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November In Your Garden

1st of November 2008

In the days before pot-grown and container-grown plants, November was the month when all shrubs, perennials and roses had to be planted. Happily today we can plant these throughout the year with safety. However, hedging plants such as privet, hornbeam, quickthorn and beech are still sold as bare-root plants and so, too, are raspberry canes, and planting of these can only be done from November until March, the so-called dormant season. Should it be necessary to dig up or move perennials or established plants in the garden, this must also be done when they are dormant. The perennial borders will be dying down now so plants should be cut down to just a few inches, with the exception of penstemmons which must be left intact until the spring. Leave ornamental grasses and plants with a “shape” (like sedums) as the foliage of these looks effective when covered with frost in winter.
It is time to start to prune fruit trees and some of the soft fruit. Prune late-flowering clematis and shrubs which have flowered. Leaves will need to be collected up and these can either be made into leaf-mould or put on the compost heap with all the trimmings. Small branches from prunings can be shredded to make good mulching material, whilst the large branches and diseased wood makes a good base for the fire on bonfire night.
The lawn should have stopped growing now, so the lawnmower will need to be serviced before it is needed in the spring. Make sure that leaves are raked up from the lawn but keep off the grass when it is frozen. November is a good time to turn new grass areas. Press on with digging as much of the garden as possible, adding farmyard manure as necessary. As soon as possible now sow the broad beans and plant the early onion sets, shallots and garlic. Over-wintering brassicas should be protected against pigeons.
Carry on with planting bedding plants such as pansies, primroses, violas, polyanthus and small cyclamen. Bare-root wallflowers and sweet williams should be planted without delay. Spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, crocus, narcissi and hyacinths should be planted soon. Rhubarb should be dug up and the crowns divided. Tender plants will need to be lifted and taken into the glasshouse but, before doing so, shading should be removed and the glasshouse given a thorough clean with something like Jeyes Fluid. Do check that the greenhouse heater is working and line the house with bubble plastic insulation. Lift the dahlias and dust the tubers with sulphur dust prior to storing them. Clean out the bird boxes and make sure that birds are fed in cold weather. Do check that the pond heater is working and remove the pond pump to prevent damage by frost.
With winter approaching, make sure that high shrubs and trees are wall staked against wind-rocking and put up windbreaks to protect plants from wind-chill in exposed places. Put down mulches to protect less hardy plants and be prepared to wrap up pot-grown plants, especially evergreens, in very severe weather. Finally, enjoy the plants which are giving colour in the garden at this time of the year. Many of the viburnums are now in flower as is the Autumn Cherry (Prunus subhirtella autumnalis) and the pyracanthas and cotoneasters are smothered with berries. Terry Simmonds

This page is edited by Tony

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