December gardening is about planning ahead for the new year
WELL, here we are into the last month of the year, a very busy time. But it doesn't matter how busy you are, there is always something to do in the garden.
Remember, even Father Christmas finds time for a little hoe, hoe, hoeing and he's really busy!
After the bad joke, December is a quieter month in the garden, giving you time to plan for the new year ahead. All the seed and plant catalogues are out now, so why not have a look through and maybe ask Santa to make a little order for you? Book catalogues are also going around, a good horticultural library could be just what you need to help create your own Hanging Gardens of Babylon next year. If you want just one book, get a really thick plant encyclopaedia, look for one that gives growing tips as well as the usual plant information.
Getting back to being outside: keep an eye on areas that might be affected by the weather. For instance, the fence can take quite a pounding at this time of the year. If there is anything that might work its way a little loose, now might be the time to go around and check. I've got a Jack Russell who is keen to make friends with next door's rabbit and a gap in the fence will give him the chance to make a visit. I'm sure he only wants to play, or maybe not.
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Wind is not the only thing that can damage things. Ice can cause all sorts of problems. Check your outside water pipes are protected with some sort of covering and if you can, turn off the water.
Trees can also drop limbs in cold weather, the rain water will work its way into cracks in the wood, this water freezes, expanding and making the crack wider. Over time this can eventually snap off the branches, so be aware and keep an eye on these things. Any cracks in your plant pots can suffer from the same problem, so maybe bring these in out of harm's way.
In closing, just a quick mention of our feathered friends. They need you now more than ever– keep their feeders filled and make sure there's some water for them. When the water is frozen, dehydration can be a big problem.
Wrap up warm this month and enjoy your gardening.
Liam Shoesmith is head gardener at Boscawen Park, Truro.