And so we sail away from October. The next few days bring clock changing, Hallowe’en and fireworks. Joy of joys. The weather forecast is gloomy for next week as well so hibernation anyone?

If you are of a more optimistic nature and you don’t have much in the way of colour or flowers treat yourself to a trip to a nursery or garden centre. There is no need to spend a fortune. Violas, pansies and outdoor cyclamen come in trays of six or maybe more and don’t cost a lot. One tray will fill a hanging basket or smallish container and will keep going over the winter. The cyclamen should be planted out in the soil after a container display and if happy will seed about for next year. These little jewels come in all sorts of shades from white through pink to bright red. There seems to be an infinite variety of colours in violas and pansies. I had an accidental success with a mixed basket as I prefer violas but had bought a tray of pansies as well. The mixture of the two was quite eye-catching so it’s worth picking up two or three trays to see how well they combine.

If you want to splash out a bit more look for winter-flowering clematis. Freckles is a good one, off-white flowers with dark red spots and lines in the middle. This requires a bit of shelter from strong winds but most of the others, mainly evergreen, are quite tough. Very tough in some cases as ‘vigorous’ doesn’t begin to cover Armandii or Winter Beauty. These two do need pruning and I did hear of one owner who regularly took a chainsaw to Armandii. In the right place this is truly stunning in either white or pink and scented. A strong archway is ideal. 

Tasks for November apart from checking structures are usually exercise-related. Winter digging if you can get on the soil. If you are on clay please don’t bother. Digging wet clay does more harm than good unless you plan on making bricks. The best thing is to put a layer of compost, well-rotted, old grow-bags or anything else organic on the soil and leave it to the worms. Keep on collecting leaves from the lawn and the crowns of plants (they’ll cause rot) and bagging for leaf-mould. These are ongoing tasks for November through to the end of December which is why Gardeners’ World finished 28th. I suppose there are limits to how often you can plant bare root trees and bulbs. Same here so please excuse repetition from now on but at least the weather isn’t too bad. Yet.

Keep weeding.