As autumn unfolds in the garden, Monty Don and his faithful sidekick Nigel have plenty to be getting on with, making the most of the season and preparing for the winter ahead.
Carol Klein is in Surrey looking at wild and cultivated heathers. Hugely popular in the 1970s, these plants had fallen out of favour but Carol meets a plantsman to find out why they are well worth rediscovering.
Moving evergreens in October
If you have an evergreen shrub which needs relocating, now is your moment. The first half of October is the perfect window to move evergreens, especially spring-flowering ones like camellias and rhododendrons.
While deciduous shrubs are best moved when they’re dormant in winter, evergreens are fussier as they never have a dormant period and need to support their foliage year round.
However careful you are, transplanting always leads to root disturbance and breaking of the fine roots which take up moisture. So, for several weeks afterwards, plants are vulnerable while they try to support their leaves with a compromised root system.
In early October damage is limited because roots are still capable of regrowth and can re-establish in the warm autumn soil. At the same time, the tops are not in active growth and the relatively mild, moist weather reduces moisture loss from existing leaves.
The camellia Monty moved this month was originally planted in March 2012 so it was still small and lifted easily. For more mature plants, be aware that careful excavation of the large root ball and some pruning of top growth may be necessary.
For useful advice about how to move shrubs (www.which.co.uk)
Garden visited: RHS Garden Wisley
RHS Garden Wisley
The National Collection of heathers is growing in the sandy soil of Howard’s Field, an area of the garden which is located at the end of the Pinetum.
More information about visiting Wisley (www.rhs.org.uk)
Using your greenhouse in autumn
Early October may be warm and sunny, overcast and wet or even bitterly cold so it can be tricky to work out how best to use your indoor space.
Monty has decided he won’t get much more from his tomatoes buts want to use the space in his unheated greenhouse to try a few salad crops instead. This is a great idea for any glasshouse, provided you have space that isn’t needed for over-wintering tender plants like dahlias and fuchsias which will need to come indoors soon.
Monty planted small rocket, lettuce and endive plants which he had sowed in late summer. He also had a few extra from a nearby garden centre and tried some living salads from the supermarket. As long as the soil in the greenhouse stays warm, these plants should put down good roots, allowing them to produce new leaves for harvesting sporadically through the autumn and into winter.
If you haven’t got plants ready to go in the ground, see what’s available in your garden centres and consider ordering seeds for this purpose next year. Cut-and-come-again salad leaves, especially the tougher, dark green ones such as rocket, mizuna, and mustards are particularly reliable.
If you want to try whole lettuces, look for the hardier winter types such as ‘Winter Density’ and ‘Valdour’ but do bear in mind these won’t form their tasty hearts unless they are left to grow right through the winter into the following spring.
Winter salads to grow (www.which.co.uk)
Jobs for the weekend: Pot on cuttings
If you took cuttings in summer, you’ll have done so in a well-drained compost designed to encourage root growth. By now they should have established roots and it’s time to move them into a richer compost so they can grow on more strongly. Pot them on into individual pots in normal multipurpose compost and put them somewhere protected over autumn and winter. Next spring they should have decent roots and be ready to plant out.
More about cuttings (apps.rhs.org.uk)
Jobs for the weekend: Plant out spring cabbage
If you plant out spring cabbages now while the soil is still warm, their roots should get established. You won’t see much top growth before next spring but when they do grow, they’ll grow fast and should heart up and be ready to harvest next April or May.
More about taking growing cabbage (www.rhs.org.uk)
Jobs for the weekend: Move alpines in pots
If you grow alpines in terracotta pots or pans, now is the time to move them. They don’t mind cold weather but they do hate sitting in wet soil or compost. Move them somewhere that is sheltered from the worst of the rain, ensuring they still have as much light and ventilation as possible.
More about growing alpines in containers (www.bbc.co.uk)
|Series Editor||Liz Rumbold|