Beasts and bulbs, indoors and out

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November, and the garden is at its most colourful, strewn with traffic light coloured leaves that fall from the Liquidambar.  


In winter’s wake, we manage to keep a fair amount of greenery too, from a small, neatly-clipped box hedge, to the more rampant evergreen Clematis armandii and Ivy.


The Ivy has proved a good source of late nectar for the bees throughout the autumn months, but I’ve yet to spot an Ivy Bee.  This species of mining bee forages for nectar from its namesake plant during September and mid-November when the Ivy is in flower.

Nearby, in the BeeBrick the Red Mason Bee grubs will have spun their silken cocoons.  Within them the larvae will transform into adult bees which will stay snug until Spring.

Bee Brick

Meanwhile the Harlequin ladybirds, feeling the cold, have made the annual pilgrimage indoors and are congregating around the window frames.  They are moved back outdoors to overwinter in sheltered spots – in the dense foliage of the box hedge and tussocks of ornamental grasses – or coaxed into the compartments of the big fir cones that drop from a neighbour’s tree.  Leaving the ladybirds indoors will only lead to desiccation as the heating is cranked up during the colder months. 

Autumn leaves

Aside from sweeping leaves from the lawn, a key task in the garden this month is to plant more tulip bulbs.  Last November I planted the Vintage Silk Tulip Collection in zinc planters.  Their gentle pastel tones looked beautiful against the silver grey of the pots.  

Vintage Silk Tulips

This year I’m adding the richer colours of the Brandy Snap Collection to the borders around the house, where they will flower in amongst existing alliums for a colourful springtime show.

Vintage Silk Tulips

And there will be bulbs indoors too.  I prefer my forced Hyacinth bulbs to flower in the New Year, when their heady scent is a reminder that Spring is on its way.  This weekend I will sit them in antique hyacinth vases, each with a piece of charcoal dropped into the bottom to keep the water fresh. 

For Christmas I favour the rich red of Amaryllis.  Two big bulbs that have been resting over the summer are now showing green tips, so it’s time to bring them back into the light and warmth, and to start watering them again.  I hope they will be in flower for the festive season, but if not these lovely little everlasting versions will do just the job!

Thanks for reading,

Helen D Signature

Helen D writes about simple pleasures and seasonal observations at The House at Nab End. She is a volunteer BeeWalker for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, and her gardening is inspired by her love of the natural world.