It's that time of year when the leaves fall freely from the trees and the colours of summer start to rapidly fade. However, its not all doom and gloom in the garden. There's still plenty of enjoyment in the garden as I show you what I've been up to and throw in helpful tips along the way. Follow me as I show you around the garden this November with ideas to make your own gardens shine bright through winter!

November is a cold month which signals the end of Autumn and the beginning of winters frosts. It’s easy to think its the end of the gardening year but if you think like that you’ll miss out on some wonderful gardening treats.

It’s funny how people comment on ‘putting the garden to bed’. I never do as my garden provides interested for nearly every month of the year. How have I done this you may ask. Is it because I’m a gardening genius? The madman who never sleeps? Of course not! Careful planning of your garden can help bring the most out of it for each month of the year whether its rain or shine!

This month its November and we’ve had a torrent of rain to contend with along with extreme winds. Not exactly ideal gardening conditions but there’s always something to do in the garden. Let’s see how the garden is doing and show you how to get the most out of yours!

Leaf Mould Collecting

About two years ago I built some new compost bins at Garden Ninja HQ. With two specifically for the thousands of leaves that descend each Autumn from my trees. Rather than send them off to be ‘recycled’ by some dubious council recycling centre I always opt to recycle them at home by making leaf mould. Leaf mould is incredible stuff and rewards any gardener with the patience to make it. Taking on average 18 months to 2 years if you use whole non-shredded leaves. The rewards are rich with the black crumbly matter once it is broken down fully. It’s a great soil improver as a mulch and works really well when mixed with compost to germinate seeds with. Slightly acidic it’s wonderful stuff for the garden.

Leaf mould in garden ninjas hand
Leaf mould is the secret weapon of gardeners!

It’s also not bad cardio lifting two huge wheelbarrows full of it ready to be bagged up or sieved for seedlings in the greenhouse come spring. So rather than complain about leaves on the drive why not follow my example and make leaf mould?

A dog sitting on a compost heap
Barrys going to miss sitting on his leaf mould pile!

Cleaning up the Greenhouse

Any grow your owner will testify that after a full years propagation in the greenhouse you panes are going to be covered in some form of algae or detritus. At this time of year, I always put the greenhouse on hold for a month and give it a really good clean. It may sound odd but I really like the process of sweeping, washing and cleansing the greenhouse. I find it incredibly mindful and a bit of me-time!

I wash down the inside and outside pains with hot soapy water. I don’t bother with any of the fancy solutions but roll my sleeves up with a sponge. Seeing the panes go from slightly murky to sparkling in a matter of minutes always puts a smile on my face.

Garden Ninja washing the outside of a greenhouse

Whilst you can overwinter and grow all year round in a greenhouse, for me November is a much-needed rest for both my fingers and creative inspiration. I think it’s important to stop and smell the roses once in a while. It helps give much-needed space to breathe and just as important- to think!

Wet ground Stops Play

We’ve had extreme flooding here in the UK during November which has resulted in completely saturated gardens. Whilst it’s tempting to get your waders on and ‘crack on’ it’s really not advisable. I would urge you to down tools and do other jobs. Working on wet or frozen ground can compact and damage your soil structure. Meaning more harm than good come spring. As soil needs a balance of air and water you want to avoid standing on it when it is waterlogged as you simply squeeze out the much-needed air compressing it.

So I’ve pretty much stopped all weeding, groundwork or other activity until the ground dries out. That won’t stop me from pruning and cleaning other areas of the garden!

Get your design ideas flowing

November is an ideal time to start making lists of whats worked and what hasn’t in the garden. As the plants start to die back the overall structure and design of a garden becomes apparent. It’s a really good time to see where the pinch points are.

You may notice:

  • That your taking shortcuts where a path would be better.
  • That garden borders may be too small or overcrowded.
  • That certain herbaceous plants or shrubs obscure other views that you would like to see?
  • Certain plants simply don’t like where you’ve put them.

So now is the time to make a note of all the tweaks you may want to implement in the garden next year. Why do this now you ask? Well, it’s a perfect time as you can stop and consider the garden space. Most gardeners will agree that come springtime when the garden erupts into life again you’re suddenly drawn to making grand plans almost instantly. Sometimes these grand plans can then become rushed plans. If you start now you have time to mull over your thoughts and really consider the planting choices you have available next spring.

Garden Blogger Lee Burkhill hand drawing a garden design
Garden Ninja Hand Drawing

The Mini Orchard Takes Shape

Don’t be fooled in thinking that Orchards are for rambling country estates or allotments. Any sized garden can fit a small fruit tree in and sometimes more than one if grown against a wall. I grafted some heritage apple trees last year which I’ve been growing on in containers. Early in the spring, I planted them out to create a mini orchard further up the garden.

Tree grafting is a wonderful skill to learn and if you’re a keen gardener I’d urge you to give it a go. Not only can you graft rare fruit trees onto smaller rootstocks but you get a real connection with the tree as it grows over time. I’m not ashamed to say I feel a motherly bond with the 5 apple trees I’ve planted out!

Tree grafting of apple trees
My mini Orchard starts to take shape

Garden Summary

It’s been a really busy year for me with my garden design practice, show gardens, blog writing and tending to my own garden (which always gets the last look in!). I’ve watched my own Exploding Atom Garden develop and start to mature. There’s no greater feeling than seeing one of your own design creations come to life and evolve.

Which brings me to my final thought. In winter we are always thinking about ‘putting the garden to bed’. However, there is so much more to see and do during the colder months. It’s mother natures way of saying ‘let’s have a sit-down, brew and review’. No judgement or critic more a friendly time-lapse to improve and evolve your garden design plans for next year. So get the kettle on and grab your note pad this month!

I’d love to hear from you on my TwitterFacebook or Instagram pages about your own garden design journeys. If you’re looking for design ideas in the garden then why not view my Youtube channel where there’s a whole variety of how-to gardening guides for you.

Happy gardening!

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