OctoberAutumn is definitely here and days are shortening but it is one of the most colourful months and a great time to get out and begin to put the garden to bed for the winter. Spring flowering bulbs can be planted now and the thought of all that colour to come next year can help you through the winter months, Alliums, Daffodils, Pretty little Scilla and Chionodoxa for shade can all go in now. Save the Tulip planting for next month as they fare better if planted later.
•This is a prime planting month, conditions are just right for plants to get their feet in the ground before winter arrives.
•Lift and divide clumps of perennials if needed, as mentioned last month.
•Continue to plant your spring bulbs but hold back the Tulips, they like to go in when it a bit colder in November and December.
•Some evergreen perennials like Pulmonaria and Hellebores can suffer from mildew and leaf spot. Give them a tidy up now removing any damaged leaves, this will help to stop the spread and leave them looking better over winter.
•The inevitable leaf clearing will start this month, think about setting up a leaf mould bin in a corner of the garden. Some bamboo posts and some flexible fencing like chicken wire is all you need, fill it with leaves and get really nutritious, effective, soil conditioner for free.
•If your border lacks colour at this time of the year consider adding to your plants with some late colour. Some of the best for this include Rudbeckia, Helenium and Sedum. Salvia greggii the woody Salvia with varieties like ‘Hot lips’ are real stars of the later summer and autumn months going on until the first frosts.
•Clear leaves from under Trees and shrubs to help keep disease at bay.
•Prepare areas for hedge planting, any digging done now is worth twice that after Christmas. If you can break up the soil and so increase its surface area then the winter rain and cold will get in and blow the soil particles apart, when you go to plant later it’s a lot easier to work. This is particularly useful with clay soils.
•There is in fact very little pruning to be done at this stage of the year, reduce the height of Roses by a ¼ to stop them rocking in the wind and leaving them unstable.
•Old neglected Parthenocissus (Boston ivy, Virginia creeper) can be renovated successfully now, cut the plant back to plump buds a meter from the ground. You can then retrain the re-growth to a frame work you are happy with. Pruning the plant particularly around windows and guttering, from now until Christmas will help to show it who’s boss and keep it in bounds.
•Clear away those plants which have stopped being productive, take care to either burn or bin any plants that appear to be diseased, don’t use them in your compost bin as the pathogens will persist in domestic compost systems.
•Cut back the top growth of bean or Pea plants but leave the roots in the soil as they are a good source of nitrogen for your plants next year. When you come to preparing the soil next year they will have rotted down.
•If you want to enjoy fresh Mint and Parsley over the winter pot up a clump now and place on the kitchen windowsill, it is possible to over winter these plants outside and still enjoy picking if you put a cloche over the plants.
•You can sow a pot of Basil now for the kitchen window sill, there is still time for it to germinate.
•Tidy up Strawberry plants removing any damaged or diseased leaves.
•This is a good time to Clean up pots and containers and get them set fair for winter.
•Set pots up on feet to improve drainage, during colder condition’s good drainage can make all the difference to a plants chances of survival in winter.
•Be ruthless even if summer bedding is still looking good the sooner you get your winter interest plants in, the sooner they can get their roots happily settled before the harsher conditions arrive and it is more of a struggle for them. Pansies in particular are more likely to perform well if allowed to get established before winter.
•Think about using some evergreen structure in your pots consider evergreen ferns like Asplenium and ferns in the Polystichum family. These are particularly good for pots in shade. They go beautifully with white or light purple Violas and some black grass the Ophiopogon.
•Continue with autumn lawn care, scarifying, aerating and top dressing with lawn soil which is available from the compost store, you can also give a final low nitrogen feed.
•Moss treatments can still be applied but be aware that it will leave bare patches and as we move on the ability for grass seed to germinate will diminish, so you may not be able to re –seed this year.
•Try and avoid walking on a frozen lawn as it damages the structure of the grass.
•You can continue to lay turf until it becomes too wet and cold and the ability of the turf to establish diminishes.
Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use.
Click on one of the other months below to see what you can look forward to