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Hello December! It's crazy, every month has just flown by this year, here we are, it's almost Christmas! It's so chilly too, so be careful on those frosty mornings. As beautiful as the glistening cobwebs look don't get too distracted and slip! Keep your paths and drives as clear as possible, buy a bag of grit if possible. I often mention, but keep a caring eye on neighbours who may need some help. Even pulling the bins out can be a huge help for some.
Have you made a planter or hanging basket by the front door?
There's nothing more appealing than a smart front to a house with some seasonal colour. It doesn't need to be fancy, just a simple hanging basket or planter with something like Skimmia, Hellebore, Heuchera, Erica carnea, or winter flowering pansies.
Take care to do any planting when we're not expecting a frost. If you have a greenhouse, or even a potting shed, plant up in there and then put out to display.
There are still a few things that can be pruned this month if you need to get out and do some gardening.
It's a good excuse to get some fresh air if it's a nice day. Apples and pears can be pruned now, along with Wisteria which can be done from November through to February whilst it is dormant, then again after flowering in summer.
Wisterias make such a beautiful show which looks glorious in summer. Fruit bushes can also be pruned now. Blackcurrants fruit on two-year-old stems, so once they have fruited they can be cut back, new stems will be produced from the base. Stems that are a year old, leave these to fruit the following year. Make sure to check for dead, damaged, diseased or crossing stems as always.
Currants produce fruit on side shoots from the previous year, make sure the bush is growing nicely upright with fruit growing on the main stems. At this point in the year, shorten the side shoots to one bud, remove the tips and again check for stems that might need removing.
Dogwoods are grown for their colourful stems but to keep them in check, over winter until early spring, they can be cut hard back, or just remove any spindly growth or old stems so the vibrant colour will create winter interest.
If you are lucky enough to be growing some winter vegetables it is time to reap your rewards!
Our leeks are still coming, it's just choosing a day the ground isn't frozen to fork them up. Sprouts! We didn't grow any this year, but I have been very envious looking at others down at the allotment! We are sprout lovers, apart from my husband. He hasn't got over the overcooked school sprouts! More for the rest of us!
Parsnips are another favourite! If you haven't tried honey roast parsnips you're missing out! I remember as a child going to a very famous Yorkshire tea room and having pear and parsnip soup, I have tried to recreate this, getting the ratio right without a recipe is tricky!
Swede can be harvested now too, mashed with carrot is the best! Winter veg is just the best, cabbage too. All of these, are so versatile and delicious! Winter stews and casseroles too. A slow cooker dinner to come back to after being out at work or in the cold from the garden, nothing better!
I did talk about wreath-making last year but as it is my yearly ritual, I have to mention it again!
A homemade wreath is the best, unique and you can show off that you have made it yourself. There are different methods and no right or wrong way. I just do it the way that I learnt from my dad when I helped him when I was growing up in our nursery. Every year we make hundreds! Items you will need -
A wire ring
Greenery - conifer, Laurel, holly
Fillers - Holly with berries, pine cones, teasles, ivy, dried orange slices.
These are examples, it's good to have a look around the garden to see what you can find, or you might find things whilst out on a walk.
Take a large handful of moss hold it tightly onto the wire ring, and start wrapping the binding wire around. Keep going until the entire ring is covered with moss and it feels tightly secured.
I like to lay conifer around the ring so it fans out. Use the stub wire by making it into a 'U' shape and pin it through to hold the conifer on. Turn the ring over, bend the wires and tuck them into the moss.
It's nice to make little bundles of your chosen greenery, bundle a few stems together, take a stub wire and start to wrap it around the bottom of the bundle tightly to secure. Leave enough length to push through the moss and pull it into the greenery a little. Repeat as before, turn over the ring, bend the remaining wire and tuck it into the moss.
Continue until you have worked your way around the entire ring. Try and keep the centre clear so it still resembles a ring, with a hole in the centre. Use secateurs to clip anything away.
Now add and add, such as pine cones, dried orange slices, dried grasses or teasels. Add a nice piece of ribbon and a bow to finish.
For a table centrepiece follow the same method, you may like to make the bundles stand more upright and add a big candle to the centre.
That's a wrap for me! Have a fabulous Christmas.