The garden is now winding down towards its winter dormancy, but this does not mean there is nothing to do in the garden this month.
Your November gardening todo list:
Early in the month the lawn will still be growing. Keep mowing until growth ceases and continue keeping it clear of leaves. If you do not clear leaves from the lawn it will look quite threadbare and patchy come spring. Leaves may either be added to the compost heap, or blown deep into flower beds to allow for decomposition in situ.
Plant your tulips in the ground now. It is said that the colder conditions of November reduce the risk of your tulips developing tulip ‘fire’, a fungal disease that spoils the appearance of your prized tulips.
If you have not yet planted any of your other winter/spring bulbs, do it now – better late than never!
Continue deadheading until the frosts arrive and the foliage is blackened, then cut the stems to the ground. Traditional advice is to lift the tubers, allow them to dry and place them in a low nutrient, potting-style compost in a cool, dry storage area.
However, here in Voulême the drainage of the soil and mildness of winters is such that tubers can be left in the ground. In wetter areas lifting the tubers or mulching over them when the ground is dry should provide an effective barrier to heavy winter rain. It is typically rot caused to the tubers by continual wet autumnal/winter weather which causes the demise of dahlias, rather than the winter cold. Lift, or leave, what is your experience?
It is a similar story here. In Voulême we can get away with leaving them in the ground and mulch, as above.
Remove hellebore leaves
Later in the month you can start to remove all leaves from your Hellebores (with the exception of Helleborus foetidus). The reason for this is two-fold: (1) there is no foliage to obscure the beautiful flowers that appear in winter, and (2) it helps to manage/eradicate the appearance of leaf spot (a fungal disease) from next year’s foliage.
Fleece and pack tree ferns and bananas
If you grow your tree ferns and bananas in pots bring them under cover.
If you have them planted in the ground they may need protection from the winter frost and wet. Wrap tree ferns in horticultural fleece. The crown (the growing point at the centre of this year’s fronds) packed with straw. Banana foliage should be removed and the stem similarly wrapped, see here.
Plant of the month
Nerines are now coming to an end, Cyclamen hederifolium is still in flower and Dahlias will perform for as long as the frost allows. But for me there is one plant that reigns supreme at this time of year: Verbena bonariensis.
It comes into growth very early in the year, is in flower by the end of April/early May and continues flowering right through the year, with no need to deadhead, until the first hard frosts puts a stop to the show. An eye catching purple, the flower has an almost iridescent quality that allows it to show up clearly in the hazy low light the darker days and nights have to offer.
V. bonariensis thrives in low maintenance situations, as fertilising it will cause it to flop all over the place, and really only requires maintenance just once a year. It self seeds in abundance allowing you to replenish stock or increase numbers at no expense. Unwanted seedlings can be removed very easily.
Enjoy the autumnal colours
November is the peak month for autumn colour. I shall be taking pictures of the autumn colours and sharing them on Instagram. I look forward to seeing your pictures also.
If you would like assistance with autumn and winter maintenance of your garden to prepare it for next year, please get in touch here.