Berries galore! Berries are the jewelled decorations of the garden in November. They also provide a feast for birds. Garden-worthy hedgerow natives include honeysuckle, sloes, rose hips and haws. Varieties of crab apple provide different coloured fruits, some of which last on the tree long after leaf fall. Pyracantha, which should come with a public health warning for its vicious thorns, nevertheless is a prolific berry-bearer. Cotoneaster varieties are more user-friendly for humans.
Mulch, mulch, mulch and carry on: Last year’s leaf mould will be ready for use. Empty your compost bin, if all has gone according to plan, the compost should be a crumbly brown. Leave leaves under trees to rot down of their own accord, but sweep the lawn and paths to make leaf mould. Stuff them in a bag with a few holes to let the air in and forget until next November. When that’s done, no more tidying! Leave seedheads for birds and overwintering insects.
Plant for next year: Sow broad beans, plant purple sprouting broccoli, they would benefit from a bit of protection from winter weather and pigeons. Plant new or split and replant old rhubarb, plenty of mulch for this one. This is the start of the season for planning and ordering bareroot trees, shrubs and hedges.
Preventative Actions: There’s been no frosts yet – but they can’t be far away. Take tender plants in to shelter. Pots that remain outside all winter will need to be propped up on chocks to ensure good drainage. Net the pond to catch falling leaves which would otherwise sink to the bottom and rot.
Pot of Colour: Plant up a container with a mix of ivies, skimmia, pansies and primulas, with added tulip bulbs. Place in a sunny spot by the door to cheer you up during the dark months.
Bee Support: providing sustenance for insects throughout the year. Here is a very good reason not to cut back ivy: the flowers are full of nectar, feeding bees right up to hibernation.