The Garden in November
Friday, 8 November 2013
Gardeners love to chat. We will happily chat to you about the season, what plants are coming up, what's doing well, what's not working at all and also what jobs need to be done in the garden. Chats are often conducted over the garden fence and accompanied by tea and biscuits. During one such chat this week, a friend started to lament the loss of summer in her garden. The roses were done, the perennials were dying back and the annuals were a little lacklustre. While it's true that the flowery fireworks of the summer are behind us there is still a lot to be seen and take heart from in a November garden. If you take time you will notice a plethora of winter flowering shrubs, trees and flowers vying for your attention.
I enjoy November because I am a planner. I love to plan, design and organise and for me nowhere is more rewarding to do this than in the garden. Year round interest is the goal. In some respects, having been away from my garden for two years while we lived in the USA I am starting afresh. Coming back to it with new eyes. This is both a boon and a hindrance. It's meant I haven't done much in the garden this year as I've been waiting to see how it's faired. The dicentra spectabalis I grew from seed and planted the year before we left had a remarkable year, but the grasses had a poor start because of last year's wet winter.
I like to take pictures throughout the year to act as a memory jogger for the following season. It's easy to forget where perennials are once they've retreated underground for the winter. So as well as photos, after I've cut back the dying stems in autumn I mark the place with a bamboo stick and a colourful ribbon. Then jot down what the colour represents in my notebook. If you have any old tennis balls you can make a small incision in the ball and push it onto the top of the bamboo pole, this will prevent you from impaling your body parts on the pole (it happens more often than you think).
If you're wondering what my garden looks like, you've already seen it... it's the location for most of my personal style posts. I built it from scratch as it was a neglected tangle of nettles, blackberries and brambles before I took charge. It remains an ongoing project.
The curved path I built between two flower beds.
Bear playing choo-choo trains on the deck in spring, just after we moved back.
This weekend I will be tackling a LOT of jobs in my garden and with all this to do as well as the planting plans for next year I find there is no time to mourn the loss of summer. In fact this is a time to get busy!
Jobs to do in November:
Lawn care: remove moss with a rake. Aerate the lawn by driving a fork into it repeatedly to make little holes every foot or so (this improves the drainage quality of the soil and will help prevent water logging over winter), brush sand into the holes. Remove any perennial weeds. Top dress the grass with a winter feed and have your lawn mower serviced for next season.
Perennial plants: cut back dying stems to ground level and remove the debris (this prevents pest and diseases overwintering).
Roses: Shorten overlong shoots to prevent damage from wind rock and remove and dead or diseased stems. Remove leaf debris from the soil.
Annuals: remove faded annuals and replant with wall flowers or winter flowering pansies if you would like a pop of colour here and there.
Bulbs: there is still time to get your spring bulbs in the ground. I am planting Allium 'Globemaster' this weekend. Replant pots with layers of spring bulbs and top with plants for winter interest such as ivy and cyclamen coum.
Protect: in frost prone regions protect your vulnerable plants (tree ferns, bananas, cannas etc) with hessian and bubble wrap) before the first frost! If you have a greenhouse or large enough cold frame you can dig them up and overwinter them in there.
Lastly, keep on top of the weeding and keep raking those leaves...