I wish the Americans would, occasionally, keep things to themselves – particularly at this time of year.
No sooner had the leaves on Britain’s trees begun to turn from tired green to a multitude of reds and oranges, than an ‘ex’ hurricane whistled its way eastwards across the Atlantic and blew the branches bare.
In some exposed places it happened almost overnight; in more sheltered spots the leaves hung on a bit longer to provide a few more days of seasonal colour.
Thank you, USA, for giving us the opportunity to spend hours clearing up the detritus – leaves, bits of branches, the ubiquitous plastic carrier bags from this nation’s numerous supermarkets and a treasure trove of plant pots of all shapes and sizes.
On the other hand, getting the tidy bug in November is no bad thing because this is the time of year when the garden needs cleaning, and a general good going-over to prepare it for the winter months ahead.
All those fallen leaves need removing from around valuable alpines to help air circulation and remove hiding places for browsing slugs and snails. It also provides the chance to clear out any weeds.
Elsewhere, remove any leaves which have found homes among the stems of perennials or around the base of shrubs. At least the he compost bin is in for a mighty meal.
And the wicked winds from the west give an early indicator of which plants need tying down before the next gale arrives.
Tie in any long and whippy shoots of climbers and wall shrubs to stop them being battered and broken by the worst of the weather.
Continuing the theme of tying, check tree tie and stakes to make sure they are in good condition – ensure the stakes are firm and immovable, with the ties secure but not too tight so that they cut into the stems of plants.
And when there is a guaranteed lull in the storms, check fences and trellises to make sure they are capable of withstanding whatever winter has to throw at them.
It’s also the best time to ensure any plants using structures for support are securely trained.
Finally, any shrubs prone to damage from strong and bitter winds can be protected by providing them with a windbreak made from netting.
It may not look pretty but it could save a life.