November: it may be cold, dark and wet, but there is still lot's to enjoy
Well, here we are in November. The final month of autumn (horticulturally at least), November may seem like a month in which our gardens are devoid of interest. This is far from true, however, because in the coming weeks there is much for us to see and enjoy.
OK, so the dazzling reds, oranges and yellows of September and early October may well have gone, but let’s not dismiss our favourite evergreen as being dull or monotone in comparison. Evergreen plants are the ‘forgotten heroes’ of any good garden, and now is the time when we they really come it to their own and we can celebrate everything they have to offer.
This month's star plants
If it is interesting evergreen foliage we are after then we could do a lot worse than Elaeagnus ‘Gilt Edge’- a wonderful plant with mid-green leaves ringed with a glorious gold. Look closely and we’ll also find a lovely suede-like texture on the stems and undersides of the leaves. It is a plant that makes a great hedge, and is also very popular with garden designers like me when it is planted individually or in small clusters as part of a mixed planting scheme.
Other evergreen stars with variegated foliage include holly (Ilex ‘Golden King’ is one of my favourites), ivy (try Hedera ‘Sulphur Heart’ for its large leaves with lovely ‘splashes’ of acid-green), or the smaller leaved Euonymus ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’.
For textural contrast, few plants are more valuable to a garden designer than Fatsia japonica (false caster oil plant) (pictured above). It has large glossy leaves, and always makes a dramatic statement even in those parts of a garden with partial shade. Great throughout the year, Fatsia is particularly interesting in late autumn when its large clusters of creamy white flowers burst into ‘firework’-like blooms. Mahonia is another fabulously textural plant, with an intriguing ‘horizontal’ growth habit and prickly ‘holly-like’ leaves. Try either Mahonia ‘Winter Sun' or Mahonia 'Charity’.
This month's garden jobs
Unlike most other times of the year, November really is a month in which we can choose how much work we want to do in the garden. There are few tasks that can really be considered essential, although it is always definitely worth keeping an eye on our lawns if they continue to grow. We are coming in to frost season, however, so do try to keep off the grass on very cold mornings so as to avoid causing any accidental damage.
Elsewhere in the garden, if we have not had a chance to have a pre-winter tidy up it is worth doing so over the next few weeks. I like to sweep up any accumulations of fallen leaves, and remove any plants from our greenhouse that have finished ‘doing their thing’. I also try to relocate any sheltering slugs and snails I may find. It’s also a good idea to spend a moment or two checking on trees and large shrubs which may have suffered some damage in autumn winds- prune out any affected stems or branches before there is a chance for disease to set in.
November is a great time of the year to be thinking about moving established plants or introducing any new bare-root trees, shrubs, hedges or roses. Often considerably better priced than the container grown plants which are widely available during other seasons, bare-root plants are sold without soil or compost. This makes them much lighter and cheaper to transport, and so they can offer us much better value for money.
Bare-root plants are ‘lifted’ shortly before they are sold, and survive because they have fallen into winter dormancy. They don’t need much in the way of water or nutrients to survive during this period, but it is important to ensure that the roots don’t dry out. It is always best to plant bare-root stock as soon as possible after buying it, so we need to plan where we are going to plant them and ideally prepare our holes in advance. It really is a good way of introducing new plants to our gardens, so why not give it a try this year?
Finally, if we haven’t managed to plant your spring bulbs yet we can still put them in now- we are late but it is still worth getting them in the soil.
Whatever the weather this month, do enjoy all that the November garden has to offer.
Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.