The feel-good November garden to-do list
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Enjoy your November garden!