variegated yucca, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest

December Garden Activities

camellia in december, at LD downtown, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

By December the garden is wrapping up  for a little bit of a rest.  It’s almost as though it’s giving me permission to step away & make extra time for the holiday festivities… and  then maybe a little nap myself.

Yup – It’s Still Fall

  • The garry oak drop the last of their leaves in early December, so the first weekend I rake for the final municipal leaf pick up of the season instead of hanging outside lights.

The Clean up

Parks Department vacuuming leaves, garden Victoria BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • Hellebore are prepping their blooms for the new year, but some older foliage can detract from the show.  Trim back the ragged or blackened leaves.
  • The rains have softened the ground for digging, so it’s easy to stomp the edger between the beds & lawns.
  • A few  plants, like crocrosmia & calla lily, hold up later than most – –  sometimes even past Christmas!  But if we get a snowfall, that’s it.  They get sheered back when I can find the time. If I cut it back now, the fallen leaves are so easier to rake up around them – – plus the area will be nicely cleared to show off the snowdrops that’ll be blooming soon!


licorice fern, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • It’s almost shocking to see the blooming Hardy Fuchsia react to a snow flurry.  The poor thing withers the moment a flake touches it.  But no fear – it’s really only hibernating.  Just the same, I trim back the skeleton & dream of the renewed spring growth.
  • The evergreen Strawberry Tree blooms & bears fruit right up until the snowfall too.  When it’s hibernating is the time I like to tidy up any unwieldy branches.
  • Collect a variety of evergreen trimmings to make wreaths & decorations.
  • As they go dormant, now’s a good time for serious shaping of deciduous hedges & trees.
  • Be proactive in pruning out any dead, diseased, or damaged wood before the wicked wind storms bring it down instead.


Chinese lantern in December garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • Once all the leaves are raked & the beds are tidied, I turn to the plants that I’ve nursed in pots in the courtyard since summer.  (I knew I wouldn’t have watered them enough if I’d planted them out in the beds when I’d first got them. ) Now that the rains are here,  it’s safer to move them to where they belong.  They’ll settle in naturally without extra work from me.


berberis, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • Keep those pruners & clippers sharp
  • It’s best to clean pruners between bushes. Spray with a 10% bleach + water mixture. This helps prevent the spread of diseases through the garden.
  • Now that mowing is on hold for a couple months, take the opportunity to give the mower a good cleaning before putting it away.

Veg / Berry Patch (& Orchard)

hellebore, crocrosmia & goldenrod seedheads, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • Some tender plants will survive longer if they’re protected under row covers
  • It’s astonishing  how well some vegetables survive in the  cool if protected from soggy ground:  beets…. carrots… kale… chard…  leeks… 

Seasonal Colorvariegated yucca, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest

trees: holly… mountain ash…
shrubs: corkscrew hazel… sarcococca (sweet box)… viburnum bodnantense…. winter camellia… jasmine… early witch hazel… pyracantha (firethorn)… beauty berry (callacarpa)… heavenly bamboo …  berberis… cotoneaster… Mahonia…  hardy fuchsia… snowberry… strawberry tree… winter heather….
perennials:  Virginia creeper…   heuchera… erysimum (wallflower)… variegated yucca… primulas… hens & chicks, sedums…
ferns: Hart’s tongue fern…  sword…  deer… licorice…

winter jasmine, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Planning & Events

  • The CRD Parks department teaches  a handy-dandy wreath making workshop before  Christmas.  They also host a hike or two to help wear off that turkey dinner.
  • And as a gift idea….
    Victoria’s  Master Gardeners host a full day of garden speakers in January every couple of years.  A ticket in a Christmas stocking would be a pretty sweet treat (and calorie free!)

© SVSeekins, 2014

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