Tuesday, December 07, 2021


Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre


IT is always a nice gesture to bring a small gift when visiting a home for lunch, dinner or a drinks party or more. There was a time when it was a box of chocolates and then wine joined in to be followed much later by a seasonal flowering pot plant.



There are some token gifts that we give, of which the ‘Merry Go Round’ or ‘Pass-the-Parcel’ is part of the course and that ticks the social box and sometimes a gift you have given ends up back with you, just in time for Christmas. Other gifts to family and closer friends might involve more thought and inspiration but this should not mean stressing about it as something general and small will get you out of a spot if needed.


Indoor plants

I am finding that seasonal indoor plants are going up in popularity and they are far better value than a bunch of cut flowers. Poinsettia is probably still the most popular, with the others like Cyclamen, and Pot mums trailing behind. Hyacinths planted three in a pot is still uncommon enough but great as it is fragrant as well as having some pretty blue, white, pink or red flowers. The main thing with pot plants is only to buy them where they are protected from cold winds inside the shop and that once home they need to be kept moist.



The orchids were once one of the most difficult to grow and needed special attention to do well. However, while there are many types in cultivation, a few were found to be easy to take care of in our homes.

These are now the ones offered for sale almost all the year round and their flowers last for months with minimum attention. They rarely need repotting and are happy with one of the specialist orchid feeds such as the easy drip feed type.



These are sold as loose bulbs or in pots ready to grow on and soon the enormous flowers will appear in either red, pink, white or striped shades. They are usually regarded as disposable plants but they look so good that most people keep them and hope they will flower the following year. They can take years to build up enough strength to bloom again, so all you will have is a foliage plant with strappy leaves which is fine if you are happy with that.



Giving an outdoor plant or gardening item can be tricky as it is more personal to the homeowner unless you know the person well or they have told you their likes. In other words, if in doubt head down the gift token route on this one.


Gift token

I do not like the way some businesses have an expiry date or other restrictions on their gift tokens and feel that it gives a bad image to the whole concept. We have always stated that there is no expiry date and have, even recently, received one dated in the old pounds! They are very welcome and generally people use it to buy something they had thought about but not bought. The older generation tend to use it over a period while making small purchases on each visit. The feedback is that it is still a popular and welcome gift for gardeners.



While we can plant almost all the year round in Ireland I would avoid large scale operations in July and August and for exposed or coastal areas forget December to February and then continue in March. What can be done now is to gather the last of the natural materials needed for indoor decorations and just leave them on the patio or grass area until needed. If you have any queries or comments you are welcome to share them with me on 051-384273 or [email protected] and if of general interest I will include it in a future article.

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By Melanie Dool
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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