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Christmas is coming
by Patrick Vickery
by Patrick Vickery


Patrick Vickery lives in the Scottish Highlands and runs a small hardy perennial nursery (part-time). Patrick is also a part-time garden writer, and part-time special needs teacher.

Married to Liz, they have three children, two goats, two dogs, an assortment of small animals, and lives in a two acre wood in a wonderful part of the world.

Patrick gardens using a raised bed system and all, of course, chemically free - a chemical free zone!
Visit his blog
His first book was published in January 2002 by Capall Bann Publishers, UK:-
"In Pursuit Of Perennial Profit - The Pot Of Gold At The Bottom Of The Garden" (ISBN: 186163 1480)

Also visit his website at

December 9, 2012

Christmas is fast approaching. I hope you have a good one. I once toyed with the idea of growing Christmas trees on a small scale, you know, a small scale business venture really, only I never got round to it in the end. Maybe when I retire? There’s money in Christmas trees.

Mind you, many years ago when we lived in a house that backed onto woods I took it upon myself to acquire a fresh Christmas tree straight from the ground. It’s not a good idea to go digging up Christmas trees willy-nilly of course, oh no, far better to pay twenty pounds for a dead and rootless one instead. But I was young, impoverished and full of justification for such a dastardly deed. And anyway it was self-sown, on land soon to be quarried and nobody would ever know, or so I reasoned at the time. I would replant it after the festivities were over. Not in the same spot to be bulldozed by the quarry men, certainly not, what a waste, but in a secluded area of the garden to be re-used again the following year. That’s recycling for you!

So one afternoon in mid-December I set off into the gathering dusk with a spade in one hand, a torch in the other and a mind full of improbable excuses just in case I was unfortunate enough to meet anyone else out and about at that time of day.

As I wandered gaily along looking for all the world like a suspicious character about to dig up a Christmas tree to lug back to the fireside I saw other shadowy figures in the half-light of that crisp afternoon. We passed each other like ships in the night, heads down, silent, possibly the odd Highland grunt of acknowledgement, possibly not, but all seriously intent on anonymity. They were ‘at it’ in the woods, doing the same as me, Christmas time was looming, the spades were out, the goose was getting fat. I even spotted a tree in the distance bobbing along under it’s own steam with a most peculiar loping gait. Surely, I reasoned, somewhere beneath that foliage there must be a person with a spade, for how else could it move like that – how else could it move at all?

Once our tree was up, neatly positioned beside the fireplace and bedecked in festive spangly things, we eagerly anticipated the arrival of the ‘Bearded One’ who always appeared on Christmas Eve between 6pm and 7pm sitting comfortably in the back of a pick-up truck dispensing lollipops to the children of the district in exchange for a wee dram from the adults of the household. Ho, ho, ho. By the time he reached our house many a lollipop had been dispensed, many a wee dram quaffed and he’d subsequently adopted the ruddy and brazened look of a festive beacon.

But gone are the days of jolly Santas in pick-up trucks, more’s the pity, although in certain parts of the country prior to Christmas the odd wandering conifer can still be spotted in the gathering dusk of a late afternoon. Some traditions never die out, not completely, do they?

As for me, I’m buying a dead and rootless one from the Garden Centre this year, honest, and then the goats will eat it after the festivities are over. Recycling, recycling, recycling, that’s what it’s all about. Have a jolly Christmas and may 2012 be a good one.

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