October is a joyous time in an autumn garden, as the colours convert; we mow the lawn for the final phase of the year, and observe as evergreens take on a new vibrancy without having to compete with summer blooms.
However, although many plants will begin their hibernation period, there are still an abundance of tasks to undertake to ensure a beautiful garden that sleeps peacefully until the spring.
Remove Delicate Plants and Bulbs
The show of the gladioli is over, and if you would like to benefit from the same blushes next year, you will need to lift the corms and store them somewhere dry and airy until the threat of frost has passed, usually around May or June. Dahlias will need to be trimmed and then lifted and afforded the same care.
Move Any Mature Plants
If you’ve spent the summer thinking your lavetera or forsythia or even your ballerina apple tree would be best placed in another spot in your plot, or even if you’re moving house, now is the time to take action. Always dig from a foot from the roots to avoid your spade or fork damaging their support system. If you are moving house, store in a plastic bag with compost and transfer them to their new environment before you’ve even unpacked the kettle!
Now is the time to plant those pinks, new trees or shrubs, herbaceous perennials, rhododendrons and azaleas. Heathers bring some much needed winter colour, and the fashion this year and last has leaned towards the disco heathers, giving your garden a retro 80’s day glow feel with luminous greens, pinks and blues.
Divide and Conquer!
With a warm and wet summer your perennials should have doubled in size, save money by using this opportunity to divide them and plant elsewhere. In our village we have a little get together at this time of year where we swap cuttings, seeds and clumps of perennials for something we’ve been coveting. Lupins, Lillie’s, red hot pokers are just a few you can multiply with ease.
Bulb it UP!
Close your eyes and imagine your drive and garden last year around mother’s day. Were there spaces that would look
wonderful filled with tulips, grape hyacinths, even snowdrops? Now’s the time to use foresight, there are a wonderful array of bulbs on offer and new outstanding displays hitting the market all the time, so whether you prefer a traditional look, or would like to add a more modern twist now is the time to set the scene for your spring awakening!
It’s probably a guarantee that we’ll have a wet winter ahead, even if snow falls; it eventually melts leaving huge muddy puddles in its wake. After your final mowing aerate the lawn, treat with an autumn fertiliser and tackle any drainage issues you remember from last year.
October wouldn’t be the same without the rummaging of conkers, whether you can borrow a few children or not, at any age there’s something quite special about finding that one chestnut coloured shiny conker. They also add a great twist to dried flower displays if placed on the end of a colourful stick, however don’t tell everyone; this is an exclusive top tip!
Pump(kin) it Up
Then we couldn’t mention autumn without the harvesting of pumpkins, whether you’d like to enter them in a show, carve them for the neighbourhood trick and treaters or serve a pumpkin pie or soup, now is the time to pick those pumpkins and enjoy the sweet orange flesh as it comforts with light or nourishment you on a nippy evening.
Martina Mercer loves finding out about new perennial plants to plant and continues to write garden related stories.