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My garden in pictures December

The deer head has lost an ear but gained festive lights
The deer head has lost an ear but gained festive lights

Blog: A tale of damp, frost and freezing fog…

Apart from the odd day of frost, we’ve had an extra-long autumn in North-East England this December, ending with ridiculously mild temperatures up to 12°C at the end of the month.

It’s been an eight-week Novemberfest of dampness and fog. We’ve had no snow or even sleet for that matter, just unrelenting sogginess. An ideal time to potter about under glass.

In the conservatory

Finally tidied up (see my tale of shame here), the exotics and succulents are overwintering, the herbs are next to the kitchen door and the chillies are on a heat mat and bearing up.

I even managed to clear enough space for the annual pilgrimage of the festive beer fridge to take up residence before it’s shoved into the back bedroom for another year.

Evergreens and structural plants are in their element(s)

I’m always grateful for the evergreens, which are so easily overlooked when they fade into the background in the summer. If you’re creating a garden from scratch, start with a skeleton of these plants – you’ll be glad you did during late autumn, winter and spring, especially if they bear berries.

Ridiculously early new growth (and some that haven’t stopped performing)

Despite a few touches of frost, it hasn’t been cold enough to kill off – or stop new growth – on several plants. Rose Claire Austin is still blooming, as is Desdemona, the various Echium seedlings are looking remarkably perky and the Calendula are brightening up the kale patch.

Waning is the deciduous Cotinus (smoke bush), which lost its last lovely leaf and the Chinese rice paper plant, although it held onto its leaves last year.

Breaking through already are early daffodils Tete a Tete, later daffs Sweetness, alliums, the angelica and Campanula carpatica has started flowering again!

Edibles keep producing

The fabulous kales (Cavolo Nero, red, blue with pink ribs and frilled green) are still giving a great crop – nothing has phased them. The big patch of giant Italian parsley is also going strong – droops a bit after a frost but recovers well.


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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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