This is quiet time in the garden, with short ,cold days and frosty nights, this month tends to be foggy, as well as damp and cold. There are always things to be done in the garden and the pace slows down and most jobs will wait a week or two, or even a month if the weather is particularly bad. Most plants are now dormant & require very little in the way of attention. Keep up clearing away the fallen leaves especially on lawns, this blocks out the light, weakens the grass & encourages the development of diseases. Do not forget to remove fallen leaves from containers & rock gardens too – they can smother low growing plants & provide the perfect hiding places for over-Wintering slugs & snails, try to kill as many as you can to reduce the population in your garden exposing them , the birds will help you out! Make use of the fine days and get that Winter digging done, also now is a good time to dig the runner bean trench, for next year, gradually filling with garden waste to rot down with the weather over the Winter. There are still pockets of colour in the November garden: trees still carry their autumn & Winter berries and there are late flowers in bloom in the border – the last roses, the pink nerines and Michaelmas daisies. Clear up those soggy borders, removing dead material & just giving it a quick hoe over will make all the difference when you look out of the window on bad days. Finally check all stakes & plant supports are firmly in the ground, for Winter winds will surely find the loose ones! Enough of the “doom & gloom”, when it is not possible to get outside, stay in the warm and order your seed catalogues, plan how you are going to lay out next year’s garden, or making changes, I personally, once I have my seed packets, write out a list of the sowing times, so much easier than ferreting through the seed box only to find you should have started off something last month! For a really early crop of broad beans , start them off now in pots or root trainers, under glass, moving them later to a cold frame, many believe these early sown plants are more resistant to the dreaded blackfly. If you grow outside grapes, once the leaves have fallen, prune back the laterals, if you leave the pruning until early next year they may bleed profusely, once the sap starts to rise. Cover vulnerable plants growing outside with cloches or horticultural fleece, make sure any decoration containers that are not frost resistance under cover. If you are forcing bulbs for Christmas check the pots regularly not letting them get water logged or drying out. Move them into a light cool position indoors, when the leaves reach about 2.5 cm. Now is your last chance to plant any remaining tulip or hyacinth bulbs in the garden without delay. Prune wisteria to ensure and increase flowering next year. Harvest vegetables, as required, including the first Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbages, spinach, Swedes and turnips.
Tales from a small garden, those regular readers of these notes may remember these accounts from last year, I thought a end of the second year may be of interest. Early in 2018, with the green house & with power supply the propagators were put to full use, germinating many seeds, plus over-Wintering my orange & lemon trees. New ventures this year have been building a cold frame & planting up my herb garden, round an existing bay tree, they have gone mad during the Summer with no soil showing anywhere, round the edges of this bed, I planted Cambridge favourite strawberries which did particularly well. The fruit trees I planted last year have yielded a good crop of apples, tayberries, blueberries & apricots, unfortunately the Victoria plum & pears did not fruit this year, however, as gardeners say, there is always next year. The new herbaceous border did well with, first the Spring bulbs in flower, followed by the alliums, lupins, delphiniums, penstemons rounding off the year with the Michaelmas daisies, something of interest all Summer and Autumn. The vegetable garden did extremely well with more beans and tomatoes than we could cope with, still it’s one of the best parts of growing vegetables is giving produce away to friends and neighbours . The stream, cleared the stream bed of rocks and bricks, dug back the bank to it’s proper width, about 6 feet. Built up the bank from reclaimed rocks, had a set of steps built from the garden down to the water complete with landing stage! Great for filling the watering can during that long hot Summer. The terracing was completed, and all the rubbish brambles removed. It is now planted up with marginals, bulrushes, mash-marigolds, sedges, a gunera & “Mind-your-own-business” growing on the rocks. The upper terrace I have planted up with campanulas, grasses, foxgloves and a couple of bamboos, in September planted daffodils & crocuses, it should look really good next year, I am very pleased with it. It has been a very good year for the whole garden, due probably to good soil, plenty of compost, copious water from the stream & the fact that the garden faces due south getting any sun that comes out, all day long.