DECEMBER - WRAP UP FOR WINTER!
Check on tender plants outdoors to ensure winter protection is still in place especially after storms. Bracken can be used to protect the crown of tender plants such as penstemon and salvias.
If you haven’t done so already, wrap the stems of Yukkas and the trunks and canopies of standard Bay trees with a couple of layers of horticultural fleece to protect from damaging icy winds.
Raise patio containers onto feet or bricks to avoid them sitting in the winter wet.
Make sure all outside taps and stand pipes are lagged and irrigation lines are drained to avoid damage from freezing.
Continue to rake out leaves that have fallen into ponds or shake off those that have gathered on protective netting.
If your pond has frozen over, this can be fatal to fish and other pond life. Make a hole in the ice by holding a saucepan of hot water on the surface until melted through. Do not crack the ice as it is harmful to fish.
Take action to remove algae from paths if they start to become slippery.
December is the ideal time to prune Japanese maples, silver birch and ornamental and fruiting grapevines. Prune by Christmas to avoid bleeding stems.
Prune free -standing apple and pear trees also currants and gooseberries.
Pruning and renovation of many deciduous trees, shrubs and hedges can be carried out from now throughout the dormant season.
Exceptions are Prunus species (e.g. ornamental cherries, plums and almonds) as these are vulnerable to silver leaf disease when pruned in Autumn or Winter.
Renovate overgrown roses by cutting out a third of the old growth to encourage fresh stems.
Start to winter prune wisterias, cutting back summer side shoots to two or three buds rom the previous year’s growth.
In mild areas and during dry spells, you can still lift and divide herbaceous perennials. This will increase stocks and revive tired or poorly flowering clumps.
Shrubs can also be lifted and moved if the weather is kind.
Rabbits and squirrels can be a nuisance as the weather gets colder, gnawing the bark from shrubs and trees. Guards around new woody plants are advisable.
Watch out for signs of damage by slugs and snails on newly emerging foliage – liquid slug killers, organic pellets and nematodes are available.
When putting lawnmowers and hedge trimmers away for winter, ensure they are clean and dry before storing. Drain out any fuel as unleaded petrol doesn’t keep and may cause problems next year when trying to start up machines.
Clean and sharpen secateurs and loppers ready fro pruning deciduous trees and shrubs over winter.
Regularly fill and clean bird feeders and bird baths.
Harvest holly with berries for making Christmas garlands and wreaths; stand them in a bucket of water until you’re ready to use them before the birds beat you to it!
Now you can relax! Happy Christmas!