Autumn, and October especially, is the perfect time for planting roses in your garden. The soil is warm and workable...
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 a crisp, bright day you might find your garden is a great place to escape to and, even in December, there are some lovely things to see.
The bright stems of Cornus (dogwoods) look amazing at this time of year as do evergreen shrubs such as Viburnum tinus with dark green leaves and pretty pinky-white flowers. Bright berries on Skimmia rubella look lovely in December and then there are Hellebores, gorgeous eye-catching flowers looking lovely now and into the new year.
December isn’t a particularly busy month in the gardening calendar but there are still things which can be done and they might even take your mind off the Christmas shopping! 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.
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. 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. In severe frosts, smaller pots can freeze solid for prolonged periods of time, which leaves the plant without water. 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.
Any really ‘frost tender’ plants in containers 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.
Another thing to bear in mind, when the weather turns really chilly, is our much loved garden wildlife. If you can, try to provide a varied selection of feeds for the birds; things like 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 can perish in completely frozen ponds.
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!