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December 2015 Newsletter

Christmas is coming…

It’s a quieter time in the garden now but there’s some plant life that will be coming into its own at this time of year now you’ve planted the spring-flowering bulbs and completed your autumn gardening tasks.

The bright vibrant bark of dogwoods really start to show now, as do the lovely tones of variegated holly and other broad-leaf evergreens.

Flower-colour will be coming through too from your pansies, violas and primroses as well as winter-impact shrubs like winter honeysuckle. Plus, contrasting texture comes about from conifers, architectural stems of herbaceous perennials including grasses, and the retaining leaves of beech hedging.

And if you need to replenish your gardening tools or add to your garden, and for great gift ideas for gardening friends browse our Unwins Christmas catalogue 2015.

Order products before 15th DECEMBER for guaranteed delivery for Christmas.


Jobs to do now

Clearing and composting 

On sunny days take the opportunity to get outside and do some last-minute clearing and tidying. If you’re cutting down stems chop them up into pieces before composting. Check there are no signs of disease and put the chopped pieces in the compost heap.

Try to get a good balanced mix of green material with woody material to make a healthy compost with good texture and structure. If green material is difficult to come by at this time of year, kitchen waste makes a good substitute including cabbage and cauliflower leaves. Again- the smaller the bits of green waste the quicker the decomposing process.

If you want to give your compost a helping hand add additional volume, add a bag or two of ready-composted mix like Organic Extra. Add in layers like a lasagne – green waste, brown waste, Organic Extra and repeat.

At this time of year, frost, snow, and leaves on the ground all at the same time is not uncommon, which can be dangerous if on paths and driveways. Use our Multi-Shifter tool to make light work of clearing snow, leaves and other slippery debris. 


Net ponds and guard against predators 

Goldfish and carps are still vulnerable at this time of year; cats and herons are still paying visits to ponds for their next meal. Cover your pond with netting as a preventative measure. Nets also keep the last of the falling leaves out of the pond too which you can easily remove on a regular basis.

Make sure you break the ice on top of your pond so that oxygen can get to the water to keep a healthy water environment.



Guard young trees 

Opportunistic animals may pay a visit to your garden during the winter months. They’ll be hungry and will help themselves to the bark of young trees if they’re exposed.

Small deer including muntjac and other mammals like rabbits can ‘ringbark’ trees, chewing around the whole circumference of tree trunks and shrubs. This can be fatal for your prized plants.

Protect them by putting up tree guards- they’re easy to fit onto the base of trunks of young trees and keeps them well-shielded from wood-gnawing visitors.


Bring flower-colour indoors 

If you want to add some exuberance to your home in the festive period be sure to plant indoor bulbs like Amaryllis (Hippeastrum). So easy to plant, and they’ll reward you with big bold blooms. We’ve got a range of varieties to suit your preferences, but all are guaranteed to add colour and cheer to your indoors.

Here’s how;

  •          Half-fill your container with compost and moisten rather than heavily water
  •          Place the large Amaryllis bulb on top, and then fill with more compost so that the upper third of the bulb is showing.
  •          Keep the compost moist by watering around the edge of the bulb and place in a warm and light place. Don’t overwater at any point – simply keep the compost moist.
  •          Once the bud emerges from the bulb, regularly moisten the compost.
  •          Once the flowers start to show, move the plant to a cooler position.
  •          Turn occasionally, to keep the main stem upright, as the flowers naturally grow towards the light. Support stems with canes if need be.


Deadhead flowers 

Keep winter bedding displays looking at their best by deadheading flowers as they wilt. This stops plants putting all their energy in producing seeds and creating more blooms instead. That’s the advantage of growing violas and pansies – you’re rewarded with months and months of flowering.

Keep an eye out for weeds – winter hardy weeds like hairy bittercress and shepherd’s purse will take hold even in December. Keep them at bay by hoeing them off before they get the chance to produce seeds. 


Check roses for blackspot 

Inspect your roses when the weather is dry. Check the stability in the ground. If they’re loose it may be worth putting in thick stakes and tying them up.

If there is any evidence of black spot, remove the affected leaves and dispose of them in a rubbish bin. Do not compost them as the spores may overwinter.

Prune out old, damaged or diseased stems, or stems that cross over onto others. Try to keep a good balance framework of branches.    


Protect plants with fleece, cloches and polytunnels 

It’s always best to be prepared for cold snaps to save your young and containerised garden trees from frost-bite which can seriously affect their growth and development.

If a frost is predicted, it may be worth bringing trees like potted palms and olives indoors and then back out again if temperatures rise the next day.

If that’s impractical you can cover young or containerised trees with a double layer of horticultural fleece in situ. Again, remove the fleece if temperatures rise the following day so adequate air can get to the leaves and stems.


Tidy sheds 

It’s always a good holistic task to clean out the shed ready for the season ahead whether you’re giving your gardening tools a good clean down, cleaning out pots used for summer bedding or sorting out the seeds packets into order and storing in air-tight tins.

We’ve got some great tidying solutions for your tools- which keeps them clean and dry like our Crest Wall Mounted Tool Rack with handy boot shelf and basket for extra storage.



Plant of the month – Cornus (Dogwood)

A fantastic fully-hardy shrub that really brings your garden to life in the grip of winter. Once dogwoods have shed their leaves in autumn they reveal their bright stems. They look so effective touched by frost and provide a colourful background to lower-growing shrubs and winter flowers like snowdrops, hellebores, violas and pansies.

Once the dogwoods have put on their winter display, cut the stems down to around 5cm (2in) in spring. They’ll then spend the summer growing their one-year old leafy stems, will colour up in autumn and then reveal their stem-colour in winter again. 

Height: 1-2m (40-80in)


Design of the Month – Planning the garden for next year 

When it’s cold outdoors but you are still feeling green-fingered, why not plan your garden for next year? Get a cup of tea or coffee and plan for the next season to get an even better garden! Ask yourself the following questions and check our website on gardening ideas and the best plants to enhance your garden.

Were there any bare patches that you can add a splash of colour to next year? Our extensive bulb-range means you can have colours flowers for all 12 months, whether in bedding or in containers.  

Were all the plants growing to the same height making the display flat? Try growing a range of garden plants with different ultimate heights.

Could you add more vertical interest? Put up hanging baskets or add more climbing plants like clematis or even climbing vegetables like runner beans or sweet potatoes.

Could you add a tree to the garden as a larger focal point? There are lots of garden trees with different seasonal interest that you could consider.


Disease watch – Hellebore leaf spot 

Hellebores are a lovely flower that put on a show of bold blooms in the cold months of late winter. They’re great planted at the front of borders or even in hanging baskets where you can see the intricate markings of the petals at head height.

Sometimes hellebores can succumb to the disease Hellebore leaf spot. You’ll notice if your hellebore flowers are affected by the brown patches that show up on leaves and stems going into December.

To control simply remove affected plants and dispose – do not add affected stems to compost.

Going forward, divide plants in spring after flowering so there is plenty of air circulation around the leaves. This prevents humidity building up around the leaves which attracts the disease.


News - Unwins Christmas Online Catalogue 


The Unwins Christmas catalogue 2015 is now online for you to peruse great gifts for the gardeners in your life. We’ve lots of ideas for gardeners of all skills and all ages, from budding young gardeners growing seeds for the first time, to experts wanting to try their hands at growing an unusual and rare flower.

What’s more you get 10% off when you spend £50 on our Christmas range, so have a peruse at our online catalogue, and start your Christmas shopping with Unwins.



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