The fireworks from Bonfire Night will still be fresh in the memory, but Southwood Garden Centre has already turned its thoughts to Christmas.
Father Christmas has even loaned his reindeers, Dasher and Blitzen, to the Cottingham based garden centre, which has been lit up with baubles, trees, lights and displays to celebrate the festive period ? in November.
“I don’t think it’s too early for the Christmas display,” said director Jane Jones. “Kids like to get in their orders with Father Christmas early and people like to be organised.
“We’ve already sold out of some of the Christmas decorations and sold a few Christmas trees. One customer told us he has finished his Christmas shopping, while another said he is putting his tree up soon. Generally, we find people are budgeting and buying things earlier.”
Jane’s team began buying their Christmas stock in January and it arrived in July. The work on the winter wonderland display started in August and now workers estimate there could be more than 50,000 lights around the centre.
“The energy bill does go up quite considerably over Christmas, as we do have quite a bit to light up,” said Jane. “But we love Christmas. My husband and I are like little kids.”
The Christmas display officially opened to visitors today with Father Christmas joining two of his seven reindeers.
It will be open every Saturday, from 10am to 5pm, and Sunday, from 10am to 4pm. From Monday, December 2, until the big day, it will be open every day from 1pm to 6pm.
Jane said: “This year, visitors will be able to feed the reindeer special reindeer moss, which has come from the North Pole. Providing there are stocks, people will be able to pay for a bag of food. We don’t want the reindeers getting too fat though, as they won’t be able to fly.”
To keep the reindeers in tip-top condition, Jane’s 13-year-old son George has been taking Dasher on walks.
She said: “During the school holidays he was walking him round the garden and farm on a lead twice a day. George has really enjoyed it.”
With people wanting to decorate their homes for the Christmas season, Jane says it is usually the busiest time of the year for the business.
She said: “It is usually busier over the Christmas period than summer. A lot of our new Christmas stock has already sold out.
“We’ve been selling a lot of Scandinavian decorations and a lot of vintage, as well as a lot of traditional decorations.Some people have bought lights that they like to keep up all year round.”