We’ve been fairly lucky with our weather in the south-east but I know others haven’t been so fortunate.
If your garden is not under water, there are still plenty of flowers to enjoy in December. Here’s my top ten:
1. Camellia sasanqua
We normally associate Camellias with spring-time, but this is a really handsome evergreen shrub that bares large single, white, pink or red flowers from autumn through to spring. It can get quite big though so place carefully.
2. Chimonanthus praecox
Winter Sweet – a large deciduous shrub with, as the name suggests, sweetly fragrant, yellow flowers in winter. Cut some shoots to take indoors to enjoy the spicy aroma.
3. Clematis cirrhosa
Aan evergreen climber with attractive foliage and masses of creamy bell-shaped flowers from late autumn to early spring.
4. Cyclamen cuom
A low-growing plant to add a splash of dazzling red, pink or white, flowering December – March above attractive marbled foliage.
5. Hamamelis mollis
Witch Hazel – a really valuable large shrub or small tree, with oval bright green leaves with orange, yellow and red autumn colours and fragrant orange, red or yellow flowers on the bare branches. Again, cut some for indoors, or plant near to entrances to enjoy the sweet scent as you pass by.
6. Iris unguicularis
Pretty lavender blue, scented flowers in winter and evergreen grassy foliage. Quite low-growing though, so make sure you plant them somewhere you can appreciate the fragrance – maybe in a raised bed?
7. Jasminum nudiflorum
Winter Jasmine – a really cheerful splash of yellow is provided by this rather lax shrub in winter. Tie it into supports to keep it tidy.
8. Mahonia media
Another bright yellow flower, scented this time – and very attractive to Blue Tits I find! The evergreen holly-like leaves also make this an attractive large shrub for the rest of the year.
9. Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’
Autumn Cherry – a smallish, ornamental cherry tree with interesting bark, oval green leaves and pink or white flowers November – March – very pretty.
10. Viburnum tinus
A common sight in many gardens, and for good reason as it’s easy to grow and also grows quite fast. It has glossy dark green foliage and clusters of white flowers from red buds December – March.
December Tips & Advice
1. If your garden is at all wet or frosty, try to stay off the lawn, otherwise you’ll end up with a mud bath!
2. The same applies to your flower beds, but if it’s not too bad, borders can still be dug over in preparation for spring planting. Clay soils can be improved by adding plenty of grit, old potting compost if you have it, or well-rotted leaf mould.
3. Protect any tender shrubs with straw if you haven’t done so already.
4. Check on tree ties to make sure they’re secure against winter winds.
5. New deciduous hedges can still be planted now as long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged.
6. If we get any snow, make sure you carefully brush it off shrubs and hedges to prevent damage.
7. If you’ve got a greenhouse, make sure you ventilate it whenever possible and water plants only when absolutely necessary to prevent rotting.
8. Check over all your tools and equipment before putting it away for winter – sharpen secateurs and knives, oil the pivots, thoroughly clean chemical sprayers, etc.
9. If you’ve left a pump submerged in a water feature, continue to run it for a few minutes at a time every week or two. Remember to maintain an ice-free patch in ponds both to protect the fish if you have them, and to prevent cracking in the pond liner.
10. Finally, long winter evenings can be passed by going through seed catalogues and deciding what you are going to grow next year – exciting!