Weekend work: Time to tend to tender shrubs and perennials
WHAT TO DO
Unexpectedly mild weather at the start of the month made gardening more of a pleasure than it usually is in November. The cyclamen are still on the go, the viburnums are in full, smelly flow, the fuchsias are flowering more wildly than they have at any time before.
One sad blow concerns 'Cyclamen coum'. I had always thought of these as bomb-proof as far as disease is concerned, but discovered that the corms filling one whole patch had disintegrated into a hideous pulp.
Why, I asked a member of the Cyclamen Society? He said that it was a fungus that seems to attack corms particularly when wet autumn weather follows dry. No work has been done on the fungus, in terms of working out a preventative medicine and it is not mentioned in Christopher Grey-Wilson's monograph 'Cyclamen' (Batsford, £30).
Use bucketfuls of raked-up leaves to provide insulation for slightly tender shrubs and perennials. I heap them round melianthus for instance and pack them into and around a big clump of arum lilies. On the bank where the ground is now cleared between shrubs and ground cover, leaves go on as a top mulch and gradually get pulled down to feed our soil.
Perennials such as herbaceous geraniums and polygonums should be cut back and (if you are feeling wildly virtuous) top dressed with sieved compost mixed with bonemeal.
WHAT TO BUY
You've got to shop between now and Christmas, so, if you can, you might as well do it in beautiful surroundings. Inside the calm oasis that is the Chelsea Physic Garden on London's Royal Hospital Road, a pop-up Christmas Fair will be running next weekend, Sat 30 Nov and Sun 1 Dec with excellent coffee and cakes to top up flagging energy levels. Check out details onchelseaphysicgarden.co.uk
When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires
Life & Style blogs
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...