There's no fighting it; winter is well and truly here. The wind has picked up, the cold has set in and the last few leaves are clinging to their branches for dear life. It's now all hands on deck to get the last few bits and pieces done in the garden before the first frost hits. Cast your eye over our monthly garden round-up to make sure you haven't missed anything.
Top tasks for November:Tulips
The colder temperature means cooler soil making November the perfect month for planting tulips. Tulips are a great plant to brighten up a patio, fill in the gaps in your flower beds or create wild patches of colour on your lawn. Make sure you choose only plump, firm bulbs. Plant them 2-3 times their own depth and double their width apart. For a natural look, throw a handful of bulbs in the air and then plant them wherever they land.
If you have some amaryllis bulbs, November is a great time to pot them up. Plant them in a flower pot that is 5cm wider than the bulb itself. Ensure that only half the bulb is below soil level and then choose a warm, brightly lit area to keep it in while it grows. Amaryllis bulbs like a minimum temperature of 12°C, so try placing yours next to a radiator. Water sparingly at first until your bulb starts to grow and then, with a little bit of luck, it’ll flower in time for Christmas.
Now’s the time to order your bare-root roses, either by going online or through your local nursery. As soon as they arrive, they should be going in the ground. Leave them to soak overnight in a bucket of muddy water and then the next day, get digging.
However, if your roses arrive and the ground has unexpectedly frozen, don't worry. Simply unpack the roses and keep them in a container of slightly moist compost until the conditions change.
If you already have roses in your garden, prune them back to reduce wind-rock during winter gales. Remove any foliage that shows any sign of disease and collect up all infected leaves that have fallen to the ground.
Do some last-minute planting
If you haven't got your spring-flowering bulbs in the ground yet, don't panic. Narcissi, crocuses and alliums are all quite flexible when it comes to planting times. Get them in the ground as soon as you can and you'll still have a wonderful display come spring.
Tidy up your borders
Cut down herbaceous stems and clear away any leftover annuals. However, don't get too carried away with the pruning. Try and leave a little shelter behind for animals that will be hibernating over the winter months, ladybirds for example. Do so and they will return the favour next year by eating all your green-flies.
Raise containers off the ground
If you leave your planters on the ground, you run the risk of waterlogging. Where possible, try and raise your containers up on feet, titles or even bricks so water can easily seep out of the drainage holes.
Have a bonfire
Cold, dark evenings are the best time for a roaring bonfire. Choose a suitable sheltered location, one that’s far enough away from your home and any fences. Gather up all your garden debris that’s unfit for composting, especially anything with disease. Then get your family round and have a bonfire party.
Keep up the mulch
Last month we told you all about the wonders of making your own leaf mulch. If you haven't started yet, then there's still time. Gather up those fallen leaves into a simple frame made of chicken wire or wood. Fast forward a year and you'll have a wonderful (and free) peat for your soil.
Clean out the greenhouse
If you haven't already, then it’s high time you gave your greenhouse a good tidy up. A thorough scrub will help prevent pests hibernating over the winter, only to come back with a vengeance next spring. Wash all your pots and trays and try and let as much light into your greenhouse by washing the windows inside and out.
Wrap up warm
We’re not the only ones that need an extra layer on when out in the cold, your outdoor containers do as well. Plummeting temperatures can cause roots to rot which will severely damage your plants. And it’s not just the plants that suffer, terracotta and ceramic pots can crack and break during a hard frost.
However, all this can be avoided by simply swaddling your pots in bubble wrap (hessian also works well). Use lots of tape to ensure a snug fit. Just make sure you leave enough room at the top so you can still add water.
Prepare your soil for next year
Your soil has been working hard all year long so now's the time to replenish its nutrients. Use a fork to turn over the earth as often as you can, adding in compost, manure and leaf mulch as you go. The more you can add in the better. Keep on going until the soil becomes too frozen to dig.
Feed the birds
If you think winter is tough, spare a thought for the birds. While we can still nip to the shops for our bits, our feathered friends don't have that option. Help them get through the cold weather by putting out lots of bird feed and suet balls. Make sure you hang them up high, well out of the reach of cats. By doing so, you'll be helping more birds survive until next year.
So that’s all from us for another month. We hope you have a wonderful November. Don’t forget to share these tips with your green fingered friends on facebook and Google+, or sign up to our newsletter to ensure you never miss out on a top tip again.
Featured images source: rspb.org.uk