November Gardening at Orchard Park

Don’t let the short days and colder weather dissuade you from enjoying your garden. I know that all our wonderful summer planters and baskets are a faded memory but you can still create interesting winter planters that will take you through to spring. Some plants will actually display better in winter especially if they have a little shelter from a front porch or on the patio or terrace.

Best way to go about it? Start with a good strong pot, either wood, glazed or unglazed terracotta, plastic or fibre clay. The better the pot then the better its resistance to cold and frost.

Make sure the pot has a good drainage hole in the bottom, then add a layer of broken crocks or stones before adding your compost.  I prefer to use a good multi-purpose compost with at least 20% John Innes No 3 mixed in. John Innes is a loam or soil based compost which gives a little extra ‘body’ to an ordinary compost. You can use some good garden soil in place of John Innes, but make sure it is mixed with leafmould or similar organic matter.

What to plant? Some spring flowering bulbs planted quite deep in the pot will give extra interest in spring but choose shorter growing varieties that won’t over-power the other plants.

Then look for good evergreens such as Skimmia and Leucothoe to form the backbone of the planted arrangement. Add a few low growing plants such as winter flowering heathers, ivies, berrying plants such as Gaultheria and maybe some winter flowering pansies for immediate colour.

I try to make as much compost as I can at this time of year with what I have cleared from flower beds, as well as leaves mixed with grass clippings from the lawn. Use a mower to do the work for you! Set it fairly high so it picks up the leaves from the trees and just the longest growth from the grass. This makes a perfect mix that heats up quickly in the compost heap and rots down to form great garden compost to spread on the borders and vegetable garden next year.