Georgie Steward’s October Gardening Club


Autumn is most definitely here – the leaves are falling, there is a soft golden light which sets off so many of our garden plants so beautifully. The clocks will go back at the end of the month, the first frost will undoubtedly hit us and the garden party will be over for a while. 

Make the most of this last hurrah, revel in that glorious autumn sunshine where the whole countryside glows and linger in your gardens. Start looking to the future, stay positive and prepare for next Spring’s magic with all those little jobs you can start doing now!


Planting

The earth is still warm and it is a great time to plant herbaceous perennials, shrubs and trees. We have at least a month or so for the plants to get established, get their roots down and bed in for Winter.

This month i make a particular plea for shrubs which tend, i know, to be seen as unglamorous and practical – hiding a shed/obscuring the neighbours – rather than any great beauties. But they really are such an important part of the mix and knitting the garden together. Some of my favourites, all of which can be planted now, are Skimmmia ‘Kew Green’, Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ and Cotinus coggygria ‘Grace’.

Tender Plants

Bring in tender plants such as tender Salvias, Pelargoniums and succulents to overwinter under glass. Cold and wet will kill them. Reduce the watering to very little over the winter months and place in a bright warm spot (above 5 degrees) that is well ventilated. In the Spring, give them a decent hair cut, (you can use this for good cuttings material), start watering more and watch for new growth.


Tidy Up

Greenhouse – the tomatoes are now over so have been removed, eaten and green tomato chutney has been made!  I have given the greenhouse a good clean and clear out to prepare for the next round of seedlings/cuttings. 

Lawns – Give your lawn its last cut for the year this month. Be sure not to cut too short otherwise you can encourage moss to take hold.  Rake up any leaves to avoid unsightly patches.

Borders – leave ornamental seedheads for both the birds and Winter decoration.  Right about now there is an awful lot of charred beige out there, cut this back and start to clear gradually.  There’s no rush. Make room for planting bulbs and herbaceous perennials.


Sow

Prick out any seedlings sown last month to overwinter in bigger plugs in a cold frame – protected from too much rain and frost.

Do an autumn sowing of sweet peas for sturdier, stronger plants that will flower earlier and for longer next summer. Sow 3 seeds to one 7/9 inch pot, germinate on a window sill and leave to overwinter in a cold frame.


Veg

Collect and store apples somewhere cool and darkish (or make bucket loads of purée) – only unbruised/undamaged apples will store well – and make sure they aren’t touching.

Herbs – consider taking a root cutting of your mint to have your own supply indoors over winter.  Pot up parsley, chives, tarragon, lemon verbena. Use the lemon verbena to make amazing detox tea all winter long!


Dahlias

Dahlias will still be going strong as long as you have been deadheading! The big question now is – to lift or not to lift? Both have their pros and cons but leaving them until the first frost hits and the leaves go black, is definitely less work! Think about colours and varieties of dahlias you want next year now. It is always easier to picture the scene you want when the borders are still in flower.

Bulb Trifle

I always do a second order of bulbs in October as the variety of tulips overwhelms me (!) and I need to take some time with decisions. Tulips can be planted in the ground a little later than most bulbs – in November – as colder weather stimulates their root growth.  But make a start on tulips in pots now.  Try making a bulb trifle of Tulips, Narcissi and Muscari/Frittilaria. I top dress them with grit and keep them watered but not waterlogged over the winter.

 


Follow fanatical gardener and plantaholic Georgie on instagram @georgielovestogarden



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