The feel-good November garden to-do list

November 10th, 2019 Posted In: Gardening know how

Lets focus on the best things about the November garden.

It’s a beautiful time of year, but it’s also sad as the old year creaks and flutters slowly to its end.  And there seem to be a lot of ‘jobs to do’. Here are the ones that add joy to your life.

The November garden

Our leaves mostly just get chopped up and disposed of when we mow the lawn. Or we let them lie in the borders. But where they lie very thickly on the lawn, we will have to make a bit more effort.

We’ve just had the topiary trees at the back cut back and shaped. It is a really worthwhile thing to do in the November garden because it adds some structure into the general air of collapse and decay. And it can look fabulous in a frost.

Make fruit jellies from heritage fruit trees…

Fruit trees are brilliant in smaller gardens because they have blossom in spring, fruit in autumn and they help provide privacy during the summer. And, as their leaves drop in winter, they don’t obscure the light from winter windows.

I think that crab apple trees are almost the perfect garden tree. They offer early blossom for pollinators, which is why they’re grown in apple and pear orchards. They never get too big, have beautiful blossom and pretty fruit. And you can’t buy crab apple jelly in shops, so it’s worth making a batch or two.

There are crab apple trees grown amongst the apple and pear trees at nearby fruit farms. They provide food for pollinators early in the season. But crab apples are rarely harvested commercially so I ask if I can take some crab apples from the orchards after the apples have been harvested.

And quince has the most beautiful scent. If you don’t have time to make fruit jellies, a bowl of quince in the hallway will perfume the house better than any pot-pourri.

Grow quince for spring blossom and autumn fruit

Quince are a slightly ugly fruit but they have the most beautiful scent, which you can use to perfume your house.

November is a good time to plant new trees. If you’re thinking of adding a tree to your garden, then here are some recommendations of the best trees for small gardens and autumn colour.

Remove diseased or damaged branches…and make firewood for next year

We have an open fire and a wood burner, but we only light them in very cold weather or if we have people coming round. So we get almost all our wood from our own garden prunings.

In the November garden, there is always a tree or shrub which needs cutting back. We save the twigs for kindling and chop up the branches for the fire. You need to leave the logs for at least a year before using them.

Prune trees and shrubs in November

Our Cotinus coggyria ‘Grace’ being chopped back to one third of its size. There is some healthy new growth emerging and we hope this will take over.

This year, our beautiful Cotinus coggyria ‘Grace’ has had another attack of verticillium wilt. Last time this happened we cut off the affected branches and the tree had another couple of healthy years. But this year we had a very dry patch and another major branch has died.

The official advice for tree diseases like verticillium wilt or honey fungus is to cut down the whole tree and burn or otherwise dispose of the wood. But you can’t actually get problems like these out of the soil even if you do this. So I prefer to treat affected areas but to make sure that any trees or shrubs I plant aren’t vulnerable to these diseases.

The RHS have a ‘Resistant Plant List’ of trees and shrubs that are less likely to be affected by verticillium wilt.

Keep bird feeders topped up…

Sparrows have declined significantly in the UK over the past forty years. But our garden is full of them. People always comment.

When we moved in, the previous owners left the bird feeders and instructions on feeding the birds. So we fed the birds and came to love watching the squabbles on the bird feeders from the kitchen window.

We have now been here 16 years and they lived here for 23 years. So that is around 40 years of consistent bird-friendly gardening, which includes making sure that there are trees, shrubs and hedges to provide shelter.

Keep bird feeders topped up

Birds are particularly dependent on bird feeder food over the winter. Keep bird feeders topped up because they come to rely on a specific food source.

This makes me think that habitat loss (sources of food and shelter) must be the biggest factor in the decline of some of our bird species. Other factors, such as climate change, disease or predators, would affect our sparrows as much as sparrows everywhere else.

It also means that what happens in just one garden can help.

Just enjoy being outside…

the November garden

Sniff the air. Can you smell bonfires? Is there a squirrel you need to chase? No? Have a cup of tea instead. And let the autumn sun top up your vitamin D levels. This is Lottie, the saluki-lurcher cross.

Sunset in the Middlesized Garden

And enjoy the sunsets…is it my imagination or are they better at this time of year than in any other?

And the rainbows. This is a double rainbow I saw while walking out on the marshes near where I live. I have yet to find the pot of gold, however…

Enjoy your November garden!

Pin to remember November garden chores


4 comments on "The feel-good November garden to-do list"

  1. Denise says:

    Your post is an inspiration here in North Carolina too! Pithy, pertinent and downright pretty posts. Thank you!

  2. Angela Dearsley says:

    I just want to say thank you I look forward to your Sunday Posts, they are so informative, and have useful links, and so well laid out. I love that I can save so easily to Pinterest and that you always put a topic title in a photo for this. We have recently renovated our house and so will be starting on the garden, what a valuable resource your site and posts will be.

    1. Thank you so much. And I hope you enjoy creating your new garden.

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