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You're too late with your plum this year - it needs to be pruned in summer to avoid the entrance of disease via the cuts.
Covering ground elder won't kill it in the borders. Digging is not a good idea either, as you will chop up its roots and every piece will produce a fresh plant. You need to follow the roots with a trowel to dig them out, or paint with weedkiller in spring.
The lights that flash always have a "static" option, so don't discount them. Larger garden centres often have a good selection.
What type of material are you looking for - stone, paint or what?
I hope that the manure was well-rotted?
Kilmarnock willow would do well in damp ground.
If your fuchsia is called "Lady Boothby" it is hardy; all you need to do is wrap some fleece around the pot. If a very hard frost is forecast, either bring it into a shed or put it close to a house wall to give it some protection. You can cut it down to about twelve inches now and, as an insurance, root some of the trimmings as cuttings that you keep indoors over winter.
They're probably too wet, which is down to the weather, not you. If they're in containers you could check the soil for vine weevil, too - C-shaped grubs with a dark head about a cm long (the grubs, not the head).
Maybe it's a Halloween mystery?
If your rhododendron doesn't get any sun it's likely to always be a little drawn. They don't need any pruning, but if you want to make it shorter and bushier cut back one third of the branches to ground level after flowering for three years - that will produce lower shoots. Also, feed it well with ericaceous feed in spring - that should give it a lift.
More information here.
If you have room, mahonia blossom is sweetly scented in January, when little else is about.