Mild November: Good or Bad News?

How often do you hear gardeners say “the weather’s great” or “we’ve been really lucky with the weather this month”? Not too often I should think…

Gunnera and Beech in Autumn Colour

This month, I must admit, we’ve got through the bulb planting and winter bedding with speed and are feeling quite relieved. We’ve been able to do a good deal of winter work, rain permitting, and have enjoyed the milder weather. It’s probably been the first disruption-free November I’ve gardened in, and we’ve managed poor weather patches well by alternating between digging in dry weather and cutting back in the wet.

Beech Tree turning colour in Aberglasney’s Pigeon Wood

The mild weather combined with a wet summer seems to have created a long autumn with autumn colour starting in September and still going strong now in mid-November. Acer and Parrottia are long gone and the Beech trees have finally dropped their leaves, but other autumn stars like Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ are still holding.

Cornus ‘Midwinterfire’ and Persicaria affinis in the Alpinum Garden

It’s great to see the colour last but it does mean you lose many of the striking contrasts. The most impressive and persistent autumn colour at Aberglasney has been in the Asiatic Garden. It’s been less spectacular this year than previous years but it has lasted longer – I’m undecided which I’d prefer…

Asiatic Garden in autumn colour

If you’re looking for a new planting opportunity to bring autumn colour contrasts to your garden, Parrotia persica is an excellent slow-growing tree that works really well in small gardens. It’s wonderfully shaped, has ornamental spring growth, a second flush of growth midsummer and excellent autumn colour. It’d combine nicely with red or purple autumn colour, or alternatively, it makes a lovely free-standing tree on a lawn.

Parrotia persica in autumn colour

Something that does worry me a little this year is the emergence of many of our bulbs. Snowdrops, Camassia and Narcissus are coming up as if it were February in some parts of the garden. Admittedly, this is less of a concern for Narcissus as I know they hold their growth when the weather cools down. If you’re experiencing a similar problem, a good solution is mulching the borders so that any new shoots can be protected over the coldest winter months. We’re lucky at Aberglasney; we’re able to mulch copiously and can use specific mulches for certain plants and areas because we make our own compost.

It’s good a time as any to get out and mulch borders before too many other new shoots come up and the colder weather sets in. A good tip is to put a bucket over any plants that don’t like their crowns covered to make it easier to mulch around them. Mulching will also help with summer weed suppression.

There’s something nice and reassuring about seeing a freshly mulched border at this time in the season.

Tips for the Week:

  1. Get mulching!
  2. There’s still plenty of weeding to be doing in this mild weather
  3. Keep clearing weeds off the lawn – they’ve nearly all dropped
  4. Remove old fruit canes from blackberries and other cane fruit
  5. Keep clearing and cutting back perennials
  6. Now is a good time to divide perennials but leave the grasses until spring
  7. Look for new planting opportunities especially autumn colour contrasts