December in the Garden 2020
Thursday, 10 December 2020 | Alison
Looking back, and more importantly, looking forward - Well, who would have thought it, we have made it this far folks. With the current lockdown due to be eased somewhat for December, as I write, Christmas is in the running again. Like many though, I won’t be jumping up and visiting my 90-year-old dad and filling him, his partner and their house with any possible Coronavirus germs I may have picked up.
As yet another ‘Boris gem’ was recently rattled off by the Prime Minister in one of his briefings - ‘Tis the season to be jolly, but ‘tis also the season to be jolly careful”, so it will be jolly Facetime calls around the world for our family this year on Christmas Day so keep the telephone (or is it internet) lines open in Wales, Cumbria and Australia please!
Tis always the season to be ‘working’ in the garden or taking in the fresh air, preferably both. As fellow gardeners know, it has been vital to our physical and mental well-being to be in our gardens this year, tending, growing and nurturing our precious flowers and vegetables and watching the birds and wildlife going about their business as usual. Gardening brings a normal aspect to our lives when we can be totally absorbed in the tasks at hand.
Looking ahead to 2021 has come the good news that a vaccine is on the way for all and already being rolled out to the most in need, so along with that positive thought here are a few things to be getting on with on the finer days of December in your garden:
Neaten edges of lawns – Even if you have stopped mowing for the winter, trimming the edges of your lawn and borders will make such a difference to the overall look. I am sure the edges still grow in winter time. If needs be, a half-moon tool can be used to straighten and give definition to areas that may look unkempt. Also, trim edges around paving that is alongside lawns or paving in the lawn leading down the garden or to the washing line. Lightly hoe over the border edges to give a neat finish.
Cut back wisteria and grapevines – Winter pruning in late December is an ideal time to cut back overgrown growth of established wisteria and grapevines. Use sharp secateurs so as not to wound or damage the stems. Remove any diseased wood or stalks that look as though they are rubbing against each other as an open bit of stalk can harbour diseases. This principle works for roses and fruit trees too.
Wisteria can be cut back hard to leave next year’s clusters of flowering buds and longer leaf stems can be cut back to two or three buds.
Grapevines can be cut back hard on the side spurs, as they produce next year’s grapes on new wood. Cut back the main stem only if it has reached the desired length.
Trim foliage from Hellebores – Hellebores come into their full glory in the winter months and display their wonderfully exquisite flowers. A real treat in the coldest season for us and a source of nectar and pollen for hungry bees.
When you see the flower buds forming, cut off wilting, spotted or dying leaves to leave the stems and petals to take their glory. Dead head fading flowers to extend the flowering period. New leaves will grow in the spring.
Winter Digging – The best way to stay warm on a chilly day is to do some digging. Even if you don’t have a veggie bed there may be a neighbour who could do with some help or an allotment group nearby. I am betting someone would love an extra hand with digging over their vegetable plot and doing a bit of muck spreading. All you need is tea and cake to give sustenance and you may end up with some fresh vegetables for your efforts. It’s a good way to socialise outdoors but at a safe distance so let me know if you do this already and how it works out.
I have decided to put a string of outdoor festive lights in my front garden on a Christmas tree I planted a few years ago having bought it in a pot. I hope that folk driving or walking past will see a twinkle of normality as they trundle past.
Wishing all of you lovely Brookside Nursery customers and readers a peaceful Christmas and a Happy Gardening Year in 2021.
Best wishes to all,
Your Brookside Blogger