This silhouette of a Garry oak shows its mighty fine 'bones'. Photo Amanda Jarrett.
The Garden Website for NOvember
November's Introduction & Plant Combo - Amanda's Garden Blog - November Garden Chores
Ask Amanda - Soggy Soil Time - Plant Police
November Lawn Care - Mollusk Watch
My Garden November Flower Arrangement - Plant of the Month: Paperbark Maple
Ask Amanda - Soggy Soil Time - Plant Police
November Lawn Care - Mollusk Watch
My Garden November Flower Arrangement - Plant of the Month: Paperbark Maple
November PLANT COMBO
Amanda's Garden Blog
Consider using kale in garden beds for an attractive and edible combination. The kale will continue looking good throughout the winter, even when iced in snow. Their neighbours, however, are donning their autumnal colours as they prepare to go dormant. The Solomon seal (Polygonatum biflorum), on the upper left, is delicately yellowing whilst the Halcyon hosta beside it is gradually fading. The Northblue blueberry is holding on to the last of its red fall foliage.
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Do you know what happened to this laurel? Any light you can shed would be most welcome.
The browning of the leaves around the edges is either fertilizer burn or drought. After such a dry summer, it’s probably drought. Even tough laurels suffer with weeks upon weeks without water, especially in the heat. Be attentive to your trees and shrubs and water them before they start to wilt and show signs of distress.
At this point, no control is necessary or warranted as the soil is moist with fall rains. New leaves will replace the old.
for the tropical Gardener
While working in Florida as landscape consultant, it became apparent that there was a need for a book on tropical shrubs. There are so many to choose from, but relating that information to my clients was difficult, so I wrote a book. Ornamental Tropical Shrubs includes pictures in full colour and information about the plants in point form. So if you live in the tropics and subtropics and need a reference book on tropical shrubs, or you just want to have a look-see click here.
As November slips into winter, trees are in differing states of undress. Some are still donning brilliant colours while others are stripped to their bare bones showing their intricate and differing silhouettes.
Does your garden have good ‘bones’? It’s amazing how a few deciduous woody plants deftly become architectural pieces of art, especially during the winter. November is the last good month to plant and you can get some great deals at garden centres.
Add a splash of colour and food for wild life with vivid berries. Red-twigged dogwood and other shrubs have brightly coloured stems. Harry Lauder's walking stick has twisted curly branches and the stewartia has funky patchy bark. There's all kinds of lovely things out there.
If you need to perk up your drab winter garden, visit a plant nursery. They will have something to dazzle, to brighten, to lift your spirits and to make you smile. Winter pansies, primroses, cyclamen and other winter bedding plants bring colourful flowers and ae a quick fix, but go for evergreens if you need more of a visual impact.
Evergreens are either conifers and broadleaf. Conifers bear cones such as pines, spruce and cedars. They have needles or scale-like leaves and do not bear typical flowers. Broadleaf evergreens bear 'regular' type leaves and typical flowers with many shapes, colours and sizes. Rhododendrons, camellias, boxwood, wintercreeper and sweetbox are common examples. Ask for advice from the nursery staff for correct plant selection and don’t forget to read the label that comes with the plant as it offers lots of pertinent information.
Soggy soil time
If your yard resembles a pond or lake after it rains, you’ve got bad drainage – or should I say – your soil does. Soil compaction, low spots, inadequate amounts of organic matter in the soil are the usual culprits. An easy fix is to install a bog or rain garden.
There’s lots of attractive plants that don’t mind wet feet and some will even help dry things out: goat’s beard (Aruncus dioicus), Astilbe, water avens (Geum rivale), If your yard resembles a pond or lake after it rains, you’ve got bad drainage – or should I say – your soil does. Soil compaction, low spots, inadequate amounts of organic matter in the soil are the usual culprits. An easy fix is to install a bog or rain garden.
There’s lots of attractive plants that don’t mind wet feet and some will even help dry things out: goat’s beard (Aruncus dioicus), Astilbe, water avens (Geum rivale), Gunnera spp., Japanese iris (Iris ensata), Siberian iris (Iris sibirica), Ligularia spp., Rodgersia sp., redtwig dogwood (Cornus sericea), river birch (Betula nigra), swamp maple (Acer rubrum), Persian ironwood (Carpinus persica) and willow (Salix spp.) just to name a few.
If really soggy lawns and beds are making your garden an unhappy place to be, consider installing a French drain. It’s a low tech method to remove water from an area using a trench and gravity. While you’re at it, check any city drains around your property. Make sure they are clear of debris especially fallen foliage as this also leads to flooding. Gunnera spp., Japanese iris (Iris ensata), Siberian iris (Iris sibirica), Ligularia spp., Rodgersia sp., redtwig dogwood (Cornus sericea), river birch (Betula nigra), swamp maple (Acer rubrum), Persian ironwood (Carpinus persica) and willow (Salix spp.) just to name a few.
If really soggy lawns and beds are making your garden an unhappy place to be, consider installing a French drain. It’s a low tech method to remove water from an area using a trench and gravity. While you’re at it, check any city drains around your property. Make sure they are clear of debris especially fallen foliage as this also leads to flooding.
