November has arrived and the plants are confused! But this really is a win win for garden lovers.
The mild weather has created some unseasonal surprises. Perennials have had a second flush, trees and shrubs have held onto their leaves for far long than in previous years and some shrubs are even flowering now when you would normally expect a winter show, such as Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' in flower NOW and wafting its divine scent around the autumn garden.
So many plants are flourishing at the moment. It is a real joy to see the garden so full of colour in November. Loving every minute until ferocious frosts hit.
Embrace that mother nature keeps us on our toes and dismiss the rule book. Take note of what is occurring in your garden right now and react to that rather than ploughing through jobs you 'normally do' at this time of year. There is so much colour still to enjoy.
Here are some tips for when the time is right in your garden:
Ensure all tender plants are kept frost-free in a greenhouse, conservatory. cold frame or windowsill.
You may need to fleece terracotta pots and half hardy plants to help them make it through winter. Move pots near a wall and group together. This will help keep the temperature up, like a mini microclimate. It is surprising how much heat is retained in building brickwork.
If you have not already done so then it is time to wrap up your Dicksonia antarctica, Tasmanian Tree Fern to protect from the elements. Carefully fold the fronds over each other so they form a protective blanket over the crown; then wrap in horticulture fleece; cover the entire tree and pull cover down to pot rim. Secure at a few points so the cover survives all that winter throws at it. Rainwater will still be able to penetrate the fleece to keep your tree fern hydrated but frost free.
Ensure containers do not become water logged; raise off ground with pot ‘feet.’
Plant tulip bulbs. Keep your garden scheme flexible by planting in pots so you can move them around. It also means you can move the pot out of pole position once blooms fade and you are waiting for the foliage to die back.
Reduce Buddleja davidii and Lavatera (tree mallow) by half to prevent wind rock; otherwise strong winds could break long stems.
Prune climbing and rambling roses to keep a tight framework but remember to enjoy the colourful baubles of rose hips.
An outstanding David Austin climber is 'The Generous Gardener' pictured below. It is a prolific long flowerer, exquisitely scented and boasts large orange/red hips until winter.
Reduce shrub roses by about a third to help prevent wind rock.
Plant out winter / spring bedding such as primulas, pansies and violas.
Plant bare-root shrubs, roses, trees and hedging.
Prune fruit bushes (currants / gooseberries) once dormant and take out the old canes of summer raspberries leaving the new canes for next year's fruit.
Harvest the last of the pumpkins and squash which were not carved up for Halloween.
If not already done so, lift dahlia tubers, begonias and gladiolus corms and store over winter.
Surprisingly, depending on area and weather conditions, many of us are STILL enjoy dahlia blooms. My garden is full of gorgeous flowers. Although many have faded I am going to eek them out for as long as possible before I lift the tubers. It is a long time until they will bloom again so make the most of it.
It is an ideal time to plant raspberries and currant bushes, strawberries and transplant runners.
Prune Acer palmatum from November to January when dormant. Do not prune earlier as stems bleed. Enjoy their vibrant colourful leaves for as long as they stay attached to stems.
There are vast range of Acer palmatum, Japanese maple leaf colours available to keep your garden glowing as other plants fade. Perfect for small gardens as many are very slow growing.
Apple and pear trees can be pruned from now until February once the trees are dormant. Do not prune plum until around June time as they are susceptible to silver leaf disease.
Clear out the greenhouse to avoid over wintering bugs finding a haven. Great opportunity to tidy pots and get organised.
Keep sowing cut and come again salad and herbs under cover.
Keep an eye on stored fruit. Remove and compost any rotten.
Check for hibernating wildlife if you are lighting a bonfire. Hedgehogs will be finding winter homes.
Help birds in the forthcoming winter months by leaving out seeds and water. You will be amazed what wildlife appear in your garden if you provide a safe feeding haven. Recently in Wales we were lucky enough to have a pair of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers come to feed every morning!
Do not be too hasty cutting back old seed heads, they provide excellent food and shelter for a whole variety of creatures.
Generally ensure soil / base of plants are tidy of dead leaves and plant materials to minimalise the spread of fungal diseases. This breaks the lifecycle of diseases such as black spot returning to the soil.