Garden Notes for December 2019.
There have been quite a few berries on the holly and lots of food because of the open autumn we have had this year, despite the recent rain. Some people say that it is a sign of severe winter to come, and the odds must be shortening since we have not had a really bad one like 1961/62, or in 1947 but the fact of the matter is that a good crop of berries only tells you that we had a good spring and early summer. So, who knows what will happen? However, one thing we can be sure of is that the migrant fieldfares, redwings and other berry loving birds will soon be descending to feast on the holly trees. So, if you want some decorations for Christmas cut a few branches in early December and store them in a cool, frost-free place and they will last for at least 3 weeks.
Use this quiet time to plan for the growing season, and get your seed orders in early to make sure you get the variety of seed you want, since shortages do occur and the suppliers deal on a first come, first served basis.
Keep an eye on your garden tools, especially the machinery and cutting tools which can be serviced and/or sharpened by specialists.
Large flowered clematis, like Clematis jackmanii and the many hybrids from it, should be pruned towards the end of the month. They can be cut back quite severely. Prune back to good, well developed buds.
If you are planning to sow hardy annuals in the spring, they will benefit from an early preparation of the area. So long as the soil is in reasonably good heart it is best not to put any fertiliser, since annuals do best in a soil that is not too rich.
When picking Brussels sprouts keep the tops, and only use the best when all the sprouts have been harvested. Some of the winter broccoli may be starting to form their curds. Turn in the leaves to protect the curd from frost, and cut regularly as once they have reached their full development the curds soon begin to open and will spoil.
A very happy and peaceful Christmas to you all.