Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 42 - November 2014
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.
  • Mulch hardy alpine plants with fine gravel or horticultural grit to stop their lower leaves coming into contact with wet soil.
  • 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.
  • Plant hippeastrum bulbs.
  • 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.
  • Cover chard plants with a cloche or straw to keep the plants cropping through the winter and spring.
  • 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.
Plant of the monthFatsia japonica

While Fatsia japonica looks good all year round, it's in winter when you get your extra value from the appearance of white, pompom shaped flowers. As well as looking pretty, the flowers give insects a nectar source which is much needed at this time of year. This evergreen shrub will grow to 4m height and spread. Find out more...

Problem of the monthChlorosis of leaves

Chlorosis of leaves causes the foliage to become pale, yellowed or have pink tints. The cause is nutrient deficiency, either due to a lack of nutrients in the growing media or because the conditions are stopping the plant drawing up nutrients (eg waterlogging). It can stunt growth and reduce flowering/fruiting, but it's generally easy to fix. Find out more...

In the news

'Click and collect' drive through garden centre

Longacres Garden Centre in Bagshot, Surrey, has become the first in the country to offer a 'click and collect' drive through service for customers. Shoppers can order online, or through outdoor touch screens at the centre, and have their purchases brought out to their car by centre staff. Particularly useful for heavy goods such as compost, the service aims to make the shopping experience quicker and easier.

Dan Pearson returns to Chelsea

Garden designer Dan Pearson, a pioneer of perennial planting designs, is to return to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for the first time since 2004. Pearson will design the Laurent Perrier Garden. Other designers for next year's show include Adam Frost, designing for Homebase, and Chris Beardshaw, who will create the Royal Bank of Canada garden. The full list of gardens will be announced later this month.

Victoria Park voted the nation's favourite

Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets, London, has been voted the 'People's Choice' in this year's Green Flag awards. The park, which covers 86.18 hectares, welcomed 12 million visitors last year. In second place was Mote Park in Maidstone, Kent, and third place went to Margam Park, near Port Talbot, South Wales (which was last year's winner).


The stories behind the names

In autumn and winter any flowering plants are precious, bringing a bit of colour into an otherwise dreary scene. So we've taken a look at some of our favourite autumn and winter flowering plants and how they got their names.

Japanese anemones - Anemone hupehensis

These autumn flowering blooms were brought back to England from China in 1844 by Robert Fortune, hence the oriental part of their name.

The genus name Anemone may derive from the Greek 'anemos' meaning 'wind' and as a result they used to be called 'windflowers'. Back to the times of Pliny it was suggested that the flowers would only open when the wind blows, although the name is more likely to result from the fact that anemones can grow on windy, exposed sites.

Another explanation is that the name comes from Adonis, the Greek God of beauty and desire, because the Persian for his name is 'Naamen'. Aphrodite was said to have fallen in love with Adonis and, when he was killed while hunting, she wept over him as he died, and the anemone grew where either her tears or his blood soaked the ground.

Winter jasmine – Jasminum nudiflorum

Jasmines are so named from the original Persian name 'yasmin'. The winter flowering jasmine is botanically called nudiflorum, meaning 'naked'. But there's nothing rude about this! It's simply a reference to the fact that the yellow flowers appear on bare, or naked, stems. Along with the Japanese anemone (above) this plant was introduced to Europe by Robert Fortune in 1844.

Mahonia x wagneri 'Pinnacle'Oregon grape holly – Mahonia

The genus Mahonia was named after Bernard M'Mahon, a political refugee from Ireland, who popularised gardening in America in the early 1800s.

The common name 'Oregon grape' is simply explained – the plant originates from the American far west and the berries resemble grapes, they can also be used to make wine.

The bright yellow flowers of Mahonia x wagneri 'Pinnacle' are shown here.

Poinsettia – Euphorbia pulcherrima

The poinsettia originated in Mexico, where legend has it that a young girl, too young to provide a gift to celebrate Jesus' birthday, instead picked some weeds and presented them at church, where they sprang into the crimson blooms of the poinsettia. The plant's common name is a dedication to Dr Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the first US ambassador to the Republic of Mexico from 1825 to 1829. A keen botanist, Dr Poinsett brought the plant to America. He was also the founder of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science and the Useful Arts, which is now known as the Smithsonian Institution.

The genus, Euphorbia, is said to be named after Euphorbus, physician to King Juba of the ancient kingdom of Mauretania (in North Africa).

Violet/pansy – Viola

Viola 'Huntercombe Purple'The viola is said to be named after Io, a young girl who the God Zeus fell in love with. To hide her from his wife, Hera, he changed Io into a young cow. But Hera became suspicious when she saw the pretty white heifer with violets in her mouth and asked Zeus to give her the cow, which he did. Eventually, after making the heifer's life a misery, Hera changed Io back into a girl, but only once Zeus had promised never to look at her again.

Violas have long been associated with love; the Elizabethan called them 'heart's-ease', Napoleon had a locket containing violets picked from his beloved Josephine's grave and the name 'pansy' derives from the French 'penser', to think, relating them to purity of thought.

Viola 'Huntercombe Purple' is shown here.


What's on this month

There's a definite chill in the air now, so wrap up warm for this month's garden events:

  • 1st & 2nd November - Come and Grow: Herbaceous Borders and Turf, Woburn Abbey And Gardens, Woburn, Bedfordshire.
  • 13th November - Garden Talk: Getting the Most Out of the Kitchen Garden, Gravetye Manor, West Hoathly, Sussex.
  • 15th November - An Afternoon with Delphiniums, RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey.
  • 15th November to 30th December - Reindeer Trail, Waterperry Gardens, Nr Wheatley, Oxfordshire.
  • 20th November - Introduction to Gardening: Preparing for Winter, Nymans (National Trust), Near Haywards Heath, West Sussex.
  • 22nd & 23rd November - Plants for Winter Interest Talks, RHS Garden Rosemoor, Torrington, Devon.
  • 26th November - Candlelight Garden Walk, Coleton Fishacre (National Trust), Kingswear, Devon.
  • 30th November - Capability Brown Landscape Tour, The Trentham Estate, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.