As the nights draw in December always seemed to be a dead month on the nursery. However this couldn’t be less true! We have learned from past years that preparation is key to everything. Once February arrives there is no time to breathe so anything we can get ready now for is a step forward. December is definitely wreathing month. We seem to do nothing but moss rings, cut holly and decorate. If you need a wreath then we have many ready made at the shop and the market stall in Carmarthen, or if you visit the nursery you can watch your own being made! Of course they are available on our website too. Prices are variable to suit most tastes and pockets. We also offer a service to make that extra special or unusual wreath if you don’t want an ‘off the shelf’ one.
Bare root plants are now all potted or heeled in and everything is tucked up to wait out the winter months. Hellebores of course are almost upon us again. We do a massive range of colours and forms, all home grown. This year they are looking good and its always exciting to see which of our many breeding lines have come to fruition and which need more work.
Our Snowdrops are once again peeping through the ground, they are always in flower for Christmas and both these and the Hellebores herald the start of the new gardening year. So enjoy the rest, and prepare for action.
In the vegetable patch
Again its all about preparation, keep up with the digging. Double digging is a good practice if you are feeling energetic!! It only needs doing every now and then but is well worth it especially if you have less than perfect conditions. It helps to increase fertility, drainage and adds organic matter – this in turn increases humus, a vital component of soil. It is a good idea to turn the soil over and leave it rough so that the frosts can break it down naturally ready for the spring sowings. Late plantings of Garlic can still just about go ahead especially in the milder parts of the country. It is very hardy and is better planted in the latter part of the year than in March.
Rhubarb can also be added to its permanent home, make sure that the ground is well prepared, lots of well rotted farmyard manure added and a deep root run are essential. You can buy small bare rooted Rhubarb crowns (plants) quite reasonably, but like most fruit and vegetables that are permanent, don’t be too hasty to crop early. Sometimes leaving them for a year to settle in will pay dividends, especially with young plants. We have lots of Rhubarb crowns available now at our outlets.
The Flower Garden
There’s still time to plant a few bulbs now that the winter has at last arrived. Daffodils will flower really well if planted right up until the end of January, sometimes into February, to give a late display of flowers. You can often pick up a bargain now and they do really well, we still have a few left so hurry! Click the image below to view Daffodils on our website.
Roses can be gently pruned back to prevent wind rock in the worst of the winter gales, just reduce the tops by about a third and then prune as normal in March. Don’t forget – shrub and most David Austin Roses don’t like to be pruned too heavily. If you do you will get lots of growth and less flowers. A quick tidy up around the base of these will aid with disease control next year, often old leaves harbour the ‘nasties’.
So plant of the month, December is always a tricky one with most things getting ready for the cold weather, however a few hardy souls do buck the trend. I think that this month I will concentrate on a group of plants that are grown for their winter stems, namely the Dogwoods and the Willows, possibly with the odd birch thrown in!!. Although these may seem a little ordinary at first glace, look again. If you ever visit a ‘winter garden’ then I can almost guarantee that these three groups will have a large presence. The colours now available are breathtaking. Old favourites like Cornus ‘Westonbirt’ and ‘Kesselringii’ have been supplemented by new exciting varieties, Cornus ‘Baton Rouge’ just blew my mind, its red stems glowing especially when combined with others of complimenting or contrasting colours. Add Salix ‘Yelverton’ and ‘Golden Ness’ and you have colour for six months (or more with the variegated leaves on some varietes). The combination of these bright stems create a rainbow of reds, oranges, yellow, blacks and lime green, and these can be complimented with the occasional white stemmed Betula, B. utilis ‘Jacquemontii’ being the most popular. One of the nicest combinations I have seen is a clump of white stemmed Birch underplanted with deep red Cornus, a sight that is now etched on my memory.
The key to getting the best from these easily grown shrubs is to prune them hard in March/April, just as growth begins. This promotes new young wood which is brighter and more colourful than the older sections. Don’t be afraid, they are tough and hardy, even growing in quite moist sites, hard pruning will only improve them.
They can be a little dull in the summer so place them so that they can act as a backdrop to other summer flowering plants. They are excellent to add interest to an herbaceous border, adding interest to an area of the garden that is traditionally lacking in winter colour.
A few varieties that are usually available form the Nursery
Go on try some they are really underrated plants. Winter colour should become a treasured part of your garden, its not just a season to hide away!!!
All the best,