December Gardening Tips

Pots & Borders

 

    • Move pots of tender plants inside or close to the house walls. The shelter of the house wall can make a big difference!
    • Dead-head pansies, Violas and Cyclamen to encourage more flowers.
    • The autumn sown sweet peas should have the tips pinched out after the second pair of true leaves open.
    • Dormant trees and shrubs can be moved now. Minimise root disturbance to increase chance of success and rapid re-establishment.

 

Trees, Shrubs, Roses, Conifers, etc.

 

    • Continue planting if the ground is not too wet or frozen.
    • Prune out old wood to rejuvenate shrubs. Wisteria pruning can be completed now along with vines.
    • Plant roses, fruit trees and bushes. Transplant trees and shrubs that loose their leaves in winter now.
    • Fork over borders and dig some goodness back into the soil. We recommend Westland Farmyard Manure.
    • At this time of year we stock an extensive range of wildlife friendly native trees & shrubs suitable for hedging which provide nectar, food and shelter.
    • Cut stems of winter flowering shrubs to force into flower indoors. Good subjects include Winter Sweet, Witch Hazels, Lonicera fragrantissima, Viburnum fragrans & bodnantense, Forsythia and even Lilac.
    • Tie splaying branches of conifers in as any snow we get will only make matters worse. Old trees prone to this are better replaced with new better varieties.

 

Bulbs

 

    • Move potted ‘prepared’ Hyacinths into warmer rooms to gradually force them into flower in time for Christmas. If they are coming on too fast move them back into the cool again.
    • Plant up Amaryllis bulbs inside. Use a soil based compost and water very sparingly to start with. As flowers and leaves appear, give more water.
    • Don’t worry if there are bulb shoots already appearing outside in the garden, they are very tough and will generally survive very low temperatures. However, bulbs in thin sided plastic pots will need to be sheltered from wind driven hard frosts. Daffodils in pots seem to be particularly prone to this and often produce yellow leaves that look a bit as if they have been burnt.
    • It’s not too late to plant tulips! This bulb will still perform even when planted as late as January!

 

Christmas

 

  • All cut trees should be kept outside and have the trunk stood in water to ensure that the tree remains fresh until you take it inside. It is well worth cutting a little off the bottom of the trunk before standing it in water as the end often becomes sealed. We have a large range of tree stands, which have a generous water reservoir.

 

Wildlife & Pets

 

    • Provide clean water for birds especially in frosty weather.
    • Feed the birds regularly so that when a cold snap comes they know where to get food easily.
    • Feed birds such as Blue, Great, Marsh and Long-tail tits with high-energy feeds such as fat balls and suet treats.
    • Feed robins, blackbirds, thrushes, wrens and tits with freeze dried mealworms.
    • Encourage a wider range of birds into your garden with Niger seed. This is loved by siskins, gold and greenfinches.
    • Clean bird feeding areas on a regular basis with Jeyes Multi purpose Disinfectant to protect against bacterial and fungal diseases.

 

Grow Your Own Food

 

    • Prune Raspberries, (except autumn fruiting varieties due in March), Blackberries, Loganberries and other hybrid fruits now (if you haven’t already done so). Cut out all old stems that bore fruit this year. Cut out any weak spindly shoots and tie in the strong new shoots that are left. Give them a good feed with a sulphate of potash now.
    • Blackcurrants can be pruned if they were not done in the summer. Also keep a look out for any swollen buds which are infected with big bud mite and remove them as they can spread the disease ‘Reversion Virus’.
    • Prune apples and pears to improve their shape, encourage younger growth, remove disease and control the amount of fruit bud they have. Don’t prune fan, espalier and cordon trained trees as these should be pruned in summer.
    • Vines should be pruned before Christmas if possible. If pruned late the sap will often be running and they will ‘bleed’. Magnolia, Japanese maples, walnuts, hornbeams, mulberries and laburnums may bleed too if pruned late in winter.
    • Forcing of established Rhubarb crowns can be started towards the end of the month, pack with straw and cover with a forcing pot or upturned dustbin.
    • You can still plant fruit trees and bushes if the weather and ground conditions are okay, (not frozen or water logged).
    • Protect vegetables from pigeons with netting or ‘Enviromesh’.
    • Get on with digging whenever the weather allows you too, but pace yourself if not used to it! Dig in Vitax Clay Breaker or organic matter to improve the structure of heavy soils.

 

Bits & Pieces

 

    • With shallow water features it may be advisable to remove your pump before the onset of hard frost. Give it a good clean and check wiring so that it is ready to use again in spring. If you leave it in and switched on, raise it off the bottom to avoid disturbing hibernating wildlife.
    • Check that greenhouse heaters are working properly.
    • Open the greenhouse ventilators to encourage good air movement during mild weather and always remove dead leaves and flowers regularly as this is often where disease starts.
    • Check and repair fences.
    • If you have a garden shed or use a corner of the garage, now might be a good time to have a good tidy up! Clean and sharpen tools ready for use in the New Year.

 

The Inside Garden

 

Poinsettias

  • Need to be kept warm and out of draughts…good for centrally heated homes. Water when the leaves start to wilt and the compost feels dry. Give them a good soak but never let them stand in water for long. Buy English grown where possible as long lorry journeys can effect their performance.
  • Feed regularly with specific poinsettia liquid feed for best results.

 

Azaleas

  • Need lots of water, preferably rain water. Cold tea once a month helps too! They will tolerate lower light and temperature levels. They will also tolerate draughts. Repot into lime free compost in the spring.

 

Cyclamen

    • Water when leaves begin to wilt. Water from the bottom of the pot. Keep in a cool place with good light. Remove yellowing leaves and fading flowers from the base of the corm with a twist and a sharp tug. This ensures that you leave no stub attached to the corm and avoids rots starting.
    • Our magnificent plants are English grown and are of superb quality and nursery fresh!