Hints & Tips
As deciduous trees sit leafless and flower beds are cleared of annuals that have finished for the year, many gardeners will be missing the activity of summer when they happily wandered around with garden tools in hand and the sun on their backs – if they were lucky.
However, not all plants and flowers are summer-only – gardening expert Alys Fowler said in an article for the Guardian that while December is too late to sow seeds outdoors, some bedding plants will tolerate being planted now.
"Buy winter bedding and, if you're like me, haunt the discount section, where the ugly and unloved can be rescued," she suggested.
You may get chance to put in quite a nice display, provided that it isn't too frosty or snowy. Adding some mulch made with your MowDIRECT chippers and shredders will be a good idea to protect them from later cold snaps.
Ms Fowler said most people select winter pansies and violas at this time of year, which were recently voted favourites in the bedding category in a Gardeners' World poll.
However, despite the name, they actually have a dormant period during the very worst of the cold weather and will bounce back when it warms up a little.
For colour even on the coldest days, the expert recommended the perennial cyclamen C. Coum, which is fully hardy and come on shades from white to rich pink.
Ms Fowler added: "It flowers from winter into spring, and you can buy it as a dry tuber in autumn or as young plants. Young plants are more expensive but easier to establish."
Don't forget evergreen plants that don't flower but have cheery leaves either – the Royal Horticultural Society suggests hardy evergreen ferns like common polypody (Polypodium vulgare), or box hedging that can be easily trimmed such as Buxus sempervirens.
However, with several forecasters predicting very bad weather over the next few weeks, you may have to put off your planting and stick to garden maintenance and poring over flower catalogues instead.