Gardening and Wildlife in November
Although the temperature is cooling and the nights are much longer and many of your plants are going dormant there is still a lot to do in the garden during November. Autumn planting of everything from Tulip bulbs to Pansies and Wallflowers is well under way and the moisture in the soil makes it a great time to plant trees, shrubs and conifers. In my garden I have colourful fruiting crab apples and winter flowering shrubs such as sweetly scented Mahonias and the variegated evergreen leaves of Spotted Laurels and Hollys.
November is also a great time for pruning many plants before winter arrives including Apple and Pear trees while many herbaceous perennials benefit from being lifted, divided and replanted. Also, there's still time to treat your lawn for moss as long as the temperature is not too low and there's adequate moisture in the ground.
Plants requiring winter protection should have been taken to a cold greenhouse, cold frame or covered in horticultural fleece by now dependent on their requirements. These include Agapanthus, Fuchsias, Cannas, Bananas, Tree Ferns and Citrus. If brought indoors most will prefer a light position with just enough moisture to keep them dormant. Too high a temperature will start them back into growth.
But it is not just the plants that require our care during the winter. Spare a thought for the wildlife in our gardens too. Habitats for birds can be improved with all those aforementioned trees and shrubs you could be planting, not just for somewhere to roost, but also for protection from predators. Small garden trees such as Sorbus and Malus Fruitilciuos and Red Sentinal with a mass of little branches are favoured by small birds such as Blue Tits, Wrens and Robins where they can keep out of reach from bigger birds of prey especially. The fruits and berries of these as well as shrubs such as Pyracantha, Cotoneaster and Holly will provide them with a hearty winter treat while Ligustrum and evergreen Viburnum Tinus are also good for roosting.
Birds like to be fed all year round but a few bird feeders or a bird table filled up daily with fresh food is particularly beneficial to them from now and through the next 6 months up until after baby birds have fledged from their nests. I have been feeding all year long with premium fat balls in a no mess feeder which attracts a family of Blue Tits from my nearby woodland and the impressive Long Tailed Tit. Birds prefer various feed blends including peanuts, sunflower seeds, hemp, pulses and more. This will greatly increase the diversity of feathered friends that you will see.
And it's not just birds. Frogs and Toads love not only a pond but pots laid sideways and log piles from your pruned trees which are perfect places to hide or hibernate. Hedgehogs are on the decline nationally so why not install a Hedgehog house and leave parts of your lawn and borders overgrown for them. Also ask your adjoining neighbours to make a Hedgehog highway between your gardens so that these friendly creatures can move around freely.
Finally, don't leave out the insects. For every one that damages our plants there are many more that help and protect. Ladybirds are classic garden pest predators and without Bees and Hoverflies none of your flowers will be pollinated. Old plant stalks and wooden window sills are common sleeping places for them and if you leave your shed window slightly open Moths, Tortoiseshell Butterflies and Lacewings may overwinter there too. Bug hotels are all the rage and can be bought or simply made by tying together a bunch of bamboo canes and twigs with string.
Let's get gardening for the wildlife and ourselves in November.
It’s January and our Gardening Year begins again.
Here in the darkest winter days there’s a fresh enthusiasm and plans to be made for the garden in this whole new Gardening Year.
Venture to the Garden Centre and you will see some of the delights that could be colourful and exciting in your garden even in the middle of winter.