Gardening tips - get ready for a winter workout in November

Clean and oil garden tools for winter storage

Clean and oil garden tools for winter storage - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

There’s much to do in the garden before the cold weather closes in but all the hard work will pay off, says Suzie Hanson, head gardener at Brodsworth

Here at Brodsworth there is no rest for the wicked during November. From the first week in the month the gardens are only open at the weekend along with the house and so this allows us to get out all the big toys during the week and set to work on the tall topiary, giving them the proper haircut that they now need.

I appreciate that it may be really hard to find the motivation to head outdoors, but there are a few tasks which should be tackled on the days when the weather is favourable and you will be rewarded for your efforts.

There is still time to plant out bulbs. Ideally they should have been planted earlier in autumn, but November remains a good month to plant tulips, daffodils and crocus plants. These bulbs can be planted through to the end of the month if the weather is mild before the soil loses the valuable heat absorbed from the summer sun. If you prefer plant bulbs in pots indoors to add some spring colour to your home, just make sure you select indoor cultivating bubs.

Winter bedding plants such as pansies, violas and wallflowers can also be planted if the weather is mild and they offer such lovely and vibrant colour against the trees now being rapidly stripped of their leaves. Make sure you plant winter bedding plants on a sunny day, in rich, moist soil. Adding grit is especially important for soil drainage in case there are frequent showers this winter. As I mentioned in the October article the summer bedding displays at Brodsworth will be pulled out and replaced with the spring display late October and early November. At least 11,000 plants and 5,000 bulbs will be planted by staff and the volunteer gardening team, which is some feat.

Leaves are a commodity for any garden, perfect for adding to both mulch and compost once the leaf pile has transformed into mould. Firstly, separate the leaves and keep them in a garden container, bag or create a heap in a quiet corner of your garden. The bacteria that breaks the leaves down to mould needs oxygen to work, so make sure you puncture any bags you collect your leaves in.

Raise patio containers by adding bricks or feet underneath, this will protect your plants and soil from becoming waterlogged during winter showers. Outside plant containers can be insulated with easily accessible bubble wrap, which will protect them from frost. I used to love helping my mum do this. It felt like we were making the plant cosy for the winter.

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November is the time we widely associate with bonfires and there are usually ideal conditions to burn off the garden waste that can not be added to compost. Check around your garden for any sign of plant disease, a bonfire is the perfect way to dispose of any infected plant parts and reduces the chances of the disease spreading.

As you tidy your garden, you’ll find that you uncover many pests hiding beneath plants. Encourage hungry birds into your garden to ensure slugs and snails are a thing of the past.

Not all wildlife should be encouraged into your garden; unfortunately little garden pests are hardier than they may look. Keep an eye out for pests like spider mites and scale, and take care of them before they become a problem.

Drain water hoses and put them away so they don’t freeze and burst. Use small stakes or markers where you’ve planted bulbs or late starting spring plants in the perennial garden to avoid disturbing them when you begin spring soil preparation. If you feel that stakes don’t fit your landscape style consider marking stones with fingernail polish or paint, and set them on the planting spot (painted side down).

Clean and oil garden tools for winter storage. Place some sand and some oil in a large bucket then slide garden tools in and out of the sand. This will do an excellent job of cleaning them, as well as applying a light coat of oil to prevent rusting. This is also a good month to restock any tools that have seen better days, while the prices are lower.

If you haven’t already applied an autumn or winter type of lawn fertilizer, now is the time to do it. This encourages good root development and helps improve the colour of the lawn. Lime can also be applied, if needed. Also spend some time raking the lawn to lift away accumulations of debris. The raked leaves should be composted or try mowing over them, turning them to a mulch which adds important nutrients back to the lawn.

Jobs for November

• Finish weeding and turning beds and leave for weathering over winter

• Remove old leaves from your pond and thin out oxygenating plants

• Plant out any roses and mix in some bone-meal to the surrounding soil

• Prune roses to prevent wind-rock

• Plant fruit trees and bushes and prune established trees

• Firm down any newly planted plants which may have been lifted by frost

• Dress any heavy soil with bulky organic matter

• Regularly rake and remove leaves and fallen debris from beds

• Stop winter moth damage to fruit trees using grease bands around the trunks

• Put out bird food to encourage winter birds into the garden

Brodsworth Hall is a beautiful Victorian house surrounded by a collection of grand gardens in miniature, lovingly restored to their original splendour. For more information contact Brodsworth Hall & Gardens, Brodsworth, Doncaster South Yorkshire DN5 7XJ

01302 722598

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