October is the second of the autumn months; and weather-wise has been true to form with a mix of torrential rain, gusty winds and some fine bright days mixed in. No sign of the autumn mists and fog – yet, writes Jackie Power…
With daylight hours shortening – there is still plenty of work to do in the garden – before the winter weather sets in. Spring flowering bulbs, corms and tubers can be planted during the next few weeks – the Daffodils (Narcissus) Crocus, English Bluebells, Hyacinths and Winter Aconite; save the Tulips for November planting (to decrease the risk of Tulip viruses).
Cut back summer perennials that are now looking soggy and sad; if beds need digging over make a start – the recent wet weather has softened the ground; gently loosen compacted areas this will also help expose larvae that are hiding in the soil or concealed around plants; birds will find and feast on the insect larvae/eggs of moths, beetles, slugs and snails reducing pest numbers.
Geraniums and Roses are still flowering, although they lack vigour and are clearly missing the sun’s warmth. There are some stunning seasonal flowering plants to look out for – late Dahlias, the beautiful Camelia sasanqua and Alstroemeria – popular with florists and used for cut flowers. My seasonal plant of the month is Japanese anemone; a modest perennial that begins flowering in late summer and often stays around until November (depending on the variety) then dies back over winter. It is happy in a woodland, shady type situation and also tolerant of dry conditions. One of the prettiest varieties is Anemone rupicola ‘Wild Swan’. It is white with a hint of blue as the flowers open. Anemone splendens has pink flowers and blooms through to the end of October. Most other varieties start flowering in July and last until September.
Leaves are slow to turn this year – except the ornamental Cherry and Acer which rarely disappoint – their leaves have changed to a gorgeous shade of orangey-red. The Sycamores and London Planes are often the last to turn and always seem reluctant to let their leaves go; usually a sudden drop in temperature combined with autumn gales means by November most, if not all leaves are swept away – revealing the intricate structures of tree branches and twigs; and just visible those tiny, tightly closed buds that will be next year’s leaves – spring is never that far away.