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Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 6 - November 2011
What to do now

Ornamental plants

  • Now’s a good time to plant roses, trees, shrubs and hedging.
  • Check the ties on trees and standard shrubs to ensure they are secure ready for the windier winter weather.
  • Reduce the length of tall rose stems and the bulk of standard roses so they aren’t damaged by the wind.
  • Cut down faded perennials, unless they have decorative seedheads, to keep borders neat over the winter.
  • Dig up any cannas, gladioli and dahlias you didn’t get to last month, or put a 15cm depth of organic mulch over them for winter protection.
  • Take hardwood cuttings from dogwoods, roses, spireas, deutzias, wisterias, forsythias, Virginia creepers, buddleias and willows.
  • Continue to plant bulbs and bedding for autumn and spring colour.
  • Take root cuttings from plants such as oriental poppies, phlox, verbascum, mints, echinops and romneya.
  • Plant ‘Paper White’ daffodils over the next few weeks for indoor blooms in a couple of months’ time.
  • Cover holly berries with fine netting (or old stockings!) to keep the birds off them if you want some for Christmas decorations.
Fruit and veg
  • This month you can still harvest apples, carrots, turnips, swedes, beetroot, celeriac, parsnips, leeks, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Crops including garlic and hardy broad beans can be sown now.
  • Cover newly sown beans and peas with cloches or similar protection to keep them warm.
  • Cover cabbages and other brassicas with netting to keep pigeons from pecking at them.
  • Stake any Brussels sprouts which are top heavy and in danger of toppling over.
  • Plant fruit trees and summer-fruiting raspberry canes.
  • Dig organic matter into bare beds so it is well incorporated before sowing in the spring.
  • Sow a green manure on bare beds ready to dig into the soil in the spring.
General tasks
  • Mulch beds and borders if you didn’t do so last month.
  • Collect fallen leaves, particularly from paths, lawns and ponds, and use them to make leaf mould to improve your soil.
  • Use any well-rotted material from your compost bins to enrich your soil and make space in the bin for autumn leaves and prunings.
  • Clean paths and patios so that algae and moss doesn’t build up and make them slippery over the winter.
  • Mow the lawn if needed, but keep the cutting height raised.
  • Cover garden furniture.
  • Move non frost-resistant pots/ornaments/equipment indoors.
  • Clear gutters, ditches and drains.
Mahonia x media 'Charity'Plant of the month

Mahonia x media 'Charity', is coming into flower now with clusters of bright yellow flowers frothing out from the tips of stems. Flowering continues into spring and this decorative shrub provides spiky foliage throughout the year. It grows to about 4m and is happy in most conditions, including shade. Find out more...

Problem of the monthSoft scale on a spider plant

Soft scale can be found affecting house/greenhouse plants at any time of year. They appear as light brown bumps on stems and leaves, rarely moving. You may find that stems and leaves become sticky as the feeding insects excrete honeydew.

They can cause a yellowing of affected parts and an overall loss of vigour. Find out more...

In the news

Jubilee trees

The Woodland Trust have announced that they will be planting 6 million trees in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee next year. The site in Leicestershire will include dense woodland, open spaces and a lake. This good news is in contrast to a recent survey which revealed that fewer than half of the UK's under 25s know that conkers come from horse chestnut trees!

Supermarket sells UK grown grapes

For the first time a supermarket will be stocking UK grown dessert grapes. Waitrose will sell golden-yellow Muscat grapes which have been grown under glass on the Chatsworth estate in Derbyshire.

Olympic legacy provides green spaces

Londoners living in boroughs which are hosting the 2012 Olympics will have the opportunity to nominate run-down areas to benefit from a share of a £500,000 grant to help provide community gardens, food growing spaces and play areas. Local community groups are being asked to identify potential sites for improvement and provide ideas for renovation.

Toby Buckland goes bare!

Garden writer and broadcaster, Toby Buckland, has launched an online plant sales site which specialises in selling bare-rooted plants. Toby feels that bare-rooted plants enable gardeners to "take advantage of winter dormancy to plant the old-fashioned way, more economically and with less waste." The site also offers pot grown plants.

Drop in autumn bedding sales

The recent warm weather has seen a reduction in the expected sales of autumn bedding plants as gardeners are finding their summer bedding is still going strong.


Protect your plants ready for the winter cold

Winter protection with straw and fleece.

The best way to preserve your plants in winter is to simply grow only fully hardy plants and avoid planting in frost pockets. However, this strategy would leave our gardens rather bare of exciting Mediterranean or tropical plants! There's no reason you can't grow tender plants, but you need to ensure that you protect them from the winter cold, or accept that you'll probably need to replace them each year.

Simply bringing plants into the house or a frost-free/warm greenhouse is a straight forward solution for half hardy or tender plants which are grown in moveable containers. For plants grown in the ground, or in containers which are too large to move, a wide range of protective methods are available. Small plants can be covered with cloches, cold frames or snow frames. Larger plants can be wrapped in straw within a wire frame (see illustration) and/or horticultural fleece. A good layer of organic mulch (min. 15cm) is often sufficient for herbaceous perennials.

It's worth making sure you understand how tender each plant is; some will require protection throughout the colder months, others will only need protection when a particularly hard frost is forecast.

And while you're wrapping your plants up, why not treat your outdoor taps and greenhouse to the same attention by insulating them with bubble wrap?

Find out more about how to protect your plants in winter...


What's on this month

Some of the garden-related events around the UK this month...

  • 6th November - Garden tour, Hillier Gardens, Romsey, Hampshire.
  • 12th November - Hedge laying workshop, RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
  • 13th November - Introduction to wildlife gardening, London Wildlife Trust, Peckham, London.
  • 17th November - Head Gardener's walk, National Trust Penrhyn Castle, Bangor, Gwynedd.
  • 19th November - 'Gardens Of The World' talk, Benmore Botanic Garden, Dunoon, Argyll.
  • 25th November - Garden walk/apple pruning tips, National Trust Trelissick Garden, Truro, Cornwall.
  • 29th November - Willow weaving course, Arley Hall and Gardens, Northwich, Cheshire.
  • 30th November - 'Radical Gardening' talk, Working Class Movement Library, Salford.