The beginning of October should be the time when autumn kicks in and summer becomes a pleasant but distant memory.
We get used to our unpredictable weather patterns in Britain, so we just enjoy it when it’s good and make the most of it when the cold, rain and gales blast across the land.
Gardening in early October has been very pleasant picking apples in brilliant sunshine, then cleaning off our onions in the sun prior to winter storage. Afternoon tea breaks are still out on the patio, and as we relax knowing that this late warm spell wont go on forever we think and plan ahead to next year for both the spring and summer flowers.
The spring bulbs for tubs and borders have all been ordered and these will all get planted before the end of this month, provided the summer flowers are well past their best so they can be removed.
We all like to try out new ideas, so this year one large red geranium growing in a sheltered spot in well drained soil will be left alone to see if it can survive the winter assuming a wee bit of global warming will look after it.
Cuttings from other geraniums will keep my range going for another year and provide some colour for the house once they root and put on some growth. Petunias and fuchsias never had a good year, as there were too many cold days for the petunias and too many gales for the fuchsias.
Tuberous begonias had a fantastic year however, so they will be lifted, cleaned and dried off for winter storage in boxes in a frost free garage.
Once all my summer bedding flowers are removed I can get down to soil improvement with some fresh compost in tubs, baskets and borders, plus a sprinkling of fertilizer to help establish my spring flowers.
Wallflower Cloth of Gold which I grew from seed sown in June are now ready to lift and plant in my largest tubs and some borders.
These will be planted with tall tulip Apeldoorn between the plants to give a very bold display.
This year I have also sown some Sweet Williams and Brompton stocks for a different spring and early summer display and the stocks have a marvelous scent that I look forward to.
Polyanthus and the blue flowered Myosotis will be bought in from local garden centres as well as spring flowering pansies.
Remember to select the correct tulip for colour and height when planting underneath the lower growing spring flowers.
Red Riding Hood, Peach Blossom and other dwarf doubles are all good for height.
My spring flowering hanging basket get pansies planted in them with a few pushed through wee holes in the side to try and cover the whole basket with foliage and flowers.
I make up my baskets with a lining of black polythene (an old compost bag turned inside out) then fresh compost added to the top but allowing space to water. Once planted and established I usually keep them in my cold greenhouse over winter but harden them off for going outside by the end of March.
I don’t put tulips in my baskets, but a few crocus or snowdrops give some early colour at the end of winter.
Iceland poppies are another of my favourites as they come in a wide variety of colours, put on a great display and are very easy to grow as a biennial.
Sow them in summer, then line out in rows to bulk up before transplanting in autumn into their flowering positions.
They can also be grown in containers if ground is not available.
These flowers also have the advantage to me as an artist as they are brilliant to paint onto canvas, and everyone just loves poppies.
Wee jobs to do this week
Most herbaceous plants have now finished flowering and are due for a rest through autumn till next spring.
This is a good time to cut back and clean away all the old leaves, supports and any weeds.
Where clumps are getting too big they can be lifted and divided taking the strongest plants from the outside of clumps and replanting them into soil that has been cultivated and enriched with some compost.