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.
- Realistically, the leaf blowers aren’t even that useful once the leaves are soggy. Set the noise maker aside & get raking!
- 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.
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.
- 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
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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 🙂
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
- 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.
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.
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…
Planning & Events
- There are more than enough garden clubs around Victoria that I could easily attend a different one each week of the month. Here is just a sample plan :
- Victoria Horticultural Society – 1st Monday
- Victoria Rhododendron Society – !st Monday – – except when that’s a STAT, then it’s the 2nd Monday
- Victoria Bonsai Society – 3rd Monday
- Vancouver Island Rock & Alpine Garden Society – 4th Tuesday
- AND THEN….
There’s the Victoria Natural History Society – – a club that host weekly talks through the fall and winter! (I especially appreciate the botany presentations on the 3rd Tuesday.)
© SVSeekins, 2014