I honestly believe if the above title was set to music we may just have a shot at winning the Eurovision Song Contest. Be that as it may I will have to set aside my song writing ambitions as there is so much to do in the garden and “Winter is coming” as they tended to say in that well known gardening programme “Game of Thorns”.
16th November: Things I have been doing lately.
⛓ Tying up my Cannas. If you have Cannas then it is important that you tie them up as the current strong cold winds will blow the stems over. In about a months time we can cut the stems off, but at the moment we need all the goodness from the plant to retreat down through the foliage and into the Corms (ugly fat bulbs). This process will ensure that the corms are fattened up ready to burst forth in the Spring with strong new foliage. The first two photos shows my Cannas being battered by the wind, whilst the third shows them nicely tied up. Cruella (my wife) helped with this; first she stilled the wind and then she tied the knots in the string. She is actually in the third picture but you won’t see her as she casts an invisibility spell on herself especially if she hasn’t got her make up on. (click on each photo for a larger view)
🔪 Pruning Fig trees. Fig trees have a habit of getting very large which makes it impossible to get the fruit right at the top. All over Spain you can see giant overgrown Figs trees in gardens that now require a chainsaw if you wanted to prune them. But it needn’t be like this. You need to prune your Fig tree every year to bring it down to the same size as your height. Normally Fig trees fruit on new wood, so by bringing the tree down to your height you are bringing the fruit within reach. You will need a saw, lopers and secateurs, and make sure they are sharp before you begin.
I have two Fig trees, a standard one and an espalier that I have been training for about 5 years. For a standard Fig tree, start by cutting out the following:
- Diseased branches
- Branches growing down towards the ground
- Branches that cross over
- Branches that are closer than 45 degrees to another branch
Once you have done all of the above then take the leading branches back to a viable bud. At first this can all look scary, but don’t worry the tree will soon burst into leaf and hopefully next years fruit will be bigger and better.
If you have an espalier then take off all the back branches that are against the wall then cut off any branches and stems that do not conform to your espalier wires. The first two pictures below show my trees prior to their pruning.
The next two photos show the trees now neatly shorn and ready for another growing season.
🌱 Weeding around bulbs. By now bulbs should be showing through in your flower beds, but unfortunately mixed in with the bulb stems will be grass shoots. Now the danger here is that you will hoe out the bulbs thinking they are grass. To ensure you don’t make this mistake you need to indulge in some wild gardening; yeah that’s right you’ve got to take off your gardening gloves and get down on your knees. Get amongst the bulbs and feel each stem. Bulb stems will normally be round and taper quite rapidly. Grass on the other hand is thin and blade like and does not taper so rapidly. All you need to do is break off the grass stems; and keep doing this once a week until such time as the bulb stems shade them out. The photo below shows me wild gardening amongst bulbs.
✂️ Cutting back hedges. If you have hedges that have stopped flowering then now is the time to tidy them up; especially if they are overshadowing borders or lawns. Now, I am not talking about the big January cut back you need to leave this till later so that the birds and insects can have their last feed. Just trim things back into shape. The first photo below shows part of my flowering hedges that grow over and shadows the lawn. I don’t mind this when they are full of flowers, but now that flowering has stopped they need to be trimmed or the lawn will die. The first photo shows the overgrown hedge, whilst the second shows it cut back and letting light get to the lawn.