November days can be damp, misty and unpleasant but there are still many jobs waiting in the garden that can be completed when the weather is much finer. Take advantage of any mild spells to do some general tidying of leaves and enjoy the fresh autumn air.
Some perennials such as hardy geraniums, rudbeckia and chrysanthemums can continue flowering well into the autumn but this month is usually harsh enough to ensure they have passed their peak. Cut the stems down to about two inches above ground level and put the trimmings on the compost heap. It’s also a last opportunity to split any overgrown clumps of delphiniums and other perennials. Discard any woody central sections and replant the younger rooted growth providing the soil isn’t frozen. Add a top layer of mulch such as well rotted compost or bark chips to protect the crowns during the winter.
- Planting Bulbs
If you are on schedule, all your daffodils should have already been planted but now is the preferred month for tulips and scented hyacinths which will provide such a welcome feast for early emerging bees and butterflies on warm spring days. There are many unusual varieties of tulips such as the large, flamboyant Parrot with frilled, variegated petals. Perfect for the rockery or at the front of a border is the miniature Red Riding Hood with its beautiful deep crimson flowers and two tone leaves. Planted in groups of three or five they will create a fine display.
Luckily, these can be planted up in the shelter of a greenhouse or shed even in the worst of the weather. You can include a few bulbs such as crocuses and miniature tulips or concentrate on spring flowering bedding plants. Bellis daisies, primroses and delicate cyclamen will overwinter beside your front door quite happily. Winter flowering pansies are always reliable for adding some colour while their dainty cousin, the viola looks attractive when planted in a tub or hanging basket on its own.
Weather permitting, try to tidy the borders thoroughly removing stubborn weeds that always seem to flourish even in the depths of the winter. Now is an ideal time to plant deciduous trees and shrubs but only do so if the ground isn’t waterlogged or frozen. Ornamental cherries, magnolias and philadelphus will all settle in over the next few months to create a fine show of spring foliage. Remember to stake any delicate saplings to prevent them growing in the direction of the prevailing wind.
- Planting Biennials
Some plants such as hollyhocks and foxgloves have a two year cycle and are known as biennials. At the end of their first year they will be fairly good sized plants with plenty of bushy growth. Place them in their final flowering positions ready for their second year when they will grow to a great height and flower profusely during the early summer. Contact Garden Club London for more useful design tips.