“From December to March, there are for many of us three gardens – the garden outdoors, the garden of pots and bowls in the house, and the garden of the mind’s eye.”
– Katherine S. White
Summer now seems a very long time ago. Shorts and T-shirts have been packed away and any gardening that can be done is hampered by many layers of clothing causing Michelin man-like restrictions. Fear not, winter pruning and digging will help to keep you warm.
December days are often cold, wet and dark but there remains for some the hope of a Christmas winter wonderland. Evergreens come into their own this month, not only giving structure and form to the garden but also providing foliage and berries (please leave some for the birds!) to bring inside and decorate the home. Ivy is perfect for draping over pictures and for twining around bannisters, and who doesn’t want to “Deck the Halls” with boughs of holly? Just check for bugs before you bring any cuttings indoors – they would be unwelcome Christmas guests!
The garden will be mostly out of bounds this month, so houseplants come into their own. Not only are they decorative, adding interest and colour, they can also help to improve air quality. See below for an introduction to our exciting and extensive new range.
Our top ten December tasks, in no particular order, are:
- Continue to clear fallen leaves from lawns and from beneath plants but leave some for hibernating insects. Cram the leaves into leaf bags (or regular bags and punch in a few holes). Empty compost or feed bags will do as will black bin bags. Then just stack the bags behind the shed (or anywhere else that’s out of sight) and wait for the leaves to turn into valuable leaf mould.
- Reduce your rose bushes by about a half as this will prevent winter winds from causing damage.
- Plant bare root trees, shrubs, soft fruit and roses. It’s important to keep them well watered as this will encourage the roots to spread out and establish.
- At this time of year garden birds really need your help. Please ensure they have a constant supply of both food and fresh water. Feeders will need to be cleaned regularly to prevent the spread of disease.
- It’s not too late to plant tulips. Come late spring you’ll be thrilled with the resulting blooms.
- If it hasn’t arrived already then cold weather is on its way. So, check the greenhouse heater is working, insulate outside taps and make sure you have some winter fleece ready. Floating a football or a plastic bottle filled with a few pebbles will stop the garden pond from completely freezing over.
- Order your seed potatoes so you can start chitting in the New Year. Visit the Suttons website to select from our wide range.
- Wisteria will now be ready for its winter trim. Cut the wispy summer-grown shoots back to 2 or 3 buds and this will encourage strong growth and plentiful blooms next year.
- Now is a good time to rake any gravel paths, remove any weeds and leaves and add a thin layer of fresh gravel. This will give your garden an instant lift.
- If the weather provides zero motivation to venture out then make a brew and peruse the 2020 Suttons catalogue or website, planning what to grow next year.
The houseplant revival is now in full flow and here at Suttons we’re proud to offer a wide and exciting new range of stunning and unusual houseplants.
Gone are the days of the straggly Spider Plant hanging miserably from a macramé encased pot and the dusty Mother in Law’s Tongue standing forlornly in the corner. Even the traditional Christmas Poinsettia has been done to death with supermarket prices falling daily as they try to shift their over-stock. It’s time for something new!
Here’s just a taster of some of the Suttons range:
For something traditional, yet with a twist, how about a giant, gold waxed amaryllis bulb? No need for a pot, soil or water. Just place the bulb on the table and wait for the blooms to form.
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, we have an interesting plant selection for you including a white azalea tree, a tabletop anthurium or perhaps a “White as Snow” indoor scented rose?
If you have previously left a wake of dead houseplants behind, then fear not! Our succulents and cacti are supplied in quirky ceramic pots on wooden legs and are virtually indestructible. So, put the past behind you and be brave.
The ultimate houseplant gift must be Lava Plant Davallia. A bright feathery fern, growing on a chunk of lava with roots that can easily be mistaken for a Tarantula spider’s hairy legs! Amazing!
For our full range of stunning and unusual houseplants please visit our website!
With houseplants now being so popular, they make wonderful gifts. Not just for the big day but for the host of any December gatherings you are lucky enough to be invited to attend. So much better than yet another bottle of wine or box of chocs.
Remember, these plants will look great for many months to come. A Suttons houseplant is not just for Christmas (sorry!).
Hi, I’m Christine Loader, Horticultural and Technical Advisor here at Suttons. I have been an avid gardener all my life and have a passion for growing Fruit and Vegetables. When I am not in my greenhouse I can usually be found on my allotment. Gardening has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I look forward to sharing my expertise with you in our newsletter. This month we’re looking pruning soft fruit and fruit trees.
Winter is the perfect time to prune soft fruit and fruit trees once they have gone into dormancy.
Autumn Raspberries will need to be pruned right back down to the ground. You can, however, leave a small number of canes that have not fruited until next year, these canes will fruit around June and they should be cut back immediately after they have finished fruiting.
