I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t spend a lot of time in the garden in December. I might be finishing the final leaf cleanup and maybe doing a little pruning but it is a good month to take a break from the hands-on work outside. I will, however, spend some time inside getting things ready for the spring.
If you have time it’s never a bad idea to take a look at your gardening tools and evaluate the need for any maintenance and repairs. I like to sharpen my hand pruners and shears and even cleanup the edge on my shovels at the end of each season. I’ll also replace any handles that may be worn or cracked on rakes, shovels and brooms. These are also services that most hardware stores will do for you. Gardening tools will last for decades if well maintained.
December is also great time to drop off your lawn mower, string trimmer, blower or anything else with an engine at the local service center. Waiting until you need them in the spring can be a big mistake as most reputable service centers are backed up several weeks and even a month or more by the time the grass starts growing in late March and early April. I highly recommend taking care of this during your gardens slow season and the slow season of the local mower repair shop. Even though I may not be working in the garden much I do still like to get outside especially in the neighborhood parks like Ault Park. While the winter landscape can be stark there is also the opportunity to have plants that have features that are most noticeable in the winter. A winter landscape favorite is the Harry Lauders Walking Stick with its contorted branching structure. Some plants with interesting bark are the Oakleaf Hydrangea, Paperbark Maple an any of the red and yellow stemmed dogwood shrubs. Plants with brilliant red winter berries like the winterberry, chokeberry, nandina, hawthorn and holly are hardy to our area and work well in our gardens. There are also plenty of evergreens in dwarf and full sizes that shine in the winter landscape. You’ll find some of these around the arboretum at Ault Park and around the gardens. Take note and even a photo of any plants you see that catch your eye in the winter that you think may work well in your garden. If unsure of the plant name and or variety show those photos to your local landscaper or garden center staff for identification and more information on the availability.
Thanks for allowing me to share some of my thoughts on gardening over the last twelve months. Have a wonderful winter!