As the season really begins to change we can look forward to the crisp mornings and blustery days of late autumn and begin to put the garden to bed. November is a real time of planning, with summer fresh in the memory and the seed catalogues arriving – make the most of the next few quite months to prepare the garden and get next year off to a bumper start - Happy Gardening!
Sow Sweet Peas
Sowing Sweet Peas now for next year and overwintering undercover will give you really strong plants for an early show – Rootrainers are the professional choice and perfect for strong root systems.
Plant, Prune and Divide
Now is an ideal time to plant Tulip bulbs - remember to put some in pots as well as in the garden so that they can be moved to a prominent place for you to enjoy the flowers in the Spring. Protect from squirrels with netting. Lift and dry Dahlia tubers ready for storing in a dry frost-free place over the winter.
Prune your roses. Cut off most of the year's growth and take out large woody stems. Bare-root stock should be planted now – make sure you chose a rose to suit the location - repeat-flowers, good scent, disease resistance and vigour are all things to consider.
Securely tie in loose shoots of climbers growing on arches and pergolas to give them form over the winter and to prevent them being damaged in high winds. Cut peonies back to promote healthy growth next spring - Take the opportunity to get some peony supports in place while the plants are dormant and you can avoid damaging young shoots in the spring.
Cut back and tidy borders and make a note of any changes you want to make next spring - taking notes throughout the year of what works (and what doesn’t) is really useful as it is difficult to imagine the border in full bloom when you’re doing your winter planning.
As a rule, perennials that flower in early summer (such as poppies, lupins and pulmonarias) should be divided now. Anything that flowers later into July and August are best divided in the Spring. Deadhead pansies/violas/primulas regularly to keep the flowers coming. Protect tender perennials with a mulch of compost whilst the soil is still relatively warm but avoid burying herbaceous crowns.
Continue to collect leaves to make mulch for next year – don’t add rose leaves though to help to reduce black spot next season – Jute Composting Sacks are ideal. Move any established shrubs or trees now while they are dormant. Take as much of the root ball as you can, firm in well and keep watered. Check after frosts that the roots are still firmly in the ground as this can sometimes lift them from soil.
Create Winter Displays
Simple hanging baskets planted structures brighten up the winter garden – a Basket Obelisk can create colourful height on your patio. Paperwhites planted into a shallow bowl or pot will flower in 6-8 weeks if kept on a bright windowsill so start them off now for a display over Christmas and New Year.
- insulate your greenhouse with bubble wrap
- Make sure all tender plants are safely under cover and kept frost free
- Propagate perennials, by taking root cuttings
- Sow leafy crops such rocket as into bamboo seed trays for winter salads
- Check greenhouse plants regularly for overwintering pests
- Scrub down staging, glazing and the framework with disinfectant
- Wash out all empty pots and trays and store neatly under greenhouse staging, ready for use in spring
- Bring potted herbs, such as parsley and chives into the greenhouse
- Monitor greenhouse temperature with a thermometer and turn on heating if needed
- Clear out tomato and cucumber plants from the greenhouse and add to the compost heap
Plan your Plot
Start planning your vegetable plot for next year and in the meantime continue to plant garlic which will benefit from exposure to the cold before emerging in the Spring. Sow hardy peas such as ‘Feltham First’ under fleece for an early crop next year. Parsnips will sweeten after a few frosts so begin lifting them as the temperature falls. Sow pots of cut and come again salad and hardy herbs for putting right outside your kitchen door – protect with an attractive Bell Cloche when the winter sets in.
Summer-fruiting raspberries and blackberries need cutting back, tying in – now would be a good time to invest in a raspberry support or fruit cage to make the most of the crop next year. Leave autumn-fruiting raspberries until later in the winter.
Water pots outside if you have experienced a very dry spell and ensure containers are lifted off the ground to prevent waterlogging. Avoid walking on the lawn if it is waterlogged to avoid compacting the soil. Check tree ties and stakes. Make sure the ties are not cutting into the trunks. Clean your tools and once clean store them in a dry place – a tool rack will keep everything in order.