Back in 2006, my dad, who passed away the following year, bought me a hibiscus as a gift after he had stayed here while my mother had been in hospital.

Over the years I have created a second plant from the original and now have one in the living room and one in the back porch. I cut them back regularly to maintain smallish plants and they come back every time. The one in the back porch currently has at least seven stunning blooms on it. They are such a wonderful shade of apricot and a great reminder of my dad.

Are you planning on having a real Christmas tree this year? I decided to play safe and order mine online again last month, from the same company I used in 2020. Once again, I’ve opted for a Nordmann fir, it is certainly one of the most popular Christmas trees now in the UK. The trees have a reliably symmetrical shape with a wide base, are a nice dark green and have broad needles. They are classed as a non-drop Christmas tree as they retain their needles for considerably longer than traditional trees.

Additionally, the foliage is soft and glossy meaning it is fairly child-friendly. All in all, it is a pretty low-maintenance indoor option and its branching patterns will ensure your Christmas decorations look their best.

Later this month I’ll be bringing all my decorations out of their loft storage, ready to get it all installed around the house for early December. Get ahead – only six weeks to go.

One of my favourite plants in the garden that seems to have grown very well this year is fatsia japonica. I’ve got two really large ones that used to be located in a raised bed at the back of the house.

With the recent creation of the new sunken garden, I had to dig them up carefully and install both in a couple of large containers.

I cut them back a little as well. They will soon grow back to almost the same size again by next year. It is native to Japan and South Korea and the name fatsia comes from the old Japanese word for eight, as the leaves usually have eight lobes. Creamy white flowers open at this time of year, sprouting in firework-like clusters at the tips of the stems. One of mine has several about to burst forth.

It is a very accommodating plant, coping with limited light, even surviving with no direct sunlight, perfect for shady corners.

Both mine have fared very well on the north facing wall at the back of the house.

Read more of Geoff’s garden at