My Garden, October 2015 by Philippa Thomas

With our clocks going back and our days drawing in, our gardening time might feel curtailed but our autumnal days can often be glorious.  We awaken to a distinct chill in the air as we witness so many of our trees changing into the most vibrant of colours.  Autumn colour is caused by the retreat of chlorophyll, the green pigment from the leaves into the plant, leaving other magnificent pigments for a few weeks longer.  This is tempted hugely by a change in temperature from warm to cool.

Now is the perfect time for weeding and gentle tidy up but let’s resist the temptation of a thorough spring-clean.  Maybe leave some ornamental grasses, sunflowers and wild flowers.  Perhaps, leave them for winter interest and wildlife.  If you don’t want to collect your seed heads then your various species of birds will love them.  Soon, some of our birds will begin their winter migrations.  Maybe give them a helping hand by providing them with some food for their long journey.  Would you like to travel on an empty stomach?  It may seem pointless, right now raking when the wind blows but just think of all that lovely leaf mould you can make.  Autumn and spring are two of the most industrious times of the year and it is worth thinking about one when you are working in the other.

Bulbs are presently available, everywhere.  They are incredible as they seem to have instant impact.  The earlier we plant them the better, for the soil is still warm and getting their roots established before our weather closes in, will help them fight wetness and rot.

Might Do, Maybe October Jobs

No matter how small your garden you’ll find there is room for a tree.  If you choose your variety carefully, a tree will add height, colour and architecture and of course, interest to your garden.

This is such a good time to take ‘A Birds Eye View’ of your garden and maybe, remember or record some of your highlights and then, your slight disappointments.

  1. At this time of the year, avoid overfeeding and overwatering herbs as this can make their flavour less intensive.
  2. Clean up all fallen fruit to reduce disease and pest problems.
  3. Remember, pots and containers dry out, even in this month of October; generally their foliar leaves prevent rainwater being absorbed.
  4. There’s more to plant containers than flower pots.  Find a wooden pallet, these have endless uses in the garden but a favourite is to re-purpose them for vertical planters.  You’ll need to prise out some of the planks and nail them back in to create U-shaped planting pockets.  Line them with permeable membrane or hydroponics and then fill with your favourite plants.  Who knows: you just might achieve your own gardens of Babylon!!