WHAT TO DO IN LATE DECEMBER
  • Clear leaves from greenhouse gutters  And check heaters daily to ensure they are working efficiently
  • Scoop leaves and debris from ponds and water features
  • Remove pond pumps and filters to wash and store
  • Pick off yellowing leaves from the stems of Brussels sprouts and keep harvesting early varieties
  • Check fruit and vegetables in store, removing any showing signs of deterioration
  • Cut down canes of autumn-fruiting raspberries to soil level
  • Prune greenhouse grapevines once their leaves have fallen
  • Check overwintering plants for signs of greenfly and other pests, and treat if necessary

Even at this time of the year, your garden should have some interest as many shrubs start to flower now. Most of them have the added bonus of having excellent scent. Walking around my garden this morning, I noticed that one of my favourite shrubs which have an exquisite fragrance coming into flower. It is not that well known but is well worth seeking out, Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’. An evergreen form of Daphne, slow growing which will reach a height in time of two metres plus. Extremely hardy and will grow in any good free draining soil. As it flowers in January / February give it a little bit of shelter from our chilly winter winds. Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) is another shrub that’s looking fantastic at the moment. When planting for best effect, try and have a neutral green background for best effect. This time of the year is a very good time to do a bit of planning for the coming season and if you have to replace a low growing hedge or are thinking of planting a new one, a note of caution. The traditional box hedging has been under siege with a killer disease. My recommendation would be to use Christmas box/ sweet box (sarcococca) as an alternative. It makes a super low growing neat hedge with the added bonus of sweet smelling flowers in mid winter. It will grow in sun or shade. If a hedge is not on your agenda plant a few sarcococca for scent alone where you might pass by them at this time of year. If the winter sunshine continue take the opportunity to enjoy a walk in some of the lovely Westmeath countryside and hopefully you will engendered and inspired by the simplicity and wonders of nature

December