Watch out Jack Frost is about!
December is the perfect time to have a bit of a sort out. Get rid of those plants that have really passed their best and have a serious pre-spring tidy up. Now is the time to make decisions for new displays and themes for the following year. It’s not too late to plant trees, shrubs and climbers, providing the soil is not too wet or frozen.
Plan for Next Year
It’s the time to plan which vegetables, flowers and fruits you would like to grow in the new year. Garden centres will have a fantastic range of seeds for the very experienced gardener to the earliest beginner.
Do try and keep off the lawn when it is frosted, snow covered or very wet, as it causes damage and can even lead to infection. However if the weather isn’t too bad then give the lawn a few prods with a fork to aid aeration. Try and keep up with raking fallen leaves off the lawn as much as possible.
Providing the ground is not too wet or frozen, December is a good time to start digging to clear land and getting your vegetable plot ready; it’s also the ideal thing to do to keep warm on these cold winter days – you will be amazed at how refreshing even a short burst of such activity in the garden can be, at a time of year when you might have spent far too much time being a couch potato! Unless you have very peaty soil it is worth digging in as much manure and garden compost as you can. If you plan to plant vegetables, it’s a good idea to start warming up the soil with cloches to get your plants off to a good start.
Feed the Birds
Many birds can be seen in the garden this month – natural food such as berries and seeds have been exhausted by now and therefore it is important to feed them by hanging bird feeders. They are particularly attractive to tits and sparrows. There are many types available, designed to keep out cats, pigeons and squirrels. Seeds, nuts, cheese, meat scraps and cooking fat will be appreciated. A smashed coconut would do. Stale bread or cake should be soaked in water before putting them out, to make them easier for birds to swallow.
Your local garden centre has a large selection of specialist foods for the birds including specialist seed mixes, mealworms and fat balls. Alternatively, you can make your own fat balls by mixing lard with nuts, scraps, porridge oats and dried fruit in a ratio of one part fat to two parts dry food. The greater the variety of food that you supply in your garden, the greater variety of birds you will see. Don’t forget it is as important to provide drinking water for the birds – keep it topped up and check that it isn’t frozen. Or better still it is the perfect time of year to dig a pond. Winter is a great time to do any construction jobs and now is the perfect time to create a water feature.
If you crave to see a little ray of colour in your garden, winter pansies and primroses are firm favourites to cheer any gloomy day; plant them in hanging baskets or containers with a miniature conifer, ivy or grasses for a great display of colour.
A very Merry Christmas and here’s to a bountiful and colourful New Year in the garden!