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Northeast Regional Reports

Northeast: December Garden To-Do List

Even in winter, gardens can captivate with strong structural elements such as hardscaping and evergreen plants. Photo: Steven Cominsky

Gardeners in cold climates are treated to a restful break between seasons that starts in December. But even as the garden goes quiet, it should still hold your interest and pull you outside for a closer look.

Set up a comfortable indoor observation post overlooking the garden. Critique the garden now for its “bones.” Woody plants, evergreens, and hardscaping (such as paths, patios, and outbuildings) should work together to draw your eye around the garden in all seasons.

Start feeding the birds if you haven’t already. Avoid birdseed mixtures, because they contain fillers the birds won’t eat. Try black oil sunflower seed and safflower. Nyjer and thistle are particularly good picks for finches as well.

Seed catalogs will start showing up in your mailbox. Work on wishlists.

Prune evergreens, and use the boughs to create table centerpieces, wreaths, and outdoor container arrangements. Scavenge the garden for decorative seedheads, cones, twigs, berried branches, and other objects for truly unique displays.

holiday plant arrangement
A holiday arrangement containing umbrella pine, a variety of false cypress, winterberry, corkscrew willow, seed heads, and a bird’s nest with glass eggs. Photo: Kristin Green

—Kristin Green is a former horticulturalist for the Blithewold Mansion, Gardens, and Arboretum in Bristol, Rhode Island.

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