Christmas “as usual” or as close-to as possible

Christmas “as usual” or as close-to as possible

Photos: The wreathery team hard at work

A chain of family-run Sussex garden centres has pledged to make it “Christmas as usual”, or at least as close to usual as they can in these difficult days.

Staff at Paradise Park in Newhaven, South Downs Nurseries at Hassocks, Portslade’s Mayberry Garden Centre, and Old Barn at Dial Post are determined to offer as much of their usual festiveness as they can amid Covid restrictions and precautions.

For a start, their Sussex-grown poinsettia will be available as usual. This bright red plant which epitomizes Christmas for so many has grown very well this year and stocks are already coming in. Also arriving are the first deliveries of cut and potted Christmas trees. “We have thousands of these British-grown, non-drop Nordmann beauties to choose from”, explains Rebecca Houghton-Knapp. The talented wreath-making team is also hard at work already in the Wreathery, crafting handmade seasonal wreaths.

Christmas means a visit to Santa for many and the renowned grottos, operated by The Budding Foundation Charity, at Old Barn Garden Centre in Dial Post and Hassocks’ South Downs Nurseries, are geared up to be Covid-secure.

“our elves are having extra ‘Elf & Safety’ instruction to ensure social distancing and comply fully with government guidelines”, explains charity founder Clife Gravett. This year, al visitors will have a pre-booked time slot to avoid queuing and, already, tickets have been selling fast with extra slots due to be released shorlty.

Clive, whose charity supports young people in need, added: In these difficult times we didn’t want children to miss seeing Santa and so we are making every effort to show them that despite the Topsy-turvy times they are experiencing, Santa will be there for them”. Details and bookings online.