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Finish planting before the coldest weather arrives

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > In the Garden

Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Friday, 23rd November 2018, 09:00

Deck the halls with boughs of holly! Yes, we are finally at the Christmas countdown and hopefully it will be a lovely crisp, bright month with plenty of sun.

There is even time to do some planting still before the coldest weather of the season arrives in January and February. If it is suitable and not too waterlogged or frozen, container grown deciduous trees and shrubs can still be planted.

Colour, fragrance and food for birds in winter

Or, if you want to add interest to your garden in winter, how about adding a winter flowering shrub such as Mahonia, Daphne bholua, Hamamelis (witch hazel) or Sarcococca (Christmas box)? These provide fragrance and colour, as well as being an important food source for the birds in winter.

Those of you with grape vines will need to do your annual pruning soon. Grapes fruit on one year old wood, and pruning before Christmas whilst the plant is still fully dormant will stop too much ‘bleeding’ of the sap which will weaken the vine. Try to grow with a permanent vertical framework of branches and then at this time each year cut the horizontal branches of the current year’s growth back to two buds.

Plant shallots on the shortest day of the year

It is traditional to plant shallots on the shortest day of the year. Shallot bulbs are planted so that just the little tip is visible above the soil, with a distance between of 15cm, in rows 20cm apart. Keep them moist but don’t overwater them. Before they put their roots down you may have to replant them, as the birds will sometimes pull them out (whether they think it is a worm coming out or what I don’t know!)

Gift ideas for the gardener in your life

I couldn’t let the December issue go without giving you some gift ideas for the gardener in your life! An RHS desk diary always hits the button for organising one’s life, or how about the wonderful jakoti Japanese hand shears that are just the job for tidying your topiary? Perhaps a novelty duck watering can, which I spotted on a trawl through the internet the other day – every garden needs one!

Other Images

Novelty duck watering can

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