“I always like to think that we have completed most of our autumn tasks by November, but that is rarely the case with autumnal weather. It is generally okay to complete most garden tasks during the first half of the month and often the second if it is not too cold or frosty. I am lucky to have a great team of gardeners (Rob, Colin, and Jo) and lots of lovely, dedicated volunteers, without whom we would not achieve nearly as much. November can be a very colourful and interesting time of year in the garden, with lots of herbaceous plants and roses with their colourful hips continuing to add beauty.
Dahlias have become more prominent in recent autumns due to the warmth, and there are some fantastic varieties to choose from. One deep orange variety that Jo chose and grows in the Community Garden is ‘Happy Halloween,’ which has been excellent this year as a cut flower. Most Dahlias will continue flowering into mid-November in much of southern England, although excessive rainfall will finish them off. Many Dahlias will survive outside over winter in much of Southern England, provided the soil is not too wet, and it can be worth planting them an inch or two deeper than recommended; Bishop of Llandaff has been very productive. Many of our Dahlias have been outside for the last ten years, surviving occasional frosts of -8 or -9, although the soil is relatively well drained.
Tasks we will need to complete during the first half of the month include cutting our very successful Euonymus ‘Jean Hughes’ hedges, which, rather like the redundant box they replace, do not like being cut too late, and certainly not in colder spells. Yew hedges can be cut at almost any time of year but not in frosty weather, and preferably not within a week of colder spells.
We will scarify the croquet lawn, giving it enough time to strengthen again. The remaining long grass areas will be cut and cleared. We tend to leave the huge rampart bank until November so that we do not have to cut it again, and because we are cutting later, we have had more success with orchids like bee and pyramid, which can require August to ripen seed if it has been wet. It is still okay to lift and split herbaceous perennials early in this month and move shrubs. It is also the best time of year to plant new trees. We will plant many beautiful bright Tulips in the colour garden and within the quiet garden. Spring may seem a long way off, but we all start planning and dreaming of it sooner than we think!”
James Cross, Head Gardener