What to do
Attend to terracotta pots. Those that have been standing in saucers of water all summer should now be taken out of them. Pots are less likely to crack open in icy weather if the compost is well drained. Raise pots on small, even blocks of wood to ease drainage problems. Where style is paramount, use terracotta lions' paws made for the job.
Plant roses, fruit trees and new hedges. Order seeds in the bloated interval that stretches between Christmas and New Year. Include at least three things you have never grown before. Try Cerinthe major 'Blue Kiwi' (Unwins £2.99) with its strange drooping flowers of slatey blue-green, or the annual climber Cobaea scandens (Thompson & Morgan £2.49) which was still producing its huge purple bell flowers at the beginning of November.
Keep houseplants dryish and potted bulbs dampish. Clear out the greenhouse and, if you are going for the solid gold, hallmarked halo, clean and oil all gardening tools.
What to buy
Jams, chutneys, plants and pots are all on sale at Great Dixter's Christmas Fair, held on 27-28 Nov. You get your Christmas shopping done away from the horrors of the high street and the Great Dixter Charitable Trust benefits, too. Northiam, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6PH, 01797 252 878, greatdixter.co.ukReuse content