By Glyn Smith Head Gardener at Erddig Hall National Trust Garden
Now the clocks have changed, if there are outside jobs to do, prioritise them as the day gets dark very quickly now.
There have been many fine days and we have managed to keep on top of work, however it is now getting wetter and colder. General clearing and tidying will be the main tasks around the garden, perhaps a bit of digging on the allotment will be needed too, but it is probably best to keep off the ground if it is too wet. We have been digging over our flower beds and planting them up with our display for next springtime. Lots of our well-rotted garden compost has been incorporated to feed the new plantings and conserve moisture next year.
Before frosts really start to arrive, label any Dahlias that you may want to keep for next year. Dahlias are not reliably hardy and they will need to be lifted and stored in a frost-free place over winter to be sure of them surviving. Be careful to avoid damaging the tubers and remove any that do get damaged, so that they do not rot. Keep a short section of stem attached to the bunch of tubers, as this is where the new shoots arise. Dahlia tubers are not like potato tubers that have ‘eyes’, buds on the potato itself. Store them in boxes of dry compost. Other summer bulbous plants may also need to be stored, like Gladioli.
Pot up any half hardy perennial summer bedding plants, such as tender Fuchsias and bring them indoors into a greenhouse or conservatory.
You can also lift and store double flowered Begonia tubers. Dig up the plants, cut back the stems and remove any leaves. Place the tubers in a tray for a day or two in a warm place to dry out any soil. Then clean off the remaining soil to find the tubers. The Begonia tubers can be stored in a cool dry and frost free place over winter.
Keep collecting all those fallen leaves from lawns. Thick coverings of leaves will stick to the surface, prevent light getting to the grass, attract worms near to the surface and encourage moss to grow. I think leaves make the best compost, or they can be mixed with other materials like grass clippings, to improve the quality of general compost.
There is still time to plant bulbs. What could be a better herald of spring than a few bulbs flowering in the garden? Snowdrops, Crocus’s, Daffodils, Hyacinths and Tulips all make a gay display. Add some pansies or violas to make the show even better.