It could be tempting to do nothing this month…to simply put one’s feet up with a glass of mulled wine, some festive tunes and listen to the howl of the wind outside and the rain on the window pane, as you sink into a delightful stupor.
But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) it could also be worthwhile getting out in the garden in the bracing fresh air – not least because the ‘bones’ of the garden are so visible at this time of the year, which helps with deciding what to change and improve upon for next season – not to mention you’ll burn of a few calories in lieu of the over-indulgence that nearly always accompanies the festive season.
So, if you can drag yourself away from home comforts, here are a few things to do this month. If you really can’t get away from the arm chair then order seeds for next year and day dream about the glory of your garden in 2016!
Batten down the hatches – literally!
Make sure that all support structures, sheds, greenhouses and fences are as secure and solid as they can be. This will give them a fighting chance against the winds and storms that roll through in mid-winter.
Check climbers such as clematis, honeysuckle and roses are tied in securely to stop breakages from whipping about in the wind.
Avoid walking on the lawn, especially in wet weather and, if you have time, aerate it with the tines of a fork to aid drainage. Continue to clear dead leaves, fallen apples and other debris from it to avoid the grass dying off underneath.
Prune acers and vines now, as they will bleed sap later in the spring, if pruned too late.
Take hard wood cuttings from suitable trees and shrubs. Consult the RHS website for more info on this: www.rhs.org.uk/advice
A personal choice this one – leave the flower heads on hydrangeas to protect bugs from frost further down the stems. However some people prefer to tidy them up and cut the heads for decorative foliage. Assess how exposed the plants are and make a decision based on the likely exposure to frosts.
Lift and store dahlia tubers once the top growth has blackened after the first frosts. Store in a cool, dry place.
Deck the Halls
Harvest holly, ivy and other evergreens in the garden to make wreaths and decorations. If you’re gathering foliage from the countryside bear in mind to leave some berries for the birds!
Lift and divide rhubarb, replanting with sections from the outer edge of the plant as these are more vigorous.
Remove yellowing leaves form winter brassicas and net them if you suffer from raiding pigeons!
Plant raspberry canes while they are dormant in December.
So all that remains to be said is, Merry Christmas – and a Happy New Year!