My Garden by Philippa Thomas

As our leaves change into their brilliant Autumn colours and our seasonal berries show off their vibrance, our late flowers too, have taken over such as Dahlias, Nerines, Chrysanthemums and Schizostylis, (Kaffir Lilies). Isn’t everywhere, almost like a crescendo of colour?  October will see our clocks go back and we can awaken to a distinct chill in the air as our days become visibly shorter.  The first frosts can occur in the colder parts of our country and if we get a significant one, it can change everything, tender plants will instantly fade and wither and hardy plants quickly go into dormancy.  We are beginning to realise that winter is just around the corner.  Having said all this, the odd day here and there, here in Dalkey, can still be, irrestibly simply gorgeous.

I heard recently at a Garden Forum, that Autumn is Our Season with a ‘P’ in it. This is ‘P’ for Planning, Pruning, Potting and even Planting.  October is a beautiful time in nature and is there anything nicer than a hot bath and a china mug of something nice and warm to drink after spending a few hours raking leaves, generally cutting back and doing a Big tidy-up, in our gardens.  I’m pretty positive that digging ‘beauty’ up with my lady’s spade is a great leveller.  It simply is something that gives us all a sense of balance in our lives – almost like an interlude to our daily activities then, digging the soil, especially bare patches will expose many pest larvae and eggs to birds and then frosts as well as improving our soil structure.  Maybe, at this time, reflect on what grew well, what failed miserably and what changes you might like to makes next year.  Maybe, take some snapshots where your herbaceous plants are located before they die back altogether so too, we won’t damage their roots during a winter dig.

Bulbs:

Bulbs can be incredible value and they have instant impact. Think it is better to buy few varieties and larger numbers of each.  The earlier we plant bulbs the better, for the soil is still warm and the roots can establish before they have to fight wet and rot in severe winters.  The general rule is to plant three times the bulbs own depth and if planting in drifts, maybe throw your bulbs in the air and plant where they land.  Daffodils simply will not tolerate sitting in water so please add plenty of horticultural grit to your planting hole.

Tulips:

Where do we start? Tulips are best left till last to be planted.  Their range is vast and their varieties endless, dwarf, parrot, doubles, Lily flowered and Darwin types.  Tulips come in every single colour and shade except blue.  Tulips are usually divided into three groups, early, mid and late flowering, generally they flower from early March till the end of May.

Might Do, Maybe October Jobs

  1. A lot of people think it best to lift Dahlias, Tubers and Rhizomes before our first frosts.
  2. You can reuse spent compost from annual containers displays, as a mulch on the garden.
  3. Trees and shrubs can be moved and replanted now, adding some organic compost will encourage and enhance new growth.
  4. Just because our weather is cooler and our evenings are darker doesn’t mean our containers don’t need watering. They still need watering even if we are getting rain more frequently; feeding on the other hand, isn’t required and growth is slowing to a standstill.
  5. Move tender plants into greenhouse or shed to protect from icy frosts. Make sure that there is enough space between them to keep them well ventilated, this will reduce the risk of disease.

Why not plant a Tree. Wouldn’t one make a super birthday or anniversary present.  Trees improve our air that we breathe, provide a habitat for wildlife and then ultimately, give us a living structure to admire from season to season.