October 2014 in the Garden

Glynn SmithBy Glyn Smith Head Gardener at Erddig Hall National Trust Garden

October here means it’s time for the Erddig Apple Festival again. It takes a lot of time to prepare and stage our exhibit of apples each year. Over the week or so before the festival, this year on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th October, we will be constantly picking fruit. This year there is only an average crop of apples, our shed is rapidly filling up though with crates of fruit in over 100 different varieties.

The summer bedding scheme in front of the hall is tiring now and will need changing over for our spring display soon, the pansies and violas we will plant are already pricked out and growing on in our green houses.
We still have the rest of the garden to keep mown and tidy as we are open all year round. It’s not too late to carry out autumn lawn maintenance, like scarifying. Any lawn maintenance needs to be carried out before the grass stops growing.

Do collect those falling leaves and compost them. They make wonderful compost on their own, or improve the compost heap generally, when layered in with other garden waste. Keep clearing leaves as soon as they build up. I like to see a scattering of colourful leaves across a lawn, but deep drifts of leaves shut out light to grass and plants. All leaves, except larger evergreen ones, will compost. Leaves form about 70% of our compost.
Harvest any apples and pears before the frosts come. Store the best in a frost free and vermin proof place. Check frequently for any rotting fruits.

Before frost kills them, lift pot up, or store tender plants you want to keep, like Dahlias, Fuchsias, Pelargoniums, Gladioli and Begonias, or take cuttings.

Scarify and feed lawns with an autumn lawn fertiliser. It is still not too late to sow grass seed, if you are repairing worn out patches.

Choose and plant prepared or indoor bulbs, such as Hyacinths and paperwhite Narcissi. Place them somewhere cool and dark to develop slowly. Bring them into a warmer atmosphere about three to four weeks prior to when you want them to flower.

Plant spring bedding plants and bulbs. Just a tub or pot on the Patio, or by the door creates a bright spot of colour in the springtime.

Cut back Asparagus and artichoke top growth. Harvest any remaining Tomatoes, they will continue to ripen in a cool place. Add a banana to the bowl to speed up the process. It will give off ethylene gas. Or just make them into green tomato chutney.