December Gardening Tips
Days are getting colder and much shorter in December. Check your winter protection and if you have a greenhouse make sure the heater is working. Hopefully there are not too many jobs left to do this year so you will have time to add a festive touch to your garden.
Continue to cut back faded herbaceous perennials and add them to the compost heap or alternatively leave these until spring so that they can be used as winter homes for insects.
In mild areas, and during dry spells, you can still lift and divide herbaceous perennials.
Check on tender plants outdoors to ensure winter protection is still in place, especially after storms.
Finish the autumn tidy-up of leaves from beds and borders. It is especially important to clear leaves and debris from alpines, as they will die off if covered in damp for any length of time.
If the ground is not frozen there is still time to plant tulip bulbs.
Continue to plant bare-root deciduous hedging plants and trees. Put rabbit guards around newly planted trees and shrubs to protect the bark from damage.
Protect newly planted trees, hedges and shrubs from cold winds and frosts, which can loosen and lift the roots.
Avoid walking on lawns on frosty mornings. It can damage the grass and often leads to brown footprint-shaped marks.
Ensure all stand pipes and irrigation lines are drained to avoid damage from freezing. Put lagging around outdoor taps to enable use throughout the winter.
Continue to harvest winter vegetables, cabbages, cauliflowers, parsnip, celeriac, brussel sprouts, leek, swede, spinach, turnips, kale and jerusalem artichokes.
If you’re storing any vegetables, check them every couple of weeks to pick out any that have started to rot.
Put up insulating material such as bubble wrap on the inside of the greenhouse.
Clear leaves and twigs from greenhouse and shed gutters.
Garden birds will be finding it more and more difficult to find food. Put out nuts and seeds to help them. Remember to break the ice on birdbaths so that they have access to fresh water.
If you haven’t thought of doing so previously, buy a potted Christmas tree. After Christmas you can either plant it in your garden or keep it in its pot ready for next year.
For festive garlands and other decorations use fresh holly, ivy, pine, eucalyptus and mistletoe. Display in a cool place and spray the decorations with a fine mist of water every couple of days to keep them looking fresh. The decorations will last for about two weeks before they start to wilt.
Winter-flowering viburnums are in full bloom at this time of year, with bare branches smothered in clusters of pink flowers. A few flowering twigs placed in a vase will fill the whole room with their delicious fragrance.
When you’re raking up your autumn leaves, save a few, place them between two sheets of paper and pile some heavy books on top for a couple of weeks to press them. Once they’re dried and flat, spray them silver or gold. They’ll look fabulous in a bowl or scattered across a table as decorations.