VIU Milner Gardens and Woodland

November Growing Tips

by Vancouver Island Master Gardeners Association

Welcome to Milner Gardens' 2022 Monthly Growing Tips: Some short-cuts and tricks to help make lighter work of your gardening chores.

The gardening year is winding down. There is only planting the last of the garlic and fava beans, spring bulbs, and – after the driest October on record – giving the landscape one last, deep watering. The containers are settled on to their pot feet so they have enough drainage or pulled under the eaves. The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) and Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) are wakening near the bright windows for their winter blooms.


Too Tender for Winter

Most herbs are hardy but two are often lost to a sudden winter freeze: Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus), and Spanish lavender (Lavendula stoechas). Protect them with a tomato cage wrapped with bubble wrap or burlap around the lower half. If snow is forecast, top the cage with a garbage can lid or board then remove the lid when the cold snap has past.


Get a Jump on Spring

Half-filled plastic clam shells from fruit or greens are effective mini-greenhouses that will over-winter the last of the veggie or annual flower seeds as long as they have good drainage. Some will sprout now then rest over winter, the remainder will begin showing green as early as February.


Changing Climate, Changing Water Patterns

Fine bark mulch can form a shell during dry weather which will shed rain and increase run-off. Stir in some fallen leaves to break up the surface, and all will be well.

After the rains begin, put on your wellies and check the yards for changes in drainage directions, especially near buildings. If water is puddling along a walkway near a building dig a narrow trench on the side of away from the structure and slope the trench toward your yard’s natural drainage. If your target area is across the lawn, cut a trench and roll back the sod along one side. You can drop it back into place in spring or install a permanent perforated pipe or gravel dry bed. Dry beds work especially well through flower beds so you don’t deal with spring mud.

Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens) indicates water is pooling beneath the surface. Turning the area into a rain garden is a good way to get rid of the weed and keep the yard ecology healthier next year.

Don’t fight a new mini-pond in a low spot. Scrape out the area (if lawn, use the sod as a berm on the high side) for the beginning of a rain garden or catch basin. Throw down a pond liner now if you want a true pond. Spring is soon enough to finish it.


Don’t Forget Our feathered Friends

Plastic weather domes, available at garden centres and birding stores, are designed to shelter feeders so seed remains dry. Domes designed for hummingbird wells protect feeders from flooding and protect the birds from hawks and ravens while they drink.


The Gardener’s Dictionary

Snowdrop = a clumsy winter gardener

Lackadaisical = not enough plants of the aster genus

Bleeding heart = a sentimental gardener

Wake robin = Christopher’s morning alarm

Yarrow = agreeable herbs who enjoy growing in straight lines

Rudbeckia = an ill-mannered gardener

Raven “Z-Z” = very, very, very angry house plant

Johnny Jump up = a hyperactive gardener


Green Groaner

What did the harvest festival judge say to the prize winning gardener?

“Once and floral, you rose to the occasion.”