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Gardening in December 2008
Welcome to this column, it is designed to help to encourage and inspire you in your gardening endeavours.
You will definitely be forgiven this month if you prefer to focus on ‘indoor’ gardening involving Christmas decorations in the form of trees, flowers and foliage! See plant profile for tips on choosing your real Christmas tree and Christmas plant care. However there are some jobs to do outside. In greener gardening this month we look at alternative methods for driveways.
December 1 – 7 is National Tree Week, marking the start of the winter tree planting season.
Jobs to do this month
Plant new fruit trees and bushes as long as the soil is not frozen or very wet. Also it’s a good time to plant shrubs for winter colour; Dogwoods, Willow and Rubus all have brightly coloured stems.
Ensure tender plants are protected from frost with horticultural fleece and collect fallen leaves from the borders. Add extra colour with hardy Cyclamens in containers or in partially shaded areas under trees or shrubs in well drained soil.
Gather foliage for indoor decorations; Holly, Ivy, conifer branches, Laurel and other evergreens.
Did you know? 95% of the trees sold in the UK are homegrown? And the Normann fir accounts for 50% of Christmas tree sales in the UK replacing the ever popular Norway spruce which tends to drop its needles before twelfth night.
Choosing your live Christmas tree
Looking after your tree
So now you’ve chosen the type of fir, what is best? Cut, container grown or containerised?
Cut trees are the cheapest option, usually field grown, sawn off at ground level. Stand into a plastic stand with a water reservoir. Should last at least three weeks if treated like a cut flower. Choose one with at least 30cm of clear trunk at the base and saw at least 3cm off when you get home to help it to take up water. Don’t forget to recycle it.
Container grown trees are the most expensive option; they’ve spent their lives in the pot. Will need to be kept watered and could be kept in the garden for two or three years.
Containerised trees are hard to look after; they’ve been dug up and placed into a pot, often cutting the roots off. They tend to dry out quickly and lose their needles as they can’t take up water very well.
Christmas Plant Care
Place in a well-lit spot away from draughts and avoid dropping temperatures. Definitely do not place on a window sill behind curtains as the cold from the window will be trapped. Keep plants evenly moist but not wet, deadhead regularly and if kept in a room with central heating, spray the air around the plant to increase humidity.
So what’s the alternative? In recent times there are a lot more porous materials available on the market which will help to prevent flooding.
Photographs are taken by Pam Pickard.
© Pam Pickard 1/12/2008
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