October brings a wonderful richness of colour to the garden and the clear sunny days and night frosts that we often get at this time of year lead to the intensity of colour in leaves and shrubs. This is a very industrious time in the garden, as it’s now that we put in the work that will give us pay back next year. It’s worth thinking ahead now to the spring by planting bulbs… lots of them. Bulbs offer incredible value for money, giving instant impact. If possible, buy fewer varieties but larger numbers of each. And don’t forget to enjoy the harvest from your garden. Home grown apples and pears can be gathered and stored for enjoying in the winter months ahead.
Rake up fallen leaves and pile them up to make leaf mould. If leaves are left in a thick layer on the lawn they will kill off the grass and fallen leaves left lying around plants can encourage slugs and snails. If you have a large garden with lots of leaves to deal with, make a container with four stakes and chicken wire in a corner somewhere to contain the leaves. If you have limited space, rake the leaves into plastic bags; left over compost bags are ideal. Punch holes in the bags and leave in an out-of-the-way space to rot down. In eighteen months or so you will be rewarded with good friable leaf mould, which makes excellent mulch, for free.
Prune climbing roses to ensure that plants grow vigorously and flower well each year. If left, climbing roses can become a tangled mess of branches with very few flowers. First remove dead, diseased or dying branches, then tie in any new shoots that are needed to fill supports (all climbing roses need a support to grow on.) Prune any flowered side shoots back by two thirds of their length. If the plant is heavily congested, cut out any really old branches from the base to promote new growth next year.
Move trees and shrubs while there is still time to move things around in the garden as the soil is relatively warm. At this time of year, there will be less need to water plants that have been moved as there would be in hot weather.