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Gardening Club - November News
3 Nov 2017

Chieveley Gardening Club on November in the garden. Plus November garden activities for you. 

The gardener's year is really drawing to a close. There is much less daylight in November and the clocks have gone back limiting the time for afternoon work. The first frost will have reduced tender bedding to black mush and there is a certain amount of panic trying to clear summer's successes and prepare the garden for winter.

The first priority is to gather up tender plants that have spent the summer outside and bring them into the greenhouse or conservatory. Pot-grown geraniums, fuchsias and all the other tropical gems that we use to clutter our terraces, need protection from frost and are best dried off to ensure ‘survivability'. The roots and shoots become dormant during winter (hibernating?), so they need little water; leaving wet roots in wet compost is a guaranteed way to kill these tender perennials. Remove tatty leaves and shoots as these also can succumb to winter rots. When I bring plants into the greenhouse, I ventilate it well for several weeks to dry off the soil, roots and shoots. I like to think that the survival rate is much higher.

The other seasonal job is planting the last bulbs. Garden centres are rapidly replacing their bulb and winter bedding displays with Christmas tat, so don't leave bulb-buying too late. I suspect it is rather old fashioned to plant bulbs for forcing to show (off) in the house, but they do make a lovely display bringing colour and scent indoors at a dead time of year. If you can find hyacinths, narcissi (such as Paperwhite) or crocuses, pot them into compost or bulb fibre and lose them in a cool, dark place in the house for a couple of months by which time they will have rooted and shooted. When brought into light and warmth, they will soon green up and flower. The only hassle I find is supporting them (to prevent them leaning or collapsing) without the stakes detracting from the display.

Tulips are, to me, the bestest, loudest and most colourful of all the bulbs and, luckily, they seem to thrive on our free-draining soil. A large box of bulbs has just arrived from Bloms Bulbs for the village planter spring display. By the time you read this they will have replaced the cannas that did so well this year. The cannas will be dried off for the winter and can be divided in spring, when they emerge from dormancy, to make more plants.

The final big seasonal job is clearing the growth, stakes and other debris from borders. Perennials can all be cut down to ground level as they die back to winter dormancy. Although a sad end-of-season job it is a good time to consider your plants, borders and the layout of your beds. Plants can be moved now or ear-marked for transplanting in the spring. We should try to rejoice in the successes and cheerful display we have created rather than mourn the closing season. If gardening is a creative hobby, it begins with thinking, dreaming and planning. Soon enough it is time for the usual winter browsing of the seed and plant catalogues.

Happy Gardening, Giles Derry

Dates for your diary

Tuesday 21 November 7.30pm in Chieveley Village Hall. Annual General Meeting followed by wine and nibbles. Do join us to hear about what we have done this year and our plans and ideas for 2018. We also need stimulating with new ideas for next year: talks, visits, workshops etc. We are not too proud to copy others' ideas!