Aim To Have Lots Of Lovely Autumn Colour
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.