aindrops on crocrosmia in autumn Victoria BC garden

November Garden Activities

leaf blower garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

By November many folks in Victoria are grumbling about how much they hate the sound of the neighbors’ leaf blowers.  Everywhere else in Canada folks are dealing with SNOW blowers, so I reckon we can get over ourselves.

leaf pile along Richmond Rd, garden Victoria, BC leaf pick up
photo by SVSeekins

The Fall

  • Realistically, the leaf blowers aren’t even that useful once the leaves are soggy.  Set the noise maker aside & get raking!
lawn free front yard in James Bay Victoria BC garden
photo by SVSeekins


  • Although I shop for bulbs in September, (for best selection) I often hold off planting until November.  Once the ground is wet I don’t have to kill myself trying to dig deep enough to place the bulbs where they’ll be safe & happy.
  • Planting trees or shrubs now, while the soil is still a bit warm, gives their roots time to establish before the dormant season.  They’ll need regular watering until the weather gets really wet, but they’ll be that much further ahead than if I wait until the spring to plant / move.
Chinese Lantern in autumn garden fall Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

Fall Clean up

  • As soon as the frost hits, the Begonias & Dahlias turn black & fall overnight.  Some folks dig the tubers out & take them inside for the winter.  I’m happy that our garden is well-drained, so there’s less chance of them rotting in the ground… And I mulch heavily in the winter to protect them from freezing… so they’re fairly safe.
    (Also, I’m lazy that way.)
  • Many other perennials also collapse or just look downright untidy, so they get sheered.  Leaving just an inch or two of stalk helps  when I lay mulch.  They serve as an easy measuring stick for how much to put on.
  • Leave some hardier plants standing to supply  bird feed, habitat,  & winter interest.
    ie: dusty miller… yarrow… rudbeckia… sedum autumn joy…
  • Any of the spring blooming perennials that have out grown their space are prime for dividing.
    eg.    iris… red hot pokers… peony
  • The November storms bring all sorts of seaweed up high on the beaches.  That seaweed makes fabulous fertilizer for the gardens.
fall color & seed heads in the garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins


  •  The fall rains take a loooong time to  soak in, so it’s often surprisingly dry deep down until mid or late in November. It’s a fine balance between keeping the watering hose while needed, & getting it inside before the freeze   Realistically the hoses will survive a frost, so once the Dahlias drop dead & turn black, I know it’s time to quit watering & bring the hose inside….
  • Ditto for blowing out the irrigation sprinklers
hardy fuchsia still blooming in November garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins


  • As the roses finish up, prune them back by 1/3 for the winter.  Hold off until the forsythia blooms in March to prune them fully.
  • Prune birches & laburnum as soon as the leaves are off & their structure is most apparent.  They tend to ‘bleed’ when cut in the winter.
  • As they go dormant, now’s a good time for serious shaping of deciduous hedges.
  • If growing in a spot that gets strong winter winds, reduce the height of the Butterfly Bush & Lavatera, but otherwise save the pruning until spring.
  • Be proactive in pruning out any dead, diseased, or damaged wood before the wicked wind storms hit (we know they’re coming!)
November blooming cameilia with snow garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins


  • Keep those pruners & clippers sharp
  • It’s best to clean pruners between bushes. Spray with a 10% bleach + water mixture. This helps prevent the spread of diseases through the garden.


aautumn garden colors & seed heads Victoria BC fall
photo by SVSeekins
  • The lawn is green, & the falling leaves are brown.  The mower clippings are a great combo for the compost bin.
  • Mowing the lawn just a little  makes raking all the leaves & acorns easier, but only do it if the grass is too long to rake.  We’ll soon be completely finished with this chore for the year     🙂
rudbeckia seed heads in November garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

Veg / Berry Patch (& Orchard)

  • It’s clean up time in the veggie patch.  Compost any of the annuals that have finished, but garbage any foliage that has mildew or disease on it (it’s best to keep out of the garden cycle)
  • Some tender plants will survive longer if they’re protected under row covers
  • Plant garlic now for a crop to harvest next July
  • It’s harvest time for late apples…  squash… salad greens… beets…. carrots… cabbage… kale… chard…  leeks… 
  • Bay trees & young rosemary are too tender to survive outside, so if you want to keep them, find some space inside for them
  • Large Rhubarb can be divided now to rejuvenate & increase production
  • Cut back the asparagus to about an inch & mulch well over it. (Like rhubarb, it’s a heavy feeder)
  • Spray peaches against peach leaf curl
fall garden color autumn Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins


  • Tidy up the greenhouse & any of the plants intended to overwinter there.  Any powdery mildew or other disease will spread while my attention is elsewhere – -putting everything at risk!
  • Even an unheated greenhouse does the trick for overwintering tender plants like some of the sedums I couldn’t resist… Now I just have to remember to water them every once in a while — but just a little bit!
  • Clean any freshly emptied pots in bleachy wash water.  No sense storing possible virus over winter.  Besides, it’s so nice in spring to start planting without having to clean up first.
sedum on a moss slope garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

Ponds & Water Gardens

  • Clear out any of the annual floating plants before they end up rotting & sinking to the bottom
  • Move water lilies into deeper water where they’re less likely to freeze
  • Stretch a fine net over the pond to keep the leaves out of the water.  They’ll mush up & cause all sorts of mess in pumps.
mahonia bloom garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

Seasonal Color

trees: paperbark maple… holly… mountain ash… ginkgo (maidenhair tree)… Japanese maple…… chestnut…
shrubs: winter camellia… jasmine… corkscrew hazel… pyracantha… beauty berry (callacarpa)… heavenly bamboo …  berberis… cotoneaster…  smoke bush… burning bush…  Mahonia…  hardy fuchsia... snowberry…strawberry tree...
perennials:  Virginia creeper… chrysanthemum… sedum autumn joy…Japanese anemone…    erysimum (wallflower)…
ferns: Hart’s tongue fern…  sword…  deer… licorice…

lawn free front yard in Oaklands Victoria BC garden callacarpa sedum autumn joy
photo by SVSeekins

Planning & Events

© SVSeekins, 2014


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