While the flamboyant summer displays are over the festive season brings its own charm to the garden with an abundance of berries, beautifully coloured bark and magnificent winter flowering heathers, pansies, viola, cyclamen etc. At this time of year there is not much to do outside except decorating the garden with some of these winter garden plants as well as a few simple seasonal tasks:
Continue to cut back faded herbaceous perennials adding them to the compost heap. Leave good stems with seed heads to add winter interest as well as to provide food for wild life.
Divide herbaceous perennials to rejuvenate poorly flowering clumps when soil conditions are good. Always re-plant the outside more vigorous clumps.
Deadhead winter bedding plants such as cyclamen, polyanthus, pansy, viola etc to encourage continued flowering.
Plant up containers for a colourful winter show. Good combinations include mini cyclamen and winter flowering heathers under planted with bulbs such as daffodils, snowdrops and crocus.
Shrubs at their best in December to select from include hollies, mahonia, pernettyas, heathers, skimmia rubella and bedding such as pansy, viola, polyanthus and mini cyclamen.
Protect tender plants with fleece when frost strikes and wrap any terracotta, glazed and stoneware containers with a similar type material.
A great time to prune most fruit trees and bushes when conditions are suitable. Do not prune plum trees until the spring.
Trim deciduous hedges such as beech, hornbeam and hawthorn. Do not prune or trim evergreens at this time of year.
Control grass and weeds on pathways etc with Roundup and similarly around trees in the garden making sure it does not make contact with tree stems.
A winter mulch of well rotted manure will benefit blackcurrant bushes, raspberry canes and particularly rhubarb.
Add well rotted manure or compost to raised beds and vegetable areas and cover with black plastic.
Clear away the remains of old vegetable crops and add them to your compost heap.
Winter onion sets, garlic and broad beans can be planted now if soil conditions are suitable.
Note: The charms of the winter garden are many and varied and with a small amount of work the garden can be managed and maintained to a high standard as well as looking magnificent during the festive season.