Time For Trees

Although most jobs in the garden involve winter maintenance at the moment, November is a great month for planting trees and shrubs – you can plant them before the ground gets too frozen and position them in wet or dry soil

Trees and shrubs come in all shapes and sizes and can tolerate acidic, chalky, sandy and clay soils. From flowering cherries and crab apples to evergreen yews and weeping willows, trees offer different leaf size, shape and colour and can add structure to a garden or patio. They make excellent living hedges and screens while helping to reduce or improve your carbon footprint and generally enhance the environment.

You can also ‘grow your own’ tree or shrub by taking hardwood cuttings throughout the winter from your favourite varieties. So thrifty tip of the month is to propagate shrubs and trees by taking hardwood cuttings immediately after leaf fall. Cut through stems of this year’s growth and divide into lengths of 15-20cm, cutting the top at an angle and the bottom straight (so you don’t plant them upside down). Place the cuttings around the edge of a pot and bury at least half their depth in compost. Label, water and then be patient as hardwood cuttings can take six months to root and shouldn’t be moved for a year, when they can be potted on and planted in situ.

If you have a small garden or outside space you can also grow trees in pots if you choose wisely. Trees planted in containers need regular maintenance and more watering. It’s best to select varieties that grow slowly to reach a maximum height of around 3m. Fruit trees can work well, as can large shrubs grown as trees. Terracotta containers give the best stability and insulation, but you can use other materials although avoid metal as they can heat up and damage plant roots if located in a sunny position. Avoid narrow top containers as they make it difficult to get root balls out of the pot intact when you have to re-pot. You should check watering needs daily from April to October and water evergreens throughout the year. Re-pot every other year until it’s no longer practical. Some of the best trees for containers include Japanese maple Acer japonicum Aconitifolium, Amelanchier Obelisk and crab apple Malus Laura.

• Plant out hardwood cuttings taken last year
• Plant out rooted strawberry runners – they need a cold period to promote flowering and fruiting
• Finish planting spring bedding plants
• Help winter bees by growing winter-flowering plants such as heather and hellebores
• Protect tender perennials against hard frosts with dry mulch
• Rake up fallen leaves and pile up to rot down into leaf mould
• Elevate your outdoor pots to keep the base out of water to stop soil saturation
• Inspect plant supports – replace broken stakes and loosen ties on growing trees
• Harvest winter veg such as leeks, kale, cabbage and cauliflower
• Plant individual garlic cloves in containers or in the ground in a sunny spot



Tedd Walmsley

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