We always think of November, and to some extent, December, as being the months for tidying up the garden and getting it ready for the worst of the winter ravages. And for those whose lawns are surrounded by trees, the process of clearing leaves can indeed seem to be an unending one.
But there are plenty of other tasks that can be done when the weather is mild. Don’t forget to plant up a few pots on the patio for some winter colour – and take the last chance to plant out spring bulbs ready for a vivid display next year.
Clear up time
- Remove leaves, from lawns and ponds in particular (imagine how you’d feel covered in a thick layer of wet, slowly-moulding leaves!!) Ideally clear the leaves at least once a week (more often if possible) – leaves smother the lawn and prevent it from ‘breathing’ properly. When you’ve finished clearing the leaves, autumn lawn feed can still be applied where appropriate.
- Cut down herbaceous perennials and remove the dead top growth. Do remember though that some perennials are best left until early spring (Penstemon and Verbena bonariensis for example). With these, we suggest part pruning the plants to tidy and prevent wind rock, and then pruning them harder around March when you can see new growth starting nearer the base of the plant.
- December is a particularly good month for pruning overgrown apple and pear trees
- Some plants will benefit from a little bit of winter protection in cold areas – a straw mulch is usually a good choice. Agapanthus and Zantedeschia (Arum Lilies) for example both like to be kept protected during cold weather.
- Containers on patios can get waterlogged in wet winter weather. Consider raising them on feet or something similar if they are currently sitting directly on the patio surface.
- Check tree stakes and ties, and other plant support systems.
Plant & divide
- November through to March is the best time to attempt to move established plants. It is also the best time to lift and divide many perennials.
- Plant bare root and root balled trees and hedging plants (but not when the ground is frozen!)
- Now is also a great time to plant roses. Other plants can also be planted when the weather is mild enough, but we like to avoid planting some hot, dry weather loving plants (Lavender and Hebes for example) from December onwards, as their new young roots don’t really appreciate starting life in a cold, soggy garden.
- It’s also your last chance to plant spring bulbs (don’t hang around though; December will already be too late for some). If you have any spare bulbs, why not pop them into a pot on the patio and then plant them out in the spring after they have flowered.
- And finally… don’t forget to plant up a few pots on the patio for a splash of colour on those dreary winter days.