As the calendar turns to December, we find ourselves enveloped by the chilly embrace of winter. The sun, often just a faint glimmer in the sky, brings with it a sense of anticipation for the festive season ahead. The world around us appears to don a festive blanket, all in preparation for Christmas. But amidst this holiday hustle, a crucial question arises: What becomes of our gardens in this pre-Christmas flurry?
Neglected more often than not during these bustling days, our gardens call for a different kind of attention as they face the onset of winter. This article aims to guide you through the nuances of December gardening, showing you how to prepare for the festive season while harnessing nature’s gifts.
Embracing the Cold: Winter Digging and Preparation
December, with its cold and wet embrace, offers the perfect conditions for winter digging. This is an opportune time to break up the soil clumps in your garden. Doing this allows the frost and rain of the winter months to penetrate deep into the soil, enriching it and preparing it for the rejuvenation of spring. This process is not just about preparing the soil; it’s about setting the stage for a bountiful and beautiful garden when the warmer months roll around.
Fruitful Endeavours: Pruning and Planting
Gardening in December is not just about maintenance; it’s also about planning for the future. Pruning continues to be a key activity during this time. However, it’s important to note that Plum and Damson trees should not be pruned during their dormant period. Pruning them in winter can make them susceptible to the Silver Leaf fungus. On the brighter side, December presents an ideal window for planting. This is the time to plant fruit trees and bushes, setting the foundation for future harvests. Imagine the joy of plucking a ripe apple or a juicy berry from your own garden – an investment made during the chill of December.
Blooms of Winter: Flower Gardening in December
The cold months don’t mean your garden must be devoid of color. Herbaceous plants can still find their place in your winter garden. Winter pansies and primroses are perfect for adding a splash of colour to the otherwise pale winter palette. Then there are the Christmas or Lenten Roses – plants that bring an understated elegance to your garden. These blooms remind us that even in the coldest of times, nature finds a way to express its beauty.
Trees and Shrubs: Winter-Proofing Your Garden
Your trees and shrubs need special attention during this time. Selecting plants that thrive in winter and add colour to your garden is crucial. But it’s not just about planting; it’s also about protection. Ensuring the firmness of stakes and ties against the winter gales is paramount. This not only protects the plants but also maintains the structure and integrity of your garden through the rough weather.
Patio Pot Care: Avoiding Water-Logging
One of the common challenges of winter gardening is protecting your patio pots from frost damage. The key to this is ensuring good drainage. Elevating your pots, regardless of their size, on feet or blocks can significantly improve drainage. This simple step can be the difference between a thriving plant and a frost-damaged one. It’s a small act, but one that speaks volumes about the care and attention you give to your garden.
Greenhouse Goals: Winterisation Tips
The greenhouse, your garden’s winter haven, requires special attention as the colder months approach. The key to a thriving winter garden lies in the timely cleaning, disinfecting, and insulating of your greenhouse. Start by giving your greenhouse a thorough clean, removing any plant debris and dirt. This not only improves the appearance but also reduces the likelihood of pests and diseases. Disinfection is the next crucial step, eliminating any lingering pathogens that could harm your plants.
Insulation is vital for maintaining an optimal environment for your plants. Materials like bubble wrap can be used to insulate the greenhouse without reducing light penetration significantly. This creates a cosy and controlled atmosphere for your plants to thrive in, even as the temperature outside dips.
Watering in the greenhouse during winter requires a delicate balance. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues, especially when the plants’ growth rate slows down in the colder months. Check the soil moisture regularly and water moderately to keep the plants healthy.
Feathered Friends: Caring for Garden Birds
Winter can be a challenging time for our feathered friends, making it essential to provide them with extra care and support. Setting up bird feeders in your garden is a simple yet effective way to help them. Fill these feeders with a variety of seeds, nuts, and fat balls, offering a balanced diet to the birds. Don’t forget to provide a source of fresh water, which can be scarce during this time.
Observing the birds that visit your garden can be a source of joy and an opportunity to learn about the different species and their behaviours. Remember to keep the feeders clean and well-stocked, ensuring a regular stream of avian visitors throughout the winter.
Winter Highlights: Plants that Shine in December
Even in the depths of winter, certain plants can add vibrancy and life to your garden. Pyracantha, with its bright berries, provides a splash of colour and an important food source for birds. Conifers and Holly, with their evergreen foliage, stand out against the stark winter landscape, bringing structure and colour to your garden. These plants not only enhance the aesthetics of your garden but also provide habitats and food for wildlife, playing a crucial role in the garden ecosystem.
Natural Festive Decorations: A Green Christmas
Embrace the festive spirit by turning to your garden for natural Christmas decorations. Holly, with its iconic red berries and glossy green leaves, is perfect for making wreaths and garlands. Fir branches can be used to create lush, fragrant swags for your door or table settings. Scented pine cones, either natural or lightly scented with cinnamon or other festive fragrances, can be used to create charming, rustic decorations.
Incorporating these natural elements into your Christmas decor not only adds a unique touch but also fosters a deeper connection with nature during the festive season.
Special Gifts: Unearth Garden Treasures
For those seeking unique and thoughtful gifts, look no further than your local garden centre. Here you can find a treasure trove of items, from special collectors’ bears to cuddly companions, appealing to both adults and children. These gifts offer a personal touch, reflecting a love for nature and the outdoors.
In conclusion, December gardening is a multifaceted endeavour. It’s not merely about maintenance but also about embracing the season, preparing for festivities, and revelling in the beauty of nature in its winter guise. By following these tips, you can transform your garden into a winter wonderland, a space that’s not only ready for Christmas but also a source of joy and beauty throughout the colder months.
From all of us here at Farnborough Garden Centre, we wish you the very best for the Festive Season and hope you’ll find time to visit us before the year ends.