“In these golden October days, no work is more fascinating than this getting ready for spring. The sun is no longer a burning enemy, but a friend, illuminating all the open space, and warming the mellow soil”
Charles Dudley Warner, 1829 – 1900
Oh, October! As the temperature begins to plummet and the leaves start to change, there’s an excitement in the air as we prepare the garden for the changes to come…
Empty summer pots and hanging baskets and compost the contents.
For winter colour re-plant hanging baskets and pots with heathers, cyclamen, winter pansies and skimmia.
Now is also good time to plant new herbaceous perennials, and evergreen shrubs as the soil is still warm, but has more moisture than in the summer.
Reduce the height of shrub roses to avoid windrock damage over winter.
Raise patio containers on to bricks or purpose-made pot feet to avoid them sitting in water during the winter.
Remove stakes and other supports as herbaceous plants die down for the winter.
Trim deciduous hedges to keep them looking tidy over the winter.
Shrubs normally pruned in the spring such as Buddleja davidii, Cornus alba, and Lavatera, can be cut back by half now, to prevent wind rock and to neaten their appearance.
If the weather is dry, keep watering early flowering shrubs such as camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas, so that flower buds are initiated successfully for blooms next spring. Use recycled or stored rainwater wherever possible.
If you did not tidy up the pond last month, then clear out any debris, weeds and excess oxygenating plants now. Leaving plants on the side of the pond for 38 hours before composting them, so that any wildlife has time to escape back to the pond.
Remove pumps or fountains and removable lighting systems, clean them, and store over winter in a safe place.
In many colder areas, this month is the last opportunity to scarify, aerate and top dress lawns. Afterwards apply an autumn lawn feed; these are low in nitrogen, so discouraging lush green growth that would only succumb to cold and diseases over the winter months.
Harvest apples, pears, grapes and pumpkins to embrace the autumn season. View our Dorset Apple Cake recipe to put your apple picking haul to good use.