Here we are in October, and Autumn has arrived.
We’ve had the first frosts, the leaves are tumbling from the trees – but as yet still no rain to speak of!
The bedding and container plants have endured a long, hot Summer and now is the time to replace them.
I realise that your geraniums, impatiens and begonias may still be looking good, but at this time of year you do have to be ruthless!
Your Autumn and Winter plants will really benefit from a few extra weeks of warm weather to settle and put on some good solid root growth.
So, take a deep breath and get stuck in!
Most of your tender plants will end up on your compost heap , but there are a number that you can save, over-winter and plant out again next Spring.
Fuchsias and Geraniums can be trimmed back and kept in a frost free environment during the Winter months. Don’t let the plants get too wet, as many plants are lost not through cold weather but by rotting.
Keep an eye on your plants over the Winter, then as soon as the weather bucks up – around early March, pot them up into some fresh compost and begin watering and feeding before planting out again in early May.
There is no reason if you follow these steps why you cannot keep plants for many years.
So, once your beds and containers have been stripped of the Summer plants, it’s time to see what is available to give you colour and interest throughout the forthcoming Winter.
By far the best bet are Winter Pansies. These hardy reliable plants will give you a superb display right through until Spring.
We grow them in mixed or individual colours. It is of course a matter of opinion, but I like to plant just a couple of colours together in borders or containers. A dark blue and a bright yellow looks great, or perhaps a velvety red alongside a purple to give you a striking rich scheme.
To keep the Pansies going strong, just remember to dead-head.
Another option, getting more popular each season are Violas. A smaller more delicate plant than its relation the Pansy, these superb little beauties are a great choice. Again they are fully frost hardy and available in either mixed or single colours, they are an excellent selection for hanging baskets.
Primroses and Polyanthus are again a good choice , the earlier varieties will flower before Christmas, the later giving you colour in February and March.
The above plants are all primarily grown for their colour, however there are a number of species that can be used for Winter foliage and form.
Evergreen herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano and Sage all perform well in containers and look great alongside a few Pansies and some Ivy.
Winter heathers – the Erica varieties – will reward you with some excellent tones as will the Ornamental Cabbage.
Gardeners are always looking ahead to the next season, and October is the time to think about bringing Spring colour into your garden.
Wallflowers have been a great favourite for generations, and this is the month to get them in the soil.
They are available in pots or bare rooted. The potted Wallflowers are a little more expensive but I feel it is worth the extra expense for bigger, stronger plants. Come March and April your Wallflowers will burst into colour giving your garden a great start to the new season.
Sweet William, Aubrietia, Arabis, Stocks and Bellis are other varieties that should be planted now for Spring colour.
Now is also the time to start tidying the garden in preparation for the Winter. Without doubt your lawn will benefit from a dressing, and your shrubs and roses will thank you for a mulch and feed.