Autumn’s well and truly here. It’s chilly and the nights are drawing in. October in my garden has come around very quickly! But there are still plenty of flowers to admire and produce to enjoy. And the cats are basking in the sunshine, keeping us company while we attend to all the jobs that need doing at this time of year.
What's flowering now?
October is the time that salvias come into their own, like the glorious burn-holes-in-your-retinas hot pink of the salvia in this post’s cover picture. I’ll be taking cuttings of it shortly to make more plants for free. Strip off most of the foliage, plant the stems deeply in a pot of gritty compost, keep them in a frost-free area, and don’t let them dry out. Then you should have some clones to plant out next year. That’s the theory anyway, and it’s worked for me with rosemary and lavender in the past, so fingers crossed…
The stars of last month’s post, the cosmos, asters, and petunias are still going strong, and my beautiful Thomas Edison dahlia is now flowering its heart out. I absolutely adore this plant, it stays in the ground over winter with a mulch on top and then comes back bigger and better every year. Just a single stem in a small vase or surrounded by foliage in a larger vase, either way, it’s a stunner.
My pink, purple and white colour scheme is complemented by some beautiful gladiolus murielae. Honestly, I’m such a fan of bulbs and corms, they are so easy to plant and the rewards are huge. They’re not just for Spring either, some are Summer and Autumn flowering varieties too. I wrote a post about how they kick started my love affair with my garden here – and if you don’t have a garden, you can still enjoy them in a few pots on a window ledge. We’ll be planting some later this month, once I’ve decided what to buy.
One of our shrub roses has just put out a fresh burst of blooms too. It’s not an especially showy plant but it’s one of the most reliable, and tends to flower when others have stopped.
I spent a happy weekend deadheading, pruning, tying in, and lifting and dividing recently. If the warm weather continues (and I’m praying that it does #sorrynotsorry to all you Autumn lovers) then we should see some more blooms later this October too.
What's fruiting now?
Not that much on the vegetable front, to be honest. We’ve cleared the greenhouse now the tomatoes and cucumbers are over, and only some lettuces and beetroot are left. I don’t think the beetroot will amount to much but the lettuces (from our July Mud and Bloom box) are a cut and come variety. Meaning if you pick a few leaves at a time, they’ll grow back so you have a steady supply. Flora still has one pumpkin left but it’s rather small so if we go for a feline Hallowe’en theme again, it’ll have to be a kitten!
On the other hand, our pears have been cropping prolifically and they are utterly delicious. I still find it hard to believe they’re all from a Poundstore tree. Alan bought three trees (one pear and two cherries) for £5 nearly seven years ago. We leave the cherries for the birds, but the pears are all for us.
And even though I still haven’t managed to prune our grapevine, the bunches are ripening fast. Now all I need to do is persuade Alan to have a go at making some wine. Chateau Willows has a nice ring, I think…
Jobs for October
We lost a couple of conifers behind our pond over the summer, I think the hot weather was too much for them. Rather than replace them with more conifers, I’m thinking about some bamboo instead. It can be very invasive so I’ll need to choose carefully but we already have some along our fence in the orchard and I love the sound they make in the breeze. Now is an excellent time to get new plants established though, as the soil is warm and their roots will start growing quickly before Winter arrives.
Alan is continuing to rake up all the fallen leaves and stuff them into biodegradable hessian sacks before he cuts the grass. We didn’t do this last year and I missed out on my crumbly leaf mould mulch and soil improver. It’s such a good way of recycling, and it’s free too, win win.
To my utter surprise and delight, Flora has suddenly become a HUGE gardening fan. She requested her own patch so we cleared out the area behind the summerhouse for her. So far, she’s planted a clematis, crocosmia, heuchera, anemone, strawberries, some dianthus, and a grass. And a couple of pots.
As you can see, she’s also marked out her wildflower patch (and sowed some seeds) and her future vegetable patch. The bare earth at the end is for a raspberry cane, which we’ll buy and plant in early November. But we’re leaving a space for a chair so she can “sit and chill and enjoy [her] garden” too. I’m not sure what’s sparked this wild enthusiasm but I love it!
October in my garden
So, this is what October in my garden is looking like. Plenty to enjoy and plenty still to do. As I write this, I need to hurry because Flora has just informed me she’s off to watch Gardeners World on iPlayer and – I quote – “you’re welcome to join me if you wish.” She’s eight. What have I done?!… And what will you be doing in your garden this October?