Deck the halls with boughs of holly – or any greenery that you feel fits your festive creativity. December is the time of year when the outside comes into the home in the form of foliage decoration and when gardeners can put their feet up, just for a few minutes.
If you can’t source your Christmas greenery from your own garden then take a trip down to your local garden centre where you’ll find just about everything you need – Christmas trees, Christmas decorations and gift ideas.
Natural living decorations and table centrepieces are easy and eco friendly to create – and often something all the family has a hand in putting together. Try this for a naturally stunning centrepiece for the Christmas table – get a good terracotta container, fill it with compost and plant winter cherry in the centre.
Winter cherry is a waxy leaved plant with amazing cherry tomato like berries. It’s a popular Christmas plant so should be available in most garden centres. Around the winter cherry, plant a few small poinsettias and some ivy. Alternatively, with just one £50 National Garden Gift Voucher, you can create your own permanent Christmas decoration in the garden. Get a living Christmas tree, plant it in a good position allowing for future growth and then surround it with brightly coloured ground cover cyclamen or heathers. Truly magical.
Your garden also gives up some beautiful gifts of its own at this time of year. In the depths of winter, the quiet charms of plants with strikingly coloured bark come into their own. Textures and stem colours of trees and shrubs attract the eye and brighten the winter gloom. By planting, for example, dogwoods, snake bark maples, willows and white washed brambles, you can create a stunning winter effect in any garden or landscape. Most winter stems are best planted in groups to maximise their impact and in locations where they can be seen and appreciated.
They perform well in full sun and in deep, moist, loamy soil, so try to avoid shallow and chalky soils. Dogwood and willow shrubs will need pruning each year in March, almost to ground level, to ensure that a fresh crop of the brightest coloured stems are produced in the next winter.
December is also a time to catch up on some indoor gardening jobs and rest, but for those that are out and about you could:
• Carry on harvesting winter crops such as parsnips, kale, leeks, sprouts (don’t forget to pick sprouts from the bottom of the stalk upwards);
• Collect all empty plant pots and seed trays together and wash them ready for next year together with tools;
• Collect the rest of the leaves that have fallen from the trees for composting as leaf mould;
• Do some early wrapping by covering any large outside containers with bubblewrap, fleece or hessian, to help prevent the pots cracking in the cold frosty weather;
• Don’t be too much of a tidy gardener – leave some seed heads and berries on plants for animals and birds to eat;
• Provide clean water for wildlife to drink.