To comply with government guidelines we have closed our office. We will continue to respond to emails.

Last Month in My Garden: December 2012

‘Jottings from Bolam’ December 2012

In between rain-squalls, I have been cutting everything back with the aid of my essential curved and serrated hand scythe / knife – I just don’t know how I would do without one now. I like to clear most dead herbaceous material before it becomes a mushy mess. Even when I think it must all be done, I can always find a bit more to keep me happy – I would be lost without an excuse to be outside.

The new green oak seat shelter is proving a snug spot for coffee breaks – an essential reward for the gardener in winter – or any time come to that! The robin, a constant companion in the garden also comes for the biscuit crumbs.

My sneaking suspicion that the growing tunnel frames and covers that I had eyed up in a local garden centre might soon be reduced, was confirmed and I am now eagerly looking forward to having two of them fixed onto the new raised beds. At 3 metres long and 1 metre wide and high, they should give me lots of room to play in. Half price is a great incentive and I have a plastic cover and two fine mesh covers as I think that they will be the most useful.

Thrilled with my Christmas bargains, I could not resist buying seeds of tempting ‘cut and come again’ salad and herb selections to sow in the spring now that harvesting will be easier. Pity that the rest of the garden is still at ground level!

The large clumps of bamboo were thinned and side shoots trimmed in late summer, but after recent wind and rain they drooped over the paths. I have previously tied pliable young canes to and around them as a restraining ‘belt’, but these had broken when heavy snow last winter weighed the clumps to the ground. It is amazing how the canes spring back unharmed once free of snow.

This time we have used thick fishing line, and it has worked a treat. Strong yet invisible, I need to be very careful to avoid accidental garrotting when working around them! The bamboo, now established (but not rampant) is producing very tall culms, which provide graceful structure to the garden all year, particularly valuable in winter.

Looking at the garden at this time of year it is difficult to believe that the coming year will see the miracle of verdant new growth again – but it will. Each new garden year is unique, some things will amaze and some disappoint, but it is always endlessly fascinating and rewarding.

Focusing on different aspects of my garden each month has been an interesting exercise, and I look forward to reading about another gardener’s passion and experiences in 2013.

Heather Russell

Text and photographs by Heather Russell of the HPS North East Group.
You can visit her own website at


© Hardy Plant Society 2021. Web design by CW.

This site uses cookies.
Please see our privacy policy for more information.