As well as protecting plants from frost with insulation around, you could also use bubble wrap, which is ideal if you have any left over from Christmas presents. Hint – ask for new garden tools or a lawn mower! Don’t forget to clear debris – this is vital to prevent slugs and snails from setting up home in those lovely warm and damp conditions! So, what other gardening jobs should we be doing in December?
Remove all the leaves of Helleborus x hybridus to prevent black spot disease. New leaves will appear soon.
Mustard and cress seeds can be harvested within two weeks. Line a tray with wet kitchen paper and sprinkle with seeds. Put in a polythene bag in the dark, warm place until germination, then move to a sunny windowsill. Water daily, harvesting once stems are 5cm high. Eat the leaves in egg mayonnaise sandwiches.
Order all your seeds for next year, picking tried and tested varieties wherever possible.
Check all climbing plants, making sure that their stems are securely tied in.
Birds need fresh water and feeding at this time of year when short days leave them little time to forage. Deck a garden tree with millet, berries, rose hips, dried fruits, fresh apples, nuts and special bird foods.
Continue to dig over vegetable plots and harvest leeks and parsnips as you need them.
Witch hazels thrive in all free-draining, acid and neutral soils. Buy them in flower, so you can test for scent, and position in full sun. Dig a hole as deep as the container and four times wider, backfilling with soil and firming. After flowering, prune lightly; in spring top-dress the soil under the shrub with a mulch of organic matter, leaving a 20cm circle clear around the trunk. Protect young plants from frosts for the first couple of years.
Tackle any major path repairs or other building projects now.
Clear foliage from paths to stop slugs sheltering underneath.
Pick a fresh Christmas tree at your local choose-your-own farm. Norway Spruce is the traditional choice and holds its needles well, as does the Nordmann Fir, which has thick needles with a silvery underside.