Written by Alison Levey – award winning Garden blogger
November is upon us, the month of damp, dank, mists and often the first of the frosts. It is the month that knocks on the door of Winter, hanging on to what colour there is for as long as it can. It is also the season when the fragrance of the garden changes. There is that scent of damp soil that pervades this time of year. It has a little bit of ‘eau de slug’, which should be unpleasant yet for some reason I like it – it’s a sign of the season.
In my garden in most years, November sees the peak of the Autumn foliage. I can be found gazing out of the upstairs windows enjoying the colour in the garden. I love seeing the foliage turn through many shades before finally dropping to the ground.
I also wander the garden looking at the first flowers appearing on the Hamamelis, I have one that always flowers earlier than the others. I love flowers this time of year as they seem in short supply. I find my gaze shifts as the season turns. In the Summer I am looking more at the overall effect of the borders, as we move into Autumn and Winter I find I am looking more at individual plants and enjoying them more as individuals. Each flower becomes more prized.
The Winter Flowering clematis: Clematis cirrhosa is a must-grow clematis for me. If I was only allowed one clematis it would be this one. It flowers for weeks over the Winter and provides food for late and early pollinators. It also brightens up the old apple tree where mine grows.
The king of my Autumn garden though has to be my Ginkgo Tree. Watching the leaves turn to butter yellow, then waiting, waiting, waiting until that day when they all seem to drop at once and carpet the ground. There is no tree that manages to instil so much anticipation and drama into its journey into Winter. It has to be one of the most spectacular conifers and there are so many varieties to buy that it is worth finding a spot for if you can.
I will be planting my tulips in November and will be happy in the knowledge that during the darkest coldest months of Winter they are underground, growing and getting ready for their moment. Whilst it may feel like November is the garden shutting down, for me it is a month of hope. It is the gateway month where some plants are settling down for their Winter sleep and others are just waking up.
There are few better ways then spending a November day weeding the garden. It allows me to get close to ground level so I can see what is growing and what is emerging. I try not to be too tidy in removing the leaf-fall, but I am very aware that slugs can use them to hide under and I have enough slugs without encouraging more. I wrap up warm for my days outside and as long as it is not raining or the ground frozen, I will be outside as much as I can be. I often say that one weed now is worth 200 in the Spring and this mantra keeps me going.
People who do not garden in Winter are missing a treat.