Gardening in November

Gardeners' World

Winter may be on the doorstep but there is still delight to be taken from the colours and depth in your garden and outdoor spaces. Trees are amazing things and as they sense a shift in daylight levels, they begin making changes to become more tolerant of cold temperatures. After the ravishes of the summer drought, what leaves are left, should be falling rapidly as the wind and rain increase but relish in the colours that they have and the thought of bursting back to life in spring. It may be a nuisance that you have to rake your lawns but leaf fall not only protects the trees from the effects of wind but also provides an excellent leaf mould. Its formed from decaying leaves and produces an invaluable soil conditioner.

As the weather gets colder pots need feet to keep them out of standing water and to stop the compost freezing in the bottom of the pot. Fleece (or bubble wrap if they are in a less windy area) your tender plants or move them under cover to avoid them becoming sodden but please do look after them with a bit of water when needed. Overwatering is the most common cause of loss of container plants; watering should aim to keep the compost moist, never soggy and avoid alternating dryness and saturation.

Roses in November are usually dormant. There is nothing to do now but reduce the size to help them survive root rock. Winter is regarded as the best season to prune most types of roses but rambling roses should already have been pruned after last flowering. Do not worry about them being exposed to extreme frosty conditions or snow as they are in hibernation and will be unaffected by the weather. If you have outdoor planters standing empty during the winter months, try some evergreen shrubs such as potted topiary using box. Or fill them with winter bedding plants such as ornamental cabbages and winter flowering pansies. Lawns will still need care and attention. Rake when necessary, avoid scarifying and foot traffic but don’t be afraid to use the lawn mower on milder days.

Berries on bushes and trees will be a feast for birds; blackbirds and thrushes will become more noticeable searching your lawn for worms. Food and water may start to become in short supply for birds but they will repay you with keeping pests down. Leave food out for birds every day, including supplementary food such as suet and sunflower hearts, and fallen fruit. It’s also a good idea to leave seeds on herbaceous plants and shrubs, and don’t forget to keep your bird bath topped up and fight off the squirrels!

November can be thought of as the start of the gardening year where traditionally trees and shrubs are planted ready for next year’s growth. Treat yourself to something new for your garden.

Alan Caswell

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