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What to do in your garden - November 2019

Now that the clocks have gone back and the days are shorter, we really are on the countdown to Christmas. November is the month to prepare your garden for winter by clearing up fallen leaves and protecting tender plants against the cold. Here are other tasks you can be getting on with when weather permits:

  • Evergreen bedding plants will give your hanging baskets and containers structure and colour over the winter: coloured (dyed) heathers , mini conifers, grasses such as yellow carex or silver Festuca ‘Intense Blue’, euonymus with colourful variegated leaves, pieris, choisya, shrubby honeysuckle and skimmia. The hardy plants can be potted on into larger containers or planted in the garden next spring. We also have mixed packs of evergreens, to give foliage colour and enhance your winter plantings.
  • Autumn/winter flowering houseplants: Here are our care guides for the most popular indoor flowering plants for this time of the year – both are top sellers for their long flowering and ease of care in cool conditions:
    • Cyclamen: available in a range of colours from pure white through pinks and purples to bright red, plus Indiaka® varieties (bi-coloured flowers in varying shades of pink with white). Keep in cool conditions around 10-15 °C in bright light but not direct sunlight. Don’t over water – soil should be slightly moist. Water carefully from underneath and tip away any excess in the saucer after half an hour. Feed with liquid fertiliser monthly and remove faded flowers by twisting off the stem at the base. In the right conditions, cyclamen will flower for several months. These cyclamen varieties (Cyclamen persicum) are not hardy. The true hardy garden types for growing under deciduous trees are Cyclamen hederifolium (autumn flowering) and Cyclamen coum (spring)
    • Azalea: indoor azaleas (Rhododendron simsii) are not the same as the hardy ones grown outdoors. Azaleas need a cool light position and can cope with being on a windowsill during winter. Do not let the compost dry out, and water by submersing the pot in a bucket of water until saturated, then allow to drain. Plants can be hardened off to grow outdoors in a cool, shady place during summer, but must be brought back indoors before frosts
    • Skimmia is one of the best evergreens for all year-round interest – every garden should have a couple –skimmia is one of the best small evergreen shrubs which has attractive flower buds held over autumn and winter – it can withstand most soil conditions and ideal for any garden border or containers. It prefers partial shade, as it is a woodland plant, but will cope with full sun, as long as soil conditions are not too dry. Male and female flowers are produced on separate plants, so both plants are needed (planted nearby each other) to cross pollinate in order for the female plant to produce berries. However, some varieties are hermaphrodite which means they are self-fertile and will therefore not need a partner! An example of this is Skimmia japonica subsp.reevesiana. Skimmias flower around April and attract pollinating insects. Some are species are strongly scented: Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ is male, as is Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’, whereas Skimmia japonica ‘Pabella’ and Skimmia japonica ‘Veitchii’ (also known as Skimmia ‘Foremanii’) are both female varieties which will produce red berries.

  • Winter Foliage: Evergreens galore are in store! A wonderful selection of winter foliage and berry colour including our pick of the best for foliage and flowers. We have so many useful winter interest shrubs in store so come in and take a look. Acid (ericaceous) loving rhododendron and evergreen azaleas, and camellia – all flower next spring and now is a good time to plant them. If your soil is too limey or chalky, they make great container plants – use a loam-based ericaceous (acidic) compost such as John Innes, with controlled-release fertiliser pellets such as Miracle-Gro Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Continuous Release Plant Food. This will ensure the plants are fed throughout the growing season next year. Make sure you water your patio plants every so often over winter as it’s easy to forget. Even if it rains, container grown plants won’t get the amount they need
  • Amarylis bulbs: (the correct name for this bulb is actually Hippeastrum) these large indoor bulbs with very showy flowers, are planted between October and January and flower around 6-8 weeks later. They are usually available as either loose bulbs or in a gift box with compost and pot included. Here are our growing instructions for best results
    1. Plant the bulb into a pot just slightly larger than the bulb itself, using multipurpose compost or John Innes No.2
    2. The top two thirds of the bulb must be above the soil surface
    3. Put in a warm and bright place ideal temperature 21°C
    4. Carefully give a little water until the new leaves start to shoot from the bulb, when watering can be increased
    5. Avoid overwatering and tip away any excess water that stays in the saucer
    6. To prevent the flower stalk leaning towards the light, turn the pot regularly
    7. When your Hippeastrum is in flower, move it to a cooler place to ensure the best flowering
  • Protect tender plants in containers from winter cold by wrapping the pot in bubble wrap and fleece around the top of the plant. Move containers to a sheltered spot near the house, or better still into a frost-free place such as a cold greenhouse. Remember to water occasionally over the winter months as the rain will not reach the soil of a containerised plant
  • Cut back herbaceous perennials that have died down – now is also a good time to divide them too, provided the ground isn’t waterlogged or frozen. The soil will still be warm enough for root growth and plants should re-establish nicely by spring. Any less hardy perennials like agapanthus and hardy fuchsia will benefit from a mulch to protect the crown over winter.
  • Hellebores are one of the “go-to” winter flowering perennial plants. Numerous varieties are available. One of the most popular hellebores is the Christmas rose or Lentern rose, Helleborus niger, - a useful addition to any garden with its beautiful pure white flowers brightening up dull days. With semi-evergreen foliage, it flowers in late winter to early spring. Use it in containers for a pop of colour, or plant in moist but well-drained soil, in partly shaded areas of the garden for best growing conditions. To better show off the flowers, you can cut back faded or damaged foliage to expose them. Hellebores also make great cut flowers.