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Weekend work: Time to tend to Christmas roses

What to do

Anna Pavord: Last-minute gift ideas for the gardening fanatic in your life

If you’ve left your present purchasing to the eleventh hour, don’t fret, there’s often nothing better than a beautifully potted-up set of herbs, or a homemade bouquet garni

Frost-protected plants wrapped in fleece

Weekend work: Time to prune trained fruit trees

WHAT TO DO

Woolf Hall: Emma Townshend finds a new book about the author's final home irresistible - and she's not the only one

So I'm standing next to a woman in Belgravia Books (it's much friendlier and less posh than it sounds, and a tippety-top-class independent bookseller, to boot), and she's clutching this book, Virginia Woolf's Garden, to her chest.

Christmas gifts for the green-fingered: Stunning English gardens, Virginia Woolf's country bolt-hole and the art of growing bonsai

Tim Richardson's book The New English Garden (Frances Lincoln, £40) is the best kind of book to have by your side over Christmas. It is a big, lush production, superbly put together and is printed on thick paper that captures images beautifully. Most of the photographs are by Andrew Lawson (nobody is better) and they are well used, in luscious double spreads of reflecting pools and stilt hedges, bamboo groves and bananas, eremurus ("compulsory" in Noughties planting, says Richardson) and stipa.

Scilly season: The year's first daffodils can be tracked back to the pharaohs

I got a letter this week from Churchtown in the Scillies. I love this letter – it's one I get every year in November, as the Julian family gears up its daffodil farm for a winter of blooming and picking, boxing and despatching.

Wood work: It's a mystery that so many people favour paving over decking

Floorboards, planks and timber provide a far more sympathetic environment, says Anna Pavord

Weekend work: Time to prune elders

WHAT TO DO

How many trees have to fall before local councils see their significance?

The year turns inward now. The darkening dusks, the long shadows and the endless leaf-clearing leave few appealing opportunities for gardeners engaging in outdoor work.

Curly-leaved parsley may not have the best flavour, but it gives the prettiest effect

I have been working up in the Highlands for three weeks: no phone, no telly, no internet. I didn't miss any of those, since they don't play much part in life at home either. But, after the first 10 days, I did begin to miss the garden. The cottage I use in Wester Ross is miles up a track, with a marshy meadow on one side. Then mountains, fore and aft and, at night, stags roaring all round. On the deer fence, a wisp of honeysuckle clings grimly to the wire. Someone must once have got a crop of potatoes off this ground. And turnips. But now, just grass.

Weekend work: Time to plant trees and shrubs

WHAT TO DO

Weekend work: Time to plant grape vines

What to do

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