//Philippa’s Newsletter – December 2017

Philippa’s Newsletter – December 2017

My Garden by Philippa Thomas

As we approach the shortest day of the year This December, Winter is tightening its grip.  Winter temperatures in December and January can be at their coldest, making food and water a Wildlife Lifeline.  …Maybe, consider which berrying and seed-bearing plants you can add to your plot to improve its wildlife value.  Trees are the real stars right now, so let’s embrace them – Isn’t there a stark beauty about our Dalkey Trees when they are frosted.  Perhaps, illuminate your favourite tree to emphasise its texture and form.  December is the traditional month to pollard trees, especially ornamental trees.

Our Festive Season is traditionally associated with Holly, Christmas Trees, Yule logs, Ivy and Mistletoe.  …Why not try to grow your own Mistletoe, if you are lucky enough to have your own host tree such as Apple, Hawthorn, Lime or Popular.  …Simply, collect some berries from a Mistletoe plant and rub them into the cracks of the bark, then let the Mistletoe flourish from your tree’s nutrients – really, growing Mistletoe is fairly easy and this is why we see so much of it for sale presently.

Every precious month of our year has its floral highlights and our Winter has a particularly beautiful palette of scented beauties such as: Mahonias, Saroccas, then Daphe Bholua whose scent is so powerful, it can travel for many meters.  Again, there is Lonicera Fragrantissima, also known as ‘Kiss-me-at-the-gate’ and ‘Sweet Breath of Spring’, and not forgetting Viburnum ‘Winter Wonder’; it may look like an unassuming shrub but Viburnum gives off the most gorgeous scent in the coldest of weathers

Unusual Herbs for Christmas and Our New Year.

  1. Cinnamon Basil.
  2. Emperor’s Mint, excellent for making Mint Tea.
  3. Lavender Sage.
  4. Chocolate Mint, sink a bottomless bucket into your soil in order to contain its roots.
  5. Broad Leaved Thyme – a most gorgeous aroma.
  6. Siberian Chives – boosts a strong onion flavour.
  7. Pineapple Sage.
  8. Blackcurrant Sage.
  9. Lime Basil, excellent in soups.
  10. Garlic Chives – a mild garlic taste.

True Frankincense is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of The Genus Boswellia.

Myrrh, meaning bitter in Arabic, reflecting its astringent properties.  Its resin is obtained from Commiphora trees.

Might Do, Maybe December/January Jobs.

Many Hollies of moderate vigour make good choices for the average garden.  Some can be planted as a potted standard, such as Silver Queen, making it an outstanding focal point, for year round interest.  We need a female tree with a male tree nearby to guarantee beautiful berries.  Confusingly, some cultivars with female names such as Ilex Acquilfolium, Golden Queen and Silver Queen are actually male plants.

  1. Black spot, sometimes appears on pansies and violas, the best advice is to avoid growing them in the same spot each year.
  2. Remove Hellebore leaves in late December.  This will reduce problems with leaf spot diseases and allow you to see the flowers as they emerge in the New Year.
  3. Young Bay Trees are susceptible to frost, so move them somewhere sheltered for the Winter.
  4. A compost heap or log pile provides frogs and newts with a warm shelter to stop them freezing.
  5. Give quality Bird Food Mix with ingredients such as flaked maize, sunflower hearts and seeds and peanut granules.  Some cheaper mixes are often less nutritious.  …Birds actually fluff up their feathers to minimize the loss of heat from their bodies when they are seriously hungry.  So, please don’t assume that our birds aren’t hungry when they look plump.  Remember too, to clean and then add water to suitable containers for them to drink.
  6. Floating a tennis ball on the surface of your pond can stop ice taking over and keep your fish and pond wildlife safe.
  7. Why not for this year, 2018, choose A Sedge With An Edge.  …There are numerous varieties out there, some are more varied and versatile in their garden uses than others and you know, they have become one of our most popular, stalwart perennials in our nurseries today, providing striking colour combinations, texture and movement, and in most cases require little or no maintenance.  …Japanese blood grass ‘Rubra’ is a stunner as is ‘Red Baron’ with its distinctive upright bright green blades whose upper half turns cranberry–red in Summer.
  8. Bush/shrub roses such as Hybrid Tea, (also known as large flowered) flower best on strong new growth made during the current year.  Plants that are left unpruned eventually produce a tangle of weaker new stems and few flowers.  Annual pruning is essential to promote vigorous new growth with the maximum flowering potential.  Best to prune after our worse Winter weather has passed.
  9. You can still plant out ferns and grasses as they look as lovely covered in frost as they do in bloom.
  10. Many house plants are from brighter, more humid climates so water and feed less now and remove from cold drafts.

“A garden is a grand teacher.  It teaches patience and careful watchfulness.  It teaches industry and thrift, above all it teaches entire trust.”        Geraldine Jekyll.


“Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years.”

2018-01-22T18:16:59+00:00November 17th, 2017|