Gardening jobs for December
Make a Christmas wreath
There's no need to pay for an expensive wreath in the shops, as it's easy to make one using material gathered from the garden. To keep things simple, use a ring-shaped piece of floral foam, which costs about £5-£7 from garden centres or online.
Be generous with the decorations to hide the floral foam underneath. Holly berries are the traditional final touch, but bright-red chilli peppers also work well. Push a short length of wire through their stems to attach them to the wreath.
Buy pots for bulbs indoors
For colour and scent over Christmas, you can't beat pots of bulbs such as hyacinths or paper-white narcissus. Don't worry if you didn't get around to planting some in autumn, as you can buy pots of ready-grown bulbs now.
To keep them at their best for as long as possible, put them in a well-lit spot in a cool room. The long leaves of narcissus look good when supported by a few twiggy stems from the garden.
After the bulbs finish flowering, you can either throw them away or plant them in the garden.
Feed the birds
Putting out high-fat (high-energy) foods for birds in winter will help our feathered friends to get through the worst of the weather. Adjust the quantity you put out according to demand, regularly wash bird feeders and throw away old food.
A tray is good for ground-feeding birds, such as blackbirds, starlings and chaffinches, but be aware of rats, which may also be attracted. One technique that can prevent rats climbing poles to reach hanging feeders is to thread the pole through an upside-down plant pot.
Pick veg for the festive table
For many veg growers, providing plenty of fresh produce for the Christmas dinner is a point of honour. Our own veg expert Steve Mercer usually counts on serving Brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips fresh from the garden, and squash and 'King Edward' potatoes from his stores.
To work off the Christmas dinner, you may want to stray outdoors and clear the veg plot. Compost any old plants and put away canes and netting in the shed. Many gardeners like to follow tradition by digging over the soil now, while others prefer to cover the surface with compost or manure instead and let the worms do the hard work.