December in your garden

Colour in the garden

Poinsettia

Poinsettias are synonymous with December and Christmas. and have beautiful bright red bracts. They are members of the Euphorbia family and they dislike cold drafts. Place them indoors in the light and do not to let them dry out.

Hellebores

Helleborus niger’s common name is ‘Christmas Rose’ with cup-shaped pure white flowers. Hellebores like moist soil conditions and will grow in a sunny site or in partial shade.

Sarcococca humilis

This is better known by its common name ‘Christmas box’ . This small evergreen shrub grows to about one metre tall and wide. They have creamy white, highly scented flowers which, if picked and brought into your home, it will scent the whole room.

Holly

Holly is a tree we always associate with winter and Christmas. The branches and leaves are now hung on front doors and in houses to accompany Christmas trees. It has the virtue of remaining green and strong, with bright red in the harshest of conditions. Druids consider Holly to be a sacred plant and a symbol of fertility and eternal life with magical powers. In Druid lore, cutting down a holly tree would bring bad luck. On the other hand, hanging the leaves in homes was believed to bring good luck and protection.

Leaves

The last of the leaves will be down this month. The oak is usually the last to shed them and the leaves take a long time to become compost.

Pruning

This is a good time for pruning plants at their most dormant. Roses benefit from a cut back to about half their normal size. Roses do not like having their roots disturbed and so pruning reduces wind rock and while retaining a bit of frost protection in the event of dieback.

Fruit trees

Apples and pears need a trim to maintain a good airy structure and shape. They do not like really heavy pruning as this will bring on a spurt of leafy growth with no fruit on it next year.

Herbaceous

Now is the time to cut the stems down on the herbaceous plants. You can take them down close to the ground. Please be careful and avoid cutting into any new shoots which may have appeared during November.

Jobs in the garden for December

  • Hollow tine aerate lawns to improve your lawn’s root profile and prevent water logging. If mild the grass will continue to grow if this is the case it may be necessary to give the lawn a further trim. Make sure the blades are set to around 4cm (1.5 inches) high.
  • Continue to rake fallen leaves off lawns so it doesn’t block out light and air to the grass.
  • Avoid walking on the grass on frosty mornings it can damage / blacken the grass.
  • Protect your pond, especially if you have fish in it. Throw a rubber ball on to the surface of your pond so that an air hole for fish can easily be made without having to smash ice noisily in a freeze, and wrap water pipes should we get a cold snap.
  • Mulch your borders with the contents of your compost heap – there is no reason to dig it in, your friendly garden worms will do all the hard work for you.
  • Keep a check on planted containers so that they do not get dry and are draining freely.
  • Spray peaches and almonds for peach leaf curl.
  • Check that tree stakes and ties are firm but loosen any tree ties that have become over tight. Apples and pears, currants and autumn-fruiting raspberries can be pruned any time from leaf drop until March, but never prune stone fruit in the winter, as the retreating sap can draw in the airborne fungus, silver-leaf.

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