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Gardening coach: Tasks for October

PUBLISHED: 11:54 07 October 2015

Cherry blossom

Cherry blossom


Gardening coach Judy Shardlow gives her top tips for the start of tree-planting season

October marks the start of the tree-planting season and is a perfect time to choose a tree for your garden. 
 One of my firm favorites is the winter-flowering cherry, Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ (below). It’s a valuable tree for the autumn and winter garden when tiny delicate pale pink blossom covers the branches, often as early as November. It carries on flowering intermittently throughout winter until early spring. The tree also has fantastic leaf colour, with leaves turning all shades of orange, red and yellow before finally dropping in the autumn. It’s incredibly robust and will grow in all soils, but does like to be in full sun. 
 I like the delicate beauty of ‘Autumnalis’ with its tiny snowflake blossom, but there is another attractive cultivar, Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis Rosea’ which has larger, darker pink blossom, more similar to the cherry flowers you would usually see in May. Both types look stunning under-planted with primroses (Primula vulgaris) and delicate little white or pink cyclamen hederifolium.

October gardening tips

Build a bug hotel. Your garden is home to lots of wonderful insects and animals during the winter including frogs, toads, news and bees. Use bricks, straw, bamboo and logs to give them a safe place to hide through the colder months.

Make a tulip ‘lasagne’. Create layers of different bulbs in a large container to create a long lasting outdoor display of bulbs through early spring.

Bring in tender plants such as Aeoniums and wrap up tree ferns and bananas to prevent frost damage.

Last chance lavender. If you didn’t cut back your lavender at the end of August then time is running out. Cut back this year’s new soft growth to create a well-shaped mound.

Tidy perennials. Cutting back and dividing plants is a good way to tidy up the garden and fill any planting gaps that may have appeared over the growing season.

Judy Shardlow is an RHS award-winning garden designer and coach

01438 833858


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