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There is much to be said for gardening in December. No, hear me out, there really is.

For a start, the pace is easy. Unlike the frenetic months of spring and summer, the winter garden is far less demanding.

December is not only an ideal point to take stock, but also to enjoy the sights and sounds of a garden in repose.

Crisp, clear and chilly days are an invigorating time to experience nature, and the sun, if it appears, feels all the more valuable as the year comes to a close. Being in a garden will make you feel good time and time again, more than any on-trend Christmas present.

The character of December is still unpredictable. Some years it’s mild and wet, others frosty and freezing, and being proactive in mitigating the weather’s effects is worthwhile.

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Plants like penstemons will benefit from protection with cloches or fleece, while the soil in empty vegetable beds can be sheltered from the hammering impact of rain by being covered.

Keep an eye on plants permanently in containers and remove any fallen leaves or other debris that could promote disease.

Wildlife will appreciate it if you provide a varied diet of food. Well-stocked feeders with seeds, peanuts and fat balls, will ensure birds keep coming to your garden. In the long run, they will pay you back handsomely.

December offers gardeners hopeful opportunities.

Pelargonium seeds can be planted this month, an exercise that will provide something to look forward to in anticipation of lighter days ahead. Sowing them in a propagator placed on a windowsill and a temperature of 18C should ensure successful germination.

As December hurtles towards the shortest day, houseplants need as much light as possible. Move them to the brightest windowsills and give them a turn every few days to ensure even growth.

Brusels

Finally, keep harvesting winter crops like parsnips and, of course, those Christmas Day favourites, Brussels sprouts.

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Debbie senior hort with Chadsgrove Scvhool Bromsgrove ok for web