November is the month when everything falls silent in the wildflower garden. The early part of the month is dominated by the wide array of autumn colours that appear in our woodlands and hedgerows. The exact timing and degree of colouration is dependent on weather conditions, with frost, rainfall and autumn gales all playing a part. Good native species to include in the garden for autumn colour include Rowan (orange/brown), Field maple (yellow) and Wild service tree (purple/red). Some wildflower plants also have very attractive foliage at this time of year, one very good example being Wood cranesbill. Its foliage turns a deep blood red before disappearing altogether until the spring.
By mid-month most trees will be bare and the Wildlife gardener’s attention can turn to feeding the garden birds over the winter months. As well as providing the usual peanuts, fat, birdseed etc, there are also many native tree and plant species that provide an abundant source of berries and seed over the winter months. Particularly good for winter berries are Crab apple, Elder, Holly, Hawthorn, Wild roses and Rowan, whilst Teasel and Wild carrot both very attractive to passing finches, retain their seeds well into the winter.
If you wish to help garden wildlife survive the winter month’s ahead, try and avoid the temptation to do too much tidying up in November. Instead it is far better to let the garden die back naturally over the coming weeks. Fallen leaves, decaying wood, and dead flower stems, will provide shelter, warmth and feeding opportunities for all manner of wildlife. Leaves that must be removed however, can always be added to a compost heap, which will provide a home for toads, hedgehogs and other small mammals.