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  • Lisa McLachlan

December in my garden *


I can’t believe how quickly time comes around, it really doesn’t seem that long ago I was writing last December’s gardening post. But now it’s December in my garden once again and time to see what’s giving my garden a festive feel. Including the beautiful Christmas Rose helleborus niger (cover pic) which is glowing in the damp shade of our orchard wall.

What's flowering now?

Winter is usually the time when plants have died back and you can see the bare bones structure of your garden. If you’ve been smart enough to take photos throughout the year, you’ll know what really are gaps and what are only temporary spaces for later spring and/or summer colour. Of course I haven’t done this, but luckily I’m a blogger so I’ll be poring over all of this year’s garden posts instead…

Much to my surprise, there’s still a lot of colour around. Like these incredibly late flowering stocks, grown from seed earlier this year. And they’re beautifully fragrant too, albeit rather leggy and in need of support.

And although the leaves are rather ragged, this pretty little primrose is a welcome burst of brightness. As is the purple Jacob’s ladder polemonium in one of our shadier flower beds

I’m always surprised by what I find underneath our weeping pear tree. Over the years I’ve stuffed so many different plants into the soil (including three new ferns this autumn) but I’d forgotten about my winter cyclamen until recently. Aren’t these little crimson blooms and heart-shaped foliage pretty? And yes, those are indeed wild strawberry leaves behind them. I’ve pulled up so many wild strawberry runners (honestly, they grow like mad) but these obviously escaped my cull.

Last year I planted a winter flowering honeysuckle close to our front door, which burst into flower recently and smells wonderful. It will die back in spring and the climbing rose behind it will take over again. One of my more successful attempts at successional planting, I’m pleased to say!

And our flowering quince has reacted to the unseasonably mild weather by bursting into flower again. I can only hope she does so again in spring, otherwise we might not get any fruits next year – fingers crossed.

What's fruiting now?

I must say a huge thanks to my lovely husband who cleaned the greenhouse last month. So the cut and come lambs lettuces from Flora’s September Mud and Bloom box can continue growing steadily in the winter daylight. Cut and come harvesting is a new thing for me this year, but we’ve enjoyed great success with our salad leaves and window ledge herbs.

The only other edibles still around are the bonanza of grapes which are clearly much appreciated by the birds. Chateau Willows’ loss is Mrs Blackbird’s gain. (Sorry for the dreadful photos taken on my phone, I couldn’t get any closer without frightening her away).

Jobs for December

As I didn’t get around to feeding and adding fresh mulches to all our flower and vegetable beds last month, this is a carry forward for Christmas. Fortunately, the ground is quite sodden thanks to all the rain we’ve been having. So digging in some chicken manure pellets and organic manure shouldn’t take too long. Famous last words…

And we’ll be topping up all our bird feeders on a regular basis from now on too. Early weather forecasts are predicting a hard winter so the birds need all the help they can get to build up their fat reserves. If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and fun way to make your own bird feeders, here are some I made earlier. And here are the instructions for how to make them 🙂

I’m going to hold back on pruning and clearing away dead seedheads and foliage for now because they’ll provide food and shelter for wildlife. Much as I dislike ivy (it can quickly take over, cause a wall’s mortar to crumble, and is usually growing in the wrong place), I’ll leave ours alone until late spring/early summer.

If you’re quick, now’s still a great time to plant new shrubs and trees as the soil hasn’t frozen yet. We lost a couple of conifers this year due to the summer heatwave so we’ve planted some bamboo and a new photinia in their stead. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but what you plant will depend on sun, shade, and soil conditions (acid, alkaline, dry, boggy). That said, try not to get too hung up on the technicalities. Just plant something and if it grows, great, if it doesn’t, try something else. Gardening should be fun, not something to get stressed about.

I forgot to snap a recent picture of our pond so here’s an old one. With Flora’s old Spiderman ball in the water to prevent a solid edge-to-edge ice sheet for when it gets really cold. We have multiple frogs and newts living in our pond and they need a breathing hole so they don’t suffocate.

Flora's garden

Not much has changed in Flora’s patch of garden since last month. Her wildflower seeds on the right hand side are growing well with well-established roots ready for next year. As is her little patch of cat grass next to the potted cyclamen. She’s planted a few winter flowering pansies around the pond and acquired every garden’s must have ornament: a BB8 statue. Still on my to do list is to order her a bare root raspberry plant for the bare patch at the end of the path, which I am reminded about at frequent intervals…

December in my garden

So this is December in my garden. I hope you’ve enjoyed the last 12 months’ ramble through our patch and I’d like to wish you a very merry festive gardening break. Oh, and leave you with this quick tip if you’re getting a real Christmas tree this year. Rather than put it out for Council recycling in due course, please see if you have any goat farmers near you. There’s not usually much fresh green growth in January and goats will be only too delighted to devour the needles, bark, and branches. Recycling at its finest!

* This is a sponsored post which first appeared on www.lisasnotebook.com but all photos and content are my own and this is an honest, unbiased post.

#birdfeeders #Christmas #December #feed #flowers #frost #fruits #garden #gardener #mulch #ponds #pruning #rain #wildlife #vegetables #winter

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