October is a time to start preparing for the winter, but also to look forward to spring beyond. Its the perfect time to plant most bulbs now: snowdrops, anemones, and narcissus such as Narcissuss recurvus Pheasant Eye 4.99 or a great value 10kg bag of mixed varieties £26, will flower in shadier spots; alliums such as Allium Purple Sensation 7 for 4.99 or the more unusual yellow Allium Moly 60 for 4.99, and mixed species crocus 4.99 for ? are better for sunnier ones.
Tulips also prefer a sunny spot but hold off from planting them until November when the soil temperature drops and the diseases and fungus which can attack tulips die off.
Its also the best time of year to plant shrubs, evergreens and climbers. They have time to get their roots established while the soil is still warm and damp before winter. Dig a hole wider than the pot, mix in some composted Farm manure (£5.99 for 50L) or tree and shrub potting and planting compost (£7.99 for 60L) in the planting hole with the soil, and water thoroughly before planting. Make sure the level of the soil comes up to the same point on the plant in the ground as it did in the pot.
We have a variety of Euonymous japonicus in different leaf colours and sizes, which can be planted to make low maintenance, colourful evergreen hedges. New variety Euonymous japonicus‘’Kathy” has large creamy white edged leaves and will reach a height of about 1m in 5 years. Hebes are looking good now and some are still in flower, Hebe ‘Midsummer Beauty’ (10L £26) or Hebe ‘Mette’ (5L £12) . There is also new stock of evergreen star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides. This twining evergreen climber has heavily scented white flowers in summer and attractive dark evergreen foliage that will turn red in cold weather.
By the end of October,rootball and bareroot hedging plants will be available. These are cheaper than container grown varieties, but only available when plants are dormant, between October and March. Just like planting other shrubs and trees, it is important to prepare the soil before planting by incorporating some farmyard manure or tree and shrub planting compost. We will be stocking a range of rootballed evergreen hedging such as cherry laurel, yew or privet.
If you want to increase the year-round wildlife value in your garden, you could plant a hedge of mixed native hedgerow plants, such as hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple or hazel. You will need to plant them about 3 per metre, and a double row is most effective as a barrier. We supply these to order, minimum 20 per variety, available from the end of October.
Vicky is based at The Otter Nursery every Monday & Tuesday and is always happy to provide expert advice and tips.