Aim To Have Lots Of Lovely Au­tumn Colour

My Weekly - - Gardening -

Oc­to­ber is a very lovely month and, although some plants are fad­ing, there’s still plenty of rich colour to en­joy.

Late bees and but­ter­flies revel in the nec­tar-filled se­dums on ei­ther side of our front path. Or­na­men­tal grasses are turn­ing bronze or pale gold and rus­tle in the wind.

There’s a scent of caramel from the leaves of the kat­sura tree and in the green­house the de­li­cious smell of cherry pie from the he­liotrope, brought in to over­win­ter.

The south-fac­ing wall of our house re­tains heat so this is where I grow colour­ful but less hardy plants. Pink ner­ines from South Africa are flow­er­ing next to salvias and French laven­der, there’s a froth of lit­tle Mex­i­can daisies and the Ver­bena bonar­ien­sis stands tall in front of the win­dows.

We try and keep the dahlias go­ing as long as pos­si­ble by fleec­ing them on cold nights. I gave up lift­ing and stor­ing them a while back, gam­bling on our light soil and a deep mulch to pro­tect them in win­ter. They are now in their fourth year out­side!

As they were all sown from seed they didn’t cost much to pro­duce, but if you’ve bought ex­pen­sive plants it’s safer to care­fully lift them with a fork, re­move soil and stems and hang up­side down to dry. Cov­ered in dry com­post, they should be stored in a frost-free place.

As leaves fall, we gather them up from paths and lawns to use them for mak­ing leaf­mould. They take twice as long to rot down as com­post, but the re­sult is the best soil con­di­tioner of all.

Per­fect for wood­land plants, I just rake leaves up and spread them over the shaded bor­der for worms to do their work. It’s sat­is­fy­ing and it saves work too.

Dahlias

Pink ner­ines

Mex­i­can daisies

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