November is a wonderful time to head outdoors in search of seed heads, pine cones, interesting stems and fallen branches to create stunning indoor decorations for Christmas.
Honesty (Lunaria annua) seed heads are called silicules. As a whole they may appear a little drab, but gently flex Honesty seed capsules between your fingers and the outer casing will peel off and reveal the elegant beauty of Lunaria annua. Repeat the same process on the other side to unveil the silky inner centre with its gorgeous natural shine and translucent glow. Don’t forget to save the brown round, flattened seeds – they’ll pop out as the protective outer layers are removed. Lunaria annua seeds can be sown from April onwards, outdoors.
November is the ideal time to collect dried plant materials like seed pods, fallen branches, and other items that will last longer indoors in the dry than they will outdoors. However, wait until December before collecting any green, living foliage or berries you might want to display inside for Christmas, as these items will soon start to deteriorate after they’ve been cut and brought indoors.
Ivy (Hedera helix) is a wonderful plant that provides food and shelter for a wide range of insects, birds, and wildlife. Ivy berries are a valuable and precious food source for birds over winter. When collecting ivy, holly, and other plant materials, please be mindful of wildlife and remember their need for food and shelter. If ivy is growing around a drainpipe, or your plant has become too wide or too tall, add a reminder in your diary to cut back your plants (if necessary) in December and use the pliable stems as swags and decorations.
Large ivy and holly leaves make fabulous name holders; use silver or gold pen to write your guests’ names on the leaves.
In November and December, I am often asked if it is too late to plant bulbs or whether it’s better to hold onto the bulbs and plant them next autumn. Bulbs do not keep. If a bulb isn’t planted, it eventually dries out and desiccates, or rots and decomposes. If you’ve got any crocus, daffodil, Allium, and other spring flowering bulbs languishing in your shed, check over the bulbs, discarding any that feel soft or mouldy, and plant the plump and healthy bulbs now.
If you want to enjoy Allium flowers and use their decorative seed pods as Christmas decorations next year, there’s still time to plant Allium bulbs, but hurry as stocks will be dwindling!
Tulip bulbs are prone to a fungal disease called Tulip Fire which distorts the plant’s growth. Delaying planting tulip bulbs until December or January (or waiting until we’ve had a few hard frosts) can reduce the chances of your tulips contracting this infection.
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