Colin Evans garden tips
BBC Berkshire's resident horticultural expert, tells us the best ways to prepare our garden for the winter months ahead. If you like plants of the climbing variety, then he may have just what you're looking for.
September is certainly the month for harvesting. If you're currently growing apples, pears or plums and the trees have escaped the dreaded fungal spores, there'll be a good crop.
I've harvested many pounds of fruit from my pear tree, the problem is what to do with them. So far they have been poached in sugary water, been turned into pear tarts and pureed to accompany cold meats.
If you have any recipes using pears, then give me a call on my Sunday gardening phone in. Most cookery books give ideas and recipes for apples.
This is a good month to feed and water the borders. Some lighter soils are already drying out. The root systems of some shrubs, especially the spring flowering types, will be missing the moisture. They need to get all the nutrients they can, to help them flower next spring.
Remember not to neglect the final weeks of flowering plants in tubs and troughs. If you feed and water them now, you'll have a couple of extra weeks of flowers. You have to replace the plants with new ones for winter
I'm often asked about the best climbers to grow. Most develop well on walls or fences, providing the climber gets the right amount of light and in some cases, protection.
If you want a climber that will cope with most situations then choose Actinidia kolomikta. This deciduous plant will grow well in most soils, even freely draining ones.
It's one of the few that'll grow on a north facing wall. I like it because it will cover an area quickly and it's a good alternative to Clematis.
However, it's grown for the colour of its foliage as the flowers are unimpressive. Actinidia have green leaves with pink tips. They can grow to between four and seven metres.
However, the growth can be kept to a minimum if you give it a good prune in February. This super climber can also be propagated by using half ripe cuttings in July and August.
If your wildlife garden has seen a lot of activity, then make sure the various plants get a good liquid feed. The birds were very busy during April.
If nesting boxes were used to rear their young then the old nest should be removed. Throw the contents onto the compost heap and wash out each box. This is done by pouring boiling water inside the nesting chamber. It sterilises the nesting box and encourages birds to nest there next year.
When the grass dries, seize the opportunity to brush and rake over the lawn. It will break down the worm casts and remove the old thatch and dead grass from the base of each plant.
Which encourages the light and air to get to the crowns. Spike with a garden fork and apply an autumn lawn feed and selective weed killer, high in both Potash and Phosphate.
Avoid using old summer feed as this has a high amount of Nitrogen. It should be saved until next summer, when it will do a better job.
Adding more flowering plants to a wildlife garden will make it even more interesting. A mixture of wild flowers can be purchased by mail order or from a garden centre.
It can be sown now to create some delicate colour during the summer months. For the best results, sow groups of seeds into pots of compost and leave the pots to one side over winter.
Keep the seedlings moist, though, the winter rain should take care of that for you. In spring, the root ball from each pot should be planted into its growing position, watered and left to get on with it.
last updated: 12/09/2008 at 18:42
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