Winter is approaching.
As the weather cools and winter approaches, plant growth slows in November but there is still lots to do!
Trees and Shrubs
Pruning and renovation of many deciduous trees and shrubs and hedges can be carried out from now throughout the dormant season. Prune apple and pear trees between now and early March. Exceptions are tender plants and also Ornamental cherries, plums and almonds as these are vulnerable to silver leaf if pruned in the autumn or winter.
Evergreens are best left until the spring.
Japanese maples generally require little or no pruning, but if needed it should be done now to avoid the risk of “bleeding sap”. Prune to a well- placed side branch without leaving a stub as this can result in die back.
Bare root deciduous trees and shrubs become available to plant this month until March. Plant promptly or heel into soil straight away for a short period if conditions are not suitable for planting.
Protect trunks of newly planted trees against rabbits, deer and squirrels with plastic spiral or mesh guards.
It is an ideal time to plant bare root roses, but be sure to remove all soil and replace if you are planting where roses were previously grown otherwise they will suffer from rose sickness.
Tie wall shrubs and climbers onto their supports to protect them from wind damage. Any growth that refuses to be trained in this way can be cut off.
Lightly prune bush roses now if not already done so by reducing the height to prevent wind rock.
Unless you are leaving dead stems for structure in the garden or habitat for wild life, finish cutting down herbaceous perennials that are yellowing or have dead foliage and stems. If not too wet, finish lifting and dividing overgrown perennials.
After penstemons and salvias e.g ‘Hotlips have flowered, cut back the top growth only to give protection at the base. Then cut back further in late spring.
In colder areas lift and store dahlia tubers and cannas to store in doors over the winter months. Or apply a mulch for winter protection such as straw or wood chips in milder areas.
Remove leaves of Christmas and Lenten rose type hellebores to make way for the flowers.
Switch blades to a taller cutting height if mowing the lawn.
Its too late to be sowing grass seed but new lawns can still be laid from turf if the weather is not too cold.
In mild parts of the country as long as its not frosty or very wet, you can still carry out autumn lawn care by scarifying, aerating and top dressing. This will improve the lawn’s performance next year.
Don’t use left over summer feeds, as they contain too much nitrogen which stimulates lush growth which at this time of year will be vulnerable to diseases. Use an Autumn lawn feed which contains more Potassium and Phosphorous to encourage hardiness and root growth instead.
Avoid walking on lawns on frosty mornings . It can damage the grass and often leads to brown footprint-shaped marks.
Keep off lawns if it is frosty or wet.
November is the best month for planting tulip bulbs when cooler temperatures should reduce the risk of tulip fire, the fungal disease affecting your bulbs.
Site bird tables a few feet clear of cover or tall vegetation to avoid predators such as cats.
Raise patio containers onto feet or bricks to avoid them sitting in the winter wet. Large tubs that are at risk of cracking in the frost should be covered with hessian, fleece or bubble wrap.
Move alpine troughs to a covered porch or lean-to to protect them from the rain. Pick over alpines regularly removing any autumn debris and covering died back patches with extra grit to encourage their re-growth.
If you grow figs, remove any large fruit that have failed to ripen, keeping the small embryo figs to ripen the following year.
Plant out winter bedding to inject colour into the garden over the coming season, and wall flowers and sweet williams for next spring.
Sally Watts is a Professional Garden Designer who has been featured in national magazines for her fabulous work on plots throughout the country. For more tips and inspiration go to her website: sallywattsgardendesign.co.uk