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ENGLANDS EXPERTS TIPS FOR DECEMBER
By Pat Hubbard

Abutilon Megapotanicum

Leucothoe Scarletta

There aren't too many urgent jobs to do in the garden in December. Just tidy up any dead leaves or plant material from lawns and beds and remove any damaged branches from shrubs to prevent infection creeping in. Carry on with winter digging and preparation of new beds, to give the soil chance to break down and settle before spring planting. Digging may also bring to the surface any lurking soil pests, which will soon be picked off by hungry birds.

Stand back and take a good look at your garden. If there are any branches on trees or shrubs that are over-hanging pathways or spoiling the overall effect that you are trying to create, now is the time to prune them back, while you can see the 'bare bones' of your borders.

Abutilon Megapotanicum

Choisya Ternata Sundance

Winter is also the time for looking through plant catalogues and gardening magazines to try and plan what you would like to grow next year. Look in other people's gardens and see what plants are looking good in the winter. The importance of evergreens is evident now and Leucothoe Scarletta with its' bright red winter colour and Choisya Ternata Sundance with golden foliage blend well with the green and variegated foliage of other varieties. It isn't just evergreens that can look effective at this time of year, the impact of taller grass varieties such as Stipa gigantica and Miscanthus sinensis can be dramatically beautiful when shimmering with frost on a bright winter morning. The dead flower heads of hydrangeas and upright perennials such as Achillea and Rudbeckia also have an architectural quality now, and the winter stems are a haven for over-wintering Lacewings and Ladybirds. Any borderline hardy perennials or bulbs should be covered with a thick protective layer of mulch or compost, to ensure they are not damaged by frost.

Spare a few minutes to knock heavy falls of snow from the branches of conifers shrubs and hedges to prevent them breaking under the weight.

If you haven't already done so, finish pruning soft fruit bushes (blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries) to promote new wood, which will carry the most fruit. Remove a third of the oldest stems, cutting back to ground level, and shorten the new growth from this years leading stems, by half.



This column kindly supplied by:Englands Experts

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