I often see December as one of the more hectic months in my life yet probably one of the most rewarding. Being in the nursery business, December is crowded with what I think is our most beautiful holiday as far as flowering plant selection. Reds, whites, greens all beautiful. All make the house alive with the season, color and fragrance.

Ready Your Gardens for Winter
Outside, I want to make sure my gardens are ready for winter. I especially give a big effort to getting rid of as much of the fallen leaves as humanly possible. I am surrounded by oaks and maples and it seems that those leaves hang around for years in shrubs, on the lawn edges, behind the furniture, everywhere! I’ve been known to take my shop-vac out on those pesky leaves that want to hang around. This needs to get done before the first snow; afterwards it’s just a mess.

Build Up Your Soil
Another “leg-up” for my gardens is starting to build up the soil for next year. I grab bags of compost or manure and spread it evenly over my gardens. In this fashion the organic material and the beneficial bacteria have all winter to do their thing getting my beds ready for the next crop.

Plan for Next Year
Once all the leaves are down, I like to take a walk around the property with a piece of paper and pencil.  Now is the time to look at the structure of the trees. The bones, the skeleton of the trees and shrubs. I take pride in helping my trees look the best they can be and this is done by a thoughtful pruning. I make notes, make sketches, and walk around the plant to see it from all sides. Perspective is important, so I want to be considerate to all sides. Sometimes it takes imagination to see now what the trees will look like in spring or summer, but I feel this is important to end up with a form or size we can live with later.  But for now I take my notes to be executed later. Most of my pruning will be done in February and March so I have time to mull it over.  Yes it will be cold but it’s the best time to help your trees and shrubs future life.

Feed the Birds
One of the things I want to see in my yard is life, nature, color. Feeding the birds is a great way for me to fill all these needs. Location of the feeder is important. Although we want to hang feeders from trees, that would be putting them in squirrel world. The easier it is for a squirrel to get food, the more it will be there. (Much like me). I like to use Shepard hooks to suspend the feeders from. In this manner I can locate the feeder away from trees or away from anything a squirrel can jump from onto a feeder.  A clean feeder filled with a good bird seed mixture is sure to attract a variety of birds from the neighborhood. I fill the feeder when it is empty thus no “stale” seed lingers around. Now I will start with birdseed, later in the winter I will add suet to the menu to increase the protein the birds consume. This protein will aid the birds in surviving the colder weather of January and February. What a cheerful site the birds are. They really add to chasing the winter away.

So, take some time to get out into your garden and enjoy all it has to offer in the Month of December.

Additional Information:
Pruning Tips

Soil pH Testing