Gardening Tips: December 2015

Red Hesperanthus. formerly Schizostylis, flowering in January!

Christmas is coming – there is so much to prepare and enjoy too. On my walks, I’ve started to gather up my supplies for the season and am hunting down pinecones, foliage and berries for decorating.

Outside the world is full of colour and the shrubs are bursting with berries – my favourites Skimmia and Cotoneaster always cheer me up. There are others with more striking, nearly unnatural looking colour berries – like the purple berries on Callicarpa and the neon orange of Pyracanthas.

In the still of freezing winter mornings, it’s lovely to hear the robins and blackbirds and watch them hop up to me along fences, inspecting my recently turned soil. I like to encourage them by making special bird feeders with dried apricot, raisins and slices of apple.

It’s also a nice time of year to think about the smaller creatures looking for a place to nestle up for the winter – it can be really good fun for kids to make bug hotels for ladybirds with straws. It’s great to encourage ladybirds into your garden when they do so much by keeping down the aphid numbers over the summer.

I love how creative people are with plants indoors too, Poinsettias and forced bulbs are particularly noticeable now – it’s hard to miss a hyacinth in a room, that heady strong scent and the curl of the petals looks so beautiful.

I have started digging flowerbeds when it’s not too wet – the frost helps to break down the big clumps of soil, making it easier to dig and plant up in spring. There is still a lot of cutting back to be done thanks to the mild November we had which saw Dahlias in full bloom to the very last of autumn!

If you wrap up warm, a wintry hour or two in the garden can be a perfect pick me up – it’s amazing how much lighter a garden can feel when the leaves have dropped off the trees, and with the sun sitting lower in the sky there’s a lovely winter light – which when accompanied with dew and mists and even a sprinkling of snow, can make it feel like the most wonderful time of year.

Merry Christmas,

Happy Gardening!

Jobs for December:

  • Deadhead winter bedding
  • Keep off flowerbeds in wet and frosty weather!
  • Wrap up pots in horticultural fleece or bubble wrap to stop them from cracking in the frost
  • Sweep up leaves from paths and off of flowerbeds
  • Turn the soil to expose pests
  • Prop pots up onto feet so that they don’t overfill with water
  • Check shrubs aren’t being battered by wind and branches aren’t overburdened by snow
  • Especially in wet weather, remove slugs and snails
  • Weed, weed, weed!

Photograph: © Neil McFarquhar