December

Be prepared for cold weather.  Bring tender plants inside or put them under cover in a frost-free greenhouse, a conservatory, a porch, or anywhere where the plants can continue to get light, but avoid the frost and harshest of the winter weather.

Half-hardy plants should also be brought inside if possible, but if it isn’t, give them a good covering of mulch to protect them. A good layer of leaves, leaf mould, compost or straw will suffice for perennials that have died down, however, for larger plants, use a heavy crop cover. You can wrap containers that might freeze with bubble wrap and place them close to the house when they will be sheltered. For more information, take a look at this article from Fine Gardening.

Reconsider Your Hard Landscaping. During the spring and summer, the plants in the garden take most of your time, but come winter, when most plants die back, you can take a good look at what the landscapers call “hardscaping”. That’s the pathways, fences, walls, trellises, arbours, patios and decks that give your garden structure.  Give paths a good cleaning, particularly making sure you give a lot of attention to shaded areas where moss can make the path slippery. Top up gravel pathways and patios. Take a look at your fences and other wooden structures. Do they need any repairs? If not, maybe a coating of preservative or paint could be required.

Protect Outdoor Taps & Pipes. You should have already turned off your outside taps to prevent freezing. If not, do it right away! Drain hoses, water timers, watering cans and spray nozzles and put them away where they won’t freeze. Freezing temperatures can also damage bird baths, fountains and pots. Empty bird baths and fountains, and either flip them over so ice can’t form in the bowls, or cover them once they are drained.

Finish Planting Bulbs. If you haven’t planted your spring-flowering bulbs you can still do so as long as the ground isn’t frozen. Plant narcissus paperwhites and amaryllis indoors.

Don’t Forget The Birds. The wild birds that populate your garden really need your help now and over the next few months. Natural food supplies are at their lowest and water sources can freeze.  Different types of birds prefer different types of foods, so put out a range of bird foods including mixed seed, nigerseed, sunflower hearts, nuts, and suet.  Since our Anna’s hummingbirds stay here throughout the winter, keep your hummingbird feeders full and frost-free.

Water “Undercover” Plants. If you have plants undercover (under the eaves of your home or in the greenhouse) don’t forget to water them. However, do so sparingly as plants require less water at this time of year whilst they are largely dormant. Overwatering can lead to rotting of the plant.

Plan Next Year’s Garden. Nothing is nicer than sitting by a fire with a glass of wine or a cup of tea and next year’s seed catalogue.

Take A Break! After a busy gardening season, you deserve a rest!