Garden Life – November 2020 – Gill Ford

Early November is the last chance to plant trees and shrubs, so they can establish themselves before the cold of winter sets in. Deciduous leaves seem to be staying on the trees for longer this year, so do take the time to look at the choice of autumn colours that you can pop into your garden for a wonderful display next year – such as Liquid Amber, Acers, Amalanchier or Rhus typhina, also known as Stag’s Horn Sumach, which has lovely, glowing amber, serrated leaves. It can tend to send out succers, so it needs some space around it.

It is worth taking the time to dig a large hole, twice the width and depth of the root ball, line it with good quality compost to ensure the plant has the goodness it needs and space around the rootball, so it can become established before winter sets in. The old saying of ‘Buy a penny plant and dig a pound hole’ to ensure success, is still true today!

There are far fewer pollinators flying around at this time of year, so the flowers have to be highly scented to attract the insects. Eleagnus ebbingei is a slow growing evergreen shrub with tiny white, scented flowers and Sarcocca confusa is another winter flowering shrub. I tend to plant them near to the house, so the scent wafts towards you as soon as you open your door, which is a great treat! Also, once the leaves have started to fall and are lying all around, do take the time to listen to the sounds of birds searching among them for bugs and little creatures scurrying around.

Every year as a child I was given a growing Amaryllis bulb for Christmas and I have continued the tradition for my grandchildren, as the plants can grow up to 1m high!

They need 6-8 weeks to grow, so I plant them in early November in good quality compost, leaving half the bulb above the top of the compost. Then keep them well watered but not waterlogged in a warm sunny spot and wait for the magic to begin! Because they can produce 3 – 4 tunnel shaped florets of 20 – 25cm wide at the mouth, they tend to be top heavy, so I create support for them by pushing 1m long willow and dog wood cuttings into the pot around the bulb and then tie them together, so the flowers appear above them, as you can see below.

My favourite varieties are Naughty Girl, which is red and white and Stardust which fades from scarlet to pure white, powdered with red.

So, whilst there is always lots to do, sit back a while reading garden articles about what little gems can be added to fill the garden with colour and scent in the spring!

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