October Gardening tips

Now is the time to watch the wildlife plant nuts and other seeds in the lawn and flower beds for a new woodland to grow!

Now is a time for golden leaves and golden sunlight and a golden ground where the leaves have fallen.  Leave them until they turn muddy brown; this will encourage worms and other invertebrates.  BUT.. clear them out of ponds or you will end up with dry land.

Many trees are planted primarily for Autumn colour, like Acers, but others give wonderful colour as an extra benefit, like Witch hazels and deciduous azaleas.  If you do not have room for trees and large shrubs, then try a climber like Virginia creeper up a wall or fence.  Some grasses are decorative all winter and really ‘glow’ in a low sun’s light.

This is also the time to look forward and plant Narcissi or Hyacinths in bowls of compost; put them in the dark until nearly Christmas. Then they should bloom.

We can also plant overwintering onions and garlic (for garlic, divide the bulbs into cloves and plant the cloves 10cm deep in light soil 3cm deep in heavy soil and 20cm apart)

Sow over-wintering broad beans and tidy strawberry plants, planting runners in a fresh bed to avoid the build-up of disease.

While the soil is still warm, plant new shrubs, tidy, propagate and divide perennial plants.

We should also look to the colder times ahead: I, for one, must replace the panes of glass in my greenhouse roof that were cracked by last winter’s snow, and then I can protect dahlias, fuchsias, cannas, pelargoniums and the other tender plants – take cuttings as insurance.

Many plants are protected by their top-growth from frost, so do not cut them right back, but DO reduce the height of Buddleias, Lavatera and Sambuca to reduce wind rock and snow damage BUT LEAVE the main pruning until March.  Most herbaceous plants can be cut down but some have seed heads useful to birds. DON’T cut down Penstemons, Gaura or hardy Fuchsias until late Spring to protect the plant from frost; similarly, leave Hydrangea flowers on the bush until March to protect next year’s flower buds.

Places to visit for Autumn Colour

RHS garden, Wisley

Winkworth Arboretum, National Trust open all year 10am – 6pm except Christmas

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Ampfield, Romsey SO51 OQA