Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Gardening in November

November is a time to be tidying up gardens and allotments and planning ahead for next year - searching online for ideas or, in the more traditional way, perusing a bumper seed catalogue. In my volunteer gardener role in Oxfordshire, I've been busy helping with the usual autumn jobs of clearing leaves, cutting back herbaceous planting and digging up spent annuals. The Calendula didn't seem to want to stop flowering but given that the garden is now closed to visitors and therefore there's no-one to appreciate their loveliness, it was time to get the job done.

These are jobs I also need to do in my own garden but plants that ought to be dying back or resting for a while seem to have had a growth spurt so I think it's worth waiting a tad longer.

The Acanthus mollis just keeps growing - but unfortunately never flowers...

Other plants are busy putting on their usual autumn display especially the Fatsia japonica but the Clematis cirrhosa, which usually flowers in February, has decided to put on a small show now.

Fatsia japonica

In the London garden I look after for The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, I'm spending a lot of time online sourcing new plants, trees and suitable containers. I've recently ordered two apple trees to grow as (possibly) double-U cordons in large pots: Fiesta and Red Falstaff, maiden trees on M9 rootstock - ordered from It will be difficult given the shady conditions and restricted space but I'm up for the challenge...

As well as adding new planting to the rear courtyard garden, we plan to introduce a new front garden behind the railings - this will be a dye garden. More on this in the New Year!

We had the exciting news in the summer that we had finally got an allotment after nearly 4 years of waiting. It was a very neglected allotment so it's been hard work to get new beds dug, rubbish cleared, a shed reconstructed, and paths laid. It's now a race against time, or rather the weather, to get as much finished as possible before the ground gets too hard. So whereas it's generally quiet at the allotments now with most plots looking lovely and tidy, I'm aiming to be up there every day this week in the cold laying bark paths and constructing edging, attempting final bits of digging and wondering whether I'll get the shed painted...

Finally - the bottom half of the allotment is taking shape. The raised beds in the foreground will be moved and extended in the spring. There will be a central circle with feature planting - next year it will be cardoons!