Here are this month’s jobs from Sherborne gardener Pete Harcom for you to get on and do in the garden before the Christmas rush!
• Clear up for the winter!
Clear faded and dying annual climbers such as sweet peas from their supports.
Clear up fallen leaves and put them in plastic bags or in a heap to rot down as leaf mould ( may take a year or so) and then can be used as a mulch.
• Watch the compost heap
Keep on top of the creation of the compost heap by turning it regularly. Keep it moist, and mix well with shredded paper. Nettles and some weeds can be composted (if the heap gets heated well), but do not compost ‘difficult’ weeds such as bindweed, ground elder or docks.
• Mind your beds
When clearing up flower beds try to keep off of wet soil to avoid compacting the soil – use wooden boards to spread your weight.
• Birds enjoy your seedheads
It is a good idea to leave your plants with attractive seed heads, such as Rudbeckia, Sea Holly (Eryngium), Teasels, Love in a Mist, any ornamental grasses etc. as these provide valuable food for birds in the winter months and can be used in flower arrangements. Cut down the old seed-heads in Spring, when the new growth appears.
• Last chance for bulbs
There is still time to plant spring bulbs and bare rooted trees and shrubs before the colder weather.
• Winter mulch
Cover and protect agapanthus plants with mulch or garden compost. Straw can also be used for protecting half hardy plants. Alpines planted in the garden can have a gravel mulch, or if they are in containers will benefit from covering with straw or bring them into the greenhouse for the winter.
• Look after your acers
Acers are a particularly good show this time of year with their autumn colours. Japanese maples are acers, and they can be either planted in the ground or in pots now. They will benefit from being placed in sheltered semi shady spots in the garden.
• Time to sow
Sowing seeds in a cold greenhouse is a nice job to do this time of year. Some of the favourite seeds to sow now are Sweet Peas, Ajuga Reptans (really good for ground cover), Cornflowers, Astrantias, Corydalis Solida and Allium Sphaerocephalon. Eryngiums (Sea Holly) are particularly attractive and can be sown now in a cold greenhouse. They can take a while to germinate, but they are worth it and they are attractive for bees.
After all that is done, have a cuppa tea and browse through your seed and garden catalogues and plan for next year!
by Pete Harcom – Head Gardener at Sherton Abbas Gardening
Sponsored by Thorngrove garden Centre