This week: December days are short and poor weather can leave little time for gardening. reminds us of the key jobs to do
COLD, damp December days are good times for planning next year’s garden and thinking about how to improve areas that looked lacklustre last summer. Browsing through seed and plant catalogues can give you lots of ideas for new plants for your garden.
If you plan ahead now you could grow your own bedding plants and vegetables from seed and save yourself some money. Plug plants are available if you don’t feel confident to grow from seed, and many kinds of bare root plants can be ordered and planted from now until March.
If you have space, consider adding shrubs that bear berries to attract birds to your garden, such as cotoneaster and holly. Some of these plants also provide decorative berries and foliage for decorating your house at Christmas.
Continue to remove fallen leaves from lawns and containers to prevent grass and plants from being smothered. If freezing weather is forecast, remember to provide protection to plants that are less hardy, such as bay or olives. Plants can be wrapped with fleece and pots with bubblewrap. If they are in containers they can be moved to somewhere more sheltered. Smaller plants can be mulched with bark for protection.
If you have any outdoor taps and pipes, make sure they are lagged to prevent freezing.
Most deciduous shrubs and trees can be pruned now, but do check the requirements of each species as some, like prunus and magnolia, should be pruned later in the year. Prune out dead, diseased and crossing branches.
Prune overgrown deciduous hedges now. Prune tall growth from roses to prevent root damage from wind rock.
Continue to feed birds and keep their water dishes topped up and icefree. Disinfect feeders and dishes occasionally to prevent the spread of disease.