November is always a grim time in the garden. It is dark and cold but not yet cold enough to be proper winter. The last of the vegetable and flowers seem to drag on but have lost the shine of the autumn season. There are probably things to be doing in the garden but time is against me this month. So what to write about? I thought I’d have a look at my November entries in my garden diary to see how previous years have looked through the November gloom.
I started a proper garden diary when we moved to this house five years ago. The garden was pretty bleak then and rain was bringing more dreariness. Here is my entry for that time.
Our new sheds have arrived and the garden seems better already. The old sheds were horrible: damp and ugly. One was so leaky and rotten that it was entirely useless, while a smaller one provided basic shelter for garden tools and children’s bikes but no room to organise them. The new sheds arrived on the wettest day of the year but the workmen who came to put them up worked cheerfully through the rain, taking great care not to leave muddy footprints in the house on their way past. The new sheds smell of new wood and will provide a proper home for all the family bikes and will at last allow me to arrange my tools and pots. Organising the tools makes all the difference and allows me to imagine the next season’s growing.
Well the sheds are not so well organised now. The bikes have grown with the assistant gardeners and now we fight to get four adult bikes into one shed and often a bike sneaks into the house, making much more mess than those tidy shed men did. And the tool shed is only organised in the sense that I know where things are. I have to climb over the lawnmower and piles of empty pots to reach anything but it works, more or less. At least they don’t leak, yet!
Another November theme is to look at what is still in flower and what vegetables are still growing. This varies with the first frost. This year has been mild so far and today I spotted nasturtiums, fuschia, violas, the last of our ‘Benjamin Britten’ rose, osteospermum, chrysanthemums and bright red berries on the cotoneaster and wild roses. The sweet peas amazingly continue to flower and will last until the first frosts and there are daisies in the lawn. The trouble is that I’m hardly at home while its still light so don’t get the chance to enjoy them.
There are very few vegetables: the Brussels sprouts are persevering despite their caterpillar infestation – there should be enough to do a small family Christmas dinner. Otherwise there is some Swiss chard and perpetual spinach and some tiny lettuce and spinach seedlings in the seed house. I still have about half a dozen green tomatoes, now ripening on a window sill. At least I have a cupboard full of chutney and jam to remind me of the plentiful summer.
So November is not that bad but it’s not a great month.