Green Living

Your guide to November gardening and planting

Say hello to sunshine and make the most of the longer, warmer days by getting busy with November gardening

Spring is a most inspiring and pleasant time in the garden. All is bursting with life and the weather is neither too hot nor too cold.

Your November gardening guide:

Just about everywhere, even cold-sensitive plants such as sweet corn, tomatoes, courgettes and other cucurbits, eggplants and peppers can be planted by the middle of the month.

Once flowering has finished, prune winter and spring-flowering shrubs such as azalea, camellia, forsythia, lilac, mānuka, spirea. philadelphus and rhododendron. This will give time for flower buds to develop for next season’s flowering. Maintain a natural shape by cutting back to the ground some of the older stems. Their flower production will have been fading and the new stems thrusting up to replace them will be full of buds.

Hop aboard
Many seeds can still be sown before the full heat of summer hits, notably a range of perennials and annual flowers, and vegetables, including beans, beetroot, broccoli, carrots, celery, leeks, lettuce, onion, radish, rocket, spinach and spring onions.

Apply a thick layer of organic mulch, such as straw or compost around trees and shrubs to help moisture retention in the hot months ahead, suppress weeds and feed the plants. Do not let the mulch rest up against the trunks.

Landscaping 101

While no-maintenance gardens are a notion surely invented by cement companies, low-maintenance gardens are a pipe dream of the non-gardening garden owner. However, less maintenance is a distinct possibility for the unwilling. Through plant choices and design principles, garden maintenance may be reduced without sacrificing the amount of vegetation.

Simplicity — the first refuge:
Take a hedge around a patio paved in permeable concrete, which allows water to drain away and a modicum of life beneath it. Being all the same, the hedge plants all have the same requirements, instantly reducing work. And, once established, the garden chores will be:

  1. Watering: invest in an automatic watering system to save you time, particularly in the summer months, and conserve water.
  2. Sweeping leaves: Broom or blow leaves under hedges. Evergreen natives drop fewer leaves, reducing work.
  3. Clipping the hedges: A motorised tool will make the job fun, for some. Others may learn to love the art of hand clipping and the zen calmness it can engender.

The wild side

Especially good for those seeking a little wilderness, shrubberies can cover larger areas with only a little maintenance required once established. Once you have chosen and planted the shrubs, a thick layer of organic mulch can be placed all over the ground to suppress weeds, preserve water, feed the plants and so on. Then, stand back. Over time plant litter comprising all those fallen leaves, twigs etc and broken down by myriad fungus, bacteria and insects will build up a layer of weed-suppressing humus. An optional path through the shrubbery may need clearing and plants trimmed back from it from time to time – but again this is a job easily contracted out.

Having a garden that can withstand the relative ignorance of a jobbing gardener or disinterested owner is key to reducing maintenance. Having a hedge with a row of smaller shrubs in front, for example, makes the jobs very clear – trim and weed out anything that isn’t obviously a shrub. Whereas the likes of herbaceous borders and elegant bedding displays require a much higher degree of skill and knowledge to keep looking good. Few things are more infuriating than having someone mistake a prized perennial for a weed and yank it out.

Should you wish for flowers, then stick either with flowering shrubs or annuals that can be planted into bare ground and ripped out at the end of their season. The bare ground is returned with little room for error.

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