Over the past month the colours in the trees have really started to change, have you got space in your garden for a small growing tree? There are plenty of different varieties that are suitable for a modern small garden – they create a focal point that is evident all year especially if you choose a tree with attractive bark in the winter. A tree also provides a home and encourages wildlife in the garden.
It’s that time of year again … I have already recommended to people if you have newly planted plants to put a good thick layer of bark around the base of the plant, normally twice as thick as you would for weed control. This acts as a good insulator against hard frosts that kill very young roots, the frost penetrates the bark but no further. If you have a greenhouse try to keep as many tender plants as possible in there and make sure the greenhouse is well insulated with bubble wrap. Make sure your terracotta pots are raised off the floor with pot feet or just stones, this will make sure there is air flow under the base of the pot and help against it cracking in cold weather.
Speaking of frosts, never plant bare root or container plants while the ground is frosted always wait until the ground thaws, once planted their roots are safe from following frosts.
Allotment or Vegetable Patch:
• If not done so already, wrap grease bands around the trunks of fruit trees to protect them from winter moths, I tend to leave grease or bands on all year round to stop any crawling pests.
• Many varieties of apple and pear trees will still be cropping.
• Now is the time to plant soft fruit including gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants and blackberries or take hardwood cuttings instead of buying plants.
• Spread a thick layer of homemade compost or farmyard manure to dig into your soil over winter.
• Make notes about how well the grow-your-own did this year, this will help for planning vegetable and fruit crops for next year.
In the Greenhouse:
• Insulate the greenhouse with bubble polythene, the large bubble wrap is the best.
• Replace any old glass or polycarbonate with new panels.
• Bring peaches or nectarines in pots inside the greenhouse for winter protection. Dispose of any old leaves around the base of the pot and remove any leaves still left on the tree.
• Dispose of any capillary matting if it has seen better days and buy fresh – old matting can harbour disease.
• Check heaters are working efficiently and buy fuel.
• Check garden centres or nurseries to see if they have any special deals on greenhouses or cold frames. Buy one now ready for early next year.
General Garden Maintenance:
• Continue to spike lawns and brush sand and sulphate of iron into the holes to improve drainage, green up and kill and prevent moss in lawns. Apply an autumn lawn food.
• Remember it’s bonfire night this month so check bonfires carefully before lighting to make sure there are no sleeping hedgehogs underneath.
• Wrap outside taps with insulation material to prevent them freezing.
• Collect and compost any fallen autumn leaves.
• Take hardwood cuttings from cornus, ribes, salix and roses – please contact me for advice about certain plants and shrubs.
• Now is the time to move shrubs, including conifers and evergreens, that have outgrown their position. Make sure your take as much root ball as possible and try to do this on a damp to wet day.
A terrific trio to try in the garden this month are:
Callicarpa boderinieri ‘Profusion’ (Beauty Berry)
A great shrub with masses of violet small berries around about now followed by rich autumn leaf colours. Will get to a height of about 3 metres but is very useful as a container plant. Need a well drained, slightly acid soil in sun or part shade.
Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’
A brand new variety and Chelsea Plant of the Year 2013, it gives the same bright yellow flowers as a traditional Mahonia but has beautiful, fine cut, soft leaves that are non- thorny. Great in a shady position and very compact growth that is also ideal for a container. I believe this variety will become extremely popular.
Jasminum nudiflorum (Winter Jasmine)
A great grow-any-where shrub, it will tolerate sun or partial shade in well drained, heavy clay, acidic or alkaline soils. Masses of bright yellow flowers from late November to March that contrast well with the bright green stems which give it a almost evergreen look. Usually sold in the climbing plant section this is not a true climbing plant it will need support wires or trellis to get it to grow vertical. This has the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit.
Still Looking great at the moment and personal favourites:
Abelia grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’