Monty Don is hard at work gathering his bumper crop of apples and has some timely advice on how to store them. Although the festive season seems a long way off, he's also planting up some indoor bulbs that will hopefully flower in time for Christmas.
Carol Klein explores the intriguing world of the Eupatorium with wildlife gardener, Jan Miller. And we meet a passionate daffodil grower in County Down who is already thinking ahead to next spring.
It’s a good idea to get daffodils in the ground by the beginning of October. They will still perform if they are planted later than this, but this will give the roots less time to grow and possibly shorter, less robust flowers in the spring. In a mixed border, it’s worth planting them deep – three times the height of the bulb at least. This will help to prevent you digging them up by accident at a later date and, on light, sandy soils, stop them from drying out too much over the summer. If you fancy growing some daffodils in the lawn, throw the bulbs onto the grass and plant them wherever they fall. This will give them a more natural look.
Bulb planting (rhs.org.uk)
Saith Ffynnon Farm
Jan Miller holds the only National Collection of Eupatorium in the country. The garden looks its best in August and September when visitors are welcome by appointment. For more details, please see the link below.
National Collection of Eupatorium (www.nccpg.com)
Planting outdoor bulbs in pots and growing them on indoors in the warmth is a process known as forcing. It is very easy to do and as Monty said, they make lovely presents. There are a few things worth bearing in mind, however, if you want to have them in flower by Christmas.
When buying amaryllis bulbs, for example, it’s worth checking that the bulb is firm and has plenty of fleshy roots – buying them loose rather than in a box allows you to do this. If there’s a choice of sizes, invest in the biggest - the bigger the bulb, the more flower stems it will produce. Some varieties take longer to flower than others, so it’s a bit of a gamble as to whether your amaryllis will be in flower by Christmas. But as a rule, double varieties are slower than singles. Once potted up, give them as much heat as possible and always water from above. Let the compost dry out between waterings and apply a liquid tomato feed once the bulb starts to grow.
With hyacinths, you need to buy ‘prepared’ bulbs. These have been specially treated so that by the time they hit the garden centres in August, they think it’s winter. Hyacinths don’t normally flower until March or April so in effect they’re being forced to flower much earlier than normal. The variety you choose can make a big difference too. Research has shown that varieties vary in the amount of time they need in the cold and dark. Early varieties need only nine weeks in the dark followed by three weeks in the light, whereas late ones need 12 weeks in the dark plus another three in the light. Early varieties to look out for include ‘Aiolos’ (white), ‘Anna Marie’ (pale pink), ‘Delft Blue’ (blue), ‘Jan Bos’ (dark pink), ‘Pink Pearl’ (mid-pink), ‘White Pearl’ (white) and ‘Woodstock’ (burgundy).
Unlike hyacinths, paperwhite daffodils will root perfectly well without a cold spell in the dark. They can flower in as little as six weeks, so if you want them in bloom for Christmas, it’s probably best to hang on for a bit. The flowers can last for up to a month in a cool room. If they get too tall and start to flop, either stake them or cut them off and put them in a vase.
Christmas bulbs (rhs.org.uk)
Jobs for the weekend: Remove scale insects
If you have a citrus plant covered by a horrible black sooty mould, there’s a good chance it has become infested with scale insect. Look for brown, limpet-like creatures and remove them with the back of your thumbnail. The mould grows on the sugary honeydew excreted by the scale insects. Gently rub this off with some very dilute soapy water.
What is sooty mould? (rhs.org.uk)
Jobs for the weekend: Move herbaceous perennials
October is a good time to be moving herbaceous perennials. This is because the soil is still warm, thus giving the roots time to establish before the winter sets in. To avoid stressing the plant, cut off the foliage before giving it a good drink.
More on moving herbaceous perennials (rhs.org.uk)
Jobs for the weekend : Protect salad crops
As the days get shorter and the nights grow colder, it’s worth giving salad crops a bit of extra protection. Either throw a layer of fleece over them or insulate them with a cloche. Not only will this help to protect them from frost, it’ll keep them growing for a bit longer too.
What else can I protect over the winter? (rhs.org.uk)
|Series Editor||Liz Rumbold|