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December in the garden

PUBLISHED: 09:57 29 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:14 20 February 2013

December in the garden

December in the garden

It may be cold outside, but there's still plenty to keep the keen gardener busy this month

December in the garden


It may be cold outside, but theres still plenty to keep the keen gardener busy this month


Plant of the month


Skimmia japonica Rubella (pictured)



  • medium sized evergreen shrub

  • colourful flower buds in autumn and winter

  • scented flowers open in spring

  • good all year colour with dark leaves


Cultivation



  • hardy

  • easy care

  • part shade to shade

  • well-drained soil

  • tolerates heavy clay soil

  • lime soils will turn leaves yellow

  • ideal for containers

  • good also as ground cover

  • prune to shape after flowering



Ornamental tasks



  • good time to prune or renovate many deciduous shrubs and trees, such as beech and hazel, when you can see their form

  • take hardwood cuttings from ornamental shrubs, for example berberis, buddleja and forsythia

  • December is the traditional time to coppice native trees and shrubs

  • pot up some winter colour by the door and for Christmas gifts, include some early spring bulbs to pop up unexpectedly

  • prune clematis and grapevines



To taste



  • sow early broad beans, you may need to protect with cloche or fleece

  • harvest winter crops as ready and check stored for any signs of disease

  • brussel sprouts taste sweeter after they have had some frost

  • prune apples and pears

  • plant bare root fruit trees and bushes such as currants, gooseberries and raspberries



Something extra


Which type of Christmas tree will suit you best? Nordmann Fir: strong needle retention and a symmetrical shape. Norway Spruce: traditional shape and Christmas scent, needle retention not as good in warm central heating. Noble Fir: open foliage, good needle retention, upswept appearance. Fraser Fir: pricey as slow growing, slimmer, good needle retention. Blue Spruce: blue-green foliage, prickly, citrus scent, poor needle retention. Serbian Spruce: newer variety, dark green foliage with silver undersides, needle retention not as good.

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