Just a short one this month! As I write, there are still dahlias and alstroemerias flowering, a cucumber plant with a ridiculous appendage, several tomato plants with ripe tomatoes on, and ripe figs on an outdoor tree – what is going on?? – it’s November. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised – climate change isn’t exactly a new concept.

Warm winters may be better for heating bills, but they’re a disaster where garden pests are concerned – we maybe haven’t appreciated what a friend a hard frost can be, killing off slug and other pest eggs and forcing plants into dormancy.They are also bad for honeybee colonies – in cold winters they don’t leave the hive (only to occasionally go and poo), and they just cluster round the queen and slowly eat their stores of honey. If the temperature remains relatively high, they will continue to be active and to breed, but there are few nectar and pollen sources to feed them, so they are in danger of eating all of their winter stores too quickly, and starving in late winter/early spring.

Some of our favourite tender plants are actually more susceptible to prolonged wet than they are to cold – dahlia tubers can sail through freezing winters with a deep mulch on top and well drained soil below, as long as they are not sitting with wet feet (they will rot), and the same goes for bulbs, particularly gladioli (strictly corms) and alliums – drainage is key!. That said, tender perennials that keep their foliage will need protecting from frost if and when we get some, and I will be taking my potted lemon trees into the greenhouse very soon.

Thanks as ever to all who have donated deciduous leaves for leaf mould – it is hugely appreciated. Please do get in touch if you would like any collecting – it is possible between November and February.

Hope to see you at the Friends of Holy Cross Christmas Fair at Micklefield Hall on 1st Dec – the Community Garden will have a stall of edible goodies to stock your Christmas larder with (the quince membrillo is particularly delicious 😁). To get in touch, email Alan Milsom on [email protected] or Flo on [email protected] or keep up with us and see photos on Facebook or Instagram (not cool enough for Tik Tok)

Above: Ellis from Mission EmployAble picking dahlias for her Mum.

Left: Adam from Mission Employable planting out polyanthus for spring posies