Peter’s Gardening tips for November

November is normally the season of mists, fogs and decreasing daylight. So what will the weather bring us this month?

Sunset over foggy Cranleigh and Dunsfold

Sunset over foggy Cranleigh and Dunsfold

Nature is dropping 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 mycorrhizal 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 the 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 your 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”

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

Happy Gardening!

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Peter has spent his life gardening, working in garden centres and advising in all aspects of gardening, wildlife, and bio-diversity in horticulture.He managed Clandon Park Garden Centre in Surrey at the age of 23 and was a gardening radio presenter with the BBC. This continued for 15 years, running live broadcasts from Chelsea & Hampton Court Flower shows, South of England & Surrey County shows.Now self-employed, Peter works on a wide variety of gardens from private to large estates and also concentrating on consultancy and advisory work to fellow gardeners. He works with the RHS Gardening Advice team at Chelsea, Hampton Court, Wisley Flower shows and is an RHS External Gardening Advisor

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