Well, we have had the first frosts, I hope you had managed to move tender pots to sheltered positions. It is a good idea to have either heavy fleece or bubble plastic ready to wrap around pots if severe weather is forecast. If we get snow, try to shake it off shrubs in case the weight of it breaks branches. Make sure ties are still in place on anything that is staked or tied on to a wall or frame. If we get gales it could flatten them otherwise. But lets hope we don’t get all this bad weather so that we can keep gardening off and on through the winter.
It isn’t too late to prune deciduous trees, bushes and hedges but Acers and Birches should be done before the end of the year or the cuts will bleed and weaken the tree. If you have a holly tree with loads of berries, now is a good time to cut some and keep them standing in a bucket of water for Xmas decorations before the birds eat them. If you have early flowering hellebores, remove the leaves and mulch them with grit or bark to stop the flowers getting splashed. Tender plants can also be mulched if not already done to protect them. If you have been admiring the autumn colours in gardens, make a note of places where you could plant something next year, such as Acers and Cotinus which change to vivid colours in September/October or perhaps varieties of Cornus which have attractive coloured stems once the leaves have fallen. The Cornus could be planted now, but Acers are best chosen in Spring when you can see the new foliage. Check on the size they will grow to as they can vary widely.
You may be buying houseplants as Christmas presents or better still, receiving them. Bear in mind that Cyclamen need a cool spot, whilst Poinsettias and Orchids need more warmth though not direct sunlight. Don’t let any of them stand in water, once they have been watered, pour away any surplus. Pots of bulbs and mixed planters are a nice present for someone unable to get and do their own gardening.
Why not buy presents to help wildlife this year? There is vast selection of bird feeders, boxes and roosting pockets to fit all purses. Also, boxes for insects like bees and ladybirds to settle for the winter. Even toad and hedgehog boxes are available. If you have budding gardeners among your children or grandchildren why not buy them some small tools and some seeds to start them off. If you need to post presents then National gardening vouchers are always welcomed by gardeners.
Lastly check that you have planted all your bulbs, it isn’t too late they will just flower a bit later.