November in the Garden

November has arrived and although it’s relatively mild here in the south, we have had some frosts already which have done for all the colourful annuals in the garden. However, there are still plenty of plants providing interest at this time of year.

Floral and Hardy’s Top Ten Plants for November:

image of Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Atropurpureum’ –   Japanese Maple

Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Atropurpureum’ – 

Japanese Maple – a low-growing, mound-forming maple with deeply cut, rich purple foliage and, like many others of its kind,  fantastic scarlet autumn foliage.

image of Callicarpa bodinieri giraldii ‘Profusion’

Callicarpa bodinieri giraldii ‘Profusion’ – 

a medium-sized deciduous shrub with oval mid green leaves, often bronze when young, and tiny star-shaped lilac flowers in summer followed by striking clusters of polished purple fruits in autumn and winter. 

image of Erica darleyensi

Erica darleyensis  – 

low-growing evergreen with very fine, needle-like foliage, often with yellow orange tints and masses of white, pink or mauve flowers. Height 45-60cms. They’ll flower for several months but are best grown in acid soil

image of Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’

Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’– 

a large unprepossessing shrub for most of the year, but in autumn it takes on fabulous autumn colours. The gorgeous, orange-pink, winged fruit which remain long after the leaves have fallen provide a vibrant display, so plant it where it can be seen and enjoyed from the house.

image of Ilex or Holly

Ilex – 

Holly – familiar to us all, a large, dense evergreen with glossy green leaves, sometime variegated, tiny cream flowers in early summer followed by red berries. Cut some branches and bring them indoors for Christmas.

image of Iris foetidissima or stinking iris

Iris foetidissima – 

rather unfetchingly called the ‘Stinking Iris’, this may put some people off, but this is a shame as it produces, not only pretty pale yellow flowers in early summer, but also very long-lasting orange-red berries from autumn to spring. It also has attractive, evergreen, strappy foliage and is a ‘grow anywhere type’ of plant. Apparently, when cut, the leaves smell of roast beef, although I have never noticed it!

image of Liriope muscari –   Lilyturf

Liriope muscari – 

Lilyturf – coming to the end of its season, but still a valuable source of late colour, this perennial has spikes of purple flowers above evergreen, grassy, dark green foliage. Height 20-25cms.

image of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberfeder’

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberfeder’ – 

a spectacular, towering grass with plumes of silvery pink flowers in late summer. Leave them standing through the winter as they look fabulous in the low autumn light and with winter frosts.

image of Pyracantha

Pyracantha  – 

large, prickly, evergreen wall shrub with cream flowers for the bees in June and red, orange or yellow berries for the birds in winter.

image of Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’

Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’  – 

not for the small garden perhaps, this is a large erect deciduous shrub with many clusters of fragrant pink flowers in winter. Height 2-3ms. Plant near entrances to take advantage of the perfume, or cut some and bring it indoors.

Top Tip: Berrying plants provide a valuable source of food for birds, but if you don’t want the berries stripped from your plants choose the lighter coloured ones – the red ones tend to go first!

November Tips and Advice:

1. As the last of the leaves fall from the trees, have a good tidy up and clear them all away from the borders and from the lawn. Put them on the compost heap, if you’ve got one. If not you can bag them up in black sacks with a few holes in them – they’ll rot down over winter to produce a good leafy mulch for next year.

2. Give the lawn its final cut, but not if it’s frosty or wet.

3. If you live in a mild area you can prune your roses now (leave it until March if you don’t). Cut the stems back to an outward facing bud with a slanting cut so that rain doesn’t sit on the top, causing it to rot. Don’t worry too much about technique though, as roses are surprisingly tolerant.

4. If you have ordered bare-rooted roses, they’ll be arriving shortly – get them unpacked and planted in well-prepared ground as soon as you can so that they don’t dry out.

5. It’s not too late to plant deciduous trees, shrubs and climbers as the soil’s still warm enough for them to make some new root growth before winter, but evergreens should wait until spring. Bare-rooted trees and shrubs are particularly good value.

6. This is the latest month to plant Tulips.

7. If you haven’t already, move any tender plants you have in pots, such as Bananas, Tree Ferns, Cannas, Colocasias and Agapanthus, into the greenhouse to protect them from frost.

8. If your tender plants are growing in the ground, and you live in a milder area, you can protect them with straw in the crowns, or in the case of bananas, with tall terracotta chimney pots or drainpipes stuffed with straw.

9. Alternatively, once the foliage is blackened by frosts, you can lift Dahlia, Colocasia and Canna tubers, remove the foliage to within 5-8cms of the tuber and dry out, removing any parts that look as though they may have rotted. Store in boxes of dry bark chippings, crowns exposed, in a cool, dry, frost-free place.

10. If you’ve got a water feature it’s advisable, though not essential, to remove submersible pumps for the winter. Clean them and store in a dry place. If you leave them in though, just run the pump every week or so during the winter.

By Helen Ellison, Garden Designer

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