What to do in the December Garden

With David Williams

December signals the end of another year. It’s traditionally a time to party and for celebrations but let’s not forget the garden.

It is surprising what there is to do at this time of year. There is the never-ending task of sweeping up leaves and twigs that keep on blowing in from surrounding gardens and fields.

It’s always a good idea to give the garden, especially the pavement and decking a good clean as this will help to prevent it from getting quite so slippery in the colder months, making sure it remains safe for yourself and your guests over the festive season.

December is still a good time to move plants around the garden, if they have grown too big or the colours don’t match. Whether it is a shrub or perennial they can both now be safely moved.

To ensure a successful move make sure that you get as big a root ball as you can and move them straight to their new position. This will give them the best possible start in their new home.

If you are looking to enter your local show next year then Boxing Day is the traditional day to sow your big onions for all those flower shows you are going to enter in the summer months.

These need sowing in a shallow pot or a small seed tray on your windowsill or ideally in a heated greenhouse. Sow them thinly into good quality seed compost, keeping them moist. Once germinated prick

them out into small individual pots of good multi-purpose compost. Grow on in as much light as possible you can also use this method if you want to grow big leeks for the show bench and hopefully you will end up with a first prize next summer!

Good varieties to try and grow are ‘onion Kelsea’ which holds the world record for the heaviest onion and could reach a massive 8kg. At home however, you are more than likely to grow one 1-2kg big which is still pretty impressive. An old favourite of mine is also ‘Ailsa Craig’, which will grow 1-2kg big without much trouble.

Some good varieties to grow when it comes to big leeks are ‘exhibition blanch leek’ or ‘exhibition pot leek’ both will be available at good local garden centres.

With Christmas only a matter of weeks away I am often asked what do you buy the keen gardener, one gift I would always recommend especially for a family is a year’s membership to the National Trust.

Every gardener loves looking round other peoples and you cannot get better gardens to look round than some of the National Trust gardens. A family membership for two adults and two children is £114.60 this is great value as it gives you unlimited free access to over 300 houses, gardens and coastline. As well as their magazine and regional newsletters you will also receive a great pair of binoculars for free when you join.

Hope you all have a great Christmas, David