Peter’s Gardening tips for November

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The end of October was truly exceptional down south, walking through woods, fields, countryside with the dog was magical and in a T shirt, and November has begun with record breaking temperatures too!

November is normally the season of mists, fogs and decreasing daylight. So what will the weather bring us this month? Soggy in the south better further north, colder end of the month, everything and the kitchen sink!

Sunset over foggy Cranleigh and Dunsfold

Sunset over foggy Cranleigh and Dunsfold

Nature is drooping into decay and shutting down. Leaves changing colour and falling to the ground. Birds and animals eating as much as they can to put on weight, building up fat reserves to see them through the winter. Squirrels burying hoards of nuts. Bats and Hedgehogs looking for somewhere to hunker down to hibernate as well as butterflies, moths and ladybirds. This is the transition month in the garden and countryside before winter. Annual plants wither and die,others simply “die down”.

Jobs to do:

Winter protection for any tender plants, Banana, Canna Lilies, tender geraniums, pelargoniums, begonias, orchids….Bring into greenhouse or conservatory. Plants in pots too big to bring in move to a sheltered spot and pack them together.

For plants left in situ cages of wire around the plant stem then packed with straw works very well. Horticultural fleece is a must for plant protection. Check out the RHS article on Over Wintering Plants for more information.

Protecting plants for the winter

Protecting plants for the winter


New seasons Roses. The nation’s favourite plant. So versatile, ground cover, hedging, bush, climbing, rambling and above all a rose should be scented! The range of colours available from the specialist nurseries is incredible. Bare root plants are still excellent value, often living more than 20 years! Planted now you will get good root growth before Christmas. Dig a good sized hole, sprinkle a root grow type micorrhizal fungi onto the roots- this will promote new roots and avoid Rose Soil Sickness,- place the rose roots spread out in the hole and backfill with the soil, firm in with your boot. Mulch on surface around your rose.

Rosa 'Jayne Austin' (Ausbreak) David Austin Roses

Rosa ‘Jayne Austin’ (Ausbreak) David Austin Roses

New Seasons Fruit trees:

Apples, Pears, Peach, Nectarine, Cherries, Nuts, Mulberry, etc and all fruit bushes- Raspberries, Loganberries, Blueberries, Gooseberries, Black, Red, White Currants etc are all in garden centres, but the better range is from the Specialist Nurseries if you’re looking for unusual varieties.

Open Ground Plants:

Hedging plants- conifers – yew, thuja plicata( western red cedar), laurels, native hedging plants like hornbeam ,hazel,  beech, hawthorn, blackthorn and holly. Go for these open ground plants for better value if it’s a lot of plants. Again look for specialist nurseries.

This is the time for planting any of the above!

Vegetables and Fruit:

A good tidy up, clear all old vegetation- courgettes, rhubarb leaves, runner beans… Compost non diseased plants. Burn or take to the tip rotten fruit.

Place grease bands or fruit tree grease around the trunks of apples and pears to stop winter/codling moth damage next year. Do the stake or cane too!

Protect salads, spinach with cloches. Net brassica plants – Cabbages, cauliflower, spring greens, kale and brussel sprouts from Wood Pigeons.

Land dug now kept quite rough will only need levelling and raking next spring. The frosts will break down the lumps. Trenches for Runner beans, climbing french beans or Sweet Peas can be dug and filled with newspaper, manure and compost ready for next year too.

Do Not Dig if you’re ground is very wet. Keep Off. It ruins the soil structure, compacts and starves the ground of oxygen, turning it into a smelly sludge!

If you don’t want to dig, cover your veg patch with compost and let the worms do it for you.

Here endeth the lesson!

The perfect place for Fairies!

The perfect place for Fairies!

Word’s of Wisdom Past

” If there’s ice in November that will bear a duck,

They’ll be nothing after but sludge and muck!”

“A fair day in winter is the mother of a storm!”

“A blustery night, a fair day”


What ever the weather plan for next year. Get the seed catalogues in or go online and do some armchair gardening!

Happy Gardening … oh and if you have any gardening related questions for me, just leave them below and I will do my best to answer them for you.


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Peter Mills

I love everything to do with natural history, wildlife, biodiversity and of course horticulture - basically the big outdoors. I grew up with very good teachers namely my parents and my French grandfather who was a superb grower of vegetables. At Hadlow College I studied a three year OND in Horticulture. I had a market stall selling plants. Went onto wholesaling house plants to florists and garden centres across southern England. In 1986 I joined Clandon Park Garden Centre as manager. Whilst there I started my career as a gardening radio presenter with the BBC Southern Counties Radio. This continued for 15 years, building up valuable contacts with the RHS Wisley, live broadcasts from Chelsea & Hampton Court Flower shows, South of England & Surrey County shows etc. Since 1998 I have been self-employed, working as a Head Gardener and in private gardens . Through the RHS Advisory Department at Wisley I advise on horticultural problems in members gardens, including pest & disease problems, lawn-care advice, pruning of wisterias, fruit trees, roses, wildlife gardening, growing fruit & vegetables, creating wildflower meadows, identifying plants and control of pernicious weeds. Autumn 2016 finds me at the Autumn Flower Show 6-8 of September at RHS Wisley and Taste of Autumn Sunday 23rd of October. Sunday 11th of September I am cycling from London to Brighton for Perennial ( Gardeners Benevolent Fund) who helped me when I broke my leg badly in 2014. Had the plate removed in February this year. My Just Giving page is Perennial is a Fabulous Charity who help anyone working in horticulture. I didn't think I would need their help at the age of 52! They were brilliant and helped us as a family. It's my turn to repay their help and others too! John Ambrose and I have raised over £ 2000.00 thank you all. I am an extremely lucky guy who loves what I do and the trade called Horticulture!

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