Gardening tips for December

Final leaves fall from the trees as our gardens fall into their winter slumber, leaving a skeleton of plant shapes contrasting against the winter skies. The garden takes on an air of quietness, but on milder winter days, there is huge pleasure to be gained from spending a couple of leisurely hours in the garden, in the company of your radio and the resident robin.

Garden Room

  • Bring bowls of forced bulbs inside, such as Hyacinths and Narcissus Paperwhite, to encourage buds to open for Christmas. Guaranteed to fill the house with their wonderful fragrance, finish the festive look by top dressing with moss, Inserting wintry Birch twigs to help support the flowers as they grow. If you ran out of time to plant your own bulbs, visit your local Dobbies Garden Centre for pots of Hyacinths ready for planting into bowls and baskets for a festive display.
  • Plant Indoor Cyclamen, three to a basket, for a delightful festive centre piece perfectly suited to a cooler room, porch or conservatory.
  • Poinsettias are quintessential Christmas house-plants, that no home should be without. Originating from the tropics, they love the warmth of our centrally heated homes, kept well away from the chill of cold draughts. Dropped into a ceramic pot cover, they also make great gifts for friends and family.

Terrace Garden

  • Dress the front door step to welcome guests over the festive period. Evergreen Standard Bays, topiary Buxus, Blue Spruce and Picea conica decorated with battery lights and a few simple decorations add a classic and seasonal touch.
  • Make your own Christmas wreath for the front door, collecting evergreen foliage such as Holly, Ivy and Fir, together with berries, hips and seed heads from the garden and nearby hedgerows. Hand-tie together and adorn with selective decorations and bows to reflect your own individual style. But if time does not allow, browse our extensive range of fresh, British made wreaths on our website, all available to purchase now in your local Dobbies Garden Centre.
  • As temperatures plummet, move patio pots near to the house wall for additional protection. Lift pots up onto pot feet to aid drainage and prevent waterlogging.
  • December is your last chance to plant pots of Tulip bulbs to bring a welcome splash of colour in the early spring. Tulips are best planted when the soils are cold, so December planting is fine if you did not get chance earlier in the autumn.

Beds and Borders

  • As weather allows, the winter is the perfect time to plant new hedges, such as Beech, Hawthorn and Privet. Bare-root whips, ordered on line or in store, are the most economical way to create or rejuvenate a hedge. Planted now, they will establish in time for the spring season. See for our newly available range of quality bare root British grown hedging available in bundles of 5, to enable you to mix and match varieties to suit your needs.
  • On days where the ground is still workable, not waterlogged or frozen, December is a good time to plant Ornamental Trees to add welcome height and structure to your garden. See our website for details of our widest ever range of British Grown trees available in store, or for direct delivery from the nursery to your home.
  • Clear weedy borders and apply a mulch to help improve the soil whilst also helping to keep future weeding to a minimum.
  • In periods of severe cold, wrap tender evergreens in Horticultural fleece.
  • In the event of heavy snow, check evergreens shrubs and conifers, as well as topiary plants such as Buxus and Bays. Branches can easily snap under the extra weight, ruining prized plants in the process. As a precautionary measure, brush away heavy snow before it freezes hard. Don’t worry about low garden plants, which are happy under a blanket of snow

Cottage Garden

  • Continue to cut back and tidy faded cottage garden perennials, adding them to the compost heap. Leave grasses and seed heads for their architectural interest, particularly beautiful on frosty mornings, but also to feed winter birds and shelter overwintering insects.
  • In mild weather, continue to lift and divide congested herbaceous clumps, for renewed vigour and flowering in the coming seasons.
  • If weather allows, December is great time to plant new Roses. Visit your local store for our widest ever range, including David Austin English roses for unbeatable garden performance. We are also proud to offer a comprehensive range of David Austin English Roses on for direct delivery to your home.
  • Tie in climbers and wall shrubs to protect from wind damage. Climbing Roses should be pruned now, cutting back side shoots by two-thirds.

Fruit Garden

  • Apple and Pear trees can be pruned up until February, but leave the pruning of Plums until mid summer.  The aim with free-standing bushes is to create an open goblet shape, around a framework of around four or five main branches. Trained fruit trees such as espaliers and fans, including those growing against a wall, are best managed with summer pruning.
  • Our widest range of British grown Fruit Trees are available for planting now, where soil conditions allow, including Apples and Pears, Plums and Cherries. See for details of our British grown trees available in store or for delivery direct from the nursery to your home.
  • New season ranges of soft fruit, including a wide range of Raspberry canes are also available for planting now. Browse for our comprehensive range, grown in Scotland, and available in store or on-line for delivery direct from the nursery to your home.

Kitchen Garden

  • Net winter vegetables to prevent pigeon damage.
  • Order seed catalogues now ready to browse and make plans for the coming spring.


  • Rake up any late falling leaves, which if left on the ground, risk damaging the lawn by blocking out the light. Add to the compost heap, or store in a separate pen for rotting down into leaf--mould. Shredding the leaves first with a mower will help them to rot down quicker.
  • If heavy rain results with water sitting on the lawn, spike with a garden fork or an aerator to aid drainage and prevent disease.


  • Clear greenhouse gutters of autumn leaves
  • Wash greenhouse glass inside and outside to allow as much light in as possible
  • Where needed, insulate the greenhouse with bubble-wrap to help protect prized plants.
  • Do not water plants too much, water when compost is dry
  • Check plants regularly for pests and disease i.e., moulds and fungus
  • Ventilate on warm days

Garden Tidy

  • Clean, oil and sharpen garden tools, and book the lawn mower in for a service.
  • Cover garden furniture with winter covers to protect from heavy rain.
  • Clear fallen leaves from the garden pond and remove pumps to prevent winter damage.
  • Ensure outside taps are insulated or drained.
  • For the benefit of garden wildlife, leave some areas of the garden untouched as a winter sanctuary for insects and hibernating hedgehogs.

Garden Birds

  • One of the joys of winter is watching our colourful garden birds, so reliant on the food and fresh water we put out to sustain them through the winter months. Position feeders as close to the house as possible, using a variety of seeds and peckers to attract a wide range of birds to your garden. Once they find you, they will become daily visitors, sheltering from the worst of the weather in your trees, shrubs and hedges. Put up nest boxes to entice them to stay in the new spring season.

Plants at their best

Autumn Cherry (Autumnalis Rosea)
Mahonia, Pernettya varieties
Heath (Erica darleyensis)
Indoor Cyclamen
Non-hardy Azaleas

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