As I settled down to write this post, it started snowing. Could that be any more appropriate for December in the garden? A lot (although not all!) of my winter gardening jobs were done in November, but I won’t be hibernating away this month as there’s still plenty to do.
Pruning and clearing
November saw a lot of mild weather so parts of my garden haven’t died back fully yet. I’m always reluctant to chop things down when they’re still flowering. Like my lovely Cobea Scandens Alba (also known as the cup and saucer plant because of the shape of the flowers). It’s hard to believe that this fantastic wall covering started out life as a seed no bigger than my little finger nail last February.
And I still need to prune my roses, my salvias, and cut back plenty of brown foliage elsewhere so new growth can get through in spring.
Once plants have died back and you’ve cleared everything away, it’s time to have a look at the bare bones of your garden and start planning on what you’d like to grow where. A lot will depend on your soil (acidic or alkaline, sandy or clay) and whether the plant needs full sun or will tolerate shade. But don’t worry about being too scientific, my motto has always been to plant things and if they grow, they grow. If they don’t, just try something else. Gardening should be fun, not something to get stressed about.
And remember, Nature will always have her own ideas – walking around today I came across some raspberries. Yes, raspberries in December!
Winter colour and fragrance
If you haven’t planted any winter bedding yet there’s no harm in trying if your soil isn’t frozen. Last year we planted lots of primroses and they’ve started peeking through now, which is a welcome burst of colour. And my mahonia has started flowering too – on a sunny day it really glows (not that you can really tell from this photo, sorry!) and it smells wonderful when you walk past.
Another plant that is coming into its own is my winter flowering honeysuckle, which I’ve planted close to our front door. It’s still a young plant so not many flowers yet but in a few years it should scramble all the way up the trellis and pump out some lovely scent. When it dies back in spring, the climbing rose will take over again (that’s the theory anyway, we’ll see what happens!).
At this time of year it’s really important to look after wildlife visitors and residents. We have lots of bird feeders throughout the garden and recently treated ourselves to the beautiful poppy feeders in the picture at the top of this post. We bought them from Homebase and the label said that Gardman will donate 50p to the Royal British Legion for each feeder purchased, so they really are a worthwhile buy.
And in case you’re wondering why there’s a Spiderman ball in the pond, it’s to prevent a solid edge-to-edge ice sheet. We have a frog and at least one newt living in our pond and they need a breathing hole so they don’t suffocate.
So this is my December in the garden, and my last gardening post of 2017. May I wish you all a lovely Christmas, and I’ll leave you with a winter shot of our tiger in the orchard!
A GUEST POST BY LISA MCLACHLAN.