This time of the year is my least favourite, its dark, cold and most of all I don’t see what is happening in the garden from one week end to the next. The annual bedding plants will have succumbed to the frosts and the perennials will have retreated underground till next year, and yet believe it or not there are still jobs that need to be done.
Now is the perfect time to be planting bare root roses, shrubs and trees whilst they are dormant. Whilst on the subject of roses, high winds can catch the tall stems of shrub and standard roses, rocking them right down to their roots, which can cause permanent damage. To reduce wind rock cut them back by a third now and then wait until February or March before giving the roses their hard annual prune.
In the garden this month the dogwoods are looking good with their striking red stems. Now is a good time to take cuttings of these if you want to boost numbers or give them away to friends and family. It’s easy, you basically cut a length of the stem about 18 inches long with a sloping cut at the top and a straight cut across the bottom. Insert the stem into a gritty soil, so that about half of the stem is buried. Then do not disturb until next Autumn. I took a few cuttings of our own last year, but it will be another year before they will be ready to be planted in the garden.
The shallots that were planted in the kitchen garden last month are starting to show green shoots, don’t worry if you haven’t got yours planted yet, they can usually planted right up to Christmas and still produce a good crop next summer.
The last of the leaves which have fallen from the trees should be swept up and composted. Don’t, just throw them on the compost heap or take them to the local tip, put them in a bin liner with a few holes in the side, tie up the bag and leave in a corner for a year or two. Leaves produce the best loam based compost, the type which money just cannot buy.
As the temperature drops it is a good time to ensure that all outside taps are insulated and that all frost tender plants are also insulated against the cold, those plants in pots should placed in a sheltered position and slightly raised off the ground.
If you have time, there is always the garden shed to sort out. With pots to clean, tools to be sharpened and oiled and odds and ends to tidied away, have I sorted mine out yet, no! There’s still plenty of time for that before the start of the new season. Maybe for now I’ll stay indoors where it’s warm and cosy, with a drink in hand, and pour over the seed catalogues for next year.