Gardening in December
We’ve put together a detailed list of jobs that can be done whilst you’re gardening in December:
Time for winter preparation. Clear away the remains of old crops to tidy up the garden and prepare the area for next year. Add the material you gather to your compost heap. Spread a layer of compost over the cleared soil and fork it into the surface.
Plant pots of Cyclamen in several shades of red or pink to create a bright, beautiful festive display.
Plant bulbs in pots for spring bloom and brighten up the last few days of winter.
Cut back summer-flowering Clematis to a pair of strong buds to be sure of good growth in the summer. On grapevines prune side shoots and cut back developing main stems by half their new growth to maintain a good shape.
Line wire baskets and fill them with bulbs for spring flowering. Insulate your pots with bubble wrap. Move any tender plants into a sheltered place, like a porch or greenhouse to help get them through the worst of the winter weather.
Protect your fruit trees from winter moth grubs by applying a grease band to your trees now to stop an infestation next year. Prune out dead or diseased gooseberry stems, and any crossing in the centre. Shorten new growth by half to maintain an acceptable size.
Continue to plant bare-root deciduous (seasonal leaf) hedging plants and trees.
Try using Poinsettia inside for a festive feel (they’re available in Homebase stores).
Perennials (winter surviving plants)
Add Hellebores to your shadier borders for beautiful winter flowers between January and late March (you can buy them from stores in mid-November). Be on the lookout for any pests on plants over winter. Small infestations of Whitefly, Red Spider Mite and Greenfly can soon spread.
Cut back tall stems on bush roses by half to help guard against wind damage, and shorten all the branches on standard roses. Plant bare-root plants as long as it’s not frosty.
Re-firm the soil around cuttings if the ground has been lifted by frost. Continue to take shrub cuttings (good ones to take are Forsythia and Buddleia). If a shrub has outgrown its space in the border, there’s still time to move it to a better location while it’s dormant.
Young trees may need pruning at this time of year to ensure they maintain shape and size. Remove any weeds from around the bases of young trees, as they compete with the plant for moisture and nutrients.
Sow early broad beans. Prepare your soil beds for next year.