Your garden in December
Whether you’re dreaming of a white
Christmas or dreading one, there’s no getting away from the festive season now.
It’s a busy time of year and often we find that the garden is the last thing on
our minds. However, on cold, bright days the winter garden is a lovely,
peaceful place to be and a little bit of gardening is a great way to de-stress.
This isn’t a particularly busy month in the gardening calendar but there are still things which can be done. It’s a good time for pruning apples and pears as well as any Birches or Acers that need keeping under control. As long as the ground isn’t frosty, you can plant and transplant any deciduous shrubs or trees, too. It’s also not a bad idea to check any stored tubers such as Dahlia and Begonia and remove any rotting ones. If shrivelling, they can also be misted with water to prevent further loss.
Whether it snows or not, it’s safe to assume that it will still be very cold and frosty at times and, as gardeners, we need to be prepared. Any ‘frost tender’ plants need to be kept frost free all winter. If these are evergreen then they’ll need to be somewhere light, such as a frost free conservatory or porch. If they are herbaceous and die back before the frosts, then there is no need for light and a frost free garage or shed will suffice. Watering should be kept to a minimum but plants should not be allowed to dry out.
Most hardy garden plants should be fine over the winter period but a good inch or two of mulch in the form of wood-chip or bark will offer extra insulation as well as aesthetic appeal. Problems can arise however with plants kept in containers. If we experience severe frosts as seen in previous years then smaller pots can freeze solid for prolonged periods of time. If this occurs then the plant cannot access water and therefore is exposed to conditions similar to that of drought. This can be prevented by monitoring the weather and insulating pots with bubble wrap if need be or moving pots to a warmer spot, just for the duration of the extreme frost.
Another thing to bear in mind, when the weather turns really chilly, is our much loved garden wildlife. If you can, try to provided 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. Also for those of us lucky enough to have ponds in our gardens, it is crucial to keep them as ice-free as possible. Not only prized fish but frogs, newts and a multitude of other creatures have perished in completely frozen ponds in the last two winters.
And if you find you are on top of your gardening tasks, then settle yourself down somewhere warm with a good gardening book and start planning next year’s displays or veggie patch. Bliss!
We’ve chosen evergreen Viburnums as our plant of the month for December. We’re particularly fond of Viburnum tinus ‘Gwenlliane’. This is a very pretty evergreen shrub with neat, dark green leaves and pretty pink buds which open to starry white flowers. A lovely addition of colour in the winter garden, evergreen Viburnums look great in a border or in a container.