This week: De­cem­ber days are short and poor weather can leave lit­tle time for gar­den­ing. re­minds us of the key jobs to do

Kathy Vi­vian

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GREEN SPACES -

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.

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