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Monday 2 December 2019

This Month in Your Garden - December

‘Chill December brings the sleet, blazing fire, and Christmas treat.’ -Sara Coleridge (1802–1852), ‘The Garden Year’

Well, you might indeed be happy to put your feet up by the fire and there’s even more excuse if, in your Christmas stocking, you find the RHS Plant Encyclopedia. But before then there’s work to be done.

If it’s still reasonably fine outside you might want to get on with some digging, improving the soil by adding peat substitute to alkaline soil or hydrated lime to acid soil. Clay soil is best dug in winter then left for the frosts to break it down and give you a fine tilth come spring. You can also dig in organic matter, farmyard manure or spent mushroom compost for added benefit. Clear weeds and finish off tidying borders and containers.

OK, so it’s cold, sleeting and generally miserable outside and the borders can wait, so perhaps a little garden planning is in order. You’ve been wondering what to plant in that shady area or you weren’t totally happy with the way the borders looked last spring. Now is the time to do a little research, jotting down ideas that may be the seeds of bold plans to come.

You’ve decided that some of the shrubs just don’t work where they are. That’s alright, you can move plants in the spring. What’s important is developing your plan, experimenting if you want and adjusting as you go. Ah, the weather’s improved, outside you go and plant those deciduous trees and shrubs.

  • Prune acers, vines and birch
  • Stop sweet peas by pinching out the tips
  • Plant shrubs and trees for early colour: Daphne, Philadelphus, Prunus
  • Clean out the greenhouse
  • Water seedlings under glass 
  • Take root cuttings of Japanese anemones, hollyhocks, Oriental poppies, Acanthus, Verbascum and Phlox

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