Your Garden in December
YOUR GARDEN IN DECEMBER
Gardening tips and advice
Wrap up warm, and plant some colour to celebrate the festive season.
Once we get to December, attention is naturally turned towards the upcoming festive season and we can sometimes forget about our gardens. However, on cold, bright days, the winter garden is a lovely, restful place to be and provides a great distraction from shopping lists and meal planning.
December isn't a busy month in the garden, but there are still jobs to do, creative ones as well as the more routine, so you might as well wrap up warm and set to it.
There is some pruning to be getting on with. Birches and Acers (Japanese Maples) might need pruning to be kept in shape and now is the time to do it, as they may bleed sap if it's left much later. When pruning Acers, bear in mind that much of their beauty is in their shape, so prune very gently each year, never cutting into old wood, to keep in check but retain the elegance. Apple and Pear Trees should also be pruned this month.
If your garden is lacking colour now that many of the trees and shrubs have shed their leaves, you can always add something new. You can plant container grown plants anytime, and as long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged, there are plenty of candidates for adding some much welcome winter colour to your borders this season.
Mahonias look fabulous in December, with their architectural foliage and bright flowers. Mahonia x media 'Charity' is a particular favourite, adding splashes of sunshine yellow to your borders just when you need it. Sweet smelling Sarcococca confusa and berry-laden, as well as self-fertile Skimmia japonica 'Passion' are always welcome additions too.
Forecasters seem to be suggesting another mild winter, but it's always best to be prepared in case of hard frosts. Most hardy plants should be fine, but a good inch or two of mulch in the form of wood-chip or bark will offer extra insulation. Plants in containers should be insulated with bubble wrap or moved to a warmer spot for the duration of the frost and horticultural fleece is a good idea for any tender plant that cannot be moved.
Prepare for gales by removing dead or decaying branches from mature trees, and checking all recently planted trees are securely staked. Check fencing, trellis and other plant-supporting structures to make sure they can withstand high winds. Make sure your greenhouse heater is working, outdoor taps are insulated if required and take action to prevent your pond from freezing.
Another thing to bear in mind, when the weather turns chilly, is our much loved garden wildlife. Try to provide a varied selection of feeds to benefit as many species of bird as possible; the likes of nuts and suet balls are ideal at this time of year.
Talking of wildlife, I've chosen pretty Helleborus 'Madame Lemonnier' as my feature plant this month. Evergreen and shade loving, the aptly named 'Winter Rose' provides eye-catching pink flowers in December. These will continue to bloom until February or even March, attracting early spring bees to the garden.
All that remains is for me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Enjoy the festivities and we'll see you in the garden next year!
DECEMBER ON THE VEG PLOT
Whether you have an allotment, a veggie patch in your garden or just a few containers for growing your own, Ruth McNamee from our Plant Area can guide you through the edible gardening year.
Continue clearing and digging the plot during dry weather. This is a great way to warm up on a cold bright winter day, as is turning the compost heap. This warms the heap too, reactivating the composting process to speed up decomposition.
During cold or wet spells, tidy out the shed and clean and maintain your tools. Decide if any tools need replacing. If so, when visiting the Garden Centre to enjoy the Christmas displays, browse the sundries department to choose new items and give Santa a big hint!
Take a stroll to the veg plot on Christmas morning and set yourself up for a good day. Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and a peaceful, productive New Year.
https://www.bartongrange.co.uk/plants-and-gardening/gardening-advice/ Thanks to Will