Start pruning currants in the second year after planting, removing weak branches. In the following years remove some old wood by cutting out branches at the base to ensure that the bush has a good supply of young branches which will bear the largest fruit. At the same time try to maintain an open structure as this will improve fruit ripening and aid picking.
Newly planted gooseberry bushes should be cut back about halfway to encourage bushy growth. In subsequent years encourage a strong framework keeping the centre of the bush open to facilitate picking. Cut our dead and diseased wood, reduce side-shoots from leaders to about 5 cm.
Blueberries fruit on wood that is 2-3 years old so little pruning is required to start with. Just remove any dead wood and avoid overcrowding. Prune the tips only. When the plants are more mature remove a small number of the older branches to encourage new growth.
Apple, pear, quince and medlar are also pruned in the winter while dormant. During the early years pruning should be carried out for the purpose of creating a basic framework. After four years the purpose of pruning is to maintain the shape, removal of dead or diseased wood and crossing branches. Winter pruning encourages shoot growth. It is helpful to identify whether your apple or pear tree is a spur-bearing or tip-bearing variety so you can avoid excessive removal of potentially fruiting wood and ensure a good crop. Fruit buds are much bigger and rounder than growth buds and contain flowers that will carry fruit.
Sharp secateurs that leave a clean cut and do not tear the wood are essential. Cut at an angle close to an outward-facing bud. When removing larger branches, cuts should be painted with Arbrex sealing agent to protect from damp and frost.
All stone fruit such as cherry, apricot, peaches and plums should be pruned during late spring/early summer.
Brussels Sprout Trivia
Love them or hate them Brussels sprouts are not just for Christmas! These interesting and some would say tasty little veggies have been around for centuries and show no sign of going away.
Here’s some sprout trivia, perfect for that Christmas quiz:
- Sprouts developed from wild cabbage in Pakistan and Afghanistan
- Over 5,000 years ago Chinese physicians used to prescribe sprouts as a cure for many ailments, including bowel problems
- Sprouts became very popular in Brussels in the 16th century – hence their name
- Sprouts were first introduced to England during the 19th century
- Suttons sells 11 different varieties of sprout
- Captain Cook made his crew eat sprouts, lemons and oranges to make sure that they didn’t develop scurvy
- Sprouts are not just green. Red and purple varieties are also available
- Sprouts contain high levels of vitamins A and C, folic acid and dietary fibre
- An 80g serving of sprouts contains 4 times more vitamin C than an orange
- Flower sprouts are a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale and are perfect for stir-fries
- When preparing sprouts some cooks make a cross in the bottom. One school of thought is that this helps them to cook more evenly but others think the cross is to keep the devil out!
- Along with cabbages, broccoli and other brassicas Brussels sprouts contain sulphur as a deterrent against animals eating their leaves. This sulphur creates the slightly bitter taste that some people hate, and other people love. It also creates the rotten egg smell you get when sprouts are overcooked plus that other unattractive smell that sprouts tend to create!
- Great for those trying to lose some weight, a 100g of sprouts equals just 45 calories
- The heaviest sprout on record weighed in at 8.3kg
Gifts for Gardeners
Find the perfect gift for the gardener in your life! Our biggest ever range includes living gifts, practical tools and a fabulous choice of the beautiful and decorative.
Win a Trip for Two To Kew Gardens
To celebrate the launch of Suttons Gifts for Gardeners 2019 catalogue, Suttons and Virgin Experience Days are pleased to offer you the chance to Win a Trip for 2 People to Kew Gardens with a Thames River Cruise!
Suttons has worked with Virgin Experience Days for many years, offering gardening-themed trips and experiences to its customers. Experience days make memorable gifts and, as they are voucher-based, they’re a great last minute gift too!
To enter and for the full terms and conditions, simply visit the competition web page and answer a question about Suttons’ new Gifts for Gardeners 2019 catalogue. Entries close Sunday 15 December 2019. Enter here!
The winter solstice is when the sun’s tilt away from earth is at its maximum and the sun is at its lowest, producing the shortest day and the longest night.
In 2019 winter, the solstice falls on Sunday 22 December. The actual moment of the solstice will be at 4.19am and we will have approx. 7 hours 45 minutes of daylight. So, from the 23 December, the days will start to length. Spring will soon be here!
Offer of the Month
Plant-O-Tray Bulb Offer: buy any 4 for just £30 – that’s only £7.50 each!
Planting bulbs made easy! These ready to plant spring flower bulb trays are 100% biodegradable, ready for planting and the perfect solution for beginners and busy people! Simply lay on the compost or soil, cover and water.
Offer details: choose 4 of the same variety or pick and mix across the range. Simply add 4 or more trays to your basket to activate your discount.
Available in a variety of sizes, for beds, window boxes or patio pots. Including this exclusive mix, with a delightful blend of pink and red tulips with white crocus. Perfect for spring colour – buy yours here.
A big thank you to all our customers for your support this year. The team here at Suttons send our very best wishes for the festive season.