Happy Gardening in December!
The days are at their shortest now and the sun is sinking lower day by day, so the garden is in retreat having been pared back to almost nothing by low temperatures and long nights.
Thankfully our planters have a double-walled construction to keep soil warm so roots are protected – so you can keep spirits raised by planting a great winter display – and if it’s positioned by the door then it will greet you and your visitors on even the coldest day.
Handy Monthly Tips
When choosing your display remember to include a variety of form and shape – place your plants close together for the best display.
A winter display has to rely on foliage rather than flowers so opt for a theme – if your planter is in the shade then golden foliage will add extra radiance to a dark corner – and looks very effective with blue and yellow flowers. Silver variegation is cooler in tone but blends beautifully with pinks and purples. And green foliage is perfect with white flowers and red berries for a festive display.
Bulbs can also be planted as a base layer – they won’t appear till spring but will be worth the wait.
Grasses can add lovely lines and curves to your display and if you place at the edge of your planter they will creep over, brightening up winter. Hardy cyclamen and evergreen grasses will also add some colour and enhance your winter display.
Hang fat balls and keep bird feeders topped up to attract birds, who will in turn eat pests in your garden.
Plant shallots, onion sets and garlic – traditionally this is done on the shortest day of the year, to harvest on the longest. The shortest day is 22 December this year, but by then you’ll be busy with Christmas, so this can be done earlier in the month. The RHS has some helpful information on how to grow garlic – follow this link https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/vegetables/garlic.
If you’ve been growing sprouts, kale, leeks and parsnips then these will be ready in time for Christmas lunch – and rosemary, sage and thyme can be cut too to add to the festive food.
Seasonal things to do
If you’re buying a real tree then as far as watering is concerned, treat your cut Christmas tree much as you would cut flowers. When you get it home, cut a good inch off the bottom of the trunk – or if you don’t have a saw, get them to do this as you buy it – and place it in water. That removes the seal of sap, which has usually formed at the trunk end, which will not reform if it goes straight into water. Leave the tree in the cool for as long as possible and make sure that, wherever it ends up, you top up the water frequently. That will minimize needle drop, whatever your tree variety.
Natural Christmas Decorations
And don’t forget you can make your own beautiful decorations from the garden – Alliums sprayed silver are spectacular – you can lodge these straight into your tree without wire or ribbon needed to attach them – if you have no allium seed heads then you can use hydrangea, agapanthus and grasses – they all look effective sprayed silver.
garden4me Flower of the Month
Cyclamens add a welcome touch of colour at this dark time of the year
garden4me Vegetable of the Month
Brussel sprouts – a winter favourite!
Coming in the January calendar – more handy hints, flower of the month, veg of the month