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Gardening in October 2008
By Pam Pickard

Autumn Colour

Welcome!
After such a wet September, let’s hope that we get some lovely sunny autumnal days to get outside before the winter draws in. There is nothing more refreshing (and warming) than to wrap up well and delve into tidying and preparing the garden for next year. Look at this month’s jobs to do as a guideline.

This month’s column highlights some suggestions for greener gardening and focuses on looking forward by creating spring colour with bulbs. Why not put on those winter woollies and visit some spectacular Lancashire gardens?

Jobs for this month
October is the best month to prepare lawns. Rake off dead leaves and rake over and reseed bare patches. Cut down overgrown Ivy and Virginia Creeper once the leaves have fallen and give hedges a final trim.

Protect Gunera crowns by cutting off and laying the leaves to cover the crown; add straw for extra protection. Protect exotic or tender perennials from early frosts with fleece or use a thick mulch of bark or compost. Move pots to a more sheltered position.

Lift Dahlias and Cannas once frost has blackened the leaves and lift tender Gladioli once the leaves are brown. Trim off the leaves and place corms in an airy dry shed. Bring Begonias into a cool, frost free place to die down naturally.

Clear greenhouse gutters of leaves to prevent blockages and either place green tomatoes on a windowsill with a banana to ripen or make green tomato chutney. Now is the time to treat pots for vine weevil eggs, which will hatch into the grubs that eat away at the plants roots in the spring. Use nematode biological controls.

Plant Wallflowers, Sweet Williams, winter flowering Pansies and Polyanthus. With Halloween coming; scoop out pumpkins and use them as imaginative planters for Grasses, Skimmia or Heathers. Discard and re-plant after the pumpkin goes wrinkly.

Creating Spring colour with bulbs
October is the month for planting Spring bulbs; check bulbs are healthy; plump and firm to the touch. Check that they are from reliable growers and not taken from the wild. As a general rule plant depth should be 2-3 times the height of the bulb and at least 2 bulbs size width apart.

Place several bulbs of the same species together to give a good impact; drifts of Alliums and Fritillaria will provide outstanding colour in late Spring. Naturalise Narcissi, Crocus and Snowdrops in grass at the base of trees by digging out a square of turf which is deep enough to ensure they don’t dry out in summer; throw bulbs into the air and plant where they fall, cover back with the turf.

Plant bulbs in sunny free draining soil; wet clay soil will rot the bulb. When planting in pots add a handful of horticultural grit to improve the drainage, use pots to fill gaps in the border when flowering. Protect potted bulbs from squirrels by placing wire netting over the top of the bulbs and covering with a layer of course grit. Use dwarf Narcissi, Tulips for hanging baskets, window boxes and small containers, along with; Crocus, Snowdrop, Anemone Blanda and Grape Hyacinth.

Finally; plant prepared Hyacinth bulbs for Colour at Christmas.

Greener gardening
Alpine plants in old gardening boots
I’ve always thought of myself as fairly ‘green’; after all I compost most garden waste, recycle as much as I can, use peat free compost and re-use plant pots. However, this year I had a shake up – do you know where the plants you buy from garden centres and supermarkets come from?

Most labels don’t include where the plants have been grown and more and more are being grown cheaply abroad and flown over to the UK, thus adding to the air miles issue we have become more conscious about. This year alone I found myself guilty of buying a gorgeous flame orange Canna and a stunning deep purple Lily, both of which stole my heart but most certainly originated overseas.

So what can we do? Firstly ask the supplier where the plants have been grown, try to buy from local nurseries and garden centres that obviously grow their own and finally, design a garden that focuses on British natives.

Be creative about planters; use old kitchenware, interesting tins or even old boots! Stack up old tyres and paint with eggshell. Look out for garden centres that collect and recycle plastic pots and be imaginative about re-using household items. Use the free net bags from washing detergent tablets to hang beans and chillies in to dry out.

Think about encouraging insects into your garden; create a habitat for wildlife over the winter by; placing a pile of logs in a corner and leaving die back on flower borders.

Places to visit
Some gardens close down after September so check before you plan your visit.

Barbara Barlow’s cottage garden; includes a stream and damp loving plants. Open Sundays; Weavers Brow, Limbrick, Chorley PR6 9EB Tel; 01257 279 981

Browsholme Hall has an ornamental pond, a 300 year old yew walk and a 3 acre lake; Cow Ark, Clitheroe, BB7 3DE Tel; 01254 826719

Pendle Heritage Centre has an 18th Century walled garden and is open every day except Christmas. Park Hill, Barrowford, Nelson, BB9 6JQ Tel: 01282 661 701

Townley Hall art gallery and park has a Lime walk, formal pond and a woodland garden; Burnley, BB11 3RQ

Gawthorpe Hall and garden includes terraced gardens and a woodland garden; Padiham nr Burnley BB12 8VA

All items mentioned are available in most garden centres.

Photographs are taken by Pam Pickard.

© Pam Pickard 1/10/2008

 

 

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