September involved three visits to Wisley gardens, sometimes I don’t visit for months although it’s only thirty minutes drive away, but I was drawn first by the Flower Show, then to have a look at the trials field, which was wonderful [as was the flower show], then back again to collect a book that I’d ordered from the library.
The book is about rain gardens and is really very good, such a great idea and like the best ones, so simple. It’s all part of the research for dealing with the potentially lovely, but rather soggy areas of my new garden.
There’s lots to be getting on with in October too:
Start planting spring flowering bulbs, but leave tulips until early November, but make sure that they’re kept somewhere dry so mildew doesn’t appear on them.
Bulbs can be planted straight into the ground or in pots, it’s worth doing this because they’re such a lovely sight at the end of winter.
This is the start of the turf laying season do all the preparation before you buy the turf,
- rake it over to level
- remove weeds and stones
- work in horticultural grit if the soil is heavy clay
- scatter the surface with a general fertiliser like blood, fish and bone and rake through the soil
- firm the soil, though not if it’s wet, by treading over it all, rake to remove any foot-marks
- leave it for a week to let the fertiliser settle in before turfing
Lift dahlias when the frost has blackened the leaves, this may not happen until next month. Shake off loose soil and store them in a shed with the stems facing downwards to let them dry out.
Plant bare-root trees and hedging now while the soil is still warm and before the weather gets very frosty, these type of plants are good value.
Make some free plants by lifting and dividing up perennial plants:
plants that flower in the first half of the summer [i.e. before July] are perfect candidates for dividing, as well as getting free plants, the process re-juvenates the whole plant so that it’ll grow and flower better next year.
Do this early in October while the soil is still warm, but wait until spring if your soil is heavy clay.
- carefully dig up the plant using a garden fork
- plants with loose roots can be gently teased apart by hand, or using a trowel
- fleshy roots need a firm chop through with a spade
- plant the best pieces that have a good section of roots and at least one shoot, the centre of the plant is the oldest part and can be chucked onto the compost heap
- work some blood, fish and bone fertiliser into the planting hole, plant the divided pieces, them enough space, firm them into the soil and water after planting
- small pieces of plant that look a bit frail can be planted in pots of soil-based compost [John Innes No2], kept in a sheltered place or cold-frame and planted out about six weeks later
- water the plants regularly for the first six weeks to help them develop
- perennials like hollyhocks, eryngiums, verbascum, lupins, have tap-roots [a single, long root rather than a clump of roots] and can’t be divided, but they usually make lots of seeds
- heleniums, hostas, geranium and phlox are perfect for dividing in autumn.
Happy gardening, Jill
all photos: Jill Anderson