My Garden by Philippa Thomas

Wishing You All, The Warmest Greetings Of The Season
And Best Wishes For Happiness In 2019.

Berries are the jewels of our December gardens as well of course, being a festive treat for our birds.  Our feathered friends love Holly, Mistletoe, Pyracantha, Cotoneaster, Hawthorn, Crab Apples and Rosehips and Now is the time to plant such.  When planting Holly, ensure you plant a male and a female to guarantee berries or else, maybe purchase a self-fertile variety.  The turning circle of our garden year sometimes revolves all to quickly and then sometimes, slows almost to a standstill.  Our circle of life, gemmed at all times with the jewels of different lustres and different hues and colours, all of them equally precious.  These late November early December nights, the backdrops and silhouettes around Dalkey Island are utterly breathtaking.  I often take Mr. Precious for a walk there, just to simply walk around and to be quite alone when, as it happens in all our lives, it is absolutely essential for sanity’s sake to go away to somewhere quiet.

Our evening temperatures may become colder and colder until the thermometer begins to drop to several degrees below zero where it will remain long after dawn. Don’t our Dalkey gardens with their Winter spaces, especially evergreens, offer such a warm reception.  I adore to see a sea of greens – mixing shapes, textures and sizes.  Isn’t it fascinating how green shades feel balanced and tranquil-?  How often, gardeners do dress themselves and their gardens similarly!  Red to me appears closer, to be attention grabbing and physically stimulating.  Blue and violet shades seem further away and seem to be really calming but again green; the myriad shades of green – fascinating.  Doesn’t every plant’s leaves harmonise with its flowers.  Is this not true colour  co-ordination?  …As our Winter tightens its grip, we are approaching our shortest day of the year, Friday 21st December.  Then these few days between Christmas and the New Year are very useful in the garden if our weather is suited to the work. Finish digging over the veg plot and new ground as soon as you can.  The frosts will break down the clumps over Winter and by next Spring, it’ll be perfect for planting.  …Remember, any tidying we do now outside will replay us in the coming New Year and ‘Spring’ is only around the corner so we must make our gardens tidy in order to welcome it and to accommodate its absolute abundance of new growth and fresh foliage.

There is nothing like the appearance and scent of a real Christmas Tree to get us into the festive spirit – and doesn’t it actually smell like Christmas?  Norway Spuce is the traditional choice and holds its needles well as does Nordmann Fir, which has thick needles with silvery undersides.  …Presently, the Jasmine flowering season is long, approximately from November until April.  The branches can be picked for the vases in bud and the flowers will then open in water over Christmas; Jasmine Nudiflorum with its showers of starry yellow flowers on bare bushy branches will always reward us during the darkest of Winter days with what seems almost like a firework display of scented flowers.


The antics of birds always lifts my spirits.  Aren’t they flashes of life hopping from stem to stem, twig to twig.  …Then their crisp, crunchy rustling sound of leaves being tossed about as our avian friends search earnestly for a juicy insect, worm or seed.  Remember when the icy fingers of frost pinch hard our feathered visitors are in trouble.  Arctic conditions create a danger zone for our garden birds, especially our ground feeders such as doves, pigeons, sparrows, starlings and buntings.  Most of all, maybe spend some time in the presence of these sentient creatures and let their soulful songs and ongoing quests for survival bring some vibrancy to our lives – , to our Winter days.

Might Do Maybe, December/January Jobs

  1. Make sure to bring in citrus fruits in pots.  Increase their humidity by placing their pots in bases of damp gravel or hydroponics.  Allow their surfaces to dry out between waterings.  Ideally, use rainwater and let plants dry thoroughly and probably best, not to feed them.
  2. Alpines need all the light they can get so regularly remove fallen leaves from the crowns of these tiny gems.
  3. Seaweed boom.  Sales of seaweed fertilisers are on the rise as gardeners turn to more natural products.
  4. Let’s give thought to all our house plants – they really hate our winter, especially a hot centrally heated room where the air gets very dry.  Most plants originate from jungley environments, so again, place them on trays/bases of gravel – , then humidity will perk up the plants.  Again, rainwater is ideal for watering.

Maybe, Worthwhile, Pondering About For 2019.

Homes needn’t be plantless so bring the beauty of nature indoors.  Thanks to social media and picture sharing, media people are being encouraged without a garden to accessorise their homes with exotic looking succulents and jungle-style foliage plants.  Sales of Aloe Vera, Echeverias and Airplants have surged, leaving some suppliers struggling to keep up.


Neighbourhoods that are barren of trees have been shown to have a greater incidence of violence than their greener counterparts.  …Studies have also shown that patients with views of trees outside their windows heal faster and with few complications.


Peat and wood or coir, rather than plastic pots will be available to buy, in the not too distant future.


Without question of a doubt, the beauty of well-planted property and its surrounding street and neighbourhood can raise property values. People are far more attracted to leafy areas than those that are without trees.

“Working with the hands frees the mind.”
My Dad.
“There are no gardening mistakes only experiments.
Janet Kilburn Phillips.
“The love of gardening is a seed once grown that never dies.”
Gertrude Jekyll.

“A garden is a grand teacher.  It teaches patience and careful watchfulness.  It teaches industry and thrift, above all it teaches entire trust.”
Gertrude Jekyll.