The garden in October


Lee Bestall
1st October 2018

We feel the end of the year approaching in October. The light fades fast, and the leaves fall almost as quickly. During daylight the carpeted ground can be stunning, surrounding us in reds, oranges and browns.

It causes more of a headache in the tidy garden however, with regular raking essential, particularly on lawns if we’re to avoid dead and moss-infested patches.

Plant of the month: Hesperantha coccinea ‘Molly Gould’

Also known as Schizostylis or Kaffir lillies, this delicate plant just keeps on giving at an unforgiving time of year. Its soft pink lily-like flowers can bloom right through milder winters until March. They’ll appreciate damp ground in full sun and a spot sheltered from winds.

The flower garden

  • Lift tender bulbs, tubers and rhizomes and store in a cool dry place once the first frosts have touched them. This includes Galtonia, dahlias and cannas
  • Plant out lily bulbs in pots now for next year
  • Spring bedding plants such as primulas or wallflowers can be planted in the ground or containers too; perfect for replacing tired summer bedding which should be removed
  • October is a good month for planting out new hedging
  • Stop feeding plants – doing so at this point only encourages tender growth which frosts or wet will damage
  • Carry out your final scarification, aeration and top dressing of lawns in colder regions this month
  • While bringing things into the shelter of the greenhouse, why not increase its effectiveness by insulating with bubblewrap? 

The edible garden

  • Move citrus fruit into the protection of the greenhouse or conservatory, reducing watering to weekly, ensuring they don’t stand in water
  • Cut back Jerusalem artichoke stalks and spiny asparagus foliage to ground level
  • Remove yellowing leaves from your Brussels Sprouts to reduce the risk of grey mould getting in
  • Dig legume roots into the bed to return nitrogen to the soil for your next crop
  • Plant out garlic cloves from this month onwards

Project of the month: Cleaning up your pond

Not all of us have ponds, but they bring an irreplaceable extra element to those gardens which do. Whether they’re formal or wild, large or small, they require some upkeep. Mid- to late autumn are the best times to really clean up your pond, as wildlife is less vigorous and numerous at this time.

The simplest job when it comes to your pond is to remove any surface weeds. A lightweight garden rake or a net can be used; drag it carefully over the surface, drawing weeds to you. At least half of a pond’s surface should be uncovered for adequate oxygen and light entry. Similarly, remove pond plants if they impinge on this rule. Leave any extracted plants on the water’s edge to allow critters to make their way back in, before composting the material.

For a more rigorous clean, you can remove your fish and plants, pump out the water and dredge out bottom silt every 5-10 years.

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The Author

Lee Bestall

Lee Bestall

As a horticulturalist and garden designer, I'll be guiding you through the seasons ahead, sharing tips, successes and failures and exploring some of the new and inventive products on the market.

Join me to see what jobs I recommend you should be doing in the garden each month.