There isn’t a whole lot to do in the garden this time of year but I wanted to try out my new secateurs.

Here they are! Japanese and very sharp

I ended up chopping a load of lavender that I hadn’t wanted to cut back at the end of August as it was still flowering quite well, some grasses that had got out of control and some nepeta.

I still have a globe thistle that is in flower and the winter flowering heliotrope is doing awfully well.  Everything else is pretty dormant – perhaps unsurprising as it got down to 2C the other night.

Winter flowering heliotrope


One of the things my children got for Christmas was a crystal making kit (they got one each – I know that they’re not going to, like, share).  So on the third day of Christmas, I spent most of the day making crystals.

Here they are

The children got a bit fed up with this after the first, large, crystal solution had been made.  I like to think that my children are interested in science but most science is just waiting around for stuff to happen which hardly interest anyone.  I was tempted to leave the rest to another day but knew that I wouldn’t have enthusiasm to come back to it – plus I didn’t want a load of open packets of evil solution mixture of DOOM sitting around.

The kit includes lots of terribly serious warnings about the ingredients being terribly dangerous and / or likely to stain stuff.  The crystals also need a spot to sit undisturbed for about seven days, ideally at a temperature above 20C.  So I put them on the side in the library.

The kit came from a place called Cass Art, which is a lovely shop.

Here’s the box

It’s the fourth day of Christmas

So we get four calling birds.  I hope you’ve all had a lovely Christmas.  We’re still in the thick of it, with lots of people staying, leaving and arriving.

Wreath – I got the foam ring from Amazon

My wreath is starting to look a bit tired now but it looked terrific when I first made it.  I originally consulted Celebrate but Pippa Middleton more or less told me what I already knew – except she recommended that I add roses to it, which I didn’t have and even if I had, I probably wouldn’t waste roses on a Christmas wreath.  In the end, I used holly, teucrium, Californian lilac and rosemary.

Christmas cake – it’s a bit minimalist

I made the Christmas cake at the start of December and my husband has been in charge of feeding it with cherry brandy.  I ended up using ready rolled marzipan and royal icing – they are only sold for round cakes but were JUST big enough to cover my (slightly larger) square cake.