Yes, December is already upon us. How this year has flown by for us all here at Smiths Nurseries and we have certainly enjoyed seeing many regular and new faces in the nursery throughout the year.

Despite the time of year, there are still some lovely plants suitable for planting out, whether in the ground or in pots of which we have a huge selection which also make lovely Christmas presents.

There’s nothing like a bright, clear and maybe slightly frosty morning to make you want to get back out in the garden. There’s plenty to be getting on with this month, too.

General tasks:
  • Cut back deciduous hedges reducing the top to about 60cm below where you want the eventual height to allow room for new growth.
  • Feed the birds with high-energy fat balls, sunflower seeds and meal-worms to get them through the winter.
  • Clear all the fallen leaves from your lawn as often as you can.
Ornamental garden:
  • Pick branches of scented winter-flowering shrubs like wintersweet, winter jasmine and witch hazel to bring indoors and fill the house with perfume.
  • Prune taller roses back by half to prevent the winter wind catching top growth and loosening the roots in the soil.
  • Cover Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) with cloches in really bad weather so emerging flower buds don’t get damaged.
Kitchen garden:
  • Prune apple trees to encourage plenty of fruiting spurs. Remove damaged or crossing branches, then cut back side shoots to five buds.
  • Force witloof chicory roots in buckets of damp sand somewhere dark and warm (a kitchen cupboard is perfect): in five or six weeks you’ll have tender pale chicons to enjoy with salads.
  • Check overwintering vegetables like chard or broad beans and cover with cloches if the weather turns bad.