Repeating the success of last year, Nathan James Dodd is pleased to report that Gardensite.co.uk has again been voted as having the 'Best Online Garden Retail Buying Team' at Glee 16, the UK's most important Garden and Leisure Industry show.
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2013 is the Year of the Snake. But don't be unduly concerned if you suffer from ophiophobia. Not a lot of people know what it is and Snakes aren't all bad anyway. Someone coming into the world this year might be cunning, quick to anger and possessive but they will excel at business and will always be able to provide for you.
And how do we know all this ? Well, when the Jade Emperor summoned all the animals, they raced to him and on the way displayed the various characteristics that we associate with them today. The snake for example was a bit sneaky, surreptitiously using the horse to cross a river but then scaring it so much that the snake beat it to the Emperor.
Rats, Oxen, Tigers, Rabbits and Dragons
Where the animals finished determined their position in the zodiac. The Snake was sixth behind the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit and Dragon, and so relates to 2013 and every twelfth year i.e. 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965 and 1953. It's a good story but no-one really knows the zodiac's exact origins, although the animals were officially recognized during the Han Dynasty over 2000 years ago.
Each animal is also tempered by an element, this year it is Water that previously occurred in 1953. So if you are 60 years old this year, you should be romantic, refined, insightful, a good manager, motivated by results as well as money and although affectionate to the family, it is strictly business once outside the home.
You may be judgmental, a bad loser, tell fibs and, although happy to help out, are wary of giving financial assistance. Your intuitiveness and introspection may lead to vanity and resistance to constructive advice. So not the best character reference and the nearest western sign would be Taurus.
The new year heralds the Spring Festival with the largest celebrations naturally in countries with large ethnic Chinese populations. It's a time for family, firecrackers and lots of food, especially dumplings, lasting through to the new moon fifteen days later.
Hong Kong and Beijing have massive firework displays and fairs. Harbin has a famous snow and ice festival featuring various palaces, monuments and statues sculptured from ice and decorated with thousands of lights, and Shanghai's lantern festival brings an end to the celebrations. In London there are colourful displays of acrobatics, lion dances and music together with a proliferation of dragons that symbolise strength and good luck.
Whether the refined and sophisticated Snake would enjoy all this high jinx is open to question. They enjoy elegance, comfort and peace rather than bright lights and might appreciate the home decorated with flowers that have significance within Chinese culture.
The Chrysanthemum will attract good luck into a home, Citron or Buddha's hand is another flower that is associated with happiness. Daffodils are appropriate for those seeking promotion in their careers while orchids offer beauty and prosperity.
Whether you believe all this or not, there's no denying that it's a good excuse for having a good time and exploring another culture. Xin Nian Kuai Le!
Create a Halloween party in your house or garden with ideas and suggestions from David Coton that will keep your children and neighbours thrilled and spooked on the 31st October.
Looking for some advice on how to decorate your garden for halloween? David Coton has some great ideas to help you create a horror themed garden to scare your neighbours and any trick & treaters who come to your door.
To grow the biggest, scariest pumpkin in time for Halloween isn't easy as they take some time to mature and prefer a warm climate. To have the best chance of success Martyn Loach recommends sowing seed indoors during April and then planting out in late May or June.
Used originally to frighten away evil spirits, now placed near the front door to deter trick or treaters, carved pumpkins have been part of Halloween for a very long time. Here Martyn Loach explains the process of creating the scariest pumpkin in your street.