Greenfingers - December 2016

Now is a good time to prune vines, apple and pear trees, wisteria, climbing roses and acers. Stone-centred fruiting trees such as plum and cherry, and small step-over apple trees are best pruned in the summer. And while the secateurs are to hand, look for some suitable Christmas decoration for the honeysuckle wreath made last month.

There seem to be plenty of berries on the holly as I write this, but the cold wind and frosty mornings will bring the winter visitors such as fieldfare and redwing, and maybe even a BushDec2016waxwing, to feast on the fare. Despite the frost, there is still plenty of colour in the garden, with the crab apples on malus ‘Pink Glow’ looking bright and cheerful, the salvia ‘Amistad’ looking splendid, and cosmos, cyclamen, Schizostylis coccinea 'Fenland Daybreak', nerine, fuchsias, and a few fading dahlias and roses.

The leaves on the beech hedge have turned to brown, though they will stay in place until the spring. The birch trees have lost most of their leaves, but the smoke bush, which I believe is Cotinus coggygria var. ‘Royal Purple’ continues to provide excellent colour, and some fascinating effects on the changing leaves.

In the vegetable garden, clumps of rhubarb may be lifted and divided for propagation and to renew the plant’s vigour. Areas which have been cleared of crops could be covered with a membrane to keep the weeds down, warm the ground in the spring and allow it to be worked and planted up with seed or seedlings for earlier crops and a longer growing season.

The Geminids meteor shower will occur on 13th and 14th December, but the nearly full moon may block out the fainter meteor trails. However, the Geminids are generally bright and numerous, so it should still be a good show.

Have a peaceful Christmas.

Pete Smith