Impending frostbite will drive even the most avid gardeners to hang up the shovel for winter and prevent their green fingers from turning blue.

But with the all-important Christmas tree to choose and decorate, there are still pressing green issues to consider inside.

Talented Sydenham-based horticulturalist George Long, owner of landscape design company Well Grounded Gardens, shares his Christmassy column:

Recycle your Christmas tree

Every year we cut down a tree and then get rid of it after a few weeks.

But why not use a potted tree?

It’s environmentally friendly and cheaper.

Try Abies koreana or Abies fraseri for a green variety which minimises needle drop, or for something different try silver/blue Picea pungens ‘Hoopsii’.

When Christmas is over, put the pot in your garden either in a border, or leave it on your terrace.

Leaving the tree in its pot will restrict root growth so it will not grow much during the year, then next Christmas you’ll be able to use the tree again.

It may need re-potting until it has reached the maximum size you’re comfortable with in your home.

Potted Christmas trees can only stay indoors for about two weeks before they get grumpy, so don’t bring it in until you really need to.

And keep them away from too much heat or you’ll be out with the vacuum cleaner way too often.

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Christmas gift ideas

As well as standard Christmas gifts of indoor plants like Begonia, Poinsettia and Gardenia, there are plenty of other ways to find the perfect present for budding gardeners in the family.

Here are just a few gift ideas:

Let the person you love go out and choose the things they would like at their local garden centre by buying National Garden Gift Vouchers.

Add a little luxury to someone’s tool collection with something special from Burgon and Ball.

David Austin Roses supply the finest indoor and outdoor roses by post, as well as gift vouchers and other great ideas.

English Gardening School, Chelsea, offer short courses by some of the world’s most eminent horticulturalists and personalities.

Prices start from £75 (half day) and £125 (whole day including lunch).

Gift certificates bought for Christmas come gift wrapped with a pair of free Niwake snips.

Royal Horticulture Society and National Trust memberships are a great gift for someone who loves to visit gardens.

Membership provides free entry to many of the country’s most renowned gardens such as Wisley (RHS) and Hidcote (NT). and

Seasonal tips for November/December

You can still plant trees, shrubs and roses but start to protect plants and lift bulbs which won’t survive the winter.

Trees and vines can still be pruned.

Start tidying the garden, throw away or store old pots and get rid of all the rubbish.

Begin thinking of plants you want to put in next year, order catalogues and go online for research.

Lastly, please check before you burn that old wood heap in the corner – you never know who is hibernating in there.

Reader's Questions

Q: My friend bought me an Asiatic Lily but it is dying, have I done something to it? - Siobhan from Lewisham

A: No not at all, most Lilies are bulbs and will die down this time of year and will grow again late spring.

However, if the winter is too cold or wet the bulbs may not survive so make sure where it’s planted isn’t too exposed or dig up and store the bulb until spring.

Q: I love Jasmine but there are no leaves in winter, can you suggest anything else? - Ian from Lee

A: Trachelospermum jasminoides is your answer.

It’s an evergreen jasmine that will keep its leaves all year round.

Readers can send in their gardening questions to George at