November Gardening.

We’re bracing ourselves for winter, but there’s no time to hibernate! Daylight hours are short and it’s difficult to fit in every gardening task so wrap up warm and make the most of any dry weather. If you are planning on having a bonfire check carefully before they are lit for hibernating animals.
Year round interest and colour is a must in any garden, but it is the winter months that are the most challenging. The majority of plants are dormant through the winter months as a coping mechanism to dealing with low levels of sunlight, short days, cold soil and hard frosts. However there are some plants which do flower during the winter, and others create interest with berries or the colour of their stems. By placing these plants in key focal points around the garden you can have colour right through the winter. It’s highly unlikely you’ll be sitting out on your patio, or taking leisurely strolls around your garden during the winter months, you’ll probably find that the garden is viewed from your house windows instead. Take a look out of the windows or doors and make a note of any gaps in the garden, and where a spot of colour would be most enjoyed. Once you have an idea of which parts of the garden will be seen from the house and can be improved it’s just a case of finding the right plants.
The first group of plants to consider are evergreen shrubs. Variegated shrubs particularly draw the eye in low light levels, such as Hebe Variegata, Ilex (holly), and the vast array of Euonymus species. The eye-catching long lance shaped leaves of Phormium species (New Zealand Flax) may look exotic, but they can be left outside all year round in all but the harshest of winters. Evergreen perennials such as Heuchera, Bergenia, Ajuga and Euphorbia will all create interest in a winter garden, as will evergreen grasses such as stipa tenuissima, Festuca, and Luzula. Evergreen ferns will brighten up shaded locations some species to try are Cyrtomium Fortunei, Polystichum and Asplenium (Harts Tongue).
Plants with berries come in all shapes and sizes, Gaultheria is a dwarf shrub that’s ideal for growing in pots of acid soil (ericaceous), Symphoricarpus (snowberries) will loose their leaves but the large, fleshy berries are retained well into winter. Callicarpa ‘Profusion’ (beauty bush) its grown for its shiny purple berries. Cotoneaster should be carefully considered before planting as it can be invasive.
If you are looking for a climbing plant then Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens ‘Freckles’ flowers from November until late February. For a scented climber try Lonicera fragrantissima.
Some plants are grown purely for winter fragrance including Sweet box, Viburnum x bodnantense, Witch Hazel and Mahonia. The final group of plants to consider for the winter garden are those with colourful stems/ bark such as Cornus (Dogwoods), Salix and Birch.
Top Tips for November:
• Plant tulip bulbs
• Prune vigorous rose bushes, lavatera and buddleia to prevent damage from wind rock
• Place tree guards on young trees and woody shrubs to prevent damage from nibbling by Rabbits, deer or squirrels.
• Raise plant pots onto pot feet to prevent water logging.
Whatever November brings I hope you are able to spend some time in your garden.
Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800

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