Posted by Angela Lambert
12th November 2013 

Gardening jobs for November

November is hardly the most inspiring month to be out in the garden.  The days are short, damp and dreary and you can bet your bottom dollar that humans are not the only creatures that want to retreat to a warm place and wait for the spring sunshine to return.

winter berriesThe butterflies and moths had a super-successful summer this year.   During the Big Butterfly Count, almost four times as many individual creatures were logged as in the previous year.  Populations of Brimstones, Large Whites, Small Whites, Peacocks and Small Tortoishells were dramatically larger than in 2012.

Without a doubt, these population increases are at least partly due to the superb summer weather but I’m sure that British Gardeners are helping things along by becoming much more wildlife friendly. We’re choosing plants that are more accessible to butterflies and bees, we’re putting in shrubs that yield berries in the spring and we’re creating little pockets of wildlife habitat.

 

Here are some November jobs that will get your circulation going and help wildlife to survive the winter and thrive again next spring.

  • Make a log pile:  a small pile of logs with the bark still attached will support many different species of plants, fungi and animals.   Woodlice, beetles, slugs and worms will settle there and attract other creatures such as amphibians and birds.
    Several moth species over-winter as caterpillars in log piles
    Drill some horizontal holes into the logs to create homes for solitary bees
  • Rake leaves into a pile: I have lots of mature trees in my garden and every year I persuade my grandsons to help me rake, gather and heap up all the fallen leaves.  The boys blow off steam and the leaf piles provide a home for invertebrates.  As an added bonus, by this time next year I’ll have some nutritious leafmould to dig into the vegetable patch as a soil improver.
  • Feed the birds: keep bird feeders well stocked.  There are plenty of proprietary bird foods for sale wherever you go but no need to spend a fortune. 
  • Don’t be too tidy! Where perennial plants have died back leaving stalks and twigs – leave them.  They’re great shelter for overwintering insects and they’ll look stunning when the frosts arrive.  You can cut them back in spring, when it’s altogether much nicer to be outside working in the garden.
  • ivy flowerLeave the ivy for the bees: If you’re anything like my husband you’ll be itching to pull that ivy off the wall in case it does any damage.  Ivy though is one of the most important plants in the garden.  Its insignificant looking flowers provide nectar for any bees that might venture out on warmer days, it’s vital in the life-cycle of the holly blue butterfly and all sorts of critters will shelter in it.   Plus, it’s handy for decorating the house at Christmas.



     
  • Keep mowing the lawn: Keeping the lawn neat will help the garden look good even though the beds and borders are still sporting dead and dying vegetation.  It’ll also help prevent fungal diseases like fusarium patch.  Some birds, blackbirds in particular, like to forage on short grass so keeping the lawn at 5cm or so high will make life much easier for them.
  • Create a wildflower meadow: The soil is still warm enough to start a wildflower meadow from seed or to lay wildflower matting.  By starting a mini-meadow before Christmas you can be sure that it will get off to a good start and yield some nectar-rich flowers next spring.

    Here’s a video to show you how.



    Starting a wild flower meadow will certainly warm you up and when you’ve finished, you’ll feel as though you’ve earned that nice big bowl of soup.
  • green roof on playhouseCreate a green roof: A living green roof is another great way to support wildlife in the garden.  If we get some dry weather, you can put a green roof on your shed during the winter months.  Just pay extra attention to your own safety and don’t be messing about when it’s wet or slippery on the roof.
    By choosing the right plants for your green roof, you can ensure it’s easy to look after and it won’t damage your building. Enviromat have developed a guide called “Designing for Maintenance” which is well worth a read if you are thinking about creating some wildlife habitat on you roof.

    Download Enviromat’s green roof guide

 

 

 

Most importantly of all - enjoy your garden in November.  It may be cold, damp, miserable and drizzly outside but there's nothing better than getting all cold and drippy-nosed and then going back indoors to enjoy the warm glow you'll get from knowing you've done your bit for biodiversity.