Often the weather here is quite mild in November but with intervals of severe frosts meaning I have to keep a careful eye on the weather forecast before deciding to do any last minute moving or dividing of plants. Local custom says that all planting should be finished by Saint Catherine's day, November 25th as after this day there is too much danger of severe cold.
The jobs to be done are generally about the same as those in the UK.
Protecting Plants from the cold
If you haven't already done this do it quickly! I have moved my citrus plants and daturas and other tender plants under the shelter of the barn but before the weather becomes much colder I will protect them further.
I tend to put all my plants into one sheltered position and surround them with straw. During very cold spells I cover them all with fleece. If this is not possible each plant could be wrapped in fleece and the pots wrapped in bubblewrap or straw to protect the roots. Banana palms I pack in straw to make sure they survive the winter. Tender plants in the garden can be wrapped in fleece and plants which die back but have tender roots, tubers etc need a thick covering of straw.
I leave dahlias in the ground, see dahlias, but if you prefer to lift yours to store for the winter a good tip is to roll the tuber in ash from the fire in order to prevent fungal infections.
Outdoor fuschias should be cut back after the first frosts and given a thick covering of straw.
I love this time of the year when you can go through the whole garden cutting back all the plants now blackened by frost and waiting to re-emerge in the spring. Perennial clums can be cut to the ground though any with interesting or pretty seed heads should be left and will look glorious when shining in the winter sunshine covered in frost. Echinaceas are a classic example and when surrounded by grasses can keep winter interest in your beds. Remember to compost everything you cut back.
Now that you have tidied all your borders add compost wherever you see bare earth. During the winter worms will drag this into the soil ready for your plants to take advantage of in the spring.
As a rule of thumb plant to a depth of 2.5x the size of the bulb. Don't forget this as by spring you will be desperate to see some colour in your garden. My favourite colour is blue and so I plant drifts of Common Grape Hyacinth (Muscari botryoides) an often underrated bulb but which naturalises quickly to produce a sea of blue in your garden. Early spring bulbs include:Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis), Common Grape Hyacinth (Muscari botryoides), Early Daffodils (Narcissus spp.). For mid spring:Checkered Lily (Fritillaria meleagris), Species Tulips (Tulipa spp.), Early Alliums (Allium spp.), Early Tulips (Tulipa spp.). For late spring:Late Daffodils (Narcissus spp.), Late Tulips (Tulipa spp.), Alliums (Allium spp.).
Weather permitting you may have a last chance to divide perennials. Congested clumps need dividing in order to encourage plenty of flowering next year and of course dividing is one of the best ways to increase your stocks of plants.
To divide, dig up the whole clump, and divide into smaller pieces. Either tease the clump apart or cut using a spade. Replant in groups of three or five for good displays the following year.
Plant new shrubs and trees
Now is a still a good time to plant trees and shrubs to give them time to develop strong root systems before the dry summers but check the weather forecasts to check no frosts are due in the next few days. There are often special offers in the large garden stores at this time of the year selling common trees and shrubs at very reasonable prices.
To plant new plants (see things to do in october)
Collect fallen leaves
Fallen leaves are one of the principal sources of organic matter in your garden. Collect them now, store them in plastic bin bags with a few holes pushed into them and next year you will have a very rich source of organic matter. You can add some to your compost heaps too.
Plant bare-rooted roses if there is no risk of frost.
Prune very long stems on roses to prevent wind damage . It is always worth pruning roses a bit now as you will find otherwise your roses have started growing before you have finished your spring pruning and any growth on long stems that are definitely going to be cut back is wasted growth. Do not prune fully though as there will be some damage and die back in the winter and you want enough stem to be left to give you plenty of choice as to where to prune. Don't panic though as RHS studies show that plants roughly cut back with a hedge trimmer in spring do as well as those carefully pruned!!
In the Potager
Sow grean manure seed to cover patches of bare earth. Phacelia tanacetifolia, Trifolium rubens (red clover) and Vicia cracca are popular local choices. Dig them into the soil in spring and your soil will be enriched in nitrogen and organic matter.
Sow : continue sowing salad crops for spring cropping. Cover with cloches to protect over winter
Plant broad beans and hardy peas and mangetout now to get a crop early in spring.
Wrap grease bands around the trunks of fruit trees to trap the female winter moth which crawls up the tree.
Spread a thick mulch of compost or well rotted manure around fruit bushes and trees.
What to do in the garden next month