December in the Garden

Wednesday, 4 December 2019  |  Alison

December in the Garden 

After a very wet and cool November, it is actually good to welcome the crisp, cold, shorter days of December and on the first day of the month I spent a sunny, clear and bright day in the garden, as ever armed and dangerous with my secateurs, ready to snip here and tidy there. Early December is probably the only time many of us will be able to spare some precious time to ‘work’ in the garden or allotment, with something called ‘Christmas’ in the way, so it is worth being ready to wrap up warm and have a few jobs in mind so here are some Brookside Nursery Timely Tips for December:-

Time to check our website for Christmas gifts – This year we have a fabulous range of gardening gifts, including amusing Garden Signs, Greenhouse Accessories, Hip-Trugs, Electric Propagators, Kneeling Pads, Decorative Pots and Planters and so much more.   If you really can’t decide there is always the popular option of giving Brookside Gift Vouchers. You may want to ask for some yourself!

Time to sweep and clean pathways - Gosh, these can be a slippery accident waiting to happen, so get out there with a stiff broom and warm yourself up by sweeping pathways to keep them clear of soggy leaf fall, lichen, moss,  soil debris and tools that may be lying in wait to trip you up.  Most leaves have fallen now so you may be able to do one big sweep. Rake around the edges of your borders too, where leaves gather, as decomposing leaves attract slugs.

Time to clean patio areas - Decking can be especially slippery in the winter months so it may be worth cleaning it down completely with a proprietary path and patio cleaner (Jeyes fluid is always a good bet) and using a stiff broom or scrubbing brush to shift the dirt will give you an excellent workout too! 

Time to make Leaf Mould - If leaves are beginning to break down on said pathways (as above), and you have a lot of them, grab a black bin liner, fill the bag and compress the leaves adding more until you can fit no more in. Tie up the top of the liner. Then pop the bag in a shady out of the way spot, pierce a couple of air holes in the sides, and leave to rot down for a year. You will then have your own leaf mould to place around plants next autumn using them either as a soil conditioner or as mulch around plants.

Time to feed the birds – Even the smallest garden or balcony can find room for a bird feeder and as a nation of wildlife lovers you can usually see one or two hanging around our gardens. In the winter months and the ground is frozen it is hard for birds to find food so a feeder filled with peanuts, raisins or seeds can help to get them through the lean times. Don’t forget to give them clean water to drink and replace it if it has frozen overnight. Like us humans, dehydration can be as harmful to birds as lack of food.  

Time to keep ponds unfrozen - Search for that old tennis/football that is lurking in the bushes and pop it into the pond, as a moving ball in the pond can resist freezing over around the ball in light frosts and if the pond freezes over completely then removing the ball gives an instant air hole for fish and plants.  

Time to prune tall Rose bushes – Taller rose bushes will benefit from being cut back by half in December. This will prevent the roots from loosening in the ground when winds can whip through the plants. It doesn’t need to be too precise at this time of year because roses are dormant at the moment but will need a spring prune to fine tune their growing habit for next year’s display. 

Time to give extra protection to plants – Grouping plants together in an unheated greenhouse and covering at night with hessian can be enough to give them cold protection, although adding a layer or two of bubble wrap around the pots themselves can prevent soil becoming frozen.                                   

In the Midlands, where we are based, I find that my established Penstemons stay in leaf all year so giving them a layer of mulch around the roots is all they need, until I prune them back in spring. 

Well, with all those gardening jobs to do there will hardly be any time left to go Christmas shopping (hurrah), so have a look on our website and choose some Gifts that we have or choose Brookside Nursery Gift Vouchers and we can send them  straight to the recipient. Christmas presents sorted!  

Anyway, whatever you do this Christmas, take time to walk around your garden, the local municipal park, the woods or stroll along the canal towpath, anywhere to get some fresh air into your lungs and see the trees, the plants and the sky ( and if you are lucky, the sun). It will be the best thing you do this December and can lift the spirits no end. I always find it is worth making the effort to get outside, even for an hour, so make that your December resolution… Come January we will all be making other more unrealistic resolutions but we will come to that next time!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Gardening Year 2020…. 

Alison and all the team at Brookside

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Wednesday, 6 November 2019  |  Alison
November in the Garden

After the wet and rather soggy month of October, crisp cool days (and nights) of November are definitely here and winter is drawing ever closer.  The clocks have gone back an hour too and darker evenings are back with a vengeance.
But there are enough daylight hours to be in the garden if you get up a bit earlier.  Having a wander around the garden in your wellies with a morning wake-up coffee, when everywhere is quiet and still (a pair of secateurs tucked into your cosy winter dressing gown pocket, of course), can give you a real boost for the day ahead, be that in your place of work or doing a few tasks about the garden.

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Wednesday, 6 November 2019  |  Alison
Winter Wildlife and Insect Homes

Providing a “des res” for our native wildlife and insects has never been more important as natural habitats are removed to make way for modern lifestyles.    Woodlands and hedgerows disappearing and chemical pesticides on mass produced crops have all contributed to the fall in the natural eco balance for our wildlife.

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Friday, 27 September 2019  |  Alison
October in the Garden 2019

Much as we may not want to see summer days slipping away for another year, there is something special about the sunlight during October, especially on warm days, that makes it a pleasure to walk around the garden and appreciate the last vestiges of late summer flowers and watch the long shadows spread across the lawn.  The gradual sweep into autumn means that it is time to start to put the garden in some sort of order for the coming colder months so with this in mind:-

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