Comforts

This lovely thing is soothing my heartstrings right now. I made it in October last year, having bought rather too many hellebores. I wish I had made more - it's one of those all-year-round pots to which you do precisely nothing, and it sits around looking gorgeous in spite of that.

Bruised, sober, ever so slightly funereal...but with bulbs in it, symbolising hope (?)...okay, I'll shut up now - suffice to say, we are one year on from this. Tricky.

Here's how you do it:

So here's the thing -

I love cyclamen and pansies as much as the next person

...and I have buckets of them everywhere...

...but right now I'm in the mood for something that'll go the distance with me...

Here's a lovely pot that will remain lovely all year round. I've been growing hellebores in pots and window-boxes ever since I began gardening and they are completely low-maintenance and trouble-free. I've added some bulbs to this pot for spring zing, but a hellebore and some pretty ivy is enough for me...enjoy.

You need:

1 gorgeous hellebore...they're on sale now and there are a squillion different permutations 3 little ivy plants 5 dwarf daffodil bulbs A pot (mine is 30 cm diameter) Some multi-purpose compost, mixed half and half with John Innes no. 2, because this pot is not a flash-in-the-pan part-time lover...it's a keeper.

Simply fill the pot with compost half full and put a circle of bulbs around the edge. Place your hellebore in the centre and fill in the gaps, squidging your ivy into the sides as you go. Don't worry about the bulbs getting through...they always manage somehow. Water it thoroughly and enjoy x

An Autumn Table (with dinosaurs)

I get quite excited by autumn (principally because it means Christmas is coming, but also because colours start getting juicy).  Here's a simple autumn table that you can make in ten minutes and will be quite happy for weeks as long a you give it the odd night out(side).

Dinosaurs, birds and gourds are optional of course, but I find them necessary to keep The Babety occupied at mealtimes - anyway, I feel vindicated in my use of plastic animals because the ever-chic Miss Pickering does it too (but better).

You need:

1 long tray - I use a black plastic one that I got with a window-box

1 small pot of very beautiful small ivy

3 pots of cyclamen

1 small bag of sphagnum moss

5 small terracotta pots - make sure they can hold the cyclamen without any plastic pot showing

A small amount of multi-purpose compost

Make sure everything is watered well before starting

Method:

First, put the tray on your table and line up your five pots along it.  Now divide the ivy into two by carefully teasing it apart.  Re-plant each piece in a terracotta pot with some dampened multi-purpose compost.  Plonk them second and fourth in your terracotta army and then simply drop the cyclamen plants into the three empty spaces...(you could bother to plant them up, but I don't because, well, laziness, and the fact that I might wake up one day and want white instead of pink....it happens).

Now tear off bits of sphagnum moss and arrange them around the base of the pots so no tray is showing, and finally, arrange your ivy tendrils artfully around the pots.

That's it...you're done.  Water as and when needed, and in-situ (hence the tray)...just stuff your finger in the compost and see if it's dry or not.  The whole thing would, as I said, benefit from the odd 'night out'...not on the town, but in your garden, or in an un-heated room to keep the cylcamen perky for longer.  But honestly, as long as you dead-head them when the flowers are over, and you don't live in a sauna, they should be just fine.

This bit of loveliness will last brilliantly well into Christmas, when you will, I'm sure, want holly and stuff.