October went out in a riot of blustery winds and heavy rain. By the start of November, the weather was calmer, overcast and mild, writes Jackie Power…
Pyracantha and Cotoneaster are laden with berries. Hebe continues flowering and Rosemary is coming back into bloom – providing some late forage for the bees – grateful for any flowers they can find.
The tree and shrub planting season begins in November (lasting until March) so, there is time to plan for some new additions to the garden. An unusual and useful tree is Arbutus unedo – the Strawberry tree; it is not related to the strawberry plant but the fruits look similar hence its common name.
Surprisingly, these trees are not widely grown, but they have many interesting qualities. Arbutus is evergreen, compact and shrublike, and produces white (or pink) delicate little bell-shaped fragrant flowers in Autumn – and showy orangey-pink fruits (often at the same time), which are edible; although they are not tasty and are usually made into jams and preserves. The leaves also have therapeutic properties. The tree attracts insects and provides shelter in the winter for birds and other small creatures. Arbutus will live in a container – for a while – but it has an extensive root system and eventually needs to be planted in the open ground. Arbutus would be a welcome addition to any garden/greenspace.
The end of British Summer time means less day light hours and soon conditions may prevent much activity in the garden; but as well as planting there is other work to be done. Weather permitting it is a good time to spread mulch around mature shrubs and in the vegetable plot. Mulch can be well-rotted organic matter found in the compost bin (after about six months to a year); it can also be well-rotted manure, wood chips or bark; if spread now it will break down into the ground over the winter months and plants quickly benefit when they come back into growth.
And with just a few weeks to go until Christmas – time to think of gift ideas. Lifeventure do a 300ml Thermal Mug for hot and cold drinks on the move – currently on offer for £11.99. There is also a waterproof phone pouch (£9.99) – not only useful for gardeners but for walkers and runners. There are also other practical products such as a small Vacuum Flask for £14.99. www.lifeventure.com
Packs of interesting heritage vegetable seeds (lettuce, beans, pumpkins and tomatoes) from the Organic Gardening Catalogue make good stocking fillers. www.organiccatalogue.com