Get sowing!

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As autumn sets in, this month’s jobs are a mix of tidying up from summer and planning some spring time treats, says gardener Pete Harcom

Choose interesting pots and just a few plants can make a stunning indoor display

This is a good time of year to take stock of the garden and consider what has done well – and what hasn’t! It’s the end of summer annual sort-out in the garden, and in general autumn is also the best time of year for planting trees, shrubs and hedges. Here are a few jobs for the month. ..

Clear up your borders! Remove your annuals and plant up for spring with wallflowers, pansies and bulbs. Cut back and divide any herbaceous perennials and protect half-hardy plants with leaf mould or compost if you are leaving them in the borders. Hardy fuchsias (despite their label) will definitely benefit from this extra protection.

Greenhouse-keeping
Remove the spent plants to the compost heap and prepare the greenhouse for winter sowing.
If you have shade paint on your greenhouse glass, now is the time to remove it – on a dry day remove the paint carefully with a dry cloth. This will help let in more light and help grab the winter sun’s heat.
Using a warm solution of disinfectant, clean pots, trays, staging and the inside of the glass to reduce pests and fungal infection.
Finally, move any tender plants (fuchsias, pelargoniums etc), into the greenhouse to overwinter.

Miniature irises are some of the earliest splashes of colour in the garden

Bulb planting
As the borders are still full, consider planting up some pots with bulbs for an early spring display. They are some of the first flowers to emerge, and in the grey early months of next year you’ll be so glad you did it.
It’s not just for the garden either – miniature bulbs especially lend themselves to creating indoor displays on tables or plant stands, where you can really appreciate their blooms up close.
There is a wide range of spring flowering bulbs, corms and tubers available now to grow in pots – and the bulbs can be layered, too. Try placing tulips at a lower level, cover with soil and then plant irises in a second layer above them. This gives a two-tiered display with the irises emerging first and the tulips pushing up through them later as the irises fade.

Mix your bulbs and layer your planting for added interest and longevity in your displays


Here a few more pot combinations to consider:

  • Smaller daffodils or narcissi with daisies or pansies/violas
  • Snowdrops and moss work well in a window box
  • Ferns and fritillaries are great for a shady spot
  • Primulas, purple sage and anemone
  • Dwarf tulips, pansies and winter aconites – also iris reticulata


It is important to give bulbs in pots a well-drained soil mix, using loam-based compost and potting grit (two parts compost to one part grit).
Top-dress the compost with more grit to neaten it up and to stop ‘crusting’ of the top layer of pot soil.
A good general rule is to plant bulbs double the depth of the bulb height – and in pots they can be planted closer together than they would be happy with in the ground.

Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre

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