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Things to do in the garden in autumn and which plants can be planted in November ready for spring

If you’re anything like me and you sometimes struggle to remember everything you’ve got ‘to-do’ then don’t panic! ,

This month my column is more of an ‘aid memoir’ (ooo la la!) and a list to live your life by when you’re outdoors this month...

Neil planting bulbs ahead of Hever Castle's new event Dazzling Daffodils happening in March
Neil planting bulbs ahead of Hever Castle's new event Dazzling Daffodils happening in March

1. Planting spring bulbs

There’s still time to get your daffodils, tulips and hyacinths in the ground this month. If it slipped your mind, or just slipped down the ‘to-do’ list, then fear not, as long as the ground is

unfrozen, and before it loses it’s summer heat, there’s time this month to pop your spring bulbs in the earth.

Tulips, daffs and hyacinths also look spectacular in bowls and pots, so if you haven’t got time, or space to plant in beds, then please think about filling a terracotta pot with daffodils, or a sleek zinc pot with speciality tulips like the wonderful ‘Ice cream’ , or a low Roman-style bowl with powerfully fragranced hyacinths.

It's not too late to get your tulips organised for a display next April
It's not too late to get your tulips organised for a display next April

2. Winter bedding plants

I’m not talking the 100% Egyptian cotton kind - I’m talking, pansies, violas and wallflowers. These amazingly hardy plants will give you much-needed winter colour if you get them in this month. I love a good wallflower and plumped for the ‘Harlequin Mix’ (interplanted with ‘Yellow Spring Green’ tulips) to hug the walls of the Castle this year.

3. Tidy up the beds

Get out your secateurs and tidy up your red hot pokers and your dishevelled perennials. Now is a good time to divide perennials like peonies, geraniums, iris and day lilies. It’s a good idea

to split plants in beds that have looked over-full this summer. Carefully lift the clump you want to split , cut the plant into sections around the size of your head or hand! Make sure you pick

the healthiest looking sections and throw away any old or mouldy sections. Set the plant back in the earth, making sure that the crown shows just above the surface of the soil.

There are plenty of leaves to be collected
There are plenty of leaves to be collected

4. Clear the leaves

Leaf it out! I love the trees at Hever in autumn - they’re a sight to behold with their buttery yellow, bright red and orange leaves, but my are they a pain when they fall in the borders and

on the lawns! If you’ve got a blower, then get outside with it on a dry day and make inroads into your leaf-strewn lawn. It might seem like a thankless task when the wind blows them back,

but trust me, it’s good to pick up as many as you can and to mulch them in readiness for next year’s compost.

5. Look after your tender plants

We have no idea what kind of winter we have in store, but it’s always a good idea to bubble wrap your more tender potted plants like bananas and cannas and to bring in those that won’t stand a drop below zero degrees.

Hever in November (21180247)
Hever in November (21180247)

6. It's a good time to buy roses

If you want to go for the slightly cheaper option when planting roses, then the winter is a good time to buy and plant bare root roses. You can order them online and they’ll arrive by post.

Make sure you plant them as soon as you receive them. Just prior to putting them in the ground, give the roses a good drink by soaking them in a bucket of water for a couple of hours.

Dig a hole 12 - 18 inches deep and sprinkle some bone-meal in the bottom of the hole. Backfill the hole and water, then place your bare root rose in the hole, ensuring that the nobly ‘bud union’ at the base of the collection of stems is planted 1 inch above the soil.

Witch Hazel at Hever
Witch Hazel at Hever

7. Plant for winter

If you are building a winter garden or creating a section for winter colour, then now is a great time to purchase and plant heathers and witch hazels - these hardy plants provide much needed interest through the darker months. If you want something dainty and pretty then consider planting cyclamen and hellebores. Your local garden centre will have lots of cyclamen

at the moment, and if you’re after hellebores, it’s worth visiting a specialist nursery for these elegant ‘Christmas roses’. Hellebore Orientalis in in white, green and dark red are rather spectacular.

* Hever Castle and Gardens magical after dark experience ‘Twilight’ will see the Castle and gardens festooned with fabulous colours and twinkling lights on specific evenings in December, capturing the spirit of Christmas. Visitors are encouraged to bring torches, wear their wellies and embark on a magical journey down the rabbit hole and into the enchanting world of Alice in Wonderland. More details at hevercastle.co.uk

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