Good gardening days are rare this month, which is all the more reason for taking full advantage of the few suitable days – there’s always something to see and do in the garden! Although flowers can be scarce, 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. Good hygiene in the autumn garden can help prevent disease outbreak the following summer so burn diseased leaves this month. It’s also a good time to check your tools, catch up on greenhouse maintenance and begin planning your spring display.
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!
If you’ve been thinking about planting a tree in your garden, now is the perfect time of year to be doing that. From about mid-November through to March, bare root trees and hedging plants are available from most garden centres. Bare root trees offer much better value than pot grown varieties being simply lifted straight from the ground while dormant ready for planting in a new location.
Even if you only have a small garden, it’s possible to find a suitable tree to fill a little space. The tree that you choose depends on your own taste of course, but if you want a flowering tree, look for one that has been grafted onto a smaller tree; this is quite common with ornamental trees. You really don’t need much space to grow fruit trees: if you choose one that has been trained as an espalier, or fan shape, these can grow quite happily next to a fence or wall, provided you prune it well every year. A good tree for winter interest is the Paper Bark Maple; as its name suggests, the bark peels off the tree and it has a very attractive cinnamon-coloured stem.