Garden Diary: November
Bulbs and flowers
There’s still time to plant spring bulbs, especially tulips. If your soil is very heavy, some grit underneath will help with drainage.
Stand all pots up on bricks or feet over the winter to help with drainage and reduce the risk of freezing.
Try making a ‘multi-storey’ bulb planter: a layer of taller bulbs at the bottom, then a mid-sized grower and the smallest bulbs, like iris reticulata, crocus, or muscari on top.
Plant winter bedding and bare root wallflowers for the spring.
Make an autumn sowing of sweet peas for stronger plants next year.
Finish lifting and dividing perennials.
Clear up fallen foliage from beds and borders, especially if it’s soft and rotting.
Take special care to clear fallen leaves from rockeries to prevent alpine plants from rotting.
Apply a mulch to borderline perennials to protect roots from winter cold.
Tender plants, like banana, will need bringing in, moving to a more sheltered position or wrapping up in situ.
Greenhouse and containers
Insulate the greenhouse with bubble wrap if you have not already done so. Have fleece ready for an extra layer of insulation in very cold spells.
Open vents on warm days, remove fallen foliage and continue to watch for grey mould.
Finish autumn maintenance: aerate with a fork to improve drainage and apply a low nitrogen feed. Keep mowing in dry spells but raise the cutting blade.
Trees, shrubs and climbers
Shorten any tall stems on shrub and bush roses. This helps reduce winter wind damage and gaps around the base of the stem. Firm in around the roots. Burn or bin leaves with black spot to stop them re-infecting next season.
The new season’s roses will be soon be available in garden centres. Buy or order now for the widest selection.
The soil is still warm and moist, so, unless the ground is badly waterlogged, it’s the best time to plant all new shrubs, hedges and trees. It’s also the best time to make any moves.
Make sure that trees are staked and tied. Don’t tie in too high; allow the top of the trunk a little movement. It’s the base and roots that need to be held firmly.
If you haven’t done it before, try making hardwood cuttings. They are easy to do and successful for many shrubs, including roses.
Start raking up and storing fallen leaves to make leaf-mould. Running over the leaves with the mower will shred them and they’ll rot down faster.
Clear up the remains from the vegetable patch and compost them, as debris will encourage slugs, snails and other pests. Dig in the roots of runner beans to use the nourishing nitrogen that is locked into them.
Remove any rotten fruit still on the tree. Left on, it’s the main cause of brown rot next year.
Plant rhubarb crowns. They are happy in a bit of shade and want very little attention.
Protect brassicas from pigeons with netting or fleece.
Plant garlic bulbs, currant bushes and new raspberry canes.
Other jobs around the garden
Make sure that bird feeders are topped up now that there is less food around for birds.
Remember to check for sleeping hedgehogs before you light your bonfire…