December – ‘tis the season to be jolly…
It is very easy to think “that’s it, it’s winter and there’s nothing going on in the garden.” However, look a little closer and whilst the show-offs of the summer may have packed away their finery there is still a whole lot of growing going on and things to do in the garden.
This is your last chance to get your Spring bulbs planted, ideally by the middle of December, assuming the ground is neither frozen or water-logged.
If you have any plants you want to move now is a good time to do it whilst the plants are dormant. Try and remove as big a root-ball as possible. But, beware! Root-balls are always heavier than they look so you may need to enlist the help of a friend. Don’t forget to water after planting; it washes soil around the roots. However, don’t do this if the soil is waterlogged or frozen.
Check tree stakes and newly planted shrubs and trees have not become loose in the ground as result of the wet soil or wind. Roots may need firming in or re-covering with soil.
Winter is the perfect time to cut back deciduous hedges especially if they have become rather over-grown. Just make sure it is done before February when the birds will begin looking for potential nesting sites.
Other winter pruning jobs that can be started include pruning apple and pear trees. The aim is to have an open centre to allow lots of light and air into the middle of the tree.
Ornamental and grape vines should be pruned over winter as should Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata). Reduce all side-shoots to a couple of buds.
Hellebores are just beginning to show their new buds ready for flowers and next year’s leaves. Once they have begun to appear cut back the old leaves. The flowers will really stand out once they open rather than being lost amongst the old leaves. It also helps to reduce the risk of hellebore leaf spot.
Remember to keep an eye on any plants in pots . In periods of dry weather they may need a little water.
For those days when it is just too wet to venture out this is a great time to curl up in the warmth with seed and plant catalogues and plan for the year ahead.
Have a fabulous Christmas!