There’s an awful lot being written nowadays about the benefits of gardening for mental health and well-being. At this time of year, when there are plenty of gloomy days, it feels wonderful to be outside on the occasions when the sun is shining and it’s not too cold. On those days, the late autumn garden is a lovely place to be.
There are fewer routine jobs to be doing. Very late flowering perennials can be cut down if you feel it’s necessary, but you might also choose to leave some as they are, to provide a little frost protection and shelter for wildlife.
Although most of your spring bulbs will already be in the ground, you can still plant tulips this month. It’s important to get the planting depth right, as shallow planting is one of the main reasons for bulbs not producing flowers. The main rule is to plant three times the bulb’s depth and, if in doubt, plant deeper rather than nearer to the surface.
In a well-planned garden, November is the time you really start to appreciate your evergreen plantings. The bright green and glossy foliage of Fatsia japonica is a joy at this time of year and, similarly, Euonymus fortunei, with its attractive variegated foliage, adds welcome brightness to the back of a mixed border or a shady corner.
I particularly like Sarcococca confusa, with its simple evergreen foliage and pretty, white flowers in winter. Plant it near a door or in a spot you pass regularly because those flowers will give out a lovely fragrance during the months ahead. Topiary is also great for adding a certain architectural style to your garden. Evergreen plants clipped into corkscrews and standards are so eye-catching and make perfect specimens which look fabulous all year round.
Take some time to rake up fallen leaves from your lawn. Not only do they spoil the look, but they take away the light from the grass underneath, causing it to go brown. Keep all the leaves to make leaf mulch (there are probably plenty more to be found on the roads and pavements too).
You can make a simple frame using stakes and chicken wire, to store the leaves, or just place them in black bin liners with a few holes slashed in the sides. Once the bag is full, sprinkle with water, tie and place in a shady spot. By next autumn, the leaves will have rotted down into a rich, crumbly mixture which you can use as a mulch, as autumn top-dressing for lawns or a winter covering for bare soil.