As the winter chill has now well and truly arrived, Jacqui Martin-Löf shares more about how to protect your gardens and make the most of them this Christmas!
December and Christmas time is one of my favourite times of year. As the garden becomes more dormant as the temperatures drop and the daylight hours ever decrease, it’s a time of reflection of the last year in the garden and of looking forward to the year ahead. The garden naturally bathes itself in protection from the winter chill with fallen leaves but we can offer it a helping hand with a few jobs…
• Create winter structure in your garden by not cutting back all! Summer seed heads not only provide food and protection for many insects and birds over winter but when frosted give the garden a crisp sparkly naturally magic dimension.
• As the year enters its coldest phase protect any plants vulnerable to frosts by either bringing them in out of the cold or mulch, compost or straw – but not too deep – over the top of any in borders.
• Raise potted plants off the ground to prevent them becoming waterlogged. Protect any porous terracotta pots.
• Keep feeders and fresh water for the birds topped up and clean throughout December and the colder months ahead. If you maintain the food and water source throughout the cold months the birds will continue to visit and become dependent on you.
• Create your own festive wreath or hand tied bunches using everything natural; evergreens, dried apples and oranges, walnuts, fresh cranberries, dried hydrangeas, feathers, fir cones, holly, mistletoe, ribbons. Keep it simple.
• Decorate your already planted indoor bulbs (paperwhites, tete a tete, hyacinths) with moss and twigs. Not only does this enhance their beauty but it gives natural support when in full flower.
• Maybe consider growing some Mistletoe. Mistletoe, synonymous with Christmas with its romantic connotations, is a bushy partial parasitic shrub that grows in branches of old trees. If you would like to propagate mistletoe keep back some Christmas sprigs with berries on in some water in a frost free room until the end of February. Late February/early March squish some of the sticky glue from 15 or more berries to the side or underside of an apple tree branch. The higher up the tree the better. It will take four or five years for the plant to produce some berries.
• Another very important job is to sit back and put your feet up after your busy year in the garden. You have earned it and you deserve it! It is a great time to look back on photographs that you may have taken of the garden over the year and to consider possible changes you might like to make.