By Glyn Smith Head Gardener at Erdigg 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.
It has been so wet recently, that it is nearly impossible to find a day without rain. 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 reduced to forking over our flower beds at Erddig. We would normally dig them and incorporate garden compost 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.
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 too 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.
We seem to be having a double autumn this year. Many leaves turned and dropped, but there are just as many still on the trees and still green. Keep collecting 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.
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.