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Gardening Jobs for December

 
Author

By Bryony


 


December is a quiet month for the garden as our attentions are turned to the inside for a festive few weeks. The days are short, the light is low, and the weather is cold, so even the most ardent gardener is reluctant to get outside and undertake some garden related tasks. That said, it is the thought (or idea) of going out into the cold that is more gruelling than the reality. Once wrapped up for the cold and keeping warm by being busy, time in the quiet dormancy of the garden is quite special and magical.  Providing an opportunity to convene with nature in its raw state.   Notwithstanding the fresh air and activity will help you to feel virtuous enough to reach for another mince pie, slice of stollen or piece of fruit cake!

There are a few jobs to do in the garden in December when you fancy venturing out into the cold…

 


Mulching

 


Possibly the most imperative job this month is mulching, this process provides insulation for plants and bulbs lying dormant in the soil. It also acts as a slow releasing feed for you plants, which will be broken down organically over the coming months. There are various types of suitable mediums from soil conditioner and well-rotted manure to topsoil and bark chips or leaf mould and compost. Whatever mulch best fits you and your garden it should be applied in a thick layer to all beds and borders as well as pots where space allows (especially potted roses) and spread evenly around evergreen plants. It will protect any spring bulbs waiting to emerge and provide other plants with a little extra sustenance through the harshest months.

 


Planting

 


Perhaps surprisingly, as long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged then it is possible to plant in shrubs and trees in December. This will allow for root growth to begin to establish before the light and warmth of spring stimulate the start of the top growth. The moisture in the soil and lack of heat gives the large plants a head start and is less work for you to do to in watering them to keep them healthy. It is noteworthy that roses, particularly bare root roses, are able to be planted in the ground now for the same reasons.

 


Pruning

 


If you have not already then now is an ideal time to hard prune shrubs while they are not in active growth. Usually, the rule of thumb is to wait until the flowers have finished so once this has happened and the weather is consistently cold (but not freezing) then they can be pruned.

 


Bulbs

 

The milder weather we are enjoying at present (I am writing in mid-November) means it is not too late to plant any spring bulbs, especially tulips and Lily of the valley. Pots can also be planted up with bulbs for a spectacular show, just make sure they are planted twice the depth of the bulb and they are not touching each other. Top with violas and primroses to decorate the tops before the bulbs push through.

 


Festive Touches

 


December is a month where many of us bring the outside in so what better seasonable activity than collecting greenery to decorate our homes with. Ivy and holly are traditional of course and eucalyptus dries out beautifully and smells delightful when used in garlands and wreaths. Any evergreen leaves such as laurel and leylandii can be an excellent base for Christmas decorations which are sustainable and will last the season. If you opt for a real Christmas tree then keep it hydrated whether it is in a stand or a pot, this will limit the number of needles shed on to your floors and keep the tree looking its throughout the festivities. If you’ve not already done so – check out our extensive range of real trees, wreaths and other festive delights for Christmas on the website and in the catalogue.

 


Maintenance Jobs

 


When the weather is too cold to bear then why not turn your attentions to inside. A great job for this time of year is to service garden tools. Secateurs can be cleaned with wire wool, oiled and sharpened just like a kitchen knife. This prolongs the life span of the snips and prevents any transference of bacteria or disease from plants. Loppers and shears can also be cleaned up and sharpened in the same way while hoes and spades can be washed down and sharpened with a whetstone to stay in top condition. It really is an invaluable and cost saving exercise so if you have not done so before – make this the year you start a new and ecologically principled habit.

 


Houseplants

 

While gardening inside it is also worth checking on your houseplants as they can struggle at this time of year when the light is low, and temperatures can fluctuate – particularly those indoors with the heating on. An easy way to create a mini ecosystem is to group house plants together as they will enjoy each other’s humidity as well as creating an impactful visual display. Check their water levels and only water when the plant is dry (apart from ferns- then water more often) and, if using tap water, then let it stand for an hour or more to let the minerals settle. It is also worth running a soft cloth over the leaves of house plants – they can collect a lot of dust which can rob them of valuable light which is lacking in the winter. Clean shiny leaves will also make them look healthier and more vibrant through the winter. Remember, house plants can also make gorgeous Christmas gifts; Amaryllis in a pretty pot is a lovely gift, while quick growing Narcissus paperwhites make for a beautifully fragrant present. If you don’t have time to prepare your own gifts, then allow us to help. (insert link) If the weather is too cold to be outside and yet you need to be out of the house, then use this as your excuse to hunker down in the shed and have a tidy and sort. Make sure pots and trays are clean, shelves are tidy and organise any seeds for the coming year. You could even organise them by month of sowing to make it easier to work out which to sow when the time comes next year.

 


Homely Christmas Ideas

 


To welcome visitors over this festive period, you could even plant up large pots or containers by the front door with evergreen high fragranced plants such as sarcococca, Daphne or heathers. These are long lasting plants, and the berries will also provide some sustenance for birds through the winter. In addition, inject some colour with cyclamen or crocus. For an extra special touch then have a tree by the door, either a Christmas tree adorned by twinkling lights to brighten up the dark nights or a standard bay tree to give structure and scent and a touch of country house style. So, haylofters, there should be a few jobs to keep you busy during December when you are not feasting and partying. Most of all, remember to rest, relax and take a little time to reflect on the gardening year past as well as planning what to do next year too.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all…


 

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