Kingswood Gardening News – December 2016
By Sarah Wilson
Winter in the garden.
It really is winter now – all the leaves have fallen and we have had several frosts. I think that this winter might be a hard one, unlike last year when there were very few really frosty nights.
All your non- hardy plants should now be in the greenhouse or conservatory and your bedding plants will now be dead and can be put on the compost heap. It is a good idea to leave the stems and seed heads on your large perennials as this provides food for the birds and shelter for insects and other small animals. Also, leave a few piles of leaves and logs at the bottom of the garden so that the hedgehogs, frogs and toads can shelter during the winter.
The birds are beginning to need feeding as the ground freezes and they cannot find worms and slugs. They will love any berries on your trees and shrubs – the first berries to go will be the red ones, then orange and then yellow – most purple or black berries will not be eaten by the birds. If you want to have red berries on your holly at Christmas it might be worth cutting it now and keeping cool until you want it for decorations. Birds will eat real holly berries on wreaths but interestingly Skimmia berries are never eaten by birds because of their bitter taste.
There are some plants now in flower which have a lovely scent. Mahonia ‘Charity’ or ‘Winter Sun’ and Skimmia rubella are good plants for winter colour and scent and will provide winter food for the bumblebees. They will grow in any soil and will also tolerate some shade and are easy to look after being tolerant of any level of pruning.
Over the next month the leaves of snowdrops, Iris reticulata and early Narcissi will begin to come up so you should try to clear the leaves from borders with an under-planting of bulbs. Some leaves, especially those of oak and birch, make very good leaf mould so why not collect them in a leaf cage, black plastic bag or compostable jute leaf sack?
Once all the leaves have been swept up there isn’t much else to do in the garden but once the lawn is clear of leaves try not to walk on it too much if it is frosty.
It is now a year since I wrote the first Gardening Newsletter, which you may remember was about hedgehogs. I still haven’t seen a hedgehog in my garden! I hope you have enjoyed the newsletters and will let me know if there is anything you would like me to discuss next year or if you have any questions about what grows well in the gardens of Kingswood.
Have a very Happy Christmas!
Dr Sarah Wilson, a long time resident in The Warren, regularly opens her garden in the summer months with the National Garden Scheme.
To contact Sarah please click here