Fiveways Gardens...November 2014

Top job for November is planting tulips (and other spring flowering bulbs if you've not got round to it yet).  Although most bulbs want a sunny spot, I've found that in their first year, they'll flower heartily in some shade, bringing light and drama in those dark areas of our garden.  I'm trying Tulip Spring Green on the shady side of my garden this year, along with Allium unifolium and Cowanii group which will follow them in June. 

Most of us are familiar with the large purple drumstick alliums, which are fab, but I'm trying these delicate pale pink and white ones in the shade this year.  Remember though, to feed all bulbs plenty and, if possible, put them in pots in the sun til their foliage has fully died back before drying and storing them for next year.  Otherwise, I very much doubt tulips grown in full shade will emerge again next year.  But hey, compared to the price of cut flowers for the house that only last a matter of days, topping up your bulb supply every year is great value.

Another great thing to do now is to plant a bit of hedging.  Chosen carefully, they're less maintenance than a boring fence and will last much longer.  Add to that, how much more attractive they are, plus benefits to birds, bees, moths, butterflies etc.. and there's little reason not to.  Plenty of hedging plants are happy in shade and over winter you can buy bare root plants for just a few pence.  Do make sure you can irrigate them in the first few summers to get them established, after that, they'll take care of themselves apart from an occasional trim.  If you're thinking of putting a hedge in your front garden - hoorah for you!  Consider putting a small water butt next to the downpipe so you're not carrying water through the house.  A bit of trellis around it is an opportunity for a beautiful, scented climber, and you're harvesting rainwater that would otherwise just go down the drain.  It's not expensive to rig up some pipe and leaky hose to take the overflow straight to the plants too...

Make sure that all plants growing in containers and pots can drain.  In dry weather, it makes sense to sit them on saucers to help prevent them drying out, but take all the saucers and trays away now, or you'll drown your plants.  Also consider buying (or finding) those little clay ‘feet' that pots can sit on - this not only aids free draining, but if we get freezing weather, it'll help prevent pots cracking.  Any pots, buckets, bowls etc not in regular use, should be put away or on their sides over winter, so they can't trap unsuspecting frogs, who are great at finding water, but then sadly can't escape.

Take long forgotten bird feeders down, give them a wash, and re-fill them.  Birds come to rely on us more and more - and most of us are cheered by seeing birds strut their stuff in our gardens.

Best wishes,


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