Ever since we returned from Portugal last month, I’ve been swamped. December is a busy garden time of year. November is pretty busy too with Thanksgiving and such.
Then, I caught a cold, and I’m finally recovered.
Although my garden may not seem busy in December, it really is.
Spring-blooming bulbs need to be planted sometime in December.
I’m planting spring-blooming bulbs in the perennial beds and blowing out the oak leaves. We also work to get the leaves off of the front fescue lawnette. It’s important to remove oak leaves from the garden because, unlike less fibrous tree leaves, oak leaves mat down when it rains, cover emerging plants, and suppress seed germination.
I know this advice goes against everything on Facebook and the “leave the leaves campaign,” but I remove oak leaves and put them in piles where they decompose. I also shred some of the oak leaves and put them back on the garden beds. Shredded oak leaves are wonderful for breaking up clay over time. I do leave my dead perennial stems standing in the garden to protect overwintering insects and such.
Before I’m tarred and feathered, I promise you we had more fireflies than ever last summer. It was quite magical to go out each evening at dusk, sit with a glass of wine and enjoy them lighting up the night sky. I would do nothing to harm my lightning bugs.
Oklahoma’s weather is too warm for December this year.
Our weather is unseasonably warm because we’re in a La Niña weather pattern for the second straight year. Highs have been consistently in the high 70s Fahrenheit. For December, that’s really warm. We’re getting a mild cold front tonight, and I’m glad. I hate planting bulbs when it’s this warm outside. They tend to break dormancy early and use up some of their energy.
However, if I’d grown a fall garden, the weather would be perfect for harvest. What a difference from last year! Remember October’s double ice storm whammy? That was nuts. I’ll take a calm December weather-wise any day.
Keep your garden watered as long as temperatures are above 40F.
In the December garden, I’m planting bulbs and keeping the garden watered. Oklahoma is very dry this fall, and I want all of the gardens around the house to be well watered. That way if there is a fire, I won’t be providing extra fuel.
Here are the spring-blooming bulbs I’m planting this year.
These bulbs combine with all of the previous year’s plantings of daffodils and other small bulbs.
Hybrid tulips don’t typically bloom year after year, so I treat them as annuals.
I ordered a few tulips this fall: ‘Dreaming Maid‘ ‘Kansas Proud‘ and ‘Negrita,’ along with a blended selection called Love Circles. Where do they come up with these names? The first group is all shades of purple and the Love Circles collection is red and white. I like red tulips planted with purple.
Let’s be honest. I like all tulips. They just aren’t easy to grow here sometimes, and they’re kinda expensive as a bedding plant.
I now plant tulips mostly in the garage and sidewalk borders. Moles and voles don’t seem to touch these borders probably because of all the years of planting unappetizing daffodils. Also, the dirt in both spots is lightly-amended sandy, red soil, and easy to dig. Here is how I planted the sidewalk border last fall.
If you’re interested in buying some tulips, Colorblends still has some available. I just ordered the blend, Jacques and Jill.
Speaking of daffodils, I ordered fragrant orange and pink cupped ‘Cosmopolitan‘ and pale yellow ‘Moonlight Sensation.’ Both are unique which is probably why I ordered them. I order so early in fall I barely remember why I order anything.
I’m still a huge fan of historic ‘Thalia,’ and if I could only grow one daffodil, it would be this one.
I specifically grow tiny Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’ so I can see blue pollen pockets on my honey bee’s knees in early spring. It’s the little things, right?
I’m also growing sulfur-yellow Eranthis hyemalis, winter aconite, because it’s the first to flower in late winter. Sometimes, there will be crocus nearby, but frequently, Eranthis blooms first especially in protected areas like beneath the mugo pine next to the house.
In the December greenhouse
In the greenhouse, it’s quite warm, and I’ve opened the front door all week long to keep things cooler. My tropical plants are all tucked into the greenhouse waiting for spring to come again. The roof vents can only do so much, and the side vent is broken for the time being. We need to fix it. Long story. I water the plants every other day to make sure they stay alive especially during such warm weather. When the weather cools off, I’ll reassess my watering. The cooler I keep the greenhouse in winter, the better because the plants won’t dry out, and disease problems seem fewer.
What’s growing indoors?
Inside my house, I have all of my amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs planted. I decided not to try forcing hyacinths this year. With such warm temperatures, it’s hard to keep them cold enough even if I use our refrigerator. Here are all of my forcing bulb archives if you’d like more information.
This year, all of the bulbs for both indoors and outside were delivered in a staggered fashion. Supply chain problems I’m sure, although it seems like things are getting better. I’m growing three varieties of paperwhite narcissus. As readers of this blog know, I don’t like ‘Ziva,’ but I do love the sweeter-smelling narcissus varieties like ‘Inbal,’ ‘Erlicheer’ and others.
As for other things in my life and garden, Carol Michel and I are producing a new podcast episode each week on the Gardenangelists. If you don’t understand how to listen to podcasts, Carol wrote a great blog post detailing the process.
I hope you’re having the best December ever, and I’ll try to post a little more about my amaryllis as they bloom.