Somehow December always has its share of minor crises, including Christmas ones: nothing dramatic but enough to add to the stress levels from sore feet, too much heat and what to buy Aunt Ethel.
So here are a few solutions to the things that might bug you, garden-wise, this Christmas.
Falling Christmas tree needles clogging up the vacuum cleaner: Remember that a cut Christmas tree drinks water like a drover's dog. Place your Christmas tree in a bucket, fill with stones, bricks or something else that's solid to keep it steady, then give it a drink every day and it should stay nicely needled till New Year.
What to buy a bloke: Nothing for the garden and no tools either, unless he has clearly specified what he wants and exactly what make and model it is, though a good solid wheelbarrow is pretty safe (one with a big fat front tyre) provided he has a large enough garden to want one and doesn't already have a good solid wheelbarrow. Try a hat not a cap but a proper hat that will stop skin cancer on his ears and neck, and believe him when he says he really would like socks. If he likes mushrooms you could buy him a mushroom kit. He might like an above-ground garden kit there are some great ones around or a vertical garden kit, to turn a bare wall into something gorgeous and growing, but Christmas isn't a good time to assemble gardens. Maybe wait until his birthday for those.
What to buy Aunt Ethel, who already has two of everything: A potted fern wrapped in bright silvery paper. No one ever has enough potted ferns, mostly because they forget to water them and they turn brown (in which case trim them back and water like mad till they recover). She might also like a good sun hat in fact you can do a bulk buy of sun hats and give one to everyone. Their skin will thank you.
Weeds: Cover with sugar cane mulch. If they are tall, jump up and down on them and then cover thickly with sugar cane mulch.
Bare boring garden and it's party time: Invest in a few hanging baskets and pots of spreading petunias. Plant petunias in the baskets and hang in a prominent position, at eye level, which is where people mostly look at parties.
Hot dogs (the furry kind, not the kind you eat in buns): Make sure they have shade throughout the day when you're not home remember shade moves, so what's shady in the morning may be blazing hot by noon. Put a few ice-blocks into their drinking water morning and evening too. Dogs like a nice cold summer drink too.
Hot cats: Cats can find the coolest spot around. Follow your cat and sit there with a good book or magazine.
Wilting flowers and wilting gardeners too: Give yourself half an hour's meditation time each evening with hose outside, away from indoor problems and into the perfume of hot earth and night-scented flowers. Put on plenty of mosquito repellent too. And Merry Christmas too may 2012 be full of flowers and friendship and green and growing things.
Your say: Do you have any summer gardening tips?
Video: Saving water in the garden