Estates Manager blog: November

Embracing Autumn’s Bounty and Preparing for Winter

At Furzey Gardens, I am excited to welcome in November – a month of transition and seasonal preparation in the garden. As the splendour of summer gives way to autumn, it is time to embrace a new set of outdoor tasks. Here are the jobs I would prioritise this time of year to ensure the well-being of your garden and its inhabitants.

Protecting Alpine Plants from Rain

November can bring heavy rainfall, which can be detrimental to delicate alpine plants. To safeguard them from harsh winter elements, consider placing them under cover, using cloches or temporary shelters. These measures will help prevent waterlogged soil and protect your precious alpines from rot.

Acers at Furzey Gardens providing a welcome burst of autumn colour

Lifting and Dividing Rhubarb Crowns

Now is the perfect time to rejuvenate your rhubarb patch. Invigorate the plants by lifting and dividing the rhubarb crowns to maintain their health and productivity next spring. Start by digging up the rhubarb clumps, then use a sharp knife to divide the crowns, making sure each division has healthy roots and at least one bud. Replant the root sections straight away or wrap them in damp sacking for a brief time.

Insulating Pots Left Outside Over Winter

Potted plants left exposed to winter’s chill can suffer from freezing temperatures. To protect them, insulate your pots using materials like horticultural fleece or bubble wrap. In extreme conditions, consider moving the pots to a sheltered spot. By providing this extra layer of protection, you will help your container plants survive and continue flourishing in warmer months.

Winter Digging

November marks the start of the winter digging season. With cooler temperatures and moist soil, it is an ideal time to prepare your garden beds. Winter digging helps improve soil structure, aerate the earth, and expose overwintering pests to the elements. Turn the soil with a spade or fork, breaking up clods and incorporating organic matter for improved fertility.

Planting Tulip Bulbs

While many spring-flowering bulbs are already nestled in the ground, it is time to plant tulip bulbs. These vibrant, late-season bloomers are best planted in November. Choose a well-draining location, and plant tulip bulbs at a depth of three times their height. This late planting ensures they remain snug during the winter months and burst into colour come spring.

Planting Bare Root Trees, Shrubs, and Roses

The warm soil from the summer still lingers in November, making it an excellent time to plant bare root trees, shrubs, and roses. When choosing a planting site, consider factors like sunlight, soil type, and spacing. Ensure the roots are well spread out, positioned at the correct depth, and provide adequate support for young trees.

Winter Pruning

Now is the time to conduct your annual winter pruning. Begin by inspecting your fruit trees and bushes for any dead or diseased branches. Remove these branches, taking care to make clean cuts to prevent any disease spread. Winter pruning encourages air circulation and sunlight penetration, leading to healthier fruit production.

Begin Winter Pruning of Deciduous Trees and Shrubs

In addition to fruit trees, deciduous trees and shrubs also benefit from winter pruning. Focus on removing dead, crossing or weak branches. Shape your trees and shrubs according to your design preferences. Remember, a well-pruned plant is not only aesthetically pleasing but also less susceptible to disease and infestations.

Keep Off Frosted Grass and Clear Fallen Leaves

Frost-covered grass is fragile. Avoid walking on it to prevent damage. Similarly, regularly clear fallen leaves off your lawn to prevent them from smothering the grass, which can lead to disease. Fallen leaves can be added to your compost pile or used as mulch in garden beds.

As we approach the colder months and prepare our gardens for winter, these tasks are essential for maintaining a thriving outdoor space. Remember that a well-cared-for garden in November ensures a breathtaking revival in the spring. So, grab your gardening tools and embrace the beauty of this transitional season.

Things To See and Do at Furzey Gardens

In November, one of my standout favourites at Furzey Gardens is the large Euonymus alatus, also known as winged spindle. It has fiery red foliage that creates a striking contrast against the autumn landscape and truly is a beautiful sight, particularly on a dull autumn day. This Euonymus variety is deciduous, so it puts on its visual show before shedding its leaves for the winter.

In preparation for winter, the gardening team which includes people with learning disabilities who work in the gardens, have been busy putting our Gunnera manicata to bed for the winter. This involves cutting the large Gunnera leaves off close to the crown, cutting the stems off and then using upturned leaves to protect the rhizomes from the harsh winter weather. Look out for these impressive shelters that protect our sleeping giant rhubarb throughout the winter.

Elsewhere in the garden, I have been excited to introduce some new Camellia plants to provide more winter interest to the gardens. The lush, layered pink petals of specimens such as Camellia sasanqua ‘Showa No Sakae’ add such a delightful burst of colour on cold and dull winter days. These camellias, along with some mahonia shrubs, form part of a bigger plan to introduce more winter interest for visitors to Furzey Gardens to enjoy.

This year we are also delighted to be trialling well behaved dogs in the gardens during our quieter months. Owners with dogs on short, non-extendable leads, will now be able to enjoy a walk around the gardens from November – February.

With attentions starting to focus on upcoming festivities, be sure to add November 29th or Dec 1st to your diary for our Wreath Making Workshop! Led by Richard from Larkmeadow Gardening, you’ll be guided through this creative Christmas workshop. Enjoy designing your own traditional decoration from beautiful greenery. Imagination and your own secateurs are all that’s needed – all other materials are provided! Book your ticket now as spaces are limited:

I hope to see some of you in the gardens over the coming weeks, if you are planning a visit please be sure to check our winter opening times which run from Monday 6 November when the gardens and tea rooms will be open Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 3.30pm, we will be closed on a Monday.

Andrew Bentley, Estate Manager, Furzey Gardens.

This article originally appeared as the monthly In The Garden column in the Lymington Times, buy the paper on the second Friday of every month to read the next column first.

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