With deciduous leaves falling, and your borders cut back, it might look a little bare, but you can add colour by planting heathers or bright winter bedding in the form of pansies, primulas and violas. Tulip bulbs can also be planted in November – they won’t add much now but will reward you aplenty next year.
In coastal or exposed windy areas, you might want to prune back roses and tall shrubs like buddleia by a third to prevent them being rocked by the wind, which weakens them. It’s also wise to stake tall plants, climbers and young trees, and checking that arches, pergolas and fences are secure.
Your lawn will stop growing now but there’s still time to aerate it. You can use a lawn aerator, but a simple garden fork will do, inserted at regular intervals and leant over slightly to let air in. Clear fallen leaves off the lawn to keep it healthy and tidy. With your beds clear, you can probably see more of your lawn edges, so you can neaten them or reshape them, if required, using a half moon.
If you have a pond, you should net it to prevent leaves falling into the water. If there is quite a bit of pond weed that needs clearing, lay the clumps next to the pond once you’ve removed them, just for a day, to allow any wildlife to escape back to the water.
Speaking of wildlife, the birds in your garden will need a helping hand over winter. Your bird bath is an important source of drinking water so make sure it’s topped up and kept ice-free. Birds need extra energy to survive the colder weather, so a couple of peanut feeders hung in your garden will really help.
If you have a bird table, keep it well stocked. You can buy ready-made winter seed mixes and bird food or just use what you have: bread crumbs, grated cheese, oatmeal, apples and other soft fruit from your garden. The greater variety of foods you provide, the greater the variety of birds who will visit.
You can, of course, plant your own bird food! Plants like Cotoneaster, Holly, Honeysuckle and Hawthorn all provide berries which are an invaluable source of winter food and, online, you’ll find other suggestions which might be more suitable for your garden. As well as helping the birds, berried plants add a splash of colour to the winter garden. My favourite is Skimmia, particularly ‘Rubella’ and Skimmia reevesiana.