November Gardener

November in the gardenscience for the gardener


Small Parrotia persica -persian ironwood Hamamelis family


This month in the cooling Northern Hemisphere may be the final chance to do the big garden clear up with Christmas season preparations commencing and poorer weather starting to inhibit  much outside garden work.


Cut back and remove all frosted dead leaves and pull up dahlia tubers for storage on a damp (not wet)  compost in the dark. Burn black spot rose leaves together with all other infected foliage – don’t compost them!  Collect fallen leaves, and if possible keep them in black plastic bags with air holes or wire baskets are favourite .  Remaining leaves on the grass or flower beds does a lot of damage and gives pests, especially slugs and snails, a cosy winter hibernating habitat. Enjoy the deepening and constantly changing winter colours of Autumn -Fall you just cannot beat them ,look at the  intense colours  of the small persian ironwood pictured above .


Cyclamen hederifolium at Hestercombe Gdns uk

Cyclamens are flowering their red and pink heads off already and are reasonably priced at garden centres for buying in winter colour. New bare root roses should be planted now and existing rose shrubs cut back fairly hard to stimulate good growth in mid spring.  If left roses will exhaust themselves budding, but won’t flower and will not perform as well next summer.

Last chance to cut back by a third shrubs that have finished autumn flowering. Rhododendrons and Camellias should  be carefully pruned as they will have started budding for next year already so double check where you are cutting  first. I was asked about pruning Spring shrubs this summer and generally its best to prune back soon as possible after Spring flowering ,a good example being Forsythia ,before the buds start emerging for the following year .


Aster x frikcartii at Hestercombe House & Gardens Somerset UK


Hypericum berries and colourful leaves

Winter flowering berry shrubs for example Ilex (Holly), Skimmia and Mahonia should be growing berries right now. The Sarcococca  is a superb, inexpensive and very fragrant winter easy-to-plant shrub that can be purchased as a  small plant  don’t miss out on it for a really strong fragrance boost on a cold winter day.

Enjoy remaining seed heads from Perennials such as Rudbekias and tall growing Miscanthus grass and Hypericum berries with leaves going multicoloured .Arum italicum bright red berries of the Araceae family sneak up unexpectedly .(Dont eat either,they are  poisonous !). There are so many sharp seed heads of teasels (Dipsacus family) and a plant name that I love called Honesty -Lunaria annua of the Brassica (cabbage ) family with transparent circular seed pods.I will  put up some pics  of these in December including Phlomis seed heads of the Lamiaceae (Mint  family ).Just take a look around all gardens and plants you pass on an Autumn walk .


Magnificent tall growing Miscanthus sinensis grass for winter display

Spring thoughts for action now

Have you planted any spring bulbs and plants for the new year?   It’s not too late. Narcissus-(Daffodils)  ,Tulips Crocuses ,Snowdrops should be planted now while the ground is still soft and there are superb new varieties of different colour Hellebores ( some named Christmas rose flowering from December onwards !Bunches of Wallflowers are on sale at low cost ready to flower next year as biennials ,their colour is  very worth looking forward to even for the one flowering year.


‘Distant ‘equine Autumn rural walk uk

Move indoors tender plants in containers, they will perish in an unheated greenhouse.  A porch or heated conservatory is ideal.  Remove pumps and lights from ponds and store decorative garden lights which can be badly damaged in severe damp frost and storms.Look out for some new gardening gloves ,gardeners deserve them after a hard working year.


Clean gardening equipment. I find a wire brush works wonders removing hardened soil. Take time to have a good look at your mowing equipment for safety checks and a possible service. Nothing is more irritating on a lovely spring morning when you do your first cut and you find the machine is silent or sending out clouds of smoke!!

Enjoy and welcome again to schools ,teachers  ,students and everyone from the RHS Schools Campaign web site link .



Tony Arnold ACIHort