MID DECEMBER IN YOUR GARDEN
  • Prune wisteria side shoots to 10-15cm from their base, then tie in leading shoots to create a framework
  • Collect fallen rose leaves that could carry diseases over to next season
  • Transplant shrubs or small trees
  • Prune away stems of autumn-fruiting raspberries at soil level
  • Take hardwood cuttings from currants and gooseberries
  • Net cabbages and other brassicas to protect them from pigeon damage
  • Force rhubarb by digging up a crown and replanting it in total darkness or place a large bin over the existing crop
  • Sow hardy annuals, like calendulas, in pots for early displays
  • Check bulbs, corms and tubers in store for signs of rot Give fruit trees a winter wash now
  • Plant new rose bushes, make sure you prepare the planting hole well, adding in some farmyard manure before you plant
  • Empty pots of spent annuals and compost the remains
  • Transplant shrubs that have outgrown their position
  • Collect and empty hoses and sprinklers to store in the shed over winter
  • Build log piles to provide winter hibernation sites for insects and small animals
  • Check tree ties and loosen any that are too tight
  • Established apple trees can be winter pruned this month once the leaves have fallen off.

Winter Houseplant care.  Warmth, light, water, humidity, food, rest, fresh air and grooming.. a long list of needs but success with houseplants calls for neither hard work nor great skill. It is simply a matter of satisfying the particular basic requirements of each plant. The natural home of most indoor plants lies in the tropics but most plants will be happy in normal room conditions. As we all turn up the heat for the winter this can produce air with the relative humidity of the Sahara dessert! Very few plants actually like this and will suffer if you don’t do something to increase the humidity around the leaves, misting every couple of days with tepid water should help. In the winter nearly all indoor plants need a dormant or resting period. It’s important to reduce the frequency of watering and feeding. However there is an important exception to the need for a winter rest period. Winter flowering pot plants must be fed and watered regularly for as long as they are on display. Remember if we get frost to remove your plants from windowsills, just incase they get frost bite.

Apple trees are happier when grass is kept away from their area. Grass roots have a breath which shrivels the tender root tips of the tree. When planting apple trees, plant clumps of chives around the trees which will help prevent apple scab. Wallfowers are natures planting companions with apple trees. The sweet scented wallflower and the apple tree do all the better for growing near each other. If you plant foxgloves in the area it greatly improves the keeping qualities of the harvest.  It makes sense to keep your trees happy; a happy tree equals a heavy crop.

  • Keep off lawns in frosty weather
  • Prune apple and pear trees to control their size and shape
  • Plant fruit trees trained as cordons, fans or espaliers to make use of limited space
  • Check greenhouse heaters daily to ensure they are working efficiently and that fuel levels don't need topping up
  • Force rhubarb by digging up a crown and replanting it in total darkness or placing a large bin over the existing crop
  • Use rainwater to keep the compost of potted indoor azaleas constantly moist
  • Plant bare-rooted hedging, roses, trees and shrubs
  • Pick faded flowers and yellowing leaves from pansies and winter bedding
  • Prune the tops of standard roses to reduce wind rock
  • Trim back ivy, Virginia creeper and other climbers on walls that are close to gutters and window frames .Cut back overgrown honeysuckle
  • Spread compost on to flower beds for worms
  • Collect fallen leaves showing signs of blackspot
  • Net crops to protect them from pigeons
  • Remove pond pumps and filters to wash and store

Gifts for gardeners. If you are giving plants as gifts this Christmas, or have received one yourself, then make sure you get the very best from each and every one. Winter flowering plants have been carefully nurtured to be at their best for Christmas, keep them looking wonderful by pandering to their needs. Poinsettia are a favourite at Christmas time. They now come in arrange of colours, lime green, pink, cream or white but the classic red variety is by far the most popular still. Poinsettia needs a light position away from direct sun, ideally kept at a constant temperature and away from draughts. Water regularly allowing the soil to dry slightly between watering. Be careful not to get water on the coloured bracts. Feed every couple of weeks using Indoor Plant Food to keep  your Poinsettias flowering well. My favourite Christmas flower is the Christmas cacti; they can be kept successfully for a great many years if treated correctly. Plants should be kept in a bright spot but out of direct sunlight. Water regularly allowing the soil to dry a little between watering. 

 

December