December in the Garden
If you are tempted to wait until spring, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Winter is ‘bare root season’ and dormant, woody plants can be purchased at a much lower price than you’ll see in spring. You can plant a hedge in the garden or add some native shrubs to your borders for the price of a box of Christmas crackers.
Jobs in the Garden this December:
If you have free-standing fruit trees such as apples and pears, this is a great time to prune them. Not only will you be able to control their size and shape, but you will encourage them to be productive. You want an open centre so that a good airflow can be achieved. Try to prune yearly rather than severe pruning when the tree has become a tangled mess. Hard pruning causes the growth of multiple small shoots, known as water shoots, as the tree tries to replace some of its lost growth.
Protect your pots and tender plants from freezing conditions. Use horticultural fleece as a wrap or move pots into a sheltered position.
Mulch around the base of your favourite shrubs and perennials to keep the roots a little warmer. Take care not to allow the mulch to touch the stem, as this can cause rotting.
Check stakes and ties to ensure they are not too tight but also to ensure that strong winds are less likely to damage your plants.
Clear leaves from pathways for safety reasons, but allow them to stay on your beds. They provide valuable cover and shelter for many garden creatures and act as bird larders.
Consider positioning your bird feeders over your beds and borders, particularly near roses and other plants that might suffer from aphids. The birds will help clear your plants of pests.
In the kitchen garden, harvest vegetables for the festive season, including parsnips, leeks, Brussels sprouts and cabbages. Pick sprouts from the bottom upwards, allowing the ones at the top to develop. They can be blanched for around three minutes and then frozen if you prefer.
Keep off your beds as much as possible because it squashes the air out of the soil. If you tread on a board instead of the ground, this helps to spread the load.
And finally, for Christmas cheer, why not turn to your garden for decorations rather than plastic. You can make a door wreath using evergreens like yew and holly and plants with beautiful berries. Give it a try!
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This manageable there and back route offers easy walking and wheeling along the eastern side of the reservoir and to the dams, plus additional access to the wildlife trail in the Burrator Arboretum