Stripping the beds of all leaves and other organic debris has a negative impact on the soil and plants in many ways. Not only does it deprive all the life forms that dwell in and on top of the soil with the main source of food. Raking and blowing leaves from beds injures existing plants while exposing their roots. Plants become less hardy, hungry, thirsty and prone to insects and diseases. They don't like it. So instead of exposing the soil and plant roots to the elements, cover them, protect them all year long with living ground covers or an organic mulch. And just think, no more raking, no more blowing leaves from the garden beds.
November Lawn Care
There’s a few things that need to be done to the lawn before winter sets in. It’s already wet and cold. Soon frost will be nipping at our heels. Grass plants are slowing down and the lawn must be prepped for the winter ahead.
Due to the wet and cool weather, this is a perfect time to over-seed patchy and bare lawns with grass seed. Add a starter fertilizer, one that is high in phosphorus (the middle number is highest).
For the last cut of the season, set the mower to 2.5 to 3 inches. It is best to cut lawns when the grass is dry. I know that is a tough one, but hey, the cut is much better, it reduces diseases as well as soil compaction. If leaves are on the lawn and they are not too thick, mow over them. Either bag them as you go then put them on garden beds, or just leave them be – if they are not clumping.
Frost on the lawn? Don’t walk on it as it crushes and breaks their crown, where the stems meet the roots, therefore killing the wee grass plants. Oh, and no mowing
Lay off the high nitrogen fertilizers (first number highest) as this promotes new lush growth easily killed by frost. For lawns that need help, apply a winterizer fertilizer. It’s high in potash (the last number), which makes plants hardier, including trees, shrubs and perennials.
Watch out for slugs and snails as they love the wet weather and they are hungry, very hungry. Go out with a flashlight at night and pluck them up then toss them in a cup of salty water. If you are squeamish, trap them with slug bait, but put the bait in slug traps. The traps keep it dry and prevent animals from eating the bait. I make my own bait traps with a recycled plastic margarine container. Cut a few windows at the same height around the container, add the slug bait, put the lid on, then bury it in the ground so the bottom of the windows lines up with the soil surface. The slugs and snails will enter the container and die. This method keeps the bait dry and keeps animals including pets from ingesting the bait.
Garden Tools & Equipment: Clean, sharpen and put away all garden tools, including the lawn mower, once you have finished using them for the season. Don’t forget to remove the gas from gas mowers and sharpen blades (or get them done by a professional). Move chemicals, fertilizers and seeds to a frost free location. Put away the garden furniture, especially the cushions so they don’t get mouldy.
Feeding our Feathered friends
Birds: If you decide to feed the birds make sure you keep the bird and suet feeder well stocked as they become dependent on you for their survival. Be their hero.
November Garden Chores
Harvest: Harvest any remaining veggies except for ones that don’t mind a touch of frost: Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, parsnip, kale, broccoli and chard.
Compost: Give your compost one last turn before winter sets in and add water if necessary. If it is too wet, add dried fallen leaves or torn up newspapers. Tempting as it may be, refrain from adding seedy weeds and buggy plants.
No Nitrogen Fertilizers: You shouldn't use high nitrogen (the first number on fertilizer labels) fertilizer at this time of year. Nitrogen stimulates new, lush growth, which is vulnerable to frost damage. If plants and turf are looking yellow, feed with a high potassium winterizer fertilizer (the last number is the highest).
Garlic: There's still time to plant garlic. You can never have too much garlic.
Weed: If you have the time and the knees, give the garden a good weeding. You will be happy you did when spring comes back around.
Fallen Leaves: Continue to rake up fallen leaves from the lawn and lay them on top of garden beds, tender plants or on top of and around planters. If you don't have any fallen leaves, pick them up from the neighbourhood on recycle day.
Winterize - If you haven't already done so, protect the crowns of tender plants pineapple lily (Eucomis autumnalis), freesias, fuchsias, elephant ear (Colocasia spp.), New Zealand flax (Phormium spp.), bananas, palm trees, hybrid tea roses and cannas with about 6 inches of soil, leaves or mulch. You can also wrap above ground portion of plants with layers of burlap, sheets, rugs, and cardboard. Don't use plastic, as it has no insulating value to plants.
Cage bananas, palms and tree ferns and fill the cage with foliage or mulch. Tie pyramidal, round and upright evergreens such as cedars with twine to prevent heavy wet snow from destroying their shapes.
Pruning: Since frost is imminent this month, put your pruning shears down and back away from those plants. If trees and shrubs are pruned back now, new, vulnerable, tender growth will emerge, which is easily damaged by Jack Frost. With that said, there are exceptions to this rule. Remove any raspberry and blackberry canes that fruited this year, down to the ground. Cut back overly long rose canes too, so they don't whip around in the wind. Remove any spent flowers while you are at it. From all plants always remove dead, dying, diseased and injured plant parts, but no more.
Check outside containers to make sure they are not swimming in water. If they are, maybe the pot's drainage holes are plugged, or the pot doesn't have any holes. Remove any drainage trays too. If it’s just too wet out there, place them under the eaves, but check on them occasionally to ensure they don’t dry out.
