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ENGLANDS EXPERTS TIPS FOR OCTOBER
By Pat Hubbard
October is one of the most colourful times of the year. Many flowers
are still blooming and the leaves on trees and shrubs are beginning
to change to fiery colours like red, yellow and orange. Bright berries
add to the colour scheme.
Autumn is a very good time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials, as the soil still has some warmth and will help to get them established.
Try and get any evergreens planted by the end of the month. There are some winter flowering varieties that are easy to grow, such as Viburnum tinus and Skimmia Rubella, these have pink or red buds which give good winter colour and in early spring, open to pink or white flowers, giving them quite a long period of interest.
Conifers can give extra height and a different shape and texture to the mixed border. There are so many shapes and sizes to choose from. Tall, narrow varieties contrasting with the lower growing and ground covering ones. Bear in mind that a lot of conifers are initially slow growing, but can eventually become very large trees. If you only have a small garden, make sure you obtain truly dwarf varieties.
Dormant roses will be on your supermarket shelves now and they are
very good value for money. If you are unable to plant immediately they
will keep for a day or two in a cool place such as a shed or garage,
if you leave the roots in their protective wrapping. You can also 'heel them in' while you prepare the eventual planting site. Just bury the bare roots in a trench and cover them over with soil, they will keep quite happily like this for quite a while. Before planting, mix in some good quality compost in the planting hole, and make sure they are watered well once planted. Prune back established roses by about a third, this will help to prevent 'wind-rock' which
can damage roots and stems.
Clear away fallen leaves to prevent pests and diseases over-wintering. Continue to cut back any dead or damaged stems on perennials and shrubs leaving any with decorative seed heads, or those that provide food for birds. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and move any tender plants to a more sheltered position and wrap pots with horticultural fleece or bubble wrap if there is likely to be an overnight frost.
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