What a lovely month it’s turned out to be, we were away in Suffolk earlier in the month & it really didn’t feel like October, the skies were vivid blue & we ate lunch in the garden a few times.
But that time has passed, the leaves are on the turn, the days are shorter & the nights chillier.
We’re halfway through the month, & there’s plenty on my to-do list in the garden for this month.
My aim is to have the garden looking good with plants that are flowering or interesting in some way through the whole year, this gets more challenging during winter. I’m also looking for plants that benefit wildlife, like plants with berries for the birds to eat, ivy for it’s winter flowers & places to shelter, I hope the insect hotel that I built earlier in the year gets found.
Clearing up is done with a light touch because not much is growing to take the place of anything that’s removed. I like to leave as much structure as possible, grasses & perennials stay if they have interesting colours or seed-heads & they only get chopped back when they become a bit sludgy & start to collapse.
This is when it pays to have a good percentage of evergreens, shapely deciduous trees & shrubs to give some shape & volume to a garden. Topiary does a great job at this & so do Japanese Maples, they look as elegant without their leaves as they do in leaf.
It’s a good time of year to plant those shapely shrubs, or any shrub, the soil is warm & they have time to settle in & grow a good root system ready for next year.
If you have time for only one thing, trim the grass, setting the blades a high so it’s not cut too short, then trim the edges. I like the neat edges of borders & lawn, as a contrast to relaxed looking plants & it makes the whole garden look smart.
Keep on with the bulb planting, & if you can, plant more than you think you’ll want, in the ground & in containers. Large numbers of just a few varieties looks better than a small number of lots of different types, & aim for flowers in succession from late winter through to late spring.
Tulips are best planted next month so colder weather can kill off viruses that affect the bulbs.
My selection of bulbs includes, tulips, muscari, camassia [unlike most bulbs, these will love our damp soil], crocus, daffodil & allium, at least it will when I get them in the ground. My garden is really new since it’s been recently changed & landscaped & although there is some established planting, there are big areas of bare soil.
We’ve got a pond in the garden now, it’s raised out of the ground so the wall around it makes a handy perch to sit on. This time next year we’ll be clearing out all the debris, ready for activity in the spring, then netting it to keep leaves out & removing the pump for the winter.
We’ve got a double compost-bin now, one side is gradually being filled with garden debris. Larger leaves & stems are chopped up before being added to help them rot down more quickly. I’m also adding shredded cardboard between all the green stuff, I bought some new boots this weekend & said yes to bringing home the big cardboard box knowing it would be a perfect addition to the compost heap. Remember you can also add kitchen waste, coffee grounds, tea-bags & vegetable peelings etc., but not cooked food.
If you’re lucky enough to have well rotted compost in your bin, it can be spread over bare ground as a mulch to improve the soil.
Enjoy the rest of the month in your garden.
all photos: Jill Anderson