We’re getting close to the official first day of winter on December 21st. We’re all decorating, baking, and planning for the two big holidays, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Then cold, dark January comes with low temperatures and for many locations, dreary gray skies. For many of us it means we’re going to end up spending most of our time snuggled up indoors cozy under a blanket. For those of you in more northern climates, you’ve already had snow and are in the winter season no matter what the calendar says. Now we’re in the huge Christmas rush. In another month, the holidays are over and the New Year is upon us. Are you making resolutions for 2022? How about adding gardening to your list?
Did you know that gardening is good for you? It has incredible well-being benefits. It allows you to soak up vitamin D, exercise, inhale fresh air, and connect with the Earth. If you are mourning the loss of your garden, winter is the perfect time to re-evaluate and plan. What are your goals for next year? Do you want to make your garden a 4 season view? Do you want to simplify the layout so you can spend more time enjoying your yard? Want to tackle a big project in the spring? Whatever you decide, get inspiration on sites such as Pinterest, Home Depot, Planet Natural, or GardenDesign.com .
Here are some winter gardening tips:
I. Learn more
Winter is a downtime in most gardens and that gives you lots of time to learn more about gardening and design. Take a workshop from a neighborhood garden center, an online class, or a course from your local college. Join a garden club or attend a flower show. Winter’s quiet time is perfect to catch up on your reading. Did you get new gardening books for Christmas or subscribe to a magazine? Curl up in a comfortable chair by the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and a new gardening book. It’s time to dream about next spring.
II. December Indoor Garden Projects
Balcony Garden Web has a great post, 21 Exciting Indoor Garden Projects for December. If you miss gardening, choose a fun project. Several suggestions are projects for alternative Christmas trees.
Make a Christmas tree from potted plants.
Group succulents to build a Christmas tree centerpiece.
Make a pine cone Christmas tree.
My suggestions for December and January start with buying a pretty little houseplant. You can buy flowering houseplants to make your home cheerful. Right now a bright red poinsettia is perfect for the season.
One of my favorite houseplants is an anthurium with its red leaves that last for months. It’s great for the holidays and through the winter.
Other houseplants are a herb garden or a succulent garden. Now I know not everyone can keep a houseplant alive. I have several friends with brown thumbs. Buy yourself a pretty faux plant for January when all the Christmas decor comes down. I don’t mean flowers from a dollar store. Nope, invest in a quality faux plant that you like. Tulips, African violets, or several small green plants like succulents would be perfect to brighten a spot on a shelf or table.
The second thing I suggest is feeding the birds and wildlife. Make sure your feeder is sturdy. For more birding pleasure, buy a heated bird bath. You can use it as a feeder or fill with water. Make sure it is visible from a window with a comfy chair.
III. Re-evaluate your garden layout
Winter gives you the bare bones of your garden. If you’ve previously made a garden layout, look at it with a critical eye for places for improvement. Your goal is a garden that has interest in 4 seasons. Is there a problem area to hide? Perhaps there is a neighbor’s brick or stone fence you’d like as part of your landscape. Now that trees and bushes are bare, the garden’s interconnection is readily apparent. For printables on layout and plant design, see Garden Planning Guide. If you haven’t made a garden plan, now is the perfect time to begin.
IV. Add Shrubs
Shrubs such as winter hazel, witch hazel, dogwood, and honeysuckle offer color and fragrance at a time when you need it most. Witch hazel is a large deciduous shrub with colorful, fragrant flowers during the winter that can be grown in USDA Zones 3-9. Witch hazel is virtually maintenance-free and resistant to most pests and diseases. For more information on witch hazel see Growing Witch Hazel.
For a large accent shrub with great winter appeal, Bob Vila suggests Bailey red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Baileyi’). It will grow up to 10 feet tall, and just as wide, with white flowers in spring and green foliage all summer long. When all other color fades in your yard, this charmer has bright red branches to brighten a bleak winter landscape. It needs a little pruning in spring and little else in terms of care. Check out his post, Best Shrubs for any Garden, for more advice.
IV. Add A Patio or Deck
Most of us enjoy being in the garden. If you’ve wanted to make your garden more usable this year, consider what additions can extend your use of the garden. If you don’t have a deck or patio, that could be a goal to work toward. It could be the simplest of things, but it can make a big difference to how your garden looks. You could create a patio with concrete slabs, or a decking area can also work well. For a complicated design, I would see the advice of a professional patio builder. A roofed patio extends your home’s space and makes it usable almost year round. HGTV has a good article on winter-proofing your patio. Check it out for ideas.
V. Add Lighting In Your Yard
Lighting is one of those things that a lot of people think about when it comes to the interiors of their homes but end up ignoring when it comes to the outdoor spaces. However, lights can bring out a whole new dimension to your garden. If you really want that fairy-tale ambiance in your garden, outdoor fairy lights strung over the fences and plants are a great place to start. White lights reflected on snow with the art of mother nature in branches and trees is magical. Check out HGTV’s Landscape Lighting post for ideas.
Hopefully, you have already planned a beautiful view from your favorite chair. Fairy lights make the darkness magical. In winter, you can have wildlife visitors in your garden. Make sure you keep the bird feeder filled and enjoy the view.
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10 thoughts to “Gardening in December”
Great tips Carol! I enjoyed reading them all, thank you!
My winter goal? Keep everything I had to bring in from dying! I’m not betting the farm on it! Seriously, there are some wonderful ideas here, Carol!
I’m perfectly happy to not have snow in winter; I really prefer warmer weather. I do love seeing photos of pure white snow without all the much from traffic on roads. White fairy lights on snow just makes me smile – but I still don’t want to live with snow!
Lindo jardín te mando un beso.
It’s got a lot colder here in England and we’re forecast snow over the next few days. Eek! I have already started planning what I am planting in the spring and where everything is going to go.
I have told my fella that I want a poinsettia for Christmas, they’re so pretty and I have been feeding the birds. I think they would love a heated bird bath, I didn’t know they existed.
You sound totally prepared. I discovered heated bird baths a few days ago and definitely would buy one if I lived up north. Check out Amazon for one. They have it on their USA site.
Great article. Winter is a great time to trim everything in the garden and make decisions for next spring. Thank you for sharing at #omhgww. Pinned and tweeted if buttoons are available. See you next week.
thanks for sharing
I have an anthurium; and I had no idea what that plant was called! So thank you. LOL. My mom got it for me 2 years ago when I got home from surgery and I just love it. I love those bright red blooms that last for months. Those and my Christmas cacti are my favorite house plants.
I understand. Anthuriums are beautiful and the blooms last so long, it’s hard not to love it.