December in the garden
by Michael Hylton
With so much going on at this time of year, it seems as if time is in fast-forward mode. Everyone seems to have so much going on, from shopping and baking to visiting with family and friends. But, December is a great time to enjoy some time outdoors and connect with Mother Earth. The late fall/early winter landscape is certainly beautiful, but a striking change from the setting in warmer months.
Evergreens for Holiday Decorating — With the warm weather we have experienced lately, many folks have been decorating for the upcoming holiday season. You can make your own living wreath with fresh greenery from the landscape. Magnolias, Boxwoods, Cedar, Red Nandina berries and Holly all look great in holiday decorations. You can dress up your stair rails, home entrance or your mailbox. Get the kids involved, too. You can easily make things look festive without spending money. It can be a fun and creative time for the family.
Spring Flowering Bulbs — Late fall is a great time to plant spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, crocus and hyacinths. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, you can plant up through the New Year. Always water the newly planted bulbs well and plant at the proper planting depths. When spring arrives you can enjoy your labor of love.
Benefits of Compost — Compost is a great asset to the garden. In our clay soils, it improves the soil’s ability to drain water, and in sandy soils helps to retain water. Save your leaves this fall and add them to the compost pile. Always avoid using dairy products, oils, and meats to the compost pile.
Dividing Perennials — Even in December it is alright to divide spring and summer perennials. Water well after dividing.
Winter Color — The recent cold weather with temperatures around 20 degrees finally bit back most folks’ beautiful geraniums. Add color to your containers and gardens with pansies, violas and other cool-season annuals.
Cool-Season Weeds — Be on the look-out for cool-season weeds such as chickweed, henbit, hairy bittercress and others. Hand-removal of these when they are small is the smart option.
I hope each one of you has a beautiful holiday season. Make some nice memories and enjoy the company of friends and family. Happy Gardening!!!
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