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Things to do in the garden in December

Frost and snow look beautiful especially at Christmas – but your plants may not be as happy.  Be prepared to brush the snow off established trees and bushes such as Juniper, as well as newly planted trees since the weight of the snow can break branches.   

Remove the snow from paths and driveways as a priority since once it freezes it can become a major hazard.  Trips and slips can result in broken bones or extensive damage when driving.  

When it comes to decorating the home for Christmas, your garden can provide some really pretty greenery. Holly bushes laden with glossy leaves and red berries are perfect for creating wreathes which means you can combine essential pruning with festive cheer.  If you have some pine trees in the garden, collect up some of the pine cones for decoration.  Remember that all such green material can always be added to the compost afterwards.

Make sure that any Christmas lights and decorations installed outside are suitable for exterior use. Do not overload electric points and check the condition of the lights carefully before use to make sure they are fully safe.

During milder spells, harvest root crops such as parsnips and carrots that are overwintering in the ground.  Cut stems of Brussels sprouts just before the leaves of the sprout turn yellow and begin opening.  The sprouts should be about an inch in diameter, and nice and firm to the touch. The taste is at its best after frost, so it is worth checking the weather forecasts before harvesting.

Check hyacinths that have been potted up for Christmas flowering and left in the dark to develop.  As soon as the stems begin to grow, they should be brought out and kept in the light so that they can develop strong flower heads.

There is still time to plant some winter flowering pansies in containers and flower beds to brighten up dull corners.  Remember to pick sprays of winter honeysuckle and place in vases to enjoy the wonderful scent which can pervade the entire room.

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