Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
THE undercurrent of the virus is still with us and Christmas will be very different from any other one as many of our traditions will simply not happen or if they do, it will be in a feeble and artificial way.
We, as a race, can manage to get over most obstacles, like the way we responded and reacted to the first lockdown – a brilliant and proud time from our citizens.
The first and obvious thing to do is get into a survival mode and avoid crowds, wrap up to avoid getting sick, wear masks, keep social distances and tell your family and friends that you will catch up seriously when the vaccine is sorted and until then, communicate via telephone, text, zoom, skype or other means. The second is we are giving out gifts early and outside so as to avoid unnecessary contacts and while some people might think it is daft, we find it quite natural and not a bother in the world.
I have reached the stage where I have given up on giving or receiving large gifts and I am happier for it, but for children it is a magic time and I have found the simpler the presents are, the better they are enjoyed. I suppose quality takes precedence over throw away items and, of course, a thoughtful simple gift wins out every time, difficult as it might have been in the choosing. Books and music are still big with many artists gearing their product for the Christmas market.
Feeding wild birds is a growing occupation and is enjoyed by all generations and, therefore, it is a readymade option when buying a gift. The nice thing about it is that the variety of feeders, food and bird tables is large and will suit most pockets as the range of prices can be under €10 and up to around €100 for a four star bird table. Another advantage is that the recipient cannot price the gift subconsciously as it is not like a box of biscuits, sweets or bottle of wine.
An easy way to give a gift is by a gift token in one form or other. The old fashioned method is the physical card which has been supplemented by the internet printed one. They still are very popular but some establishments make less savoury conditions by putting a time limit on the cards or by gradually reducing their value. At Orchardstown we have no time limit and have happily taken a few in the old pounds that disappeared behind a drawer years before. Quite simply, I only buy gift cards from those businesses that operate with no time limit either, as I have not forgotten one token we received where we were out of date by a few weeks and no joy from the owners, which was silly as
that resulted in a negative opinion.
Before I finish this note I should like to wish you all a peaceful and safe Christmas and hope that the New Year brings better news for everyone. I should like to thank all those who made contact via emails, telephone calls and personal visits and I appreciate the time and effort taken to share comments or advice, some of which was subsequently included in a later article. Our Orchardstown Garden Centre details are [email protected], 051-384273 post code X91 Y322.
TIP OF THE WEEK
The temperature tends to rise as we approach the Christmas holidays and indoor plants tend to suffer from drying out only to be rediscovered again after the first week of January. Your permanent house plants will need at least one watering or if in doubt give them all a spray of water over the foliage and consider moving them together into a cooler and mainly unused room until after the holidays. Flowering pot plants that are mostly used as a temporary display will not be that fussy but will droop fairly fast if they dry out and will revive just as fast after watering.
Hyacinths can be planted out after flowering and should grow and flower again in the ground the following year but with smaller flowers. Azaleas and Christmas Cacti should live from year to year and keep them indoors until the danger of frost is over and then place outside until October.