“No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, no fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds - November!"No! by Thomas Hood (1799-1845)
Perhaps it was bleaker in those days or is it just we keen gardeners like to make sure we keep November colourful.
There is a long list of flowers that can still brave the month and starting at ‘A’ you can have Aconitum – Monkshood with tall, spiky flowers, Agapanthus, the African Lily, Alstroemeria, the Peruvian variety with its long lasting flowers, and asters, the Michaelmas Daisies with around 180 species bringing a mass of different colours to borders; and don’t forget the Helleborus or Christmas rose with its delicate flowers.
Many more in the alphabet of flowers can brighten up the month in borders and containers: winter flowering pansies, violas, primrose and polyanthus being at the top of the list.
Moving on to spring and summer colour, now is the time to plant tulip bulbs, ideally on a layer of course grit for drainage and in a sunny position for spring flowering, along with anemone tubers, Canterbury bells Campanula), pansies, Sweet William and irises.
Whilst there may be no butterflies or bees, digging over borders and vegetable plots will bring in the birds (along with birdfeeders of seed and peanuts) especially the robins looking for a tasty worm. If you’re planting trees and shrubs perhaps include a Buddleia to draw the butterflies next year and fruit trees can go in now along with bare rooted roses.
With the trees holding on to their leaves for so long this year there will be plenty to clear up, especially off the lawn. And who knows? We may have those extra days of sunshine here and there to encourage us to dig, work in manure, prune and plant.
- Lay turf on a prepared area for a new lawn or to repair.
- Dig herbaceous borders and work in manure
- Prune bush and standard roses, cut and put prunings into soil to ‘strike’
- Plant tulips in containers if not in the ground
- Give the green house a good clean and wash
- Bag up leaves to make leaf mould for compost
- Pot deciduous shrubs to early flower in the greenhouse
- Bring patio fuchsias and pelargoniums into the conservatory or warm greenhouse to overwinter