11-November Garden Tasks

Acer 'Osakasuki'

Acer 'Osakasuki' displaying it's autumnal colours.

With colder, wetter weather approaching and Winter just around the corner, November is a month when you need to get out into the garden and start putting the garden to bed for the winter.

The main tasks consist of removing stems from herbaceous perennials.  This is usually undertaken to keep the garden tidy as many will collapse in an untidy heap within the border.  Whilst I believe this is over played by some the decaying material can harbour pests and disease and therefore it is generally good practice to remove this dead material.  The waste can then be used to make compost allowing you to apply it to the soil the following year.

I personally like to retain some of my herbaceous perennials for their winter interest within my own garden.  Here they add colour and form even in their death and I only cut them back if they fall in strong winds.  By a simple flight of steps in my garden I planted a stand of Eupatorium.  This adds height behind some David Ausin Roses and in the winter I like to leave their dead stems standing within the bed.  These stems maintains height within the bed and the remnants of its umbelliferial flowers remain despite the wind and rain.  However I have tried to keep some perennials for too long and their appearance has added little to the garden.  Asters just turn black and unkept and join many of the other herbaceous plants that I now cut back.

I do mulch some plants and if you have tender plants such as Gunnera or Penstemons these will be protected by using a much placed over them.  Spent fern fronds are good for this as they afford the plants below protection from the frosts and help shed water to the sides of the crown reducing some rots.

November is also a month dominated with leaf collecting.  Leaf drop is at its most prolific with the trees catching the increasingly stronger winds.  This is a vital task especially if you have a tree such as a sycamore whose large leaves once wet adhere to the lawn killing the grass beneath it.  Raking leaves of does present a great opportunity to generate rich leaf mould and should be undertaken on a regular basis.

In the Midlands I am always cautious when undertaking pruning work in the late Autumn.  With no sea nearby we are not protected by maritime influences and the colder winter temperatures can penetrate newly exposed wounds.   The damage results in die back which can even lead to the loss of the plant so I advise caution.

November can be a great time to inject some forthcoming colour into the garden.  Spring bulbs can be planted into the garden adding an under storey to deciduous planting. Blom bulbs www.blomsbulbs.com/collections/27-Autumn-2011 provide a vast range of Spring bulbs and are always worth a look when considering tulips and other bulbs.

November is an ideal time for planting bare root roses and companies such as David Austin will be dispatching great numbers out to customers this time of the year.

Try to avoid walking too much over wet ground as this can damage the soil structure and any work carried out to the borders can be quickly undone by such actions.

Frosts will soon be a feature of the month so try to avoid walking over frosted lawns as this will cause yellowing where the grass has been damaged.

And finally get out and look at your plants admire their forms, colours and appreciate how even in winter plants can add interest to the garden.  Use the opportunity to see beyond the showy blossom and leaves and look at the form of plants.  Study how grasses such as Miscanthus have changed colour which combined with the low winter sun can produce some extremely dramatic colours at both sunrise and sunset.












  • Collect fallen leaves especially of lawns to prevent the grass from
  • Remove top growth of herbaceous plants
  • Mulch beds with bark to protect
  • Plant bulbs -



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