When you are checking on your flower garden, tips may be pinched out from the tops of the wallflowers to encourage sturdiness. An open, sunny place should be chosen for next year’s annuals and preparations made.
All debris from the rock garden should be removed, because Alpines are particularly sensitive to dank, fallen leaves.
Remember that mild weather at this time of year suits the slugs, and delphinium crowns are vulnerable. A circle of sharp cinder ashes round the crowns will make travel uncomfortable for the enemy.
Christmas roses should be covered with a sheet of glass supported on wires on a bottomless box in order to keep the blooms clean. Flower arrangers who ask for long stalks may care to place an 8-12 in. high wall of bricks round the plant on which to rest the glass, because the lack of light will ‘draw’ or lengthen the flower stems.
Fuchsias and hydrangeas in containers should be brought into the greenhouse or given protection outside.
If you are checking on your shrubs, which you should be, firm up rose cuttings after a spell of frost.
Bays and shrubs in tubs in cold districts should be given protection, and remember beds near big trees or shrubs are often starved of nutriment. The hungry spreading roots, searching for food, can be checked by the thrust of a sharp spade to sever them, but larger roots will call for the assistance of an axe.
The severed portion can be left to die away naturally. If suckers should appear they can be dealt with by Brushwood Killer.
Now is the time to complete the planting of deciduous hedges.
In the greenhouse aim at a minimum night temperature of 7°C, 45°F. and restrict spraying.
The majority of plants will be ‘resting’, so avoid high temperatures and do not flog them with fertilizer.
Begin cutting chrysanthemum blooms for Christmas and leave them deep in a bucket of water for 24 hours before arranging them in vases.
Beginners often make the mistake of bringing their spring bulbs out of the dark too soon, so note the shoots should be at least 3 ins. tall and the plants brought gradually into the light and warmth.
Inspect the hardy chrysanthemums boxed for the winter in the greenhouse, cold frame or outhouse, and be careful not to over-water them. Wet kills more stools than low temperature The plants may now be cut down to 3 ins. and treated to a top dressing of finely sifted loam, peat, and a sprinkling of silver sand.
As you move over to the vegetable garden, root crops should be given ground that was manured for the last crop, and not a plot that has been freshly manured.
A new asparagus bed can be prepared for April planting, and draw up the soil to the stems of the spring cabbage: this light ‘earthing up’ will help them stand up to the elements.
Onions and leeks can be sown now in a temperature of about 12°-13°C. (54°-55°F.). The pots should be kept close to the glass and covered with newspaper in severe weather.
There are important things that need your attention where your fruit is concerned. Examine blackcurrants for big bud. The gall-mite is easily identified by the globular and swollen buds that must be removed and burnt. Heavily infected bushes are better burnt altogether.
The blackcurrant has a long life and is tolerant of most soils provided there is sufficient moisture and the drainage is good. The plants respond to generous manuring and have a liking for cow manure.
Poultry-keepers may use decomposed lawn mowings mixed with decayed chicken manure. A straw mulch will conserve moisture, but on light soils the bushes should be thoroughly watered during drought.
If varieties are carefully chosen, blackcurrants are to be had from June until early August.
Gardeners seeking for unusual fruit might care to try some of the hybrid berries, such as the Boysenberry, with large black-red fruits that turn purple-black when fully mature, the Phenomenalberry, similar to the loganberry, the Worcester-berry that has a look of the gooseberry, the youngberry, a cross between the loganberry and the Texas dewberry, with soft roundish purple-black fruits, and the Zeva Perpetual Fruiting Raspberry that presents berries on young canes from July until November, and is an amenable plant suitable for all soils and gardens, even consenting to grow in a tub.
Bear in mind that all fruit trees should be planted as soon as possible.
Finally and very urgently, you need to check that the stand-pipes are satisfactorily lagged or turn off the water completely.
- First week in December Gardening
- The Second Week of December for The Winter Gardener
- The Gardener in The Third Week of December
- End of December Gardening
Ian SG Smith
Photo. Max Gloin