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Provide a show through winter

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > In the Garden

Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Sunday, 24th September 2017, 08:00

Now is the time to plant wallflowers, which will give foliage all winter and flower in the spring next year. You see the bundles of wallflowers in greengrocers and garden centres – choose fresh ones and plant out immediately. Orange wallflowers look brilliant with dark tulips like ‘Queen of Night’ or ‘Havran’.

Empty hanging baskets and replant window boxes
October is also a good time to empty your hanging baskets and replant window boxes with winter pansies and primroses to provide a show through the winter into spring. Clear away the excesses of the summer boxes and baskets which have gone over and replace with something fresh and tidy – it always makes me feel very organised!

Pop in a few dwarf daffodils like ‘tete a tete’ or ‘February Gold’, or perhaps some Iris reticulata, and add some fresh young ivy and maybe a small conifer or two. It is nice if possible to pick out the colour of your front door with the planting.

October is the ideal time to prepare the ground for new fruit trees and bushes. If planting on heavy soil, add plenty of grit to ensure drainage is adequate. Work plenty of well-rotted manure into each planting position and add a handful of slow release fertiliser when you plant the new trees. Fruit trees are really becoming popular as they take little looking after (unlike vegetables) and can provide enough fruit to fill the freezer to use all year round.

Coppery-red flowerheads
It is at this time of year that the Sedum Herbtsfreude or the ‘Ice Plant’ comes into its own, as the borders settle into the last round before winter. It starts early in spring with the fat rosettes of succulent, lettuce-green leaves, topped with salmon-pink flower-heads in summer, maturing to pinkish-bronze then coppery-red in autumn.

This versatile perennial is a perfect filler plant for a sunny, well-drained spot. A valuable late source of nectar for butterflies and bees, the dried flowerheads provide structure and colour in the winter garden and in November they still look interesting.

Keep moisture in and deter weeds
Finally, use the next few weeks to mulch your borders. Mulch is a term that is bandied about by garden articles and it basically means a layer of material laid over the earth to keep moisture in and deter weeds. Bark can be used, as can gravel, slate chippings, etc. The golden rule is to make sure the soil underneath is moist before you lay down the ‘mulch’, and to remove perennial weeds such as dandelions.

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