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SGS Christmas 2014 448

By Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School

Well it is that time of year again, Christmas carols playing all around, the scent of mulled wine in the air, sparkling light-filled trees and all the chaos that comes with the anticipation of the holidays. It is also a time to look back and contemplate the year that was in the garden and look forward to the adventures in store for 2015.

What were your greatest successes, courgettes or roses, mine were the blueberries. Or the biggest disappointments, basil or geraniums, for me this year it has to have been the tomatoes. Taking notes and photographs as reminders of the successes and the failures in the garden is the best way to change and improve things for next year. A gardener’s best friend is the trusty notebook – a hard cover little notebook that slips into your pocket makes a great gift.

Timely Tips

Now is the time to wrap up the more tender of your plants. Anything in a pot should really be raised off the terrace; ceramic feet can be purchased at garden centres however offcuts of wood will also do the trick. Water needs to be able to drain freely thus preventing the pots from freezing to the terrace. Precious, slightly tender potted plants should be moved to a sheltered area out of the wind and wrapped with horticultural fleece or hessian bags. The larger DIY shops now stock whimsical hessian bags perfect for the holiday season.

If you have a drip system in your beds and borders lift them and store them for the winter. Drain your outdoor hoses and bring them into the garage or basement as this will prevent them from freezing and then splitting.

A little housekeeping goes a long way: clean, sharpen and oil your secateurs, clean all of your spades, forks and other tools so that they are all good to go when the weather improves in the spring. If you have the space, clean and sort the empty pots and containers getting them ready for the new season. Pass along odd shaped containers or pots you don’t need or like. Only keep what you want to see in your garden.

Spend a little time consulting seed catalogues online in preparation for the bounty of summer vegetable, flower and herb planting.

Gift ideas

Always on the look out for lovely gifts for gardeners, here are some ideas:

Magazine subscriptions are simple to organize and always a much appreciated gift from Gardens Illustrated, the Vogue of the horticultural world http://subscribe.gardensillustrated.com/ to Gardener’s World which is a more practical gardening magazine http://www.gardenersworld.com/magazine/.

Terre et Nature is a weekly French language newspaper which covers all things green with sections on gardening, nature, animals and the countryside http://terrenature.ch/. Remember of course that subscriptions to these publications can also be bought for online enjoyment.

Gift Certificates & Vouchers – all of the local plant and garden centres are only to happy to provide you with gift vouchers allowing the gardener in your life choose the perfect plant for their home when they are ready to plant it:

Give the gift of membership – there are many local and non-local associations with annual memberships providing a range of services from monthly magazines and newsletters to online advice and discounts. Here are a few a our favourites:

  • Royal Horticultural Society - https://www.rhs.org.uk/membership Annual membership of this UK gardening charity enables you to access their gardens for free, buy show tickets early (Chelsea Flower Show), receive an excellent monthly magazine “The Garden” and access to free personalized advice via their website.

  • ProSpecieRara - https://www.prospecierara.ch/fr/donateur is a Swiss non-profit oriented foundation established in 1982 to preserve endangered species of farm animals and crops from extinction. Annual membership includes a newsletter three times a year and access to their extensive heritage seed collection.

  • Send a gift membership to friends in the UK of the British Bee Keeping Association http://www.friendsofthehoneybee.com/join-us/ This charity aims to further and promote the craft of beekeeping and to advance the education of the public in the importance of bees in the environment. They have a very well developed section for children. Members receive a quarterly newsletter and the knowledge that they are supporting some 24,000 amateur beekeepers.

    If you are interested in beekeeping locally consult the homepage of La Société romande d’apiculture, Section de Nyon http://apiculture-nyon.blogspot.ch/ a long established association. A two session (theory and practical) course will be held in April and May 2015, registration is essential. Hive discover days are also organized at the Château de Prangins for children from May to July.

  • JardiTroc http://jarditroc.ch/wp/  is a Geneva based association which encourages exchanges between the lovers of plants and gardens. It is most famous for the annual late spring Troc des plantes in Grand Saconnex. Membership enables participation in conferences, courses and garden visits.

  • Jardilisle http://www.jardilisle.ch/ is a dynamic gardening club based in L’Isle above Morges and run by the inspirational Marion Casselle. The goal of this club is to improve the knowledge of members through exchanges, conferences, lectures and tours of gardens, nurseries and exhibitions. This association is also famous for its annual Marché et Troc des plantes in September.

The UK gardening website of the year http://www.crocus.co.uk/ is packed with all sorts of fantastic ideas from gardening gloves and secateurs to bird and insect houses. Their early season sale with -20% off everything continues until Sunday 14th December at midnight.

FELCO, http://www.felco.com the world-leading manufacturer of professional pruning shears and cable cutters since 1945 and sponsor of our Pruning Techniques course has a fantastic range of secateurs for the amateur gardener. They have a variety of sizes depending on your hand size and even have an extensive range for the left-handed gardener. Products are widely available in Switzerland at Landi and Schilliger. Prices are lower in Switzerland than in the UK.

Finally, a gift certificate from the Swiss Gardening School would also make a super present. Our stand-alone morning and evening courses will begin again in the spring with new courses being added regularly. A gift certificate allows you to identify the course of your choice.

I would like to take this opportunity with Hester to thank you for your continued support of the Swiss Gardening School. My blog will be back at the end of January with timely tips and news of local events including the 10th anniversary of Jardins en Fête in the garden of the Château de Coppet in May among others.

Wishing you our warmest greetings for the holidays and the New Year!

Author's bio


An enthusiastic, self-taught gardener, Tara Lissner is passionate about gardening and eager to share her zeal and knowledge with other gardening fans.

In 2012, she joined forces with Hester Macdonald, a British-trained landscape designer, to launch the Swiss Gardening School.

(Photo by Jean-Luc Pasquier)

Swiss Gardening School