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Georgie Steward’s November Gardening Club

The last few days have been full of sunshine and it has been a wonderful tonic to be out in the garden, making the most of it while we can. The garden is about to go to bed – more of a cat nap than a sleep really – as there is so much magic going on under the ground.  Lots of plants are already showing their new growth and at any moment we will be giving the lawn its last cut so as to avoid damaging the noses of new daffodil shoots. Exciting times!


I have decided to leave most of my dahlias in situ and cover with a thick layer of mulch to protect them from too much cold and wet. Simply cut down the blackened stalks (after first frost) – the stems are hollow – to avoid water dripping down to the crown inside and therefore rot taking hold, try to bend the stems over to the ground before laying your mulch as an extra security. Mark where they are with stakes and keep your fingers crossed!

Cutting Back

Cutting back now makes the place look a bit tidier, makes room for any bulbs or shrubs/perennials you may want to plant and first and foremost it is good for the plants – it helps them on their way into dormancy and encourages them to store energy in their roots, restore and recuperate, ready to burst forth in the spring with new life.

I start by taking out any annuals such as cosmos that are past their sell by date, moving on to anything particularly tender like dahlias and salvias which i either dig out and pot up to store in a frost free environment or leave in and mulch heavily. Then I tackle the stalwart of my borders – the herbaceous perennials. Plants like Nepeta, Astrantia, Campanula, Geraniums can all be cut back hard to the ground, clearing any debris along the way to avoid encouraging any infection.

Rose Pruning

I was taught to use the Sissinghurst method which looks at tackling climbers and ramblers first in November and only then do you move on to the shrub roses. I tend to spread this out over Winter and don’t get to pruning my shrub roses much before Christmas.

Prune climbing roses by removing old stems and any damaged or crossing new growth and by cutting all lateral shoots back to a healthy leaf bud. Try to train new stems horizontally to encourage maximum blooms.


To mulch or not to mulch!

The answer is definitely – always mulch! It really is one of the most important things we can do in our garden. We expect so much of our soil and the plants in our borders, that we need to give something back which will in turn support them again.  There is however a debate as to when best to do this. For me, I mulch any individual plant that I think needs it now to protect it from the harshness of winter – more tender plants such as the Dahlias, Salvias, Artemesias, Penstemons are in this bracket. But I wait until February to do a blanket mulch with tonnes of mushroom compost. This is mainly because I find it suppresses the weeds for longer if I leave it later.




The sweet peas I sowed last month are now growing fast and becoming quite leggy – so time to move to the cold frame to slow things down a bit. Treat them mean, keep them keen. When they have three sets of leaves I tend to start pinching out the tops to keep them stocky and sturdy.

Keep an eye on any tiny seedlings you have in the greenhouse now. Pot any on that desperately need it, otherwise leave them in situ and cut back on the watering.


Parsnips can be harvested after the first frost to encourage a sweeter taste – I have lots of weird and wonderful shapes this year which I rather like!

Plant garlic – I bought some wonderful Elephant Garlic from The Garlic Farm – it is huge and much milder in taste – a good one to try as something different you won’t necessarily see in the supermarkets.


Tulips – Go Go Go! November is the best time to plant your tulips. Good drainage is essential so if your soil is particularly heavy, add some grit to the planting hole. The deeper you plant tulips the stronger and straighter their stems will be.

Narcissi/Hyacinth – continue to plant for indoor blooms throughout the cold dark winter! If you have already planted some in pots in the shed, be sure to check that how they are doing/whether they need watering. Bring them in when the shoots are about an inch tall.

Amaryllis – If you want Amaryllis flowering for Christmas now is the time to plant them. They like a snug fit and good drainage. Plant now and keep somewhere warm.

A Plea for Trees

November is a great month for bare root tree planting – think about going for a tree with all year round interest if you possibly can – bark, blossom and berries is my mantra!  Varieties of Prunus such as ‘Shirotae’ and ‘Taihaku’ have the most gorgeous blossom in the Spring and Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’ is amazing for blossom, berries and autumnal colour. However the Acers really trump them all when it comes to the glow of autumn and on my wish list this year is Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ which turns fiery red in October/November.


Follow fanatical gardener and plantaholic Georgie on instagram @georgielovestogarden

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