When I got up this morning (6th November) the garden was covered by a heavy frost. It looks like winter has now arrived after a long wonderful summer and very little autumn. There are still a few jobs to be done in the garden before Christmas arrives, like clearing up the garden and vegetable plot to make it look good over the winter. Prune tall-growing bush roses by about a half and shorten all the branches on standard roses. Plant bare-rooted roses, trees and shrubs. Prune hybrid tea and floribunda roses. Prune Birches and maples if necessary before Christmas to avoid bleeding as the sap starts to rise early in these trees.
Remove any summer bedding you still have. Continue cutting back herbaceous perennials, dig up, divide and replant any that have got too large. This will revive poorly flowering clumps and also increase stock. Tidy up beds and borders ready for spring and mulch with organic compost to improve the soil. Examine gladiolus corms and dahlia tubers removing any that are rotting. Pot up lily bulbs for flowers next summer. Take cuttings of rhododendrons, azaleas, and other evergreen shrubs. Prune Wisteria side shoots to 10-15 cm from the base, tie in leading shoots to create framework. Wrap half- hardy bananas, palms and tree ferns with fleece, straw or bubble polythene, also round the base of tender shrubs and climbers.
Prune established and newly planted apple and pear trees, but do not prune stone fruits. Pruning is undertaken when the tree is dormant – after the leaves have fallen. Move tubs of shrubs or winter bedding to a sheltered spot.
Prune newly planted raspberries, currants and gooseberries. Mulch well newly planted fruit trees, bushes, canes and strawberries with well-rotted manure or garden compost. Treat trees with a tar oil wash. Protect tender wall shrubs and fruit by pushing a few cut branches of an evergreen around the base to provide some protection or cover with fleece, also protect pot grown strawberries from heavy winter rain.
Plant shallots and garlic, divide and plant rhubarb. Check any vegetables and fruit you have in store, discarding any that are rotting. Stake Brussels sprouts. Protect winter peas, beans and salads with cloches. Dig over vacant areas.
Lay new turf when the ground is not frozen and soggy. Grass will continue to grow if the weather is mild, so if it needs cutting mow it with a cutting height of about 2-4 cm. Try not to walk on your lawn if is frosty.
If you have a greenhouse, water cautiously in the morning, and keep plants such as geraniums and fuchsias etc only just damp. Do not over water. Ventilate the greenhouse on warm days and keep greenhouse glass clean to admit as much light as possible. Prune indoor and outdoor vines.
23 November, 2014
I have just uploaded the December 2014 Gardening Notes from Irene Allaway. Sad to say, they are the last. As you may know Irene has stepped down as Editor of the Basinga after nearly 40 years. A remarkable achievement by any standards and as fine and selfless an example of public service as you are ever likely to see. I am going to leave the 2014 set of Notes on the website as a permanent tribute to Irene. The advice will remain relevant and her weather observations will be an encapsulation of a most unusual year. We wish Irene well for the future.