What to do in your garden in November

This month, we meet our new columnist who talks us through what’s on the to-do list in the backyard.
Portrait of garden designer Ashley James.Photography: Allie Aszodi

Horticulturalist and garden designer Ashley James takes us through his top tips for gardening in November, including organic mulching, rose trimming, strawberry planting and the spring flowers in bloom for a show-stopping garden.

Planning ahead

As a gardener, November is traditionally the busiest month of the year and, as the old saying goes, ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. With the harsh Australian heat already upon us, now is the time to put in the hard yards to ensure your garden is summer-ready. Here are some tasks I’m working on in my garden before the month is out.

Garden mulching

Mulching the garden works wonders in helping the aesthetics of your outdoor space, but it also plays a major role in the health of your garden. That’s why choosing the right mulch is essential. For your vegetable garden, I suggest using a straw-based mulch like a sugar cane to help suppress weeds, trap in moisture and bring those useful worms to the surface.

In my ornamental garden beds, I like to use an organic soil-based mulch made from fine-graded and composted pine bark, as it feeds back into and adds to the health of my soil. However, it requires additional maintenance as this mulch does not suppress weeds. Another option you may want to look into is a natural wood chip, such as a pine bark or bush mulch. These varieties are great to help keep weeds at bay and are long-lasting, too.

(Photography: Abbie Melle)

Rose deadheading

Deadheading roses should be at the top of your to-do list this month. While your roses enjoy the spring flush, it’s important to keep up with the deadheading to encourage new blooms and help them maintain a compact shape. To deadhead your roses correctly, remove the entire spent flower head by cutting the stem just above the first leaf with five leaflets. Once you have removed all the spent flower heads, cut back any disproportionally tall stems to create a nice, rounded shape.

(Photography: Damien Pleming | Styling: Stephanie Powell)

Strawberry planting

Planting out strawberries is best done during November, and what I love about this is you don’t need a lot of room. What I mean by this is you can grow a very successful strawberry patch in pots or hanging baskets – just ensure your pots and containers have good drainage holes, then fill them with a premium potting soil and find a location that sees at least six hours of sunlight a day.

If you do have a little more growing room in your garden, try planting them on the side of a pathway. Strawberries make a great groundcover as they spill over the sides. Plus, it’s also a great way to get the children in your life involved and encourage them to fall in love with gardening.

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(Photo: Armelle Habib)
  • Billy buttons
  • Cosmos
  • Marigold
  • Sunflower
Flowers to sow in November

Types of flowers blooming in November

Purple wisteria.
(Photography: Allie Aszodi)



Showcasing delicately scented purple flowers, wisteria is a spectacular climbing vine favoured in classical garden settings hanging from pergolas.

Golden tickseed flower, coreopsis tinctoria.
(Photography: Allie Aszodi)


Coreopsis Tinctoria

A hardy perennial and lovely addition to your summer garden, Coreopsis brings a burst of old-fashioned blooms.

Pink blush salvia.
(Photography: Allie Aszodi)


Salvia ‘Pink Blush’

Flowering from late spring to autumn, ‘Pink Blush’ salvia is an easy-to-grow perennial perfect for sunny flowerbeds.

Pink rosa centifolia.
(Photography: Allie Aszodi)


Rosa Centifolia

Rosa Centifolia, or the ‘Cabbage Rose’, is a sprawling shrub showcasing handsome double blooms with a strong fragrance most favoured in perfumes.

Purple lilac.
(Photography: Allie Aszodi)



With thick clusters of flowers and a long lifespan, lilac make the most of their spring bloom, transforming hedges into a vibrant floral display.

Blue squill flowers.
(Photography: Allie Aszodi)


Blue Squill

The delicate flowering heads of blue squill have a delicious honey scent from spring to midsummer, growing best in rockeries.

Pink garden tulips.
(Photography: Allie Aszodi)


Garden Tulips

A classic of the garden, tulips emerge from the cooler seasons with heavenly bright flowers from mid to late spring ripe for picking.

Blue cornflower.
(Photography: Allie Aszodi)



A cottage garden isn’t complete without brilliant blue heads of cornflowers that also attract bees and butterflies.

Feeling inspired for a summer-ready garden? Follow Ashley’s gardening log next month for more advice and handy garden tips.

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