Elizabeth Jones on what to do in your garden this December – the essential blooms and crops to pick and plant this month.
Now Christmas is coming, it’s time to think of red and green. Louise Hutchings Smith once described Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), introduced from Florida, as “a useful tree”. Beekeepers agree with her because the bees love the blossom. But for the rest of us, most of the year it’s an invasive pest. Its usefulness is strictly seasonal since it conveniently produces red berries in good time for the festive season. No wonder it’s also called the Christmas berry tree. The stems, sprayed with gold spray paint for an even more decorative effect, look great in Christmas table floral arrangements or in homemade wreaths. Yaupon holly, or as Bermudians call it, Bermuda holly (ilex vomitori) also boasts the prerequisite red berries and has dark, glossy leaves. Pick it if you’re lucky enough to have it in your garden. Often, our lovely Agrippina roses (cramoisi supérieur) are out in time for Christmas. Once they’re in full bloom, their petals tend to drop quickly so it’s best to cut these roses when they’re just in bud. The flowers fill the air with a soft fragrance. In addition, the scarlet blossom of ixora (ixora longifolia) fit perfectly with floral decorations. Adding white, as well as green, to the Christmas palette, jonquils (narcissus jonquilla) or paperwhites can also bloom just in time for celebrations and they, too, have a beautiful scent.
Why not buy a potted Bermuda cedar tree to decorate for Christmas? When the celebrations are over, you can add to Bermuda’s heritage by planting it in your garden. Make sure the site you choose is large enough for the tree to grow. Water regularly and apply fertilizer from time to time. Check regularly for scale and aphids.
Radishes make tangy, delicious snacks. When planted, they help loosen the soil and are also a good companion for carrots. Plant seeds ½ inch deep and 1½ inches apart in the ground in a sunny position or in a container. Thin to three inches apart. Rows should be 3 inches apart. Water regularly. Depending on the variety, radishes are ready to harvest between 22- 30 days. Plant every two weeks for a continuous supply.
Blue sage or salvia (salvia farinacea) is easy to grow, even in poor soil and flowers year round. Its pale blue flowers on tall spikes resemble, at least from the distance, English lavender.