Move planted containers not used for winter displays, out of the rain and into protected areas. This prevents wind damage, desiccation and saturated soil. Use bubble wrap, fiberglass or Styrofoam sheets to insulate containers over the winter or sink them into the ground if possible, then dig them up in spring.
Avoid leaving empty clay and ceramic pots outside as they often form cracks and may even shatter with the temperature fluctuations and freezing temperatures.
Instead of retiring planted containers for the winter, just add interesting twigs and cedar, pine or fir boughs. Throw in some daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs, primroses, winter pansies, wall flowers (Erysimum sp.). Add hardy broadleaf evergreens: skimmia, sweet box (Sarcococca sp.) and heather (Erica carnea).
frozen pipes & Hoses
When all the planting is finished for the season, remember to turn off the water supply to all outside faucets. This prevents water freezing in the pipes, and bursting in the walls. Oh what fun that would be.
Blow out the lines of pumps from waterfalls and ponds then store them inside. Empty the water out of garden hoses and any spray heads and store for the winter.
Underground irrigation systems should have their winter maintenance done before freezing temperatures arrive. The company that installed the irrigation unit should return to blow out the lines every winter (and again in spring to start the system while checking each station and zone). You will have to pay, but it is a tricky business so let the pros do their job.
Harvested veggie beds and other bare beds suffer through the winter due to erosion, temperature fluctuations, winter weeds and nutrient leaching. Add a 3 inch layer of an organic mulch, such as fallen fall leaves over the soil surface, or just lay a thick layer of newspapers shredded or not, to cover the soil. It’s better than nothing.
Plant Spring Flowering Bulbs: There's still time to plant some tulips, daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs. I love early flowering bulbs such as snowdrops as their nodding little white heads remind me that spring is on the way.
Cut back any remaining herbaceous (non-woody) perennials: iris, daisies, delphiniums etc. Divide and replant if necessary.
Dahlias and Summer Bulbs: Dig up and store any tender summer bulbs such as dahlias, tuberous begonias, gladiolus and cannas. Let them dry to cure in a frost free dry place. Store in cardboard boxes filled with vermiculite, peat moss etc., in a cool frost free area away from light.
Make New Beds: Get ready for spring planting by making new beds now. Either remove the sod or do the lasagna (sheet mulching) gardening method.
Transplant & Plant: Do you need to move some plants around? There is still time to transplant and to plant new ones unless it is just too wet. Select a fair weather day as rain spreads disease and compacts soil, especially this time of year.
Hardwood Cuttings: Take hardwood cuttings from deciduous shrubs and evergreens now through winter and early spring. Use dormant, mature stems with firm wood that doesn’t easily bend.
Collect Seeds: Finish collecting dry, mature seeds from the garden and store all your seeds in a frost free, dry location in paper envelopes, not plastic as it promotes rotting. Ensure they are dry before storing.
Root Cuttings: Take root and basal cuttings now until mid-February from most perennials ex: Oriental poppy, mullen, phlox, catalpa, quince.
Edge Garden Beds: It's a good time to edge new and old garden beds to reduce maintenance. Edging prevents grass from growing into the beds and makes line trimming easier. It looks neater too.
Garden Journal: While the past season is still fresh in your mind, take notes and pictures of your successes and failures if you haven't already done so. Include a map of the veggie garden so you can rotate crops next year. You'll be glad you did come spring.
Plant of the month
Paperbark Maple, Acer Griseum
Common Name: paperbark maple
Botanical Name: Acer griseum
Form: oval to round canopy, twiggy with shaggy, upright
Species: griseum = grey (leaf undersides)
Plant Type: deciduous tree
Mature Size: 20-30ft (6-9 m), x 15 to 20ft (4.5 - 6m)
Hardiness Zone: 4 to 8
Foliage: opposite, trifoliate 3" to 5" long, soft, blue-green color, white underneath, 3 leaflet leaf (trifoliate), opposite, excellent fall colour
Stems: cinnamon coloured peeling, shaggy bark
Flowers: inconspicuous green & yellow clusters, Mar- Apr
Fruit: 1.5" to 2" long, chartreuse samaras in pairs, Jun- Jul
Exposure: sun to part shade
Soil: prefers moist, well-drained, but also soil tolerant
Uses: specimen, accent, bonsai, shade tree, winter interest
This reliable and decorative tree’s claim to fame is its highly ornamental cinnamon coloured peeling bark. It peels off in large curls giving the tree a shaggy appearance.
The paperbark maple has great fall leaves in brilliant oranges, yellows and reds. Although this tree is a maple, its leaves don’t resemble a typical maple leaf as they are composed of 3 leaflets instead of one single leaf. Its seeds however, are typical of the maple species as they are winged. Technically they are termed samaras, however, they are often referred to as ‘helicopters’ or 'keys'.
This hardy, tough and well-behaved tree looks good all year long, no matter what the season. Its because of its beautiful bark, nicely shaped canopy and vivid fall colours. This popular tree is often used in city boulevards as it’s tolerant to pollution, is soil tolerant and generally has no issues with insects or diseases.
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