The Twelve Days of Christmas is one of our oldest known Christmas songs, but I wonder how many of you know its history? Well it is a little lost in the mists of time but the first known printed version of the song appeared in a children's book called Mirth without Mischief around 1780 published in England, though the song is believed to be French. It's thought that it started as a Christmastime “memories and forfeits” game in which someone recited the first verse; each player repeated the verse and added another until someone made a mistake. The forfeit was likely a kiss under the mistletoe! But I thought we could give it a little twist and use it as memory game of some of the best Mediterranean plants to include in your garden next year. On the first day, a partridge in a pear tree. Well pear trees aren't the most common here but I think we could substitute it with a pomegranate tree, glowing redly for Christmastime. On the second day, two turtle doves. Soft as a doves' wings are the leaves on albizia julibrissin Chocolate, the chocolate silk tree and the tree of love, cercis siliquastrum, with romantically heart-shaped leaves and rosy pink flowers. On the third day, three French hens. Let's have three climbers with gorgeous edible fruits. The pitanga or Brazilian cherry, kiwi vine and passion vine. On the fourth day, four calling birds. My four favourite grasses – blue lyme grass or leymus arenarius Blue Dune, pennisetum setaceum purpureum, bronzed Japanese fountain grass, muhlenbergia cappilaris or pink muhly grass with its froth of pink inflorescences and the lovely strokeable stipa tenuissima Pony Tails. On the fifth day, five gold rings. Or five stunning architectural plants. Try kalanchoe beharensis with big triangular felted leaves, aeonium arborescens 'Schwarzkopf', agave attenuata or fox-tail agave, cycas revoluta or sago palm with its plastic-look leaves and the lovely jagged leaves of melianthus mayor or honeywort. On the sixth day, six geese a laying. Six to closely hug the ground - erigeron or Mexican fleabane, dorycnium hirsutum, lotus berthelotii or parrots beak, drosanthemum, convolvulus sabatius and grevillea lanigera Mont Tamboritha. On the seventh day, seven swans a swimming. Into the shade. Acanthus mollis, tiarella, lamium, heuchera, heucherella, anemone Japonica, ajuga reptans. On the eighth day, eight maids a milking. Eight wonderfully aromatic herbs. Lemon grass, pineapple sage, citronella balm, Thai basil, chocolate mint, southernwood, lemon verbena, comfrey. On the ninth day, nine ladies dancing. Nine dancing and swaying plants. Tulbaghia, gaura, agapanthus, phlomis, verbascum, digitalis or foxgloves, hollyhocks or althea, verbena bonariensis and echium candicans. On the tenth day, ten lords a leaping. With glorious perfume! Cestrum nocturnum and gladiolis tristis the two must-have dama de noches, heliotropium or hot cherry pie, the jasmine family, distictis laxiflora or vanilla vine, ornamental gingers, tabernaemontana divaricata or pinwheel plant, Madonna lily and many others, choisya ternata or Mexican orange blossom and the real thing, citrus trees of course! On the eleventh day, eleven pipers piping. Eleven of the toughest that you may not know. Salvia lutea and salvia leucantha, vitex agnus castus, cistus Mr. Stripey, rosa rugosa, limonium or sea lavender, leucophyllum, grevillea olivacea, stachys byzantina, plectranthus argentea and metrosideros. On the twelfth day, drummers drumming. A crescendo of colourful daisies! Dimorphotheca, gazania, arctotis, echinacea, coreopsis, gaillardia, rudbeckia, felicia, lampranthus, argyranthemum, euryops tysonii. And to round it all off, the glowing sunflower shining us into another year! Wishing You All the Jingly, Jolly Joys of Christmas! Viveros Florena – Probably the best little garden centre in Andalucía! Keep checking our web page for latest news and exciting new stock arriving at the garden centre. Join our mailing list to keep in constant touch. Shop on-line with us for Mediterranean plants, unusual plants, plug plants, scented roses, bulbs, coloured iris, organic products and my books. Winter Hours, October to May: 10 – 4, closed Sundays & Mondays. Summer Hours, June, July & September: 9 – 2, Closed Sundays & Mondays and August. We will be closed on 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th and 31st December. And 1st, 6th and 7th January. Have a wonderful Christmastime! Viveros Florena, Crtra. Algarrobo/Cómpeta, km 2, Cómpeta, 29754, Málaga Tel: 689928201 Web: Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. And see us on Facebook – Lorraine Cavanagh's Garden Centre

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