A recipe for success as we enter the gentle downhill slope into Christmas

A recipe for success as we enter the gentle downhill slope into Christmas

Darkness has descended; winter is here.  Burying your head in the sand won't help. Your funds will shortly seep away like rainwater into a freshly-dug ditch. But this is a guide to help you start the ball rolling. A garden-lover's kick-start - how to enjoy the festive season starts here:

Firstly, don't let Christmas drain away your energy! there's a lot of joy to be found amongst plants in garden centres and within on-line plant shops. Step through the festive garden doors and a whole new world opens up before you, where spring seems to be just around the corner. Visiting a reall-live plant centre is good for the soul.

santa, christmas, presents, gifts, festive season, santa with his sack, start christmas shopping,

Make merry with our early shopping suggestions

presents under the tree, christmas gifts, twinkling festive lights, wrapped gifts,

Twinkling lights and attractive gifts will make an early Christmas shopping spree feel like fun.

A light bulb moment

A bulb planting kit for indoors is the equivalent of that Eureka moment.  Gifts for auntie, grandad and sister Sue. Choose from Hyacinths, Amaryllis, Narcissi, Crocus, Tulips and more. Everything the recipient needs in order to grow some colourful cheer. Most kits cost under £15, including the Amaryllis ‘Carmen’ bulb kit shown, which comes with a zingy metallic-effect plant pot. Amaryllis bulb planting kit in sparkly silver pot

This Amaryllis 'Carmen' includes a metallic, joyful pot which will add sparkle to your shopping.

Take note of these opportunities

How about gardeners' tools, storage equipment or something for the shed?

gardener's notebook size A5 for the garden lover

Keep track of the gardening year to come

A metal sowing and harvesting calendar – an everlasting reminder of what matters to the grow-your-own enthusiast. Perfect for the shed door, it measures 40cm high x 30cm wide and costs £10.50 (+p&p)

. metal grow your own sowing and harvesting calendar for the shed door

A present to make you feel chirpy

Bird nesting boxes;  insect houses; bird feeders; bird baths and more. Birds are a gardener’s friend. They eat aphids and keep your plants free from nibbling snails and slugs. What's more, they really do cheer people up. We all need to encourage birds into gardens and to promote biodiversity. There are plenty from which to choose and many cost well under £20. The Country Cottage nest box (pictured) costs £17.99 (+p&p). Cute, isn't it?

bird nesting box with a cedar roof looks like a country cottage

Bright and beautiful twinkles

Garden ornaments with integral solar lighting can be quirky but fun. A string of fairy lights powered by the sun is uplifting on a dark night. Even on a cloudy day, solar-charged batteries gain enough energy to give you some light after dusk. Twinkling lights out in the garden provide joy to the human spirit and most are available for under £20. The foxglove solar garden light (pictured), costs £16.85 (+p&p). 

solar garden light ornament in the form of a foxglove flower giving light after dark solar string of chinese lanterns in red, blue and purpleS    

Christmas is for mugs

A plant-related mug always goes down well. After all, every outdoor-loving person deserves a cup of tea from time to time. You might even go for a set. Mugs make inexpensive gifts that are useful too.

 A garden mug by Simon Drew called The Lawn Ranger amusing cup

The Lawn Ranger mug has a handy lid to keep out the bugs. This can be used as a coaster too.

Equipped for the festive season

Simple tools and equipment are always well received by garden-lovers. A new weeding tool, a seed storage tin, spare secateurs, gloves and kneelers are indispensable.  As are tins of twine, slate or wooden plant labels and bags for the garden green waste. The set of four slate plant markers (pictured) come with a piece of chalk. The garden kneeler, by Burgon & Ball is decorated with flora and fauna. Knees are going to be lucky! 

a garden kneeler decorated with plants and garden birds,

Toxic trouble

Indoor plants are so valuable for good health. We probably all know by now that they are capable of soaking up toxins and are really efficient air cleaners. It has even been shown that plants can clear away bacteria and allergens, meaning that we are less likely to catch colds and bugs if we have at least one medium to large house plant in every 15 square metres of indoor space . Not to mention the fact that plants make us feel good, mentally. It's called biophilia, since you asked.

collection of house plants which filter toxins from the air and clean the environment

This is just a tiny selection of good air-cleaning house plants including Begonia rex, ferns, Calathea and Alocasia.

A little piece of philosophical advice

ancient philosopher pouring over a book, wise owl, wise words, christmas giving,

Ancient philosphers have some wise words for today's busy shoppers. In the 4th century BC, Lao-Tzu, also known as Laozi, the ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, suggested that, ‘Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love’. 

christmas presents, beautifully wrapped with gold and red packaging, lit with fairy lights