The weather outside might be frightful, but gardening can still be delightful... especially when there's some tasks you can do from the comfort of your sofa.
While December might feel more like the time to focus your efforts on decorating the tree and wrapping gifts, if you do feel so inclined, tending to your garden now will ensure it flourishes in the spring. Pruning, digging, planting and planning can all be achieved this month, as well as using the fruits of your labour to create some stunning seasonal decorations.
So sit back, grab a mulled wine and have a read to discover what you can achieve in your garden this December
Deck the halls
Evergreen plants and shrubs won't just keep your garden looking healthy over winter - they could also inspire some handmade decorations. Use berries and leaves to create garlands, or rustle up a wreath from materials you forage - the likes of holly, pine sprigs, ivy, conifer sprigs, birch twigs and even seed heads from sunflowers or hydrangeas can all be used to make beautiful festive pieces to adorn your front door or Christmas dining table with.
Take advantage of your garden's 'down time' where fewer things are growing, and use this opportunity to dig over bare areas of ground and add compost. Mushroom compost is especially good for this task as it has a high organic matter content, which helps to improve soil quality.
Making the cut
Winter is the ideal time to prune - with fewer leaves on the trees and shrubs the task in hand will be easier, and come spring your plants will be rejuvenated. It’s important to prune correctly though - failure to do so could result in unhealthy plants and potential dieback disease. When pruning, always ensure you’re making the cut at the right distance from the bud - too close and you risk damaging the bud, but too far away and the wood could die off. Getting the perfect angle to your cut is also important in promoting healthy plant growth.
It might feel as though there's not much you can plant when it's cold, but winter flowering shruba can be planted now to give your garden a much needed boost of colour. Shrubs such as Viburnum, Sarcococca confusa and Camellia will all work well at this time of year and bring a bit of cheer with them.
For a plentiful harvest of fruits come next summer and autumn, you’ll want to think about planting raspberries, blackberries and strawberries over the winter. You could also plant blueberries now and reap the benefits of their pretty flowers come early spring. If you’re a fan of rhubarb, now is also a good time to consider planting some up - use some manure to help aid growth.
Plot your plot
Everyone's favourite kind of gardening task - the kind you can do from the comfort of your sofa. With a mulled wine in one hand and a pen in the other, use colder or wetter days when you can't get out in the garden to plan how you want it to look next year. Make a list of the things you might need to make this happen too - tools, plants and gardening vouchers all make great gifts, so asking for them may well avoid the risk of getting yet another scarf. If you're thinking of creating raised beds in your garden, try our raised bed kit which has everything you need.
Hedge your bets
During the warmer months, hedges can get unruly and keeping on top of them can feel like an arduous task. By contrast, tackling them in December will feel much more rewarding - deciduous hedges will be dormant now, so now's the time to cut them back and neaten things up. The lack of leaves will mean you can really craft the shapes you desire. Do this before hard frost sets in.
Make the cut
Now that we've entered the dormant season for deciduous plants, it's the ideal time to take hardwood cuttings of your fruit plants, trees, climbers and shrubs.
When planting in the ground, you'll need to give the cuttings the ideal growing environment, so dig a trench in a sheltered area of the garden, and use organic matter to fill it.
Plant your cuttings so they're two thirds of the way down into the ground, and then wait patiently (likely until next autumn) for your new arrivals.