With virtually all the growth now bare, December gives us a chance to look at the garden as a blank canvas, not only in terms of planting, but also structure.
Are there areas you’d like to redesign? Would a path change the way you use the garden? Would a new structure introduce some drama, or offer shade in the summer? All of these questions can be pondered whilst enjoying a walk around your plot on a bright frosty morning, or from a window if the weather is bleak.
Either way take some time to enjoy the anticipation of the season to come with all the familiar tasks to undertake – Spring will be here before you know it! But first, find a few gardening tasks for this month:
- Label and organise any saved seed. Sort out any leftover or half-empty seed packets and throw out any that are now out of date or damaged.
- There is still time to plant your tulip bulbs before the ground becomes frozen. Check any bulbs that are being stored are dry and frost free or continue to plant indoor bulbs (Paperwhite narcissi, hyacinths and amaryllis) to enjoy flowers indoors at New Year.
- Take care to shake snow off trees and shrubs if the weather turns wintery. Although it looks magical the weight of snow can damage branches and stems.
- Remove the netting from the top of fruit cages if snow is forecast – the weight can cause damage to the structure.
- Check newly planted trees and shrubs firm them in gently if they have been lifted by the frost.
- Continue to prune climbing roses now that you can really see their shape - cut away diseased or damaged growth and tie in any new shoots to their support. Now is a good time to add a new Garden Structure and plant bare root roses to establish before next summer.
- Apply dry mulch around tender plants such as agapanthus to protect the crown and use fleece to cover larger areas or vulnerable individual plants – Easy Fleece Jackets provide a simple and quick solution.
- Earth up spring cabbages and other winter brassicas to keep them stable in high winds. Sprouts may need some more substantial support - Protect from birds with a Crop Cage or Netting and don’t forget to harvest sprouts from the bottom upwards.
- Some digging now will keep the soil open and make planting easier in the Spring - cover empty prepared vegetable beds with fleece to warm the soil and make it easier to work early in the season.
- Blackcurrant plants fruit on young wood so can be pruned now to allow them to start putting on growth in spring.
- There are still leaves to collect – add them to the leaf mould pile or fill a Composting Sack for the perfect mulch next year.
- Use the opportunity of empty borders and cut back growth to repair fences or sheds and make sure they are protected with preservative or paint. Adding an Obelisk the border now will add interest during the winter and extra support for planting throughout the season.
- Keep plants in pots raised off the ground to prevent from being waterlogged, and check that their roots don’t freeze.
- Avoid walking on lawns covered with frost – Easy Path can help protect grass and borders while you carry out winter maintenance.
- Wash greenhouses, cold frames and Cloches to let in more light and don’t forget to open them up for ventilation on milder days to avoid the risk of rot.