By Gordon the Gardener

The gardener’s year is almost over but never really stops – a continuous cycle of life. What is the winter to come? An English country saying says: ‘Onion skin, very thin, Mild winter coming in, Onion Skin thick and tough, Coming winter cold and rough.’

It’s November and there’s plenty of tidying up to be doing in the garden. Bonfire weekend is an appropriate time to burn garden waste, dahlia tops and other vegetation that may harbour pests and diseases.

Rake off fallen leaves from regularly mown lawns and compost them, aerate with a fork before brushing in sharp sand to improve drainage. Put netting over fish ponds to prevent fallen leaves sinking to the bottom, causing gases and killing fish.

Leaves can be raked up and composted. They can also be raked on to the soil in between shrubs where the worms will pull them down – thus increasing the biodiversity providing winter food for our friends, the birds. Fertility of the soil will also be improved. The amount of seeds produced by trees after the hot summer is enormous.

Freddy Hedgehog will use leaves inside his winter nest. Note: Please check for the hogs, before lighting your fire.

How many of us in the season of autumn take time to see the beauty of it? Just take a minute to see the autumn colours of our trees, you will find they putting on a free show of magnificent splendour. It won’t take long, and your day will feel better for it.

Spring flowering bulbs are another joy, just by planting them you will feel better, knowing they will soon be showing us that spring is coming, a herald of new life.

They are the best value a gardener can have. Bulbs are the great survivors of the natural world. They take no notice of man’s intervention, keeping to their own natural lives no matter what, even ignoring they have been moved by the builder’s bulldozer, ending up in a heap of rubble they will flower in all their spring glory.

Tulip bulbs can now be planted, if planting between spring flowering plants such as polyanthus and wallflowers. They are best planted with a large dibber or trowel, twice the depth of the bulb is a good rule to go by.

Wallflowers can be planted from pot grown but, if planting bare-rooted wallflowers, soak the roots in a bucket of water overnight to freshen them up and give them a good start.

Narcissus can also be planted now. Miniature Irises are great gown in a what gardeners call a pan – a small pot of half depth.

One variety is Iris ‘Reticulata’ they can be planted close together, with just the tip of the bulb showing above the compost such as John Innis number one. And put in a dark place until February when they can be brought into the light of a cool greenhouse or windowsill to flower. A harbinger of spring!