Jobs for December

FLOWER GARDEN

  • Feed and water birds regularly
  • Prune climbing shrubs, tie securely
  • Shorten shoots on late-flowering shrubs, such as buddleias and lavateras, to stop them snapping in the wind
  • Protect tender evergreens from wind with a mesh or fleece screen
  • Shelter figs and peaches with fleece
  • Clean/oil tools. Linseed wooden handles
  • File the blades of hoes and spades
  • Diamond-sharpen the secateurs
  • Drain hosepipes of water and bring them into a shed or garage if you can
  • Lag vulnerable water pipes and taps
  • Keep off wet soil and frozen turf - tackle essential tasks from a plank
  • Trim and shape trees and shrubs except for cherries, plums and those that bleed
  • Take leaf netting off the pond
  • Remove tree leaves from crowns of alpines and perennials to keep snails out

CONTAINER GARDENING

  • Buy modern dwarf types of cyclamen, they are nearly hardy and will thrive out of doors in a sheltered spot or in a porch
  • Buy conifers for the foliage interest, which is obvious now
  • Buy bulbs ready to flower from garden centres to add extra colour

KITCHEN GARDEN

  • Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of rhubarb
  • Cover soil with polythene or fleece to warm it up for next year’s seed sowing, this is easiest on a raised bed
  • Keep parsley plants going by covering with a cloche

GREENHOUSE

  • Open vents in mild weather
  • Don’t over water - stand any waterlogged pot on a wad of newspaper

Care for houseplants
Christmas azaleas need plenty to drink - immerse the pot in lime-free water a couple of times each week. Cyclamen like to be kept cool and moist, but don’t over water them. Poinsettias withstand a warm room; water carefully, giving just enough to stop them wilting. Feed all Christmas houseplants weekly with a high potash liquid fertilizer.


NOW’S THE TIME

PRUNE GRAPE VINES
Do it now; if cut in spring they can bleed profusely. Rub off peeling bark on stems to remove over wintering pests and diseases.

TAKE STOCK
Assess your garden, preferably from an armchair indoors, and decide whether you need more evergreens.

GET SEED CATALOGUES
Also indoors, study seed catalogues and make a list. Try one or two new items.

SOW EARLY SEEDS
Alpines and others need a period of chilling outside before they’ll germinate. Later you can bring them into the greenhouse to speed up.

KEEP PATHS CLEAN
Leaves, mud and green algae are slippery. Treat with a stiff brush or patio cleaner.

The Gardening Club wishes everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy gardening year in 2004