I make no apology for mentioning the weather - yet again!- it really is quite incredible, records are being broken almost monthly. October has been the mildest since 1646 and, in our area, we have had the wettest October on record with over 90mm falling on one day. The result has been very wet, soggy ground with many gardening jobs delayed, but more importantly, the mild weather has meant that all our summer flowering plants are still looking great and the trees are almost in full leaf in November! Long may it last but inevitably we shall have a frost and see the end of this wonderful late India Summer (I said that last month!)
As leaves fall do rake them up, they harbour diseases and pests and they make really good compost. Similarly, go through your beds and borders, prune back deciduous shrubs and roses during frost free periods, clear weeds and debris and cut down perennials and mark them with a cane to ensure they are not hoed out when they die back. In this area it has been an exceptional growing season and many shrubs and ornamental trees need a hard prune before they get totally out of hand. If you donít have a shredder itís well worth hiring one to chip the woody waste so that everything can be composted.
If perennials are growing too large most can be divided at this time of year either by simply cutting through the centre or using two forks back to back to prise the two halves apart. This will provide new plants to fill the odd gap or begin a new bed. Donít be afraid to move plants, that have overgrown their position or are in the wrong place, whilst they are dormant and during frost free periods.
Field grown, bare root hedging is now becoming available and is an economical way to plant a new hedge, or add to an existing one. This also applies to trees, roses and fruit, and planting now speeds up establishment. I will add to this subject next month along with some information on Christmas trees.
When planting new stock make sure to dig a hole twice as big as the rootball, fork the bottom for drainage, place some well rotted compost in the bottom and mix compost with the soil as you replace it. With trees, drive in a stake before refilling so as not to damage the roots, place the stake on the windward side and use a good quality rubber tree tie to prevent chafing. Firm the soil as you replace it and lay a mulch mat or wood chip on top to prevent weeds and retain moisture next summer.
P.S. Message from the ĎMrsí - Roger had written this out ready to be typed when I had an enforced stay in hospital, and as his typographical skills are not his strongest subject it had to wait until my return. Sorry itís late!