Lots of work to do as we head to Christmas

Here’s how we get our garden ready for Christmas!

As we head towards the shortest day of the year and then Christmas shortly afterwards, it might surprise some people how much gardening and work there is to do at this time of year.

Our team of horticulturists will spend quite a lot of time this month keeping the paths clear of leaves, twigs and branches, as well as snow and ice when it hits, for the safety of our visitors.

One of the most important jobs to do this month is relocating the Ilex crenata hedge, also known as Japanese holly, which is currently in the centre bed of the Rose Garden. Of course, we’ll have to choose the day carefully, making sure the ground isn’t frozen!

In its place we’ll be planting Euonymus ‘Jean Hugues’, which we’ve seen is such a fantastic small hedge in other gardens, so we thought we would give it a go. A really good alternative to Box, this is a compact and dense evergreen shrub that is also easy to keep looking neat and tidy.

We also plan to start the annual audit of our plant collection and will be updating the plant  – plus adding more than 1000 labels on our plants, which is quite a time-consuming exercise and a challenging plant identification test.

Our December visitors are often surprised by how colourful the Gardens are in the winter, so if you haven’t visited us before in the run-up to Christmas, we really do recommend it.

About Christmas is when the Hamamelis mollis (witch hazel) is heavily scented with its fresh, lemon peel-like, spidery flowers. The Wilson border, the aviary winter bed and the winter border are also colourful, with interesting stems and bark, scented flowers, evergreen foliage and jewel-like berries.

If you’re staying at home in the warm, this month’s a great time to order seeds and plug plants. There’s nothing better than having a  lazy afternoon, hot drink at hand, going through the gardening catalogues and planning your displays for the following spring and summer.

If you’re stuck for a Christmas present for a loved one, don’t forget our shop and garden centre, which have a great range of gifts – and we are also selling gift vouchers, which can be redeemed against membership, admission, events or even a donation to the Gardens. As an independent registered charity, we rely on the generosity of our members, visitors and grants.

We are open every day, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and will be closing at 3pm on Christmas Eve, to allow our hard-working team of staff and volunteers to enjoy the festive season. We hope to see you here soon.