What's in season: December

Pears growing on the tree at Hidcote Manor Garden, Gloucestershire in September

Spark festive joy with warming dishes packed full of goodness. We've got gardening tips and recipes to help you make the most of seasonal fruit and veg.

Whether you want to cook an extravagent Christmas feast with all the trimmings or a comforting bowl of soup to warm up after a bracing winter walk, you'll find lots of fresh ingredients in your garden, allotment or local shop. 

Fruit and veg to harvest and buy

  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Brussel sprouts 
  • Spring green cabbage 
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower 
  • Kale
  • Leeks
Planting and picking pears

The garden pear (Pyrus communis), which is thought to originate from the Caucasus, has been cultivated in Britain for more than 1,000 years. There are around 1,000 varieties of garden pear and many can be grown and harvested at this time of year.

Jobs for the garden

Shorter days and colder temperatures mean that many of us retreat to the warmth and comfort of our homes during the winter months. But some gentle gardening on a bright day is still an enjoyable way of connecting to nature and getting some fresh air. While there aren't a huge amount of jobs to do this month, it's always worth turning over the soil, adding fallen leaves to your compost heap and layering your beds with mulch.

Harvesting in the garden

Child in wellies choosing gardening gloves by a strawberry bed

Gardening tips and advice 

We've asked our gardeners to share their top tips on how you can look after your garden during all seasons. Whether you want to know more about pruning, weeding, harvesting veg or replanting, you'll find all the answers here.

A selection of gardening tools and accessories displayed against a brick wall.

Pick up some garden essentials 

If your garden could do with a bit of a helping hand, you'll find everything you need in our online shop. From new bulbs and birdfeeders to practical tools, there are useful products for every season.

The tastes and smells of Christmas

The evocative tastes and smells of Christmas owe much to the variety of herbs and spices that have found their way from across the globe and into our gardens and kitchens.

Our festive celebrations would have a lot less flavour if we only used native herbs in our winter dishes. We've been growing sage, rosemary, bay and thyme for so long that it's easy to forget they originally come from the Mediterranean. Many herbs arrived with the Romans and were soon cultivated in gardens for culinary and medicinal use. They were popular during medieval times and were often used in dishes for special occasions.

The rise of colonialism during the 17th century saw the introduction of flavours from East Asia and the trade in spices such as cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. It was only possible to grow the plants that produced these spices in European gardens if there was a heated glasshouse. 

Initially, the scarcity of these spices made them very expensive and only enjoyed by wealthy diners. Mince pies with their blended spicy filling were popular during the Stuart and Georgian times and became something of a Christmas status symbol. Gradually, through a combination of wider cultivation and improved transport, the price of spices fell. By the Victorian times many spices were readily available and commonly used at Christmas. 

Dishes for December