December

Grow Your Own:

*Currants and Gooseberries can still be pruned after leaf fall.

*Fatty Acid based winter washes can be applied at any time over the winter while the tree is dormant – they can be used on Top fruit such as Apples and Pears or soft fruit like Currants and Gooseberries.

HOUSEPLANTS:

*Cacti should be kept cool and dry over winter, with no feeding, in order to encourage them to flower and to prevent rotting. Watering can be resumed in the spring when the light increases and temperatures rise.

*Hyacinths that have been brought in to the house should be kept somewhere cool and light, otherwise the leaves will elongate and the flowers will go over very quickly.

*Arrangements of houseplants are very popular as Christmas gifts – try and choose plants and containers that are suited to the conditions that they will be placed in. Our staff will be happy to help you choose an appropriate arrangement for any position.

GREENHOUSE:

*Check periodically that plants you are overwintering in the greenhouse have not dried out, which can happen surprisingly quickly. Also check that on those rare sunny days the temperature does not rise suddenly – the easiest way to offset this is to open the door a little for an hour or two.

WILDLIFE:

*Hang your bird feeder over a hard surface such as paving which can be swept regularly, preventing the build-up of food which may attract vermin.

*Natural food is at its scarcest at this time of year so keep the bird feeders stocked up at all times – they will be relying on you.

WATER GARDEN:

*If the weather is cold, in particular, watch out for herons trying to eat your pond fish. A good way to deter them is to net the pond or run a couple of wires on short stakes round the edge of the pond at about ankle height. This will make it difficult for them to enter the pond.

 

LAWNS:

*Continue to remove dead leaves from the lawn to prevent brown patches developing.

*Messy and uneven edges can still be repaired, if the weather is mild, by cutting a piece out and turning it round.

 

FLOWER GARDEN:

*Protect crowns of herbaceous plants from slug and snail damage by pelleting or a barrier such as copper.

*Areas that are going to be planted as herbaceous borders next year can still be dug over and manured ready for next season.

*Early flowering herbaceous plants such as Hellebores can often get their flowers spoilt by being splashed by mud, try using a thick mulch of bark chips tucked round the plant to protect them.

TREES SHRUBS AND HEDGES:

*Evergreen plants come in to their own over the winter and stems may be cut and used in arrangements, especially over Christmas. For the best effect, clean with a damp cloth and spray with leaf shine so that they really glisten.

*Many trees and shrubs bring colour and interest to the winter garden and now is a good time to see where the gaps are and to gain inspiration from other gardens or garden centres.

*Winters tend to be wet in the UK and this can make you assume that nothing in the garden needs checking for watering. However plants under large evergreens, in pots or under the eaves of the house may get very dry – this is particularly true of evergreens as they don’t go dormant and will continue to lose water through their leaves. This drying out is often responsible for many deaths in evergreens – often wrongly attributed to cold.

*Check that the frost or wind hasn’t lifted or loosened any newly planted trees or shrubs. Gently re-firm if this has happened and consider staking.

*Check that frost protection is still in place if necessary – do not leave fleece over plants if the weather is above freezing. Covering plants with several layers of fleece in sub-zero temperatures will greatly enhance their chances of survival.

 

GENERAL:

*Improve the structure of clay soils – often a problem locally – by digging in plenty of bulky organic matter such as composted bark.

CHRISTMASY STUFF:

*When decorating your real tree, remember it will have more visual impact if you use several of the same thing rather than lots of different single items.

*Christmas wrapping – remember to protect your half-hardy plants during very cold spells. Wrap the pot in bubble wrap for the entire winter and the plant with fleece when it falls below freezing.

*Christmas crackers – although a lot of the garden has gone to sleep for the winter, there are several stars still performing – Mahonia x media types such as Charity and Winter Sun; Sarcococca (Christmas Box) Winter Gem and confusa; Helleborus niger varieties (Christmas Rose) and Hamamelis varieties (Witch Hazel) in red, orange and yellow.

*Christmas dreams – now is the ideal time to plan your perfect garden paradise for next year. Come in to store for inspiration or to talk to one of our team of plant experts.

*Many trees and shrubs in the garden or in pots can be dressed with lights for the festive season. LED lights are very economical with electricity – using up to 90% less electricity than conventional lights. They are also made of plastic rather than glass and therefore safer and less likely to break.