Colder, darker and wetter, with the first significant frosts all but guaranteed to bite, November is the month in which the deciduous trees shed their leaves in a torrent and the ground becomes too wet to work substantially. Here at The Garden Gate Project, our minds turn to withdrawing to a warm and comfortable spot in our cabin beside the log burner. It’s important to seize moments between the rain showers to continue to gather up the leaves from lawn areas to prevent them causing dead patches, and also to guard against them clogging up the crowns of herbaceous plants in the borders, which can cause rotting as well as looking untidy. The more that end up decomposing into precious leaf mould, the better!

Now is the time to finally get those tulip bulbs planted, having looked forward to setting them up for next spring since the last one began to fade. With such a plethora of varieties and wide spectrum of colours to select from, it’s a great opportunity to indulge the senses and run riot with your heart’s desire. Last year we enjoyed our longstanding and brilliant red, white and yellow varieties, but we also have a scattering of the almost blackish-purple Queen of the Night dotted in amongst our Euphorbias and Hellebores. The trick is to squeeze them into the borders in clusters amongst the perennials or set them out more evenly in drifts through spring wallflower bedding. If you’re growing in pots, be sure to add a crock and grit to the bulb compost for drainage and always put tulips deepest in any layered planting you experiment with. Daffodils and Grape Hyacinths planted in successive layers above will stagger flowering and create a fulsome and floriferous effect throughout spring.

As the list of possible tasks remaining diminishes with worsening weather, it is worth getting a final cut of the grass completed. This will have the benefit of collecting up any lingering leaf debris and will stand you in good stead for the winter and early spring ahead when all those bulbs you’ve planted will really come in to their own, in a very welcome explosion of colour.


As autumn begins the turn to winter here’s a warming parsnip soup to help keep you smiling.


  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5cm piece fresh ginger
  • Olive oil
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 6 parsnips
  • 500 ml semi-skimmed milk (or coconut milk for a vegan option).
  • 750 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 red chilli (if you like)


  • Peel and chop the onion, garlic and ginger.
  • Heat olive oil and butter in a saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and garam masala. Fry gently until the onions are soft and sweet.
  • Peel and chop parsnips into 3cm chunks. Stir them into the mixture.
  • Add milk and stock and season well. Bring to the boil, and then simmer with lid on until parsnips are cooked (approximately 30 minutes).
  • Remove from the heat and blitz in a blender until smooth and creamy.
  • Serve in bowls and scatter over some deseeded, chopped chilli.
  • Enjoy!