What to do this month in the garden

Head of Social Enterprise at Mayfield, Dan Angus, talks us through what jobs we can be getting on with in the garden during December...

December. What a strange month it is. Unpredictable weather (although it will be cool and very likely damp!), working out how to make Christmas work, shopping, long nights and spring feels a lifetime away.

Many of us – or is it just me?? – feel a bit downhearted as we survey our gardens, balconies, patios. It’s all a bit bleak out there and the temptation is to leave it for another month or two.

It’s true, there is less to do in the garden in December and if you are a patio gardener, your pots may be looking a bit sad right now. But getting outdoors and getting some much needed fresh air and exercise is, in my view, by far the best way to beat those winter blues.

Where to start? Well, you may find that all your autumnal growth is still out there, but looking a bit scruffy. Pruning in winter can be a bit daunting and I wouldn’t recommend it for younger plants. However, if you have mature shrubs in good health, some pruning now can pay dividends come the spring. Acers in particular are best placed for a good cut back in December. It’s a chance to see the shape you want them to be in the coming year or so and to be bold in your pruning. For others, softer shrubs can be pruned but you may want to make an assessment of whether or not you should dress the wounds left behind to keep the frost out.

You may find you are overwhelmed with leaves on your patios and lawns. The more diligent are doubtless raking and sweeping on a daily basis, but have you considered leaving (ha ha) them? Fallen leaves and other tree debris make amazing habitats for all kinds of wildlife and if you can bear to keep fallen leaves around, you may be rewarded with all kinds of bugs, insects and even small mammals using them for nests and shelter. The gardener in me is desperate to sweep up, but the naturalist in me can’t wait to see what all those leaves bring. You can even encourage more worms into your garden this way, and we do love worms!

Whatever you do, or don’t do, above all, get outside, connect with the nature around you, whether that’s a lovely big garden, a balcony with a pot plant on it or just wandering your local community looking for the ever present nature that our urban environments cannot keep at bay. You’ll find the gloomy month of December flies by, you’ll feel brighter and more energetic and before you know it, January will be upon us and we’ll be preparing to start our gardening year all over again.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Mayfield Nurseries.

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