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Monday 3 December 2018

This Month in Your Garden - December

‘In the depths of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.’ – Albert Camus

We don’t associate December much with growing anything from seed. It’s more about keeping warm if you’re working outside and checking on all those last minute jobs to be done before winter really takes a hold. 

However, you can grow alpines sown from seed because they love a cold break to wake them up. What they don’t like is being excessively wet, so put a sheet of glass over where they are growing using bricks to support and hold down the sheet, effectively making a glass tunnel. 

It’s about now we’re out choosing our Christmas trees and it makes sense to pick up a pine or fir, rather than a spruce, to avoid premature needle drop. Stood in a bucket of water away from a radiator and heat, a cut tree will last longer. Outside once more you can be warming up, if you have heavy clay soil, by digging in lots or organic matter.

There’s always plenty of tidying up to be done, clearing weedy beds, checking greenhouse heaters and insulating outside taps, raising patio containers onto bricks or clay feet so they are not sitting in the wet. Cut back faded herbaceous perennials or lift and divide them to increase your stock. You can wrap large pots in bubble wrap or hessian to help protect them from cracking and their residents from freezing.

Root cuttings can be taken now to propagate new plants such as poppies (Papaver) and hardwood cuttings of shrubs and climbers will give you free plants for the future. At the end of the day you can put your feet up, gaze out on the garden and think about your planning for next year.

Have a Merry Christmas and see you then.

  • Take hardwood cuttings of Buddleia, Forsythia, Berberis and more
  • Stake roses against wind rock
  • Check tender plants and give them winter protection with cloches and horticultural fleece
  • Clear up leaves on the lawn, beds and borders, and especially from alpines 
  • Watch out for pests and diseases and remove any affected plants
  • Keep an eye on early flowering daffodils for signs of leaf scorch
  • Tie in wall shrubs and climbers, protect newly planted trees from cold winds and frosts
  • Plant bare root trees and seasonal hedging plants

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