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This is the season to be ... holly!

By garden designer Angie Barker. Father Christmas will be receiving lots of letters this year with requests for everything from Iggle Piggle to Wii consoles.

(If you don't have young children and are not into video games you won't have any idea what I'm talking about !) Top of my wish list is for a drier and warmer summer next year. In the meantime I intend to make the most of the festive season.

Shops charge a fortune at this time of year for holly so what could be better than going into your garden and snipping off a few sprigs to bring indoors for decoration. If you want berries (they look gorgeous and are a good source of food for birds) there are male forms of holly which pollinate the berrying hollies, so you would need to plant a male form nearby. (Ladies, who said the male species was good for nothing!) A word of warning though, some hybrids have confusing names. A holly called 'Golden King' is actually a girl. Ilex aquifolium 'Ferox Argentea' is a male form.

Mulled wine was invented for drinking outside in the garden on Christmas Eve with friends and family. It gives you a warm glow and a "Christmassy" feeling that you will never forget, unless of course you have too many, in which case you won't remember either! See what I mean about using your garden as an outdoor room - even in winter. The garden takes on a wonderful atmosphere with subtle lighting and when the stars are out - wow!

Bringing the 2008 Gardeners Diary to a close, I would like to wish all of you a lovely Christmas and a peaceful and happy New Year. And Father Christmas, I promise to be good next year if you grant my Christmas wish …

By Angie Barker

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