News and announcements from Grosvenor Garden Centre, Chester


Archive for December, 2010

Merry Christmas from Grosvenor!

With Christmas fast approaching, you could be forgiven for thinking that your garden can cope without you for a month.  But we do have some lovely bright weather in December so make the most of any dry days to tidy up and continue to prepare your garden for 2011.


Fallen leaves should be collected to avoid smothering low growing plants such as aubretia, sedum and violets.  Slugs and snails will soon gather under leaves if they are left to decay.  Instead, collect and store and in time, this will transform into very beneficial leaf mould which can be dug into the soil to improve the soil and feed the good insects!


If you have planted tulip bulbs, pay particular attention to their location and water freely with a slug killer.  This will have the benefit of soaking through the soil and killing all molluscs that may be hiding under the surface.


Herbaceous plants such as Aster, Echinacea and Rudbeckia should be cut back this month if you have not already done so.


December is a great time to get out into the garden and make way for new plants, shrubs and trees by cutting down and digging up old ones.  Clear as much of the debris as possible onto the compost heap and to avoid the re-emergence of new shoots next year, treat the surface of the cut stumps and bark with a stump and rootkiller.


Handy tip:  dig over the soil and leave in large clumps so that the frost and harsher weather will break it down.  This will give you a finer tilth to work with in the spring. 


As we saw last winter, new plants and shrubs do not always survive the really cold snaps of the frosty months.  It is therefore a good idea to add extra protection to new roots by covering with a mulch layer of compost or soil improver.


Pots and containers should always be lifted onto pot feet at this time of year to ensure drainage is free flowing.


You can lay turf on warmer days unless the ground is too hard and prepare your lawn to sow grass seed in the spring.


Your Edible Garden will need additional protection as the frosts really begin to set in and to avoid pigeon damage.  Make sure your broccoli, cabbages and sprouts are covered by netting as all brassicas will be an easy target for pigeons as they look to supplement their usual diet which is now in short supply.  Stretch the netting above the tops of the plants so that the pigeons can’t use their weight to push the net downwards and peck through!  And you thought squirrels were canny!


Prune grape vines, currants and gooseberries and divide and plant rhubarb. New fruit trees and bushes can be planted now and if you already have young and free standing varieties, these can be pruned now too.


Always check your stored fruits and vegetables regularly - any that are mouldy or rotten can be given to birds or wildlife.  This time of year is very important for birds and wildlife as they need extra care, so please do not forget about them this festive season.  Bird feeders and certain food scraps will keep them well fed and comfortable and the larger the variety of scraps and foods you are able to provide, the larger the variety of wildlife you will see in your garden. Keep the birdbath topped up with water throughout the winter as this will provide them with much needed water so make sure it does not ice over.


This monthly gardening column would not be complete without news and tips on choosing a fabulous real Christmas tree for your home.  Did you know that the Christmas tree is one of the most efficient plants for absorbing carbon dioxide?  And if you plant a container grown tree in your garden after Christmas, it can be completely carbon positive!


But where do you start when you see the vast array of real trees to choose from here at Grosvenor?  All are freshly cut and responsibly grown and whether you want the traditional look of the Norway Spruce, the classic glossy dark green of the excellent needle retaining Nordman or the narrow shaped Fraser Fir, we can help you make your choice.


Whichever variety you opt for, don’t let it dry out.  You need to place it well away from radiators and fires and top up the stand regularly with water.  You can ask the horticulturalist to cut off the bottom of your tree so that it is able to retain water easier - and remember to ask advice on how to plant your pot grown tree in the garden after twelfth night.


Watch out for stormy weather too as this can wreak havoc on tender plants or newly planted shrubs and trees.  Always check these areas after a strong wind to ensure they have not loosened and if they have, firmly re-plant.  You will also be noticing the return of Jack Frost so don’t forget to have plenty of fleece handy for those cold December nights.


And finally, Merry Christmas from all at Grosvenor!


Top Tips for December: 

1. Do not let ponds freeze over and keep birdbaths topped up with fresh water and keep scraps for birds and wildlife to enjoy

2. Harvest root crops including winter cabbage, leeks, parsnips and not forgetting sprouts for your Christmas dinner!

3. Clear leaves regularly to avoid drainage and light problems

4. Tie shrubs and climbers back to avoid damage from strong winds

5. Clear snowfall from branches of young trees.