How to: Gardeners' Advent Calendar

Celebrate each day of December and opt for a more active advent calendar with our Gardeners' Advent Calendar. For each day you'll find a fun tip or task from our experts at Dobbies to perk up your garden throughout winter. So step away from the chocolate and pick up your gardening gloves!

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1. Plant a beautiful winter hanging basket – Get your garden celebration ready by sprucing it up with a colourful hanging basket. They’re just the things to brighten up a drab wall or fence, and perfect for hanging by your front door to welcome festive visitors. The basket will last until spring, so it isn’t just for Christmas.  

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2. Plant an amaryllis for Christmas Day blooms - Little beats the exotic extravaance of amaryllis. Their beautiful blooms make a bold statement and create a real focal point in any Christmas scene. They're available in lots of colours, so you're bound to find one that will look great in your home.

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3. Be prepared for the New Year - Christmas isn't over but it's worth looking ahead to 2016 before the chaos sets in to make plans for New Year seed sowing. Buy your seeds early at your local Dobbies, and you may find the chance to get things underway before you've even taken the tree down - just the tonic that's needed after all the festivities.

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4. Take care of garden birds - Cold weather makes food and water scarce so we need to do everything we can to provide our feathered friends with the supplies they need. Make sure feeders and tables are filled regularly, and ensure you have a constant supply of fresh water. Provide a variety of foods, including seeds, nuts and fat-based feeds.

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5. Get the most from winter pots - Keep your winter containers in tip-top shape with a regular maintenance. Snip off blooms as they fade and become past their best, and water regularly so compost doesn’t dry out in winter winds. It’ll only take a few minutes each week to check each of your pots is providing the best possible display. 

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6. Plant a Christmas container - Brighten your doorstep for the festive season with a container filled with Christmas cheer.        

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7. Give wildlife a home for winter – Do your bit to support garden wildlife by supplying man-made houses for creatures to shelter in. There are lots of different types on offer, all depending on the wildlife you’re hoping to attract. They’re also easy to install, and attractive to look at, which is a bonus. 

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8. Grow windowsill crops in time for Christmas – It’s possible to grow tasty crops on a windowsill, meaning it’s easy to enjoy a festive harvest even if you don’t have much outdoor space. It’s simple to do, and all you need are a few seeds, compost and a couple of bits and bobs you’ll find knocking around the kitchen. 

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9. Make a Christmas door wreath – Give your front door the wow factor this festive season by creating a traditional Christmas wreath. It’s easier than you might think, and there’s nothing better than homemade decorations with a personal touch. Gather as much from the garden as possible, looking for evergreens, rosehips and berries.

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10. Create a festive houseplant display – Given the right location, and regular care and attention, houseplants can be used to create a beautiful Christmas display that will continue to look great well into the new year. There’s a houseplant for virtually every location, meaning you can bring festive flowers to every area of your home.

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11. Dress your Christmas mantlepiece – A roaring fire forms the heart of a Christmas scene, but why not add to the festive feel by decorating your mantlepiece? It couldn’t be simpler to do, and it’s possible to combine fresh pickings from the garden with bought decorations to create a beautiful homespun feel.

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12. Make garden-foraged Christmas decorations – Give your Christmas tree a personal touch with a few homemade decorations. They’re easy to make, and you’ll find all the basic ingredients in the garden. Colour theme them to match the rest of your decorations, or keep things natural for a rustic look.

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13. Add sparkle to your doorstep – Give Christmas door wreaths a touch of magic by threading battery-operated fairy lights through the berries and foliage. It’s easy to do, and will add a special finishing touch come the twilight hours. Do a similar thing with doorstep containers and hanging baskets to create an overall sparkly effect. 

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14. Set up your Christmas tree – There’s nothing like the ritual of choosing the perfect Christmas tree – it’s got to be just the right height and shape to fit in your room, something that most members of the family have an opinion on! Setting up a Christmas tree isn’t difficult, but it’s important to do everything in a certain order…

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15. Brighten a room with poinsettias – Did you know the traditional Christmas poinsettia originates from Mexico? It’s hard to believe that something from such a hot country is so perfect for bringing festive cheer to homes over the Christmas period. Position in a warm, bright spot and don’t let compost dry out. Red, pink and white types are available. 

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16. Create a nature-inspired Christmas display – Homemade Christmas decorations don’t have to be fiddly and time-consuming to create. Make a rustic display by filling a simple glass vase with greenery and berries foraged from the garden – top up the water regularly to keep everything looking fresh for the entire festive period. 

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17. Make edible Christmas baubles for birds – Create homespun Christmas decorations that garden birds can enjoy too. Edible baubles are great for decorating an outdoor tree or shrub for the festive period, with the added bonus of built-in bird food for our feathered friends. This is a great project to try with children.

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18. Pot up kitchen herbs – Transplant pot-grown herbs into decorative containers for your kitchen windowsill or worktop. They’ll be handy for festive meals, saving you the bother of venturing into the garden for pickings and the expense of supermarket-bought bunches. Water regularly although make sure compost doesn’t become saturated.

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19. Make the most of your windowsills – Decorate window ledges with candle-filled lanterns, surrounded by strands of ivy and holly gathered from the garden. This classic Christmas collection will come to life as the sun goes down, treating passers by to a twinkly scene. Replace the holly and ivy as it passes its best.

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20. Add the finishing touches with fresh flowers – Place vases of cut flowers around the house to complement the festive scene. The hall, a sideboard and even the downstairs loo can all be lifted with a beautiful vase of blooms! Choose flowers that match the colour theme of your decorations for a coordinated look. 

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21. Make a candle decoration with children – Keep little ones entertained during the run-up to the festive season with an easy-to-make candle decoration. You’ll have no trouble finding the materials needed, with plenty coming from the garden, and they’re all cheap to source meaning several kids can have a go without breaking the bank. 

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22. Make a Christmas table centre – Get your Christmas dinner off to a great start, by creating a stylish table centre. It’s a lovely way to bring festive cheer to a dining room, and just the thing to give Christmas meals the wow factor. Use things picked from the garden to give it a rustic, homespun look and to keep the cost to a minimum.

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23. Harvest for the main event – Bring the taste of homegrown to the Christmas dinner table, by picking any last crops the veg patch has to offer. Brussels sprouts and parsnips make a tasty addition, as do new potatoes planted in the summer and grown in bags. Keep your veggies in a cool, dry and frost-free place until you’re ready to prepare them.

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24. Dress your Christmas dinner table – Personalise your Christmas table with homemade finishing touches. It’s not fiddly to do, meaning you can easily create the wow-factor for the big day. Use berries and greenery picked from the garden, combined with bought decorations, to create a sophisticated look full of rustic charm.

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25. Welcome friends and family – Create personalised wine glasses with homemade glass charms to make Christmas visitors feel extra special. Simply create small rings from wire, and thread them with foraged berries and hips. 

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