Leaves are still falling – keep collecting them from lawns, flower beds, paths and patios to make valuable leaf mould (see September); however, leaving a small pile in the odd corner can provide a haven for wildlife.
In general, avoid your end of season clear-up making the garden it too tidy – so leaving spent perennials standing can add structure to the garden over winter whilst providing food and shelter to birds and other wildlife.
Lift and store dahlias, cannas and tuberous bedding begonias as soon as they are hit by the first frosts.
Alternatively, you can risk leaving the tubers in the ground as long as you protect them with a thick layer of mulch.
Mulching can also protect borderline-hardy plants, such as Agapanthus, Gaura, Kniphofia & Phygelius.
It can even help overwinter some plants we normally treat as annuals, such as Nicotiana & Antirrhinum.
Don’t cut penstemons right down until April; for now just dead-head them – if it’s mild they can carry on flowering well into early winter. The old stems will help protect the crowns from the cold – also give them a good layer of mulch.
Now is the time to plant tulip bulbs – it is important to make sure you put them in deep enough.
Some tulips will come back year after year, but some perform less well after the first year and are best replaced.
Lily bulbs can still be planted in pots.
They can either be brought inside next spring to ‘force’ them into an early display, or left outside to flower naturally in the summer. .
If hard frosts are forecast, containers left outside can be lagged with bubble-wrap to protect both the pot and the roots inside, even when the plant itself is hardy
Always make sure that pots are raised on feet so that any excess moisture can drain away.
Plant garlic and also onion & shallots (overwintering varieties), but practice crop rotation to reduce the risk of disease.
Avoid planting them anywhere you have had onion white rot in any of the Allium family (garlic, onions, shallots, leek), as this disease persists in the soil for many years.
If necessary, plant in containers.
Stake tall standing brassica plants,
such as Brussel sprouts and sprouting broccoli, to avoid them being damaged by wind-rock.
Protect them from pigeons with netting and remove any yellowing leaves to stop diseases developing.
Wildlife in the garden
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