October Gardener with Tony Arnold ACIHort
It’s busy time
Welcome to October, maybe one of the busiest months, but still very pleasant. Make the most of the fine conditions now with the impending change of weather due by the middle of the month. Expect a bit more rain and windy conditions and sadly a drop in temperature in the UK and northern hemisphere in general.
It’s best to get a note book and write out a priority list of the many garden jobs that you want to be done to prepare for winter and spring.
Clearing leaves in to an accessible wire container will produce valuable leaf mould. Clear tender summer plants from containers saving seeds for winter wildlife which may be life or death to some birds in bitter winter weather. Cut and divide hardy perennials that have gone over. Now is the time to divide the too large clumps (a good example is Crocosmia) which will retain vigour, but water first to ease the tough splitting process using two spades or forks back to back. Lift dahlias and any remaining tulips to store in the dry as they really don’t appreciate wet and cold even though they might just survive. Mine didn’t even in warm south west UK.
It’s a good time to plant hardy perennials and winter vegetables such as spring cabbages and autumn onion sets while the ground is still warm. Broad beans can be sown at this time. Fruit trees can be purchased on line or preferably by visiting a local specialist in order to choose the required root stock size for your garden or allotment but do check the size label. Bare root plants such as roses and tree saplings in general are very much cheaper to buy at this time of the year.
Dig over vegetable plots and add some NPK 7.7.7 Growmore to replenish nutrients if growing over winter. Winter peas and beans are excellent to grow as a green fertiliser as they have valuable nitrogen storage nodules, they also help avoid wind soil erosion and torrential rain soil compaction.
Autumn plants in bloom to look out for now are the Ivy species, of vines Boston, Virginia and Henryana of the Vitaceae family and also those varieties that produce wonderful grapes as table fruit, raisins or of course bottling up some home made wine!!
Keep an eye out for Autumn Crocus bulbs, Chinese lanterns Physalis (Potato-Solanum family) perennials with attractive red flowers followed by edible berries, Kaffir Lilies, Sorbus (Rowan) trees with their attractive orange berries not forgetting the glorious autumn colours of Amelanchia and the Japanese Acer. Chrysanthemum woody hardy shrub cultivars for winter are looking more attractive and late Salvias and Actaea keep summer border memories going
Autumn –Fall colours
In the larger gardens and parks which are worth a special visit look out for brilliant Autumn colours, especially the Tupelo (Nyssa-Cornaceae family) with wonderful red colours, Katsura (Cercid-family) with its unusual fragrance of burnt sugar, Maple, Beech, and Birch. Don’t miss this out on this glorious experience!!
Leaf fall is from April to May in the Southern hemisphere and Spring is September to November if you are travelling from North to southern hemisphere.
Well whether in northern (or southern hemisphere) take time out at this very busy time of year to enjoy your surroundings, whether it be spring or autumn.
Tony Arnold ACIHort