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2011: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov    
The Garden in November 2011
November 1st Fashionably late

Serratula seoanei is a real late starter: just coming into bloom in the last couple of weeks. It comes from Spain and Portugal and has tough, feathery foliage. It slowly forms a dense mat; and by slowly I mean 1ft - 1ft 6in across in 3 years.

We hope to add this fashionably late plant to our range later!


Seeing the Serratula today make me think of Centaurea. I had to go round our collection to see which were still giving some bloom.  For a start Jordy (right) is its 4th or 5th flush of flower.  The similar woronowii and nogmovii are also in full bloom. Elstead is flowering for the second time, this time at a height of about 2ft instead of the normal 3 - 4ft. 

Totnes Fat Lemon, a hybrid between CC. atropurpurea and orientalis, is a constant bloomer for us. We have saved seed this year in an effort to propagate it. I tried basal cuttings this spring but they baked in the hot April sun. 

The montanas are giving some flower at the moment with Purple Heart, Purpurea, Violetta, Alba and Joyce in bloom.

C. jacea is in full flow, and those of you that read this diary regularly will be pleased to know that I stuck to my guns and it is still planted next to Molinia Windspiel creating a thrilling pink and orange clash at the moment.


Another plant in full bloom today is Persicaria Inverleith

This is a short form for the front of the border. This is its second flush of flowers and looking fresh thanks to the recent rain.

Not really in full bloom - with just a single flower - is the orientale poppy, Patty's Plum, but what a flower. It is at least 8in across and fully open so you can look down into the bowl and see the what's going on inside. Unfortunately these won't set seed now as its too damp.
November 4th Cardoon

I've been enjoying the flowers on our Cardoons (Cynara carduncularis) this week. They've been a lot latter than normal, probably because of the cold winter. I suspect that the dormant buds near the surface of the soil were killed and it took some time for the buds deeper underground to break and grow through.


November 6th First frost

Last night we had our first air frost of the autumn and already the stems of some tender plants are blackened and limp. This includes Salvia atrocyanea and our Dahlias

There is some debate about whether or not you should dig up Dahlia tubers for the winter. In most of the UK they are hardy through a normal winter if mulched with leaves, compost or some conifer boughs. Last winter I lost a lot of my choicer varieties, although Bishop of Llandaff did survive.  

If you want to dig up your tubers take care not to break the long arms of the tubers and do remove any broken ones by cutting off as close to the rootstock as possible. Cut the stems to leave about 3-4". Dust the tubers with flowers of sulphur and make sure you label them securely. Then leave them in a frost free shed or garage turned upside down for a couple of weeks to allow excess moisture to drain from the stems. Then pack in dry peat or sterile compost in wooden boxes and keep out of the frost for the winter.

Helenium plant cut back in autumnNovember 8th Cutting back Heleniums

I'm a little late cutting back Heleniums this year but the mild weather has meant that they have continued to grow. 

I usually cut mine back to leave short stubs like in the photo. These are useful when dividing the plants in spring, acting as levers to pull the clumps apart.

There's nothing else to do except to weed around the plants and make sure the shallow roots are covered with soil. Also make sure you have a good label in each plant.

Miscanthus Sirene in the autumn sunNovember 13th Grasses

I Just love the affect of grass seed heads in the low November sun. Here is Miscanthus Sirene looking splendid on this lovely, mild, sunny November day at around 4pm GMT.

It won't be time to cut this grass back until around January or even February.