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Green Fingers in Winter

Down at Caves Folly in Colwall, Bridget’s thoughts are turning to Christmas.

The Autumn leaves are glowing as I write this and the British Camp has just turned orange in the sunset. We are very lucky to live in such a beautiful place and have the Malvern Hills Conservators looking after it for us, and for future generations.

In the garden plants are dying down and preparing for winter. If you have any tender plants, mulch their roots with bark chippings and wrap them in horticultural fleece. The rest is in the lap of the Gods!

December and January can be good months to do any plant moving or construction work in the garden as plants are dormant and less likely to be damaged. It is not wise to dig plants up when we are having hard frosts.

December is a busy month with little time spent gardening in the run up to Christmas. If you have friends and family who are gardeners buy them useful gifts such as seeds, tools, gloves, or a gift voucher for your local garden centre. Children also enjoy making presents such as wreaths, hanging decorations with cones and bird feeders with old yogurt pots. Offer to help an elderly relative in the garden for a few hours, this makes a good present and works off a bit of the Christmas pud!

There are many common garden plants that can be used for decoration to brighten your home. Examples include Elaeagnus, Euonymous, rose hips, Old Man’s Beard, Eucalyptus leaves, variegated hollies, Hebe and Viburnum Tinus all make a good base for a table decoration or flower arrangement.

You can add chrysanthemum sprays for colour or use red bows and holly berries. Even if you only have time to collect a sprig of holly it is nice to have some natural decorations amongst all the glitter.

Don’t forget to regularly replenish those bird feeders and birdbaths. A range of food types and feeders supports a wider range of species. With the latest figures showing population decline in many birds species, they need all the help we gardeners can give them.

Hedgehogs will be hibernating now so be careful when you tidy and clear leaves at this time of year. If you do find one, put the leaves back and it will be snug until the spring.

When Christmas is over and the cold weather makes gardening a chore, try and grow a few micro greens for salads. They sprout in a few days and are easy to grow on a windowsill. Most seed companies list specific ranges in their catalogues, but any leafy vegetable is worth trying, including brassicas and herbs as well as normal salad leaves. Harvest the leaves by cutting them with scissors and sprinkling on salads.

I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a floriferous New Year.