Get out digging for ‘nature’s planting time’

There's plenty of choice at garden centres when it comes to hardy November planting. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
There's plenty of choice at garden centres when it comes to hardy November planting. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

November truly is ‘nature’s planting time’.

Trees, shrubs and border perennials have entered a state of semi-dormancy, and although air temperature has fallen, the soil remains sufficiently warm to encourage the settling-in and limited root development of new plantings.

Any existing garden plants considered to be growing in the wrong place can now be moved to another spot with a degree of certainty that they’ll survive.

This window of opportunity for the planting and relocating of trees, shrubs, hedges, herbaceous, et al remains open, frost permitting, until next spring.

Over the coming weeks this fellow will be planting three different types of specimen – plants grown in containers, others completely bare-rooted, and those already rooted in the garden that will be dug up and relocated.

It is important to always check the root system of anything bought in a container.

If the plant is pot-bound, i.e. with roots tightly packed in circular fashion, they must be teased apart before planting. Failure to do so inhibits development.

In mild cases this can be done with a gloved hand, but in extremes I lay the plant on its side and use a spade on the bottom third of the root mass. This stimulates new growth.

Bare-rooted plants arriving via mail order need immediate attention.

Roses, ornamental or fruit trees and bushes will survive the journey because they’re dormant, but water on arrival is a must.

I plunge them into a half-filled bucket, which stands in the garage for a day or so. If planting is not possible for a few days and the garden is frost-free, you can dig a trench and plant them temporarily.

Woody and herbaceous perennials already established in the garden, but in line for replanting in a different part, should have the new site dug and prepared first. This avoids unnecessary exposure to the elements and the drying-out of roots.

Most herbaceous perennials can be ideally lifted with a large ball of soil attached to their roots, which is ideal, and the transfer goes well.

However, woody perennials, roses for example, often emerge bare-rooted.

This brings a sense of urgency to getting them planted, watered-in and made firm.

Garden centres are geared-up for hardy November planting so there’s no time like the present to go for it.

And if you consider the plant of your dreams too expensive, just bear in mind that, with care, it could last a lifetime.