Let the festivities begin

Gardening news by Matthew Appleby

Halls of holly

The RHS Christmas Show
RHS Christmas Show
The RHS Horticultural Halls in Westminster will be decked with holly when the RHS Christmas Show makes its return on 16 and 17 December 2008, after eight years away.

Festive wreaths, a giant Christmas tree, plant displays and gorgeous gardening gifts will fill the halls. There will be candle-making and Christmas decoration demonstrations, and exhibitors will embrace the Christmas spirit by dressing up as their favourite pantomime character.

Displays will include those from Oak Tree Nursery, Pennard Plants, Taylors Clematis Nursery and a poinsettia pyramid by Steve Bradley. Visitors can vote for their favourite display during the show. To book tickets, call 0845 612 1253, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/londonshows.

Meanwhile, tickets to the 2009 RHS flower shows are on sale. They make an ideal gift or a special day out. To book, call 0844 209 0363, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/flowershows. Tickets cost from £8 to £48, with discounts for advance booking and RHS members.

National Garden gift vouchers

Gifts that grow

National Garden Gift Vouchers
National Garden Gift Vouchers are perfect for plant lovers and are available in £1, £5, £10 and £25 denominations from 2,000 garden centres and garden retail outlets. To find your nearest outlet, or to buy online, visit www.thevouchergarden.co.uk.

Speedy seeds

Grow herbs, lettuce, tomatoes and morewith the AeroGarden. Watch seeds develop up to five times faster than plants grown in soil. In only 28 days you can be ready to harvest your crops.

AeroGarden uses aeroponic technology and built-in grow lights to create a self-watering, self-feeding, fully automated indoor garden.

AeroGarden costs £99.95 and is available from AeroGarden (www.aerogarden.co.uk), Selfridges (www.selfridges.com), I Want One of Those (www.iwantoneofthose.com), Costco (www.costco.co.uk) and independent retailers. For more information, call Best Direct on 0871 222 6853.

Christmas tree

Late-night shopping evening

Clifton Nurseries
Clifton Nurseries in Maida Vale is having a special late-night shopping evening on 17 December 2008. Father Christmas will be there for the little ones and experts will be on hand to show shoppers how to make wreaths, garlands and stunning table arrangements.

Christmas trees on sale during the evening include the Corkbark fir, which retains its pine smell in the home for the whole Christmas period. Clifton Nurseries will be open until 8pm. For more information, call 020 7289 6851, or visit www.clifton.co.uk.

Spruce it up

The Chelsea Gardener
The Chelsea Gardener showroom
The Chelsea Gardener has fresh Christmas trees, both cut and potted, available now. Nordmann Fir and Blue Spruce from £24.50 and Norway Spruce from £29.50. Tree stands cost from £19.95, with hanging decorations from £4.49.

Also available is a selection of Noble fir, holly and mistletoe for smaller arrangements. The Chelsea Gardener’s in-house florist Gala Flowers will make garlands and wreaths to order. The Chelsea Gardener, 125 Sydney Street, SW3 (020 7352 5656; www.chelseagardener.com).

The Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

Fun at the fair

The Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
The Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park in Hyde Park includes an open-air ice rink, a German Christmas market and funfair. It is open daily until 4 January 2009.

New rides this year include a rollercoaster and mirror maze. Entry is free but attractions are individually priced.

For more information, call 0844 847 1771, or visit www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com.

Offer of the week

Fig Brown Turkey
Fig Brown Turkey offer
Fresh Figs are unrivalled in flavour and growing your own is easy. Fig Brown Turkey is a reliable variety and especially suited to British conditions, and it can even be grow on the patio.

With its large striking leaves, the tree will be a lifelong feature. The one-litre, pot-grown specimen costs £13.95 including p&p, or you can buy two for £22.90 including p&p and save £5.

To order, call the credit-card order hotline on 0870 950 5914 quoting R18235HP, or send a cheque, made payable to Mr Fothergill’s Seeds, to The Standard Fig tree Offer (R18235HP), Rookery Farm, Joys Bank, Holbeach St Johns, Spalding, PE12 8SG. Plants are supplied in a one-litre pot. Orders must be received by 12 December 2008 for pre-Christmas delivery.

Cyclamen 'Victoria'

Fit for a queen

Cyclamen ‘Victoria’
Rarely offered Cyclamen ‘Victoria’is fit for a queen. The plant has been bred by traditional open-pollination methods and is probably the longest flowering cyclamen of all.

One plant in a 12cm (5 inch) pot, supplied in bud costs only £12.99, with free p&p. To order, call 0844 573 2020 quoting MRES44, visit www.plantoffers.com/MRES44, or by post by sending a cheque, made payable to TMYP Ltd, to Evening Standard Offers, Dept MRES44 PO Box 99, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 2SN. Orders must be received by 17 December 2008.

What to do this week

1. Plant conifers and hedges
2. Plant heather
3. Prune wisteria side shoots to about 3cm
4. Plant bare-root roses
5. Bring in tender plants such as succulents
6. Clear gutters
7. Plant amaryllis in pots
8. Clean paths and glasshouses

For more by Matthew Appleby, visit www.geocities.com/matthew_appleby.

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