October Hints and Tips


This rose won 1st prize at the Summer Show

2018 has produced an extraordinary crop of top fruits and they have been ready to harvest from late August. o you have probably already stored the sound fruit in newspaper in a cool shed or garage. However, it has been too dry for autumn raspberries to thrive. I am so disappointed.

Other jobs you could do 

Remaining tender fruits like squashes, pumpkins and turnips need to be brought indoors to protect them from frosty nights.  You can plant autumn onions, garlic and overwintering broad beans.

Rake up and dispose of rotting fallen fruits and leaves from apples and pears – it is best to burn or green bin them to reduce fungal infection next year.  Grease bands will prevent female winter moths climbing up the trunks to lay their eggs. (Their larvae eating their way out of the fruit is one cause of rot.)

Rhubarb that has been in place for five years should be lifted and divided. Discard the centre and replant the outermost vigorous portions.

Pot up and bring under glass Fuchsia, citrus and Brugmansia; dig up tubers of tender plants like Dahlia and Canna once the foliage has been slightly blackened by frost – place them in a frost free, dry place over winter.

Lift and divide herbaceous perennials and cut back top growth UNLESS they are very tender like Penstemon, Gaura or hardy Fuchsia, where the top will protect the new growth from frost.  Unless you are obsessively tidy-minded, it is kind to leave some seed heads for the wildlife.

Take hard wood cuttings of roses and other deciduous shrubs like Cornus, Forsythia and Philadelphus.  It is a good idea to reduce hybrid tea roses and Buddleia by a third to prevent wind rock; for the same reason prune old growth of climbing roses and tie in new shoots of ramblers.

In Autumn we can appreciate the colours of turning leaves, but all too soon we are raking up the fallen leaves.  Use disease free leaves to make leaf mould.  Collect them in a chicken wire cage or pierced bin bags.

The skeletal outlines of bare trees can be a feature of a winter garden and, combined with ornamental grasses and evergreen ferns can be very beautiful in low sunlight.  You could brighten up your birch trees, (if small!) by gently washing off algae from the bark; some varieties have ‘peely’ bark you can gently remove, if loose.

Ponds must be prepared for winter by removing dead leaves of aquatic plants and reducing bulk of oxygenating weed.  The aim is to maintain the depth of water so that fish and other creatures can go deep to avoid frost and also to reduce the fertility of the water to prevent algal growth.  Fish will not need so much food as their metabolism slows.

Places to visit for Autumn Colour

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


Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Ampfield, Romsey SO51 OQA RHS partner garden


Box Hill, near Dorking

Selborne village


National Apple Day is being celebrated at the community centre and Gurkha Memorial Orchard, Crookham Park on 21st October.  There will be Morris Dancers, magic show, live music, food and drink stalls … oh, and apple tree advice.

Dobies’ 2019 seed catalogue should be available from the trading shed on 6th October. You can get a substantial discount on your order by using the members’ code.