Well, I am writing this the first week in November and it has been a very wet week, no gardening possible! However the water butts are all full and the bulbs and winter bedding are well watered in.
If you have a problem with clay soil it may not drain very well, so when possible try to fork in plenty of bulky organic material such as bark and perhaps some grit to help the problem. It will gradually break up the clay if done every year. You can still plant open grown apples and pears (not trained against the wall or fences) deciduous trees and shrubs. Tie in wall shrubs and climbers to stop them being damaged in windy weather. If deciduous trees and shrubs need pruning and renovation, this is a good time to do it as you can see what you are doing whilst the leaves are down. Make sure you use a reputable tree surgeon for any big tree work, ‘cowboys’ will weaken branches if work isn’t done properly, causing damage sometimes. If you need to prune Acers, Birches or Vines, do it before Christmas to prevent them ‘bleeding’. Keep the leaves raked off lawns and where they can spoil new growth on plants, otherwise as long as they are healthy they can act as mulch under shrubs. If we get snow, try to brush it off shrubs or it can break branches. Plants can be killed in borders when soggy ground becomes frozen, so a thick mulch will protect any more tender plants.
If you have a greenhouse, check the heater is working, and have fleece ready to cover any vulnerable plants when the temperature drops, as it must do eventually. Also check any protection on outdoor plants.
If you are overwintering geranium’s etc. check them regularly for botrytis (grey mould) and remove any dead leaves. Keep them fairly dry during the winter and reduce the watering on houseplants now. If you are buying or receiving plants like Cyclamen and Poinsettia, think about where you put them. Cyclamen need a cooler spot out of sunlight, if we get any! Poinsettias need warmer rooms. Don’t over water or leaves will yellow and die.
If you have lots of holly berries which you want to use for Christmas, cut them in the first week of December or before the birds start eating them, and store in a bucket of water till you want to bring them in. Leave some for the birds though and remember to fill the feeders as well. One last tip, get your garden machinery serviced now, while things are quiet.
Have a lovely Christmas everyone, perhaps you will have some nice gardening presents this year.