A WONDERFUL wet spring has produced a lush green overgrown garden.
I'm not sure if it always looks like this after rain or if the contrast from a year ago is giving it an extra glow.
Whatever, it's lovely to be outdoors - weeds notwithstanding - and I'm making the most of it.
November is pruning time for formal hedges, spring flowering shrubs and species roses including R. banksiae that I wrote about recently (The Land, October 22).
If you prune formal hedges such as non-flowering, evergreen box and pittosporum in November, with luck you should only have to do the job once a year.
It's time consuming - especially with a big hedge involving stakes and string- but because the maximum growth period is coming to an end, once pruned your hedges will grow more slowly and remain neat till the end of next winter.
Shrubs to prune include may (Spiraea), forsythia and lilac (Syringa). Chinese may (S. cantoniensis) is a spreading shrub with arching branches and flat, white, single flowers.
It can be left unpruned in a large garden but if you want to restrain it, crawl into its base and remove the biggest, oldest branches.
Early flowering species roses such as double yellow banksias can be similarly restrained. This type of pruning retains the plant's graceful shape, which you lose if you clip it all over into a sort of giant bun.
My favourite may, S. prunifolia, doesn't need pruning.
It has shiny, oval leaves and branches wreathed in double white flowers in early spring, but I can't pretend it's graceful, so it lives at the back of a border where I can admire its brilliant autumn colour, the main reason I grow it.
November is an excellent month for taking tip cuttings, which strike quickly at this time of year.
French lavender (L. dentata) is flowering now and the minute it's over I grab a dozen or so 15-centimetre tips.
Potted up now, they'll be big enough to plant out next autumn.
Beauty bush (Kolkwitzia amabalis), another November bloomer, can be hard to strike but usually succeeds if done this month from semi-ripe, heel cuttings, taken when its pink and white flowers have finished.
If you have a special bulb that you'd love more of - a splashy red and white tulip, say, or bronze and gold flowering Dutch Iris 'Eye of Tiger'- remove their flowers as they finish and hit the fading foliage with fertiliser.
This encourages the bulbs to put their energy into multiplying rather than into producing seed.
Bearded irises can be divided in November when their flowers are over.
An iris rhizome flowers once, then produces new rhizomes to flower the following year.
If you detach and replant them every three years you avoid your irises growing into large, leafy but non-flowering clumps.
Persian or florist's cyclamen (C. persicum) you enjoyed indoors all winter are summer dormant so can now go outside into a dry, shady corner. Replant when they sprout next autumn, to bring inside for winter.
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