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Season's greetings; diary.

| WE'RE in full festive mode here. We've no tree as such but we've masses of greenery in the field, cut from various shrubs and still going strong.

There are even shiny red berries on the skimmia and there are masses of pretty twiggy hazel branches.

We could hang baubles from them or decorate them with bows but I prefer them plain. A few branches from our thuya provide the requisite resiny aroma, and we'll raid our huge bay tree started years ago from a cutting but now 20ft tall - it's a far cry from those neat topiary jobs you see flanking the doors of posh houses. It's tucked into a corner with a couple of yews which were given to me by my friend Pete as saplings.

| THERE'S holly and plenty of ivy around. There's a wreath too, in fact two although we really have only one door. But the other - with little apples and crab apples and loads of ivy - can go at the front of the porch. We usually make a wreath with holly and often bulk it up with trimmings from our variegate box. Those stingy wreaths with a bit of glitter don't exactly encapsulate the spirit of the Christmas season.

| WOULD Christmas be complete without a bunch of mistletoe? Of course you don't need it to show the one(s) you love a sign of your affection but it's good fun and a lovely tradition.

Mistletoe was sacred to the Druids and the Ancient Greeks and it was used as an aphrodisiac, for fertility, to ward off witches, as an antidote to poisons and to guard against lightning strikes. It's also an interesting phenomenon to see a plant growing away happily without its roots in the soil. It's semi-parasitic and roots into the bark of trees, especially apple trees.

If you've got a suitable tree try rubbing a few berries into the bark where the seed may germinate. One practice is to lift small sections of bark with a sharp knife and implant the seed. I'm going to try both and hopefully in years to come we'll be picking our own.


Spirit... Carol with her wreath

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Dec 26, 2015
Previous Article:Boxing Day pie packs a punch; MARION MCMULLEN finds out how to keep the celebrations going with meaty recipes to see you into the New Year.
Next Article:Home for the holly days; The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown, of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown (but...

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