydrangea quercifolia. Make sure you come and take in these stunning plants!


In the meantime, more horticultural work is being carried out on the south-facing border, along the tearoom. The gardening team will be planting out a selection of exotic plants of marginal hardiness. Expect to see: Bergenia ‘Overture’, Euphorbia palustris, Dierama argyreum, Hylotelephium ‘Matrona’ and Salvia nemorosa ‘Ostfriesland’.

If you come and visit during the festive period you will also be lucky enough to see a festive display of warmly lit Christmas trees in the Mediterranean House, as well as poinsettia, narcissus and Christmas flowering hyacinths. A selection of these will also be for sale in our Plant Sales area, so make sure you head to our shop before you leave! We will also place a Christmas tree in the Garden’s Main Entrance, welcoming our visitors and getting everyone into the Christmas mood.

In addition, December is a great time to appreciate the warm and dry conditions in our glasshouses. Why not marvel at our unique tree fern (Dicksonia x lathamii) in the Subtropical House? It is a hybrid created by Charles Latham who was a curator here in the 1870s. You can’t find it anywhere else on earth!

Lastly, if you are looking for jobs to do on your allotment or in your Garden this December, why not:

  • Check your winter protection structures are securely in place
  • Insulate outdoor taps and prevent ponds from freezing
  • Prune open-grown apples and pears
  • Take hardwood cuttings
  • Reduce watering of houseplants
  • Harvest leeks, parsnips, winter cabbage, sprouts and remaining root crops