No rest for the wicked
There is much that can still be done outdoors in the garden during December providing the weather is suitable.
Leaves & Lawns
In December, a good job is the final clearing up of leaves and composting of any suitable material that has come from the borders, such as when cutting back the last of the herbaceous plants. If the weather is mild there may still be the need to cut the grass but this should be done with the blades raised. Once the final cut has been completed it is worth considering having your lawnmower and grass cutting equipment serviced before the following Spring. It is better to do it now than wait and find that the mower does not work when you require it in March.
Indoor Winter Plants
December is the perfect time to introduce winter indoor plants for example Poinsettias, Cyclamen, African Violets, Chrysanthemums and Azaleas.
The key to being successful with these indoor plants is to ensure that they never dry out, that their very fine root systems are always kept moist and that they are put in a position where there is an adequate amount of light, no droughts and no exposure to excessive heat from radiators. If those few steps are carried out then there should be no problem.
You may also like to consider some bulbs for this time of the year. Very often it is possible to get pre-treated Hyacinths which will flower for Christmas. There are also a number of daffodil bulbs that will flower for Christmas, such as Paper White, and these can make great additions to the usual decorations in the house. This and many more bulbs are available at your local garden centre or nursery. Alternatively you can pick up or order a bulb catalogue to find your favourite bulbs.
December provides the first opportunity after leaf fall to carry out winter pruning. This will often involve spur pruning of apples and pears. Bush fruit can also be pruned at the same time, for example blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries.
Top Tips for indoors and out
- Move houseplants off windowsills at night to protect them from the cold.
- If you have terracotta containers in your garden move them into the garage or store room to help prevent them from cracking in the freezing temperatures.
- If your region has been hit by the recent snow try to remember to help your plants and shrubs as best you can by brushing off the settled snow. This helps to prevent damage and branches breaking under the weight and it's great excuse to get out of the house and into the garden!
This time of year our British birds need all the help they can get. Bird seed, bread, kitchen scraps and traditional bird feeders are often put out this time of year which is no doubt gratefully received by your visitors. Although you can also introduce plants such as cotoneaster, hawthorn, holly, viburnum and berberis as food sources as these shrubs all bear juicy berries which are loved by most birds and indeed other garden wildlife and can make great hedges perfect for windbreaks and nesting birds.
When planting your shrubs or trees to attract birds try to place them in a quiet part of the garden perhaps behind the garden shed or next to a fence or wall. However, make sure its within watching distance from your window so that you can sit back and enjoy the free show!
Material courtesy of www.the-hta.org.uk