Simon Tetlow is head gardener at Tatton Park

I’M the head gardener at what I think is the greatest garden in the north west – Tatton Park.

I am a member of a team of nine gardeners with more than 300 years of experience between them. Every few weeks I’m going to give you a view from a window on Tatton, draw themes and ideas together about the wonderful world of plants and people and show you the bridge that gardens make to another world. They are the gilded door to the wild, weird and mysterious places that thrive without people.

As I write, scribbling this missive, the early winter rain is lashing the office windows and finds me in a mixed mood.

Christmas is looming, the lights are shimmering in the stable yard, and the Christmas trees are swaying in their pots.

All around we are bombarded with preparations for the season, and by preparations I really mean spending.

This year I want to dig a bit deeper behind what it’s all about. Christmas past, present and, hopefully future has a green thread running through it. ‘I saw mummy kissing Santa Claus’, ‘Rocking around the Christmas tree’, a drop of ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ through to Slade, Mariah Carey and even rocking out 1730 style with the Holly and the Ivy.

At this time of crass commercialism, embedded somewhere there is a deep green, resinous smelling reminder of something.

Long before Noddy hollered ‘Merrrrrry Chrrristmassss’ and the bells rang out for Christmas Day in New York, Christmas and midwinter was wrapped in something even more pervasive than adverts. The deep dark virginal forests of Northern Europe, that swathed our land loomed large in our unconscious minds, and still do.

Tatton's Japanese Garden

They pondered a mix of threat and bounty. Groves of ancient conifers provided shelter for ceremony and merriment by the great winter fire. Winter was conquered in the spirit first – the mid winter gatherings gave us the sense of togetherness to face winters tough times ahead.

Christmas, as it became, was the first time after ploughing, sowing, tending, cropping and storing that our forebears put their mucky weather-worn feet up. As the great moot halls were made, we brought the forest inside. Vast logs of taxus boccata (yew) or quercus robor (oak) were dragged in by the whole community and lit for the shortest days.

Around the glowing hall were draped fir and spruce, holly and ivy, ever green undying life. No coincidence that holly became Christ and all embracing ivy became Mary.

Our hopes and fears for the future may be different, but stopping, spending time together outdoors, surrounded by trees, ideally by a fire reaches deep inside this time of year.

Great gardens like Tatton have the power to transport the viewer somewhere else. The views of the sublime as the old garden designers used to call it can be found surrounded by 100-year-old pine trees in our pinetum. Swaying in the strong west winds and taking you to the Forest of Japan and China where many originate.

As the Japanese would say, shinrin-yoku – bathe in the forest, the smell of resin and moss, deep, warm soft cushioned beds of needles. Let the place get inside you and replace manufactured festive feeling with something from our long lost past.

Togetherness at this time of year should be seen as good practice for the months ahead, just like our forbears did, but in light of our near future we will be better together in nature.

Find your grove of trees this holiday time, let it slow you and your family down and give you time to value the best gifts this Christmas.

Happy gardening.