Go green this Christmas

Go green this Christmas

Garden centres today are Aladdin’s caves when it comes to selecting a Christmas gift. Garden centres have the traditional Christmas plants like poinsettias, azaleas and cyclamen.

With something to suit all budgets, you will find your local garden centre a one-stop shop for gifts for gardeners and non-gardeners. Visiting your local garden centre can be a stress-free shopping experience, you don’t have to worry about parking or being clamped and in the bigger centres you can finish off your shopping with a cup of tea or coffee.

Outside lights in the garden have become very popular in recent years, check that the lights are suitable for outdoor use, you can never be too careful with electricity. Lanterns can look stunning with a candle or nightlight placed inside in your conservatory, on your patio or near your front door. Solar garden lights are increasing in popularity. They will not add to your electricity bill and are extremely easy to place in your garden. They are great to highlight a path or dangerous step. They will work through the year no matter what the level of sunlight is.

A gardener can never have enough pots which always look great when planted with seasonal colour. There is a vast range of high quality glazed pots in every shape and size to choose from. Choose pots that are frost resistant.

A birdhouse can provide great amusement for the young gardeners and will attract lots of birds into the garden. At this time of the year birds need to stock up with fat, they love peanuts and seeds. There are different types of feeders, birdbaths and birdhouses available to suit every garden. Place them in the garden where they can be seen from the house.

A bay tree grown in a pot looks great, it can be pruned to give a round head, spiral or a pyramid shape. A pair of bay leaves outside your front door will add elegance to your house. Decorating these trees with small twinkling lights will provide a warm welcome at the entrance of any house.

Some garden centres sell Christmas trees growing in pots which can be planted out in the garden when the season is over. Nothing beats the smell of a real tree, artificial trees are generally imported, made of plastic which is not a renewable source of energy. Most cut trees are grown in Ireland and provide employment for growers and retailers. Coloured artificial trees have become popular in recent years, The are available in black, white and even pink.

Pot plants for Christmas.

The pot plant is still the favourite Christmas gift. The quality and range of plants available gets better each year. The following are some of the traditional, colourful ones available.

Poinsettias are available in red, pink and white. They are very sensitive to temperature changes so buy Irish grown poinsettias which are of a higher quality and have greater staying power. Try to find one that is not tightly packed in its cellophane wrapper.

Cyclamen are available in white, pink, red and salmon. When buying carefully investigate under the leaves and you should be able to see lots of emerging flower buds. Keep them in a cool room and out of direct sunlight to prolong flowering for many weeks. Place plant on a saucer and water from underneath rather than directly onto the plant. Remove old flowers and it will continue to flower through the winter.

Jasmine (Jasmine officianale) has highly scented tubular white flowers that will fill a room with fragrance. Keep them in a cool room to prolong flowering. If scent is required in a warm room, move the plant into the room for a few hours and then return to a cool room later.

The Christmas Cactus is a cast iron Christmas plant that thrives, within limits, on neglect. It needs a temperature between 10 and 18ºC and good daylight to flower. This is one of the few succulents that benefits from regular misting.

Add a touch of the exotic to your house with a winter flowering cymbodium orchid. The long stems carry impressive, tropical looking flowers.

A houseplant is always an acceptable gift, whether you are going to a party, a friend’s house or just treating yourself.