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December Tips

The Ornamental Garden

  • Plant roses, fruit trees and bushes if the ground is not too wet or frozen.
  • Dormant trees and shrubs can be moved now. Minimise root disturbance to increase chance of success and rapid re-establishment.
  • Prune out old wood to rejuvenate shrubs. Wisteria pruning can be completed now along with vines.
  • Fork over borders and dig some goodness back into the soil. We recommend Revive, Mushroom compost or Farmyard Manure.
  • At this time of year we stock an extensive range of wildlife friendly native trees & shrubs suitable for hedging which provide nectar, food and shelter.
  • Cut stems of winter flowering shrubs to force into flower indoors. Good subjects include Winter Sweet, Witch Hazels, Lonicera fragrantissima and Winter Beauty, Viburnum fragrans & bodnantense Dawn, Forsythia and even Lilac.
  • Tie splaying branches of conifers in as any snow we get will only make matters worse. Old trees prone to this are better replaced with new improved varieties. Move pots of tender plants inside or close to the house walls. The shelter of the house wall can make a big difference!
  • Dead-head pansies, Violas and Cyclamen to encourage more flowers.
  • The autumn sown sweet peas should have the tips pinched out after the second pair of true leaves open.
  • If your Hellebores have dark spots on the leaves [Hellebore Leaf Spot] cut the old leaves completely off at ground level to prevent the disease infecting the new leaves as they emerge. Move potted ‘prepared’ Hyacinths into warmer rooms to gradually force them into flower in time for Christmas. If they are coming on too fast move them back into the cool again.
  • Plant up Amaryllis [Hippeastrum] bulbs inside. Use a soil based compost and water very sparingly to start with. As flowers and leaves appear, give more water.
  • Don’t worry if there are bulb shoots already appearing outside in the garden, they are very tough and will generally survive very low temperatures. However, bulbs in thin sided plastic pots will need to be sheltered from wind driven hard frosts. Daffodils seem to be particularly prone to this and often produce yellow leaves that look a bit as if they have been burnt. With shallow water features it may be advisable to remove your pump before the onset of hard frost. Give it a good clean and check wiring so that it is ready to use again in spring. If you leave it in and switched on, raise it off the bottom to avoid disturbing hibernating wildlife.
  • Cover your outside tap with an insulation cover.
  • Check and repair fences.
  • If you have a garden shed or use a corner of the garage, now might be a good time to have a good tidy up! Clean and sharpen tools ready for use in the New Year. Check any that need replacing and put them on your Christmas list.
  • Don’t break the ice on your pond. If frozen, leave it to thaw naturally. Smashing ice can give a big shock to fish and if there are plants in the water, oxygen levels will be adequate until it thaws naturally anyway.
  • Wash pots and seed trays so that they are clean and ready for sowing to start soon.
  • Mice and rats will move inside for warmth and shelter so check greenhouses and sheds and take precautions where you have seed, vegetables and bulbs stored. 

The Greenhouse

  • Check that greenhouse heaters are working properly.
  • Open the greenhouse ventilators to encourage good air movement during mild weather and always remove dead leaves and flowers regularly as this is often where disease starts.

The Inside Garden

  • Poinsettias – Need to be kept warm and out of draughts…good for centrally heated homes.  Water when the leaves start to wilt and the compost feels dry. Give them a good soak but never let them stand in water for long. Buy English grown if possible as long lorry journeys will affect their performance. Feed regularly with specific poinsettia liquid feed for best results.
  • Azaleas – Need lots of water, preferably rain water. Cold tea once a month helps too! They will tolerate lower light and temperature levels. They will also tolerate draughts. Repot into lime free compost in the spring and keep them in the shade outside before bringing in for winter again.
  • Cyclamen – Water when leaves begin to wilt. Water from the bottom of the pot. Keep in a cool place with good light. Remove yellowing leaves and fading flowers from the base of the corm with a twist and a sharp tug. This ensures that you leave no stub attached to the corm and avoids rots starting. These magnificent plants are locally grown in Somerset and are of superb quality and nursery fresh!

The Kitchen Garden

  • Prune Raspberries, Blackberries, Loganberries and other hybrid fruits (if you haven’t already done so). Cut out all old stems that bore fruit this year. Cut out any weak spindly shoots and tie in the strong new shoots that are left. Give them a good feed with sulphate of potash.
  • Blackcurrants, if they were not done in the summer, can be pruned.  Cut old wood to ground level. Also keep a look out for any swollen buds which are infected with big bud mite and remove them as they can spread the disease ‘Reversion Virus’.
  • Prune apples and pears to improve their shape, encourage younger growth, remove disease and to control the amount of fruit bud they have. Don’t prune fan, espalier and cordon trained trees as these should be summer pruned.
  • Grape vines should be pruned before Christmas. If pruned late, the sap will often be running and they will ‘bleed’. Magnolia, Japanese maples, walnuts, hornbeams, mulberries and laburnums may bleed too if pruned late in winter.
  • Forcing of established rhubarb crowns can be started towards the end of the month, pack with straw or straw/manure and cover with a forcing pot or upturned dustbin.
  • You can still plant fruit trees and bushes right through until spring if the weather and ground conditions are okay, i.e. not frozen or water logged.
  • Protect vegetables from pigeons with our ‘off the roll’ bird netting.
  • Get on with digging whenever the weather allows you too, but pace yourself if not used to it! Dig in Vitax Clay Breaker to improve the structure of heavy soils.

The Wildlife Garden

  • Provide clean water for birds especially in frosty weather.
  • Feed the birds regularly so that when a cold snap comes they know where to get food easily.
  • Feed birds such as Blue, Great, Marsh and Long-tail tits with high-energy feeds such as fat balls and suet treats.
  • Feed robins, blackbirds, thrushes, wrens and tits with freeze dried mealworms.
  • Encourage a wider range of birds into your garden with nyger seed. This is loved by siskins, gold and greenfinches.
  • Clean bird feeding areas on a regular basis with Bird Safe Disinfectant to protect against bacterial and fungal diseases. This is particularly important for seed feeders as disease can be spread from beak to beak via the feeder.
  • Protect the trunks of young trees against rabbits. We sell easy to apply coiled plastic rabbit guards for this.

Gift Ideas for Gardeners

Wildlife Gardeners

  • Bird tables. Bird feeders and food.
  • Wildlife World nest boxes with mini cameras.
  • Wildlife World insect shelters.
  • Bat boxes and Frog houses.

Grow your own’ Gardeners

  • Flower and Vegetable seeds and garlic bulbs
  • Stainless steel spades, forks, dibbers, daisy and dandelion grubbers.
  • Haws watering cans
  • Garden gloves, secateur pouches and knee pads
  • Cleeve Nursery Gardener’s Hand cream.
  • Pruning loppers and folding pruning saws.
  • Fruit trees and bushes. Olive, bay and citrus trees.
  • Hand trowel, onion hoes and forks.

Keen and Knowledgeable gardeners

  • Garden thermometers and soil test kits
  • Felco secateurs, pruning knives, Secateur holsters.
  • Stainless steel dandelion grubber, onion hoes, trowels, forks, etc
  • Bay and box topiary.
  • Magnolias, Daphnes, Mahonias, maples, Hamamelis, Hellebores, Hollies, Hydrangeas, Camellias, Rhododendrons, Pieris and masses more!
  • Leather gardening gloves, knee pads and kneelers.
  • Flexi-tie soft strong and re-useable plant tie.

Armchair gardeners

  • Indoor plants ~ Jasmine & Hyacinths, colourful Azaleas, Poinsettias, Cyclamen and Orchids.
  • Amaryllis bulb kits.
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