Paul Hervey-brookes on the jobs to do in October
With the big RHS shows done I shall be catching up on my private garden design work and taking Allomorphic to the RHS London Autumn Show
After one of the wettest and coldest late summers on record I for one am hoping for an Indian summer to allow the late stars of the garden to shine, the month of glorious decay, golden colours and rich purple flowers. Here’s hoping!
FLOWERS & CUTTING GARDEN
A bounty is waiting to be harvested. Now really is the time to go out and before you deadhead collect any annual or short lived perennial seeds to sow.
With next year in mind, plant out young hardy annuals and short lived perennials you have been raising from seed to give them a good start for next year. Whilst in a planting mood, think about next year’s alliums. They really benefit from being planted now whilst the soil is still warm and will make much better plants next year.
October is a good month to start digging and dividing some perennials such as Peony. It is also the start of barefoot season - the traditional time to plant new hedging and barefooted shrubs so if you have been dwelling on screening a view or creating a new space in the garden, now is the time to start.
With all this planting don’t forget some plants which have enjoyed the outdoors for summer will want to come in very soon. Pelargoniums and other tender plants can come in this month.
VEGETABLES & HOME GROWN
With peas and beans now truly over you can cut them back tot he ground and compost the stalks. Don’t be tempted to lift the roots as these will release valuable nitrogen to the soil as they die. This is also a good time to mentally plan where to plant them next year to help soil improvement in another part of your vegetable plot.
Cut back Asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes to the ground and give a good layer of mulch. If you plan to harvest salad crops over winter such as lamb’s lettuce sow under cloches now. If you have sown brassicas, earth up the stems to prevent wind rock which can ruin the crop, and remove and destroy any damaged or yellowing foliage to prevent disease. Lastly if you are planning new fruit beds, now is the time to plant out new soft fruit plants to give them a good start for next year.
AN ASTER BY ANY OTHER NAME
The observant will begin to notice the decline of the Aster. This big traditional autumn herbaceous perennial has undone somewhat of a revival and now, just as we love its array of colour, has seemingly vanished! You will be delighted to know that botanists have discovered differences which mean a name change. The most widely known group of New England (novae-angliae) and New York Asters (novae-belgii) are now know as Symphyotrichum, whilst the native to Europe group keep the name Aster.
It doesn’t really matter to gardeners but to fanatics of history it’s good news that Aster renames the name for the old world varieties. The Hungarian Revolution of 1918 is known as the Aster Revolution as protestors in Budapest wore the flower, briefly changing history and bringing around the First Hungarian People’s Republic! Paul Hervey-brookes is an internationally-renowned designer, plantsman and RHS judge. Allomorphic, Paul’s garden-inspired shop, is located in Stroud www.allomorphic.co.uk