October garden plant maintenance

October garden plant maintenance in Wokingham and Maidenhead

Berkshire and surrounding areas

Autumn trees around the lake

The colours of autumn

This is a good time to divide up herbaceous perennials and move plants around. Many perennials flower less with time and become congested. If you look at a clump of, say, Day Lily which is not flowering well, try dividing it up. Dig it up, cut it into smaller pieces and just replant. In general, you may need to divide every three to five years but, for instance, Achillea prefers more often and Peonies don’t like to be disturbed at all. If you have a plant which is failing to flower well, and it has bald patch in the middle, chances are it needs to be divided. Cover the lawn to protect it (an old compost bag is ideal), dig up the plant and pick out the best of the newer little clumps. Replant these and compost the old, tired centre of the plant. It will rejuvenate in the spring.

If you would like to introduce some autumn colour into your garden, here are a few suggestions to consider. If you’re looking for some great ground cover, for full sun or partial shade, try Cornus canadensis, the “Creeping Dogwood. It gets no taller than 15cms (6”), has beautiful cream bracts in spring and also produces a stunning autumn display of wine-red leaves.

Euonymus are mainly known as evergreen ground cover plants, but Euonymus alatus is a rounded deciduous shrub growing from 1.5m to 2m. The strange corky ridges it grows on its branches are a talking point in themselves and it also produces one of the most spectacular of all displays in autumn with colours ranging from almost bright pink through to rosy scarlet!

The garden centres are full of pansies and violas, and they come home from the garden centre looking lovely but often after a short they look less lovely – sometimes for the rest of the winter. This could be because the bedding plants in the garden centre have had a lot of TLC in  a temperature-controlled poly tunnel with perfect conditions. When we buy the plants, they are uprooted and plonked outside in the cold wet chill; result – not happy! To give them time to get established and put down roots, try planting them into the container in which they are going to spend the winter. Place the container under glass/in the greenhouse or in a sheltered spot and introduce the plants gradually to the real weather outside, as you would summer bedding. That way the pansies and violas might actually flower through the winter.

Other plants to look out for in the autumn are Asters, Fuchsia Genii, Japanese Anemone and Chrysanthemum and Pampas Grass; and giving a real splash of red autumn colour is the Berberis shrub and Kniphofia, better known as Red Hot Poker, and Virginia Creeper.

There is, of course, always the question of fallen leaves in the garden. For help with this, the pruning and planting, you can always rely on Gardeneer teams to
tidy up
and, very important, take the debris away with them.

October garden plant maintenance

  • Rake the lawn to remove thatch, spike to improve drainage, feed and remove autumn leaves.

  • Raise the height of your mower blades for the final cut of your lawns.

  • Prune any summer flowering shrubs and roses, especially climbing roses.

  • Tidy up the dying foliage of any herbaceous perennials.

  • October is the optimum month for planting spring-flowering bulbs.

  • If you have taken runners from strawberry plants earlier in the year now is a good time to plant them out.

  • Basil, coriander, parsley, dill and mint cannot withstand frost so it’s best to pot them up and bring them under cover before any autumn chill.