December in the garden is a good month. It’s the ideal antidote to the business of Christmas, a time to wrap up & quietly get on with things outside.
I’ve realised that having less space than when we had the allotment, we tend to cram vegetables in too close together. It’s a tempting, but misguided attempt to grow as much as possible. Plants are healthier with air circulating around them & with enough space to spread their roots underground. Too much competition results in weak plants that are more prone to pests & diseases. I knew all this, but the heart over-ruled the head.
It probably contributed to the end of the leeks. After initially doing well, they were attacked by allium leek moth & met a premature end. They’re my husbands favourite vegetable, & he was very disappointed, to put it mildly, especially as he planted them.
In winter, the rest of the garden is paired back to it’s basic structure. I planned a fair number of evergreen plants when I planted it all last year, & those with something to show through winter were also on the list. Grasses are good for this, they have shapely, winter silhouettes, move gently in the breeze & have seed-heads for the birds.
A few pale lemon sunflowers are still going, I cut these when they were about 4 ft high, just above a pair of leaves to make them multi-stemmed.
The dahlias have yet to be dug up out of their pots, dried off & stored in the shed for the winter, I’m planning to get it done this weekend.
Most of the tulips have been planted, but it’s not too late to plant them if you haven’t got round to it. I like the cycle of growing, getting plants ready to take over when the current lot have faded.
These Tulips at The Chelsea Flower Show, were inspiring for choosing tulips bulbs this year.
There are still a few leaves to sweep up from the paths & small lawn, though most have fallen by now. Some have been stashed in bags & tucked out of sight, to eventually turn themselves into leaf-mould, a gloriously rich, crumbly compost, a precious commodity for the garden.
I use it to improve the soil, simply spreading it on the surface as a mulch, where it’ll gradually become incorporated into the soil. When we run out of room, the remaining leaves are collected & recycled by the local council, but none goes to landfill, making me feel a little better about having to give them away.
I hope your garden is doing well, & that you have time to get out there this month.
Here’s a thought, the shortest day is a mere 3 weeks away.
all photos: Jill Anderson