THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR GARDEN IN DECEMBER
  • Deadhead winter pansies regularly to keep them flowering
  • Collect fallen leaves showing signs of blackspot from around roses
  • Winter prune apple trees
  • Plant bare rooted hedging
  • Dig over vacant areas in the vegetable garden
  • Lift and divide congested clumps of rhubarb
  • Move tender or valuable houseplants away from cold window sills every evening
  • Bring potted strawberries under cover to encourage earlier fruiting
  • Take the last chance to bring on forced indoor bulbs for festive decorations or Christmas gifts
  • Fork compost into borders, but take care not to spike emerging bulbs
  • Firm soil around roses loosened by storms
  • Replace wobbly tree stakes and worn plant ties
  • Earmark your best sprouts for the Christmas table and give them last-minute protection if windy
  • Do a final collection of any autumn leaves still lying around
  • Plant new season roses now, a climbing rose on an arch in your garden will give it a new lease of life

Don’t forget the birds! Birds love fat cakes and at this time of year they are just what they need to give them energy and keep warm. This is a little project you can do with your kids over Christmas. Firstly avoid using turkey fat, (keep it for your roast potatoes) it doesn't set like suet and lard, and can coat birds' feathers, preventing them from being able to fly. It can also spread disease. The best ratio for this recipe is one part fat to two parts dry mixture. Use sunflower seeds or some other high energy seed mix, we sometimes through in a few mealworms for an extra treat! Mix all your dry ingredients together in a bowl. Melt some lard or suet in a pan and add to the dry mix. Stir it well until the fat has all been absorbed and the mixture sticks together. Make a hole in the bottom of a yoghurt pot and thread through a length of twine or string, and then pack the pot with your warm fat mixture. Place in the fridge overnight to set, then cut through and peel away the pot. Tie a big knot at one end of the twine to secure the cake. Hang the cake in a tree or on a shepherd’s crook and wait for the birds to come and feast. It’s very important that when you feed birds that you give them fresh water too. Bird baths are on a height for a reason, so if you’re using a bucket or basin remember to pop it up on a height so they can bath and drink in safety and don’t forget to break the ice!

December