November can be an unpredictable month on the weather front. Keep a close eye on the forecasts and invest in some horticultural fleece to avoid frost damage to your tender shrubs and evergreen perennials.

Pot protection

Tender plants will need protecting from frost, gales and freezing rains. Move plants into the greenhouse, or into a sheltered spot, but if you can't, it is worth wrapping plants or pots. In wet weather, raise pots up off the ground on ‘feet’ or similar, to keep the bottom of the pot out of the water and prevent compost freezing.

Helping hand

Do your bit for wild birds and animals, even if all you can do is put out fresh food and water for them every day. If you have the space, leave a quiet area of your plot to grow slightly wild with a pile of logs and maybe some straw, to provide a shelter for animals and insects.

Go wild

Another way to help wildlife is to leave some of the more attractive seed heads intact, rather than cutting them back, as these can provide food and shelter for birds, as well as looking quite pretty when covered in frost.

Get sowing

Broad beans, hardier varieties of spring onions and the first early peas can be sown now. Remember to cover with fleece if there’s a frost.

Tulip time

November’s a good time to plant tulip bulbs, whether in the ground, pots or containers. Avoid any that show signs of decay or damage, and plant three times to the depth of the bulb. If the soil is heavy, add grit for drainage as bulbs don’t like to sit in water.

Great British Life: Pink and white Christmas rose or hellebore. PHOTO: Getty ImagesPink and white Christmas rose or hellebore. PHOTO: Getty Images

Winter bedding 

While you still have time get some winter bedding in. Bellis, violas and primroses are some of my favourites. Try adding some Christmas roses (Hellebore) to make your pots and borders feel very festive for Christmas.

Branch out

November is a great time to plant bare-root fruit trees which are dormant when planted but then have the full season to grown when the temperatures rise in spring. Trees such as apple, pear, cherry and plum can be planted now, along with blackberry, raspberry and gooseberry.

Chop chop

By this time of year, you’ll find the majority of our herbaceous perennials have begun to die back. As this happens, a good chop back is needed to just above ground level.

Topping off

A good spread of mulch over the crowns will not only look tidy but will also provide winter protection, suppress weed growth and act as a soil improver when it breaks down.


Great British Life: Bright red Skimmia berries. PHOTO: Getty ImagesBright red Skimmia berries. PHOTO: Getty Images (Image: Getty Images)


Skimmias are low maintenance, neat, slow-growing evergreen shrubs for a border in partial to deeper shade. The spring flowers are followed by red or white berries on female plants, giving an additional autumn interest to borders or containers for winter.

1 to visit

1 School Court, Ramsbottom, Bury, BL0 0SD.

More than 2000 handmade poppies around the gardens will create a unique Remembrance experience, and visitors are asked to wear red if possible.

There’s a main garden with a roofed pergola and a raised pond, a graveled Chinese garden with water features and, in the garden shed, there’s a working miniature railway.

Open: November 4-5, 1-5pm. Adults £4, children free. Cakes and mulled wine available. For mor gardens to visit throughout the year go to

Plot to plate (((with pi - Bramley)))

Once you’ve made all the pies, crumbles, turnovers and cakes, use up your glut of Bramleys with this quick and easy chutney which keeps well and makes a great Christmas gift. In a pan, mix 1½kg of apples with 750g light muscavado sugar, 500g raisins, a large finely chopped onion, a little salt, a tablespoon each of mustard seeds and ground ginger and 700ml of cider vinegar. Bring to the boil, then simmer, stirring often, until thick (about 35 minutes). Cool and store in clean sterilised jars.