As I’m sitting down to writing about December, my first thought is ‘Thank heavens I can have a break from the garden!’ Not a pc thing for a gardener to say, I admit, so I thought I’d better look at proper gardening advice from the RHS and Gardeners World, etc, on what a conscientious gardener would do in the month. You won’t be surprised to know that sitting by the fire with a glass of something in hand and reading a book, even if it’s about gardening, isn’t covered.
Seriously though, it is my intention to get outside as much as possible during the short and often gloomy days, as this time of year has its own special stark beauty in garden and countryside and working, walking or just being in it lifts my mood while having practical uses (and helps to keep warm, which must be a plus when we’re trying to save on heating bills).
So, you can see, I’m persuading myself that I will be tackling some, at least, of the many jobs listed by the experts, though not so expertly by me. No absolute promises, but here are some things I aim to do this month (apart from eating and drinking too much, dancing, singing and generally having as much fun as I can get):
Examine tools and equipment, clean, sharpen, oil if needed. Have a clear out of the shed and garage. Treat myself to a new, super pair of secateurs.
Prune dormant perennial shrubs and if you have tall growing rose bushes prune down to reduce risk of wind damage. Check what may need staking/supporting in stormy weather. Note to self, find a plank to walk on if I have to walk on the beds!
Check on stored plants in the greenhouse and water very slightly if needed to prevent drying out. Ventilate the greenhouse on any sunny days (we can always hope). In winter I don’t heat the greenhouse but insulate it with bubble polythene and will drape fleece over stored plants if it gets really chilly.
Apparently, patio plants in containers should be kept at no less than 7 degrees. Is this so? I didn’t know that. Anyway, to prevent roots from freezing (and/or pots cracking) in a cold snap I’ll try to remember to wrap the pots in bubble film. Tender overwintering plants in the garden may need some protection in cold spells too, using fleece, or hessian for example.
Collect natural material for Christmas decorations. I usually forage for evergreen foliage and seek out seedheads from the garden. Allium and poppy heads are among my favourites and look festive if spray painted (good idea to gently shake out seeds from alliums first). Other material such as twigs, pinecones, sprigs of rosemary, etc, all come in useful for making wreaths, table decorations and so on and can make original gifts as well.
Lastly, and most importantly, this is the month when I will be thinking back over the year, including what did well in the garden, what suffered in the drought and heat, what didn’t cope at all. We will all have had successes and failures despite care and endless watering. Then I’ll start planning, looking into ways to adapt the garden over time to make it more resilient to extreme and changing weather conditions. Ideally, I’d be seeking a variety of plant and vegetable types for this, while also keeping space for old favourites, and will be researching advice on this. Oh, and, of course, I’ll be looking at the Suttons website to order seeds for next year.
Whatever you’re doing this month, I hope you enjoy it, and here’s to another year in the garden. Cheers!
Linda Di Mizio
Things to do in December