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December is usually a cold dark month and maybe a risk of snow , but there are still jobs that can be done weather permitting around the garden, in the greenhouse and in the home. Leaving the faded flower heads on your hydrangeas until the spring, will provide frost protection to the swelling buds further down the stems which can be then pruned in spring. Gathering up fallen leaves from around the base of rose bushes which suffered from blackspot or rust this summer will reduce the chance of infection next year. Also remove leaves and debris from alpine beds and borders to discourage pests and diseases overwintering.
Move containers of shrubs or winter bedding plants into a sheltered spot; clustering them together helps protect the root systems frost damage and it will be easier to put protective fleece over if the weather is really severe. Lift any dahlia tubers once their leaves are blackened by frost and store in a frost free environment. Try your utmost to avoid stepping on your borders or fresh dug areas as this will do more harm than good, pushing out air between the soil particles and may cause waterlogging.
Tender plants should now have been moved into their position over winter that being into a frost free greenhouse, conservatory, on a windowsill. Harvest holly with berries for making Christmas garlands and Christmas wreaths; stand it in a bucket of water until you're ready to use it. It is a good time to do some last minute planting up of winter containers with plants such as, pansies, violas, hardy cyclamen, ivy, Polyanthus , primula, skimmia ,evergreen grasses and heucheras to add colour to your home. Place them in prominent places beside entrances and well used paths to enjoy their winter display.
Some plants of winter interest include Sarcoccoca confusa, which will add colour and fragrance to your garden at this time of year. hellebores , heathers, and mahonias are also good winter plants too. If you still haven't planted your tulip bulbs there is still time, provided the ground isn't frozen. Some early planted containers should now be brought indoors for Christmas flowering these include hyacinths, tete a tete, and paperwhite narcissus. Put them somewhere light and warm to enjoy an early spring like display. If you’re planning to have a fresh cut/dug tree in the home amongst the best on offer are Nordmann firs, which will drop less needles if kept with a good supply of fresh water to the trunk or keep moist if potted.
This month birds will really need our help, make sure clean water is available and that after a frost it does not remain frozen. Buy good quality bird food and fat or suet balls, ensure feeding stations are well out of the way of cats and enjoy the company of our feathered friends throughout the winter!
We are suppliers of quality English grown hand picked shrubs and plants, visit us at John’s Plants, Doncaster Road ,Langold, S81 9QL or Tel 07979 377570 … always happy to help.
Finally I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas … John