November can be a damp, raw month and although flowers can be scarce in the garden, there are still berries, evergreen foliage and bark to add interest on even the dullest of days
You can warm yourself up by tidying the garden and preparing for the winter ahead. It’s also a good time to check your tools, catch up on greenhouse maintenance and begin planning your spring display. Whatever the month, there’s always something to see and do in the garden!
Planting bulbs in the Garden
Plant tulips this month as the temperature is cool enough to discourage fungal diseases. Check for blue mould on your bulbs and do not plant them if you discover it. They do require good drainage so you can mix your soil with gravel if your soil is heavy clay.
The end that tapers is the top of the bulb and the flatter end is where the roots emerge – it should be planted this way up. If you are ever in doubt about which way to plant a bulb then plant it sideways and it will find its own way up in the spring. With bulbs, the rule of thumb is to plant with twice as much cover as the height of the bulb so, for example, if your bulb is 3cm, then you want 6cm of earth above it. Allow two bulb widths between bulbs. Go on and plant your bulbs this weekend. Come next spring you will be glad you did!
Trees in the garden
Plant bare root trees and shrubs which become available in garden centres towards the middle of this month. Bare-root trees and shrubs are easier to handle, transport and store and are therefore cheaper than container plants. You can go for longer root lengths as you do not need to carry the accompanying soil. Also, you can visually inspect the root systems to see if there are any problems and make sure they have been looked after and have not dried up.
The roots should have been stored in a cool, damp place so before you transport your tree or shrub, wrap the roots up and plant as soon as possible to prevent drying.
The other great advantage is that they need less fuss and the roots do not need to adjust to a change in soil. It’s the equivalent of carrying a sleeping child from the car and off to bed!
There’s no use peppering up your garden with feeders, bird baths and plush nesting boxes if there’s no place for our feathered friends to check out the locals and survey the general lie of the land. Gardens only become truly bird friendly if there are places for them to hide and rummage in the shrubbery. In our beautiful rural setting, think of native mixed hedges, Holly, Dog Rose, Goat Willow and Honeysuckle – all very attractive to birds.
Consider planting shrubs with berries that will feed the birds in autumn months. The common Elder, very easy to grow in the local soil, is an excellent plant to attract more birds into a garden. Not only do they attract insects for the birds to feed on in summer, but the autumn berries are a good source of food too. If you have an ugly fence or wall that you want to screen, planting a Pyracantha (fire thorn) will do the job nicely in addition to making a comfortable hotel for small birds like robins and wrens to build their nests. In the autumn the brightly coloured berries provide a feast for blackbirds. Try growing the red berried Pyracantha ‘Saphyr Rouge’ for a bright splash of autumn colour.
An Apple tree, makes a great source of food for a large variety of birds virtually all year round and all are very easy to grow in the local soil. A Crab Apple, such as the “Red Sentinel” with its brilliant autumn colour and bright red apples makes a great focal point in a small garden and makes a fantastic feast for birds just when food is scarce.
Gardens and conservation
Attracting wild birds into your garden is not only very rewarding but also helps wildlife conservation and helps reverse the declining trend in the populations of once common species. Our gardens are becoming a vital component in the wider conservation effort.