Well October, true to form, has presented us with just about every type of weather. The first half was pleasant and warmer than average then the latter half has lurched from very wet, through frost and gales, and back to wet! Whilst clearing up the gale damage and looking round local gardens, I was reminded how much more effective hedges are than fences, more attractive and they donít (usually!) blow down.
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.
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.
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.
A few Fuschias and Geraniums are still showing colour but most of the summer bedding is now past itís best and should be replaced with those wonderful, cheerful winter Pansies to give colour through to next May.