King crimson: poinsettias, the perfect Christmas plant

Poinsettias are the second best-selling houseplant in the UK (after the enduringly popular Phalaenopsis orchid), and this year it's estimated w'll be buying some eight million of them over the Christmas period.

Poinsettias, which hail from Mexico, have become the festive houseplant and you can do a lot with them from having a large plant in a pot, to cutting the stems to use in a floral display or incorporating into a wreath. They also make a perfect gift for men and women of all ages.



Cyclamens for winter garden delight

Cyclamens are inexpensive, abundant and they can make winter a flowering success. The Royal Horticultural Association (RHA)  describes cyclamens as 'a delightful tuberous perennial providing colour often when little else is flowering, particularly in late winter or early spring.'

Grow them in shadier spots - they don't like full sunshine - and don't let their soil become too dry and they'll keep on flowering month after month. They're great in window boxes and containers too, and work well planted with snowdrops, winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) and primroses.

Feed the birds

RSPB wildlife advisor Charlotte Ambrose says as winter approaches, so birds become vulnerable: 'Up until now they've been able to feed on insects and seeds, but the cold weather means they move into our gardens to find refuge. You can make a real difference and improve their chances of survival, as well as being rewarded by great views of wildlife in your garden or outside space.'

The benefits of bats in the garden

Bats can serve as pollinators

This is more true for other countries than the UK, but in some parts of the world, bats are pollinators for key species, just as bees are. And if bats disappear, the species that rely on their pollination services are also at risk. On the other hand, this is why planting species that bats rely on is crucial to their return. 

They control insects 

Tips for keeping cut flowers fresher for longer

keep cut flowers fresh for longer by remembering a few key changing the water regularly, cutting the ends of and trimming any dying foliage

Maintaining a greenhouse over winter

how to keep your greenhouse or glasshouse in good shape over December, the month with the fewest daylight hours

Garden rooms: more living space for your home

Moving house is formidably expensive and building an extension is time-consuming and disruptive. Hence the march of the ready-made garden building to fill the gap, which is a far cry from the humble shed of yesteryear.

Weatherproof artwork for your garden

Enjoy art outside with weatherproof artworks from insideout garden art. Perfect for dull garden walls or fences, a beautiful outside picture will cheer up your garden

When the rain comes...water plants with rainwater

When it comes to looking after plants, everyone knows they need sunlight and water. However, some people may not understand the vast benefits rainwater brings to plants. Although (in normal times) it's easy to water the garden using tap water, water from a tap is treated with chemicals that may stunt the growth of certain plants. Rainwater, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be treated before use, it can be used for in as well as outdoor plants, and it's free!  Here's short guide to rainwater and why it's excellent for your garden. So get rain dancing folks...