Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 30 - November 2013
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.
  • Carry out rejuvenation pruning of overgrown laurels, yews and camellias.
  • 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.
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.
  • Put forcing jars over rhubarb and sea kale for early crops.
  • Plant fruit trees and summer-fruiting raspberry canes.
  • Dig organic matter into bare beds so it is well incorporated before sowing 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.
Viburnum davidiiPlant of the month

Viburnum davidii may not be the most exciting plant, but this relatively small shrub provides great year round value. The distinctively pleated leaves give a dark, evergreen backdrop for seasonal planting. In spring it displays clusters of tiny white flowers and at this time of year it bears vibrant black/blue berries, adding winter interest to your border. Find out more...

Problem of the monthVine weevil damage on a photinia

Vine weevils can be a problem to a wide range of plants, and pot plants are particularly affected. The larvae live under the soil and consume the roots, while the adults emerge to munch neat, U-shaped holes on the edge of leaves (shown here on a photinia leaf). They can be removed by hand or dealt with using either biological controls or insecticides. Find out more...

In the news

Centenary Poppy Campaign

The Royal British Legion have launched a campaign to cover Britain with poppies in time for the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. Suppliers are reporting an increase in demand for poppy seeds from local councils and parks, while Birmingham's stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show next year will be dedicated to the centenary. B&Q are stocking Flanders poppy seeds to enable gardeners to join in with the commemoration.

Counting the cost of St Jude's Day storm

Park keepers, councils and nurseries have been counting the cost of the high winds across the South of England earlier this week. Most London parks closed during the day and have since reported 50 trees lost. Over Kent 100 trees have fallen as a result of the storm. 25 National Trust properties closed for the day, as did Kew Gardens. At the National Trust Mottisfont Estate a 50 year old Indian bean tree was felled by the winds which reached 99mph in the far south of the country.

Gardening can reduce risk of heart attacks

A Swedish study of 4,232 older people, carried out over a 12 year period, has shown that being active can reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 27%, and reduce the risk of death for any reason by 30%. Various gardening tasks were cited as beneficial, as well as activities such as fixing the car and home repairs.


Getting rid of garden waste

With Bonfire Night almost here, many of us will be taking the opportunity to get rid of some garden waste on the traditional bonfire (check for hedgehogs first though and make sure garden fires are allowed by your local authority). But burning garden waste regularly has environmental implications that not every gardener is comfortable with. So how else to get rid of garden waste? Well, here are some ideas:

Use it yourself or give it to someone who needs it

A typical garden compost heapThe most obvious answer to garden waste is to have a compost heap producing organic matter to add back into your garden (a typical garden compost heap is shown on the right).

You can make your own liquid fertiliser for the garden. Steeping cuttings from soft plant parts in water for a few weeks will produce a liquid feed which can then be diluted and applied to plants just like a shop-bought feed.

There are many ways to use woody cuttings from your garden, though you should ensure that no diseased materials are re-used:

  • To create supports for perennials or climbers.
  • As features within the garden, large and interestingly shaped pieces of wood are particularly good for this.
  • For garden edging or raised beds.
  • If you have an open fire or wood burner then cuttings can provide winter fuel, including smaller pieces which are useful as kindling.
  • Chipping/shredding woody waste can give you an excellent garden mulch or additive for your compost heap.

For those who have an artistic bent, many garden cuttings can be used to provide home decorations. Pliable stems (willow, hazel or dogwoods are the best, but most young woody growth will work) can be used to create wreaths or similar decorations. Cuttings from hollies, conifers, willows and variegated evergreens can provide a wintery alternative to indoor flower arrangements, or be stuck into outside containers to provide a backdrop to your winter bedding display.

If you have old patio slabs or pieces of rubble to get rid of then you can usually find someone who needs them via a recycling website, such as Freecycle, Freesharing, Freegle (UK) and Any Good To You (UK).

Turf can be a real problem to get rid of as it's so heavy. But if you have the space you can stack turf (grass side down) in a dark spot and leave it for a year or so. After this time the grass will have broken down and you'll have a great soil improver to add onto your beds or veg patch.

Your local authority

Most local authorities offer a collection service for garden waste (though they generally won't take large branches), which they then compost.

If you frequently have a large amount of garden waste then your council may allow you to purchase an extra bin to contain it, or use additional waste bags. If you have a 'one off' large load of waste then it's worth calling your local authority as many will offer a special collection service, which can be much cheaper than hiring a skip.

The majority of local refuse disposal sites/tips will also accept garden waste, including rubble, soil and turf, which is generally sent on for composting or recycling in other ways.

Read more about these ideas in our blog...


What's on this month

With winter approaching there are still plenty of gardens to visit and lots of gardening tasks to learn about. Here's our selection for this month:

  • 7th November - Cruelty To Plants Talk, Garden Museum, London.
  • 8th November - Free Day Friday, RHS gardens around the UK.
  • 9th November - Next Steps In Pruning Talk, RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey.
  • 9th to 10th November - Plants For Autumn And Winter Interest Talks, RHS Garden Rosemoor, Torrington, Devon.
  • 12th November - What To Do In Your Garden Month By Month, Waterperry Gardens, Nr Wheatley, Oxfordshire.
  • 13th November - Pruning Fruit Trees Course, Barnsdale Gardens, Exton, Rutland.
  • 13th November - Tree Planting And Aftercare Demonstration, RHS Garden Rosemoor, Torrington, Devon.
  • 16th November - Willow Weaving: Christmas Decorations, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire.
  • 18th November - Garden-worthy Plants Talk, Great Dixter House and Gardens, Rye, East Sussex.
  • 25th November - Festive Floral Arrangement Workshop, Winterbourne House and Garden, Edgbaston, Birmingham.
  • 28th November - Getting To Know Conifers Talk, Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Cambridge.