Gardening tasks for November and December

Japanese Maple ( Acer palmatum  Osakazuki)

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum Osakazuki)

The reds, golds and browns of the autumn leaves. The smell of fallen leaves underfoot in the morning. The autumn mists. Every season has its delights and the cold months are no exception. And there are jobs in the garden best attended to right now.


  • clear up fallen leaves, especially from lawns and ponds, and make yourself some soil conditioner for next year: pack leaves into bin liner, add some water, make holes in the sides and the base of the bag, tie the top, put away for a few months,

  • cut down faded tops of herbaceous perennials,

  • lightly prune rose bushes to prevent wind-rock,

  • dig the ground for new borders (clay soil can be easier to dig now than in spring when it may be very soggy and sticky; dig in plenty of compost and/or grit to improve the soil structure),

  • bare-rooted trees, shrubs and hedging plants are now available – great news for gardeners on a budget!

  • put out some bird food for our feathered friends.


  • clear up weedy beds in preparation for spring mulching with compost of chipped bark,

  • prune grape vines before Christmas to avoid 'bleeding' of sap,

  • prune and train deciduous trees and shrubs: remove any dead branches and – in shrubs – remove at the base one or two oldest stems to encourage the production of new ones,

  • if wet snow settles on your conifers, shake or brush it off to prevent branches bending or breaking.

If wild ivy has invaded your garden and it's flowering on it's shrubby branches – let it be for now. The flowers are a great source of nectar for many insects (bees, butterflies) before they hibernate, and the dark-blue berries will provide winter food for blackbirds and thrushes.