Gardening advice for December
By Paul Hervey-Brookes
Wind, rain and frost are always on the agenda for December but on the bright days get out in the garden to make sure that there has not been too much damage and check the greenhouse to ensure the heating is working.
Hardwood cuttings can be taken now from many shrubs such as Viburnum, Cornus, Rhododendron and your remaining root crops can be harvested. Soil can be dug over now as the winter frosts will help break down the newly turned clods and expose pests for the birds to enjoy. Trees and shrubs can still be planted and fruit trees, acres and vines pruned.
Leaf mould when rotted down is good for the garden. Collect them up and keep them in large plastic sacks (forked to allow gases to escape) or if they are too unsightly make a container from chicken wire and put away in an unobtrusive corner of the garden. Some leaves can be left in situ to rot down but move them from around alpines and herbaceous crowns as these will die if covered for too long. Spread gritty compost around them to encourage regrowth.
Protect delicate blooms on hellebores with bark chips and cut off leaves with black spots on them as they are diseased.
Make a change from wrapping your pots with horticultural fleece or bubblewrap. Use hessian tied with raffia to make attractive covers and add interest when planted up with winter bedding plants and bulbs.
Recycle your old hessian supermarket bags for a quirky twist and festive door welcomes. As moving water tends not to freeze, clean out your pumps and leave them on at night to prevent the water freezing over.
It's always nice to have flowers in the house and this time of year is no different to any other. If you haven’t already plant some Viburnum Bodnantense, Sarcococca or winter flowering honeysuckle so that you have sprigs to cut and put into water to scent a room for next year.
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