Gardening in winter

Here’s what you should be doing in December.

In the first of a three part article tell us what should be done in the garden this month.

First of all flowers:

Start to winter-prune your wisteria, cutting back summer side-shoots to two or three buds.
Prune climbing roses now; cutting out diseased or damaged growth and tying in any new shoots to their support. Prune older flowered side shoots back by two thirds of their length.
Prune Japanese Maples (Acers) and vines now if needed, as they will bleed sap if pruning is done any later.
Leave the faded flower heads on your hydrangeas until the spring, as they will provide frost protection to the swelling buds further down the stems.
Gather up fallen leaves from around the base of rose bushes which suffered from blackspot or rust this summer, to reduce the chance of infection next year.
Move containers of shrubs or bedding plants to a sheltered spot; clustering them together helps protect the root systems from suffering frost damage.
Sowings can be made of coleus, cyclamen and geranium provided suitable temperatures can be maintained.
Taller growing bush roses can be pruned down by about half which will prevent the wind from causing them to become loose through swaying and in turn damaging the roots.
Lift and store dahlia tubers once their leaves are blackened by frost.
Take root cuttings of oriental poppies and grow them on in cold frames.
The branches of standard roses should also be shortened.
Bare-rooted rose bushes can be planted this month.
Flower bulbs that have been potted up and placed in forcing frames should be watered if compost is dry, and only when their shoots are 5cm (2″) high can they be brought out into light, cool conditions.
Take hardwood cuttings from suitable trees and shrubs.
Plant up winter containers with hardy cyclamen, ivy, skimmia and evergreen grasses such as Carex comans Amazon Mist to add colour to your garden. Place them in prominent places beside entrances and well used paths to enjoy their winter display.
Plant some shrubs for winter interest. Sarcoccoca confusa adds colour and fragrance to your garden at this time of year.
If you still haven’t planted your tulip bulbs there is still time, provided the ground isn’t frozen.
Spread fresh gravel or grit around alpine plants.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about what to do with vegetable patches at this time of year.