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So it's been quite opposite to last year, we had chilly, rainy weather in August and hot, hot weather at the beginning of September! The warmth did continue, but also lots of rain and cool evenings. Plants didn't know whether they were coming or going - and, I suspect, neither did we! Lawns, though, will always look after themselves, unless you have a new one, and bounce back whatever the weather throw at it.

Continuing to flower this month are dahlia, rudbekia, Japanese anemone and michaelmas daisy. Some are quite old fashioned, but hardy and do give colour during early autumn. They are also relatively easy to grow and maintain. I'd inherited some Japanese anemone when I first moved here, but, unfortunately, they have since died away so they're on my list to plant again. They are mostly white and varying shades of pink, but I have seen bright red ones that look quite appealing.

Spring bulbs such as narcissus, crocus and fritillaries can be planted in drifts this month and dotted around trees and spaces in the borders. Planting now will give the bulbs time to feed and grow their roots for a good display early next year. Make sure the hole has a gritty layer of bulb compost wriggled into the base, lay the bulbs the right way up and well spaced, sprinkle with water then leave alone. Sometimes, a 'blind' plant will emerge, but just leave it and hopefully the following year it will behave!  If you are filling containers with spring bulbs, they can be placed closer together in the compost/grit mixture to give a dramatic look when in flower.

Once all your spring bulbs have been planted, attention can turn to tulips which are better left until the end of the month.  Tulips need good sunlight, so choose your site well and try to avoid planting in deep herbaceous borders as other plants with strong foliage will kill them off.  Iris are a good bedfellow as they like similar conditions and both could then stay in position for many years.  Make sure you lay a good spread of grit into the bottom of a trench or holes where the bulbs are to be planted as tulips do not like their feet staying too wet and that they are planted at least twice their depth in the ground.

I've surprisingly been on time with some of my bulb planting this year, including layering in two deep containers. The bottom layer are tulips, which can be planted in pots now, with crocus above and then the whole lot is topped with cyclamen. That way the pots look pretty during the late autumn and winter and by the time crocus are showing their tips, the cyclamen can be removed and planted out around the garden to naturalise. The cyclamen I've used may not be hardy enough to continue through the winter months, so may need removing sooner. The species coum is much hardier and naturalises readily. Once the tulips start to show, the crocus can be removed and the bulbs kept in a dry, cool place for planting next year.

Lift and pot up tender perennials, such as chocolate cosmos, gazanias and coleus, in fresh compost and keep in a cool, light, dry place to protect over winter. Only water sparingly if they look like needing it. Hardier perennials may still need their roots protected, such as penstemon, fushcia and pelargonium and this can be done by laying a thick mulch around the base of the plant, but slightly away from the stems. I often use fallen leaves as these help keep the soil warm and take a long time to decompose.

Roses will need to have a light prune to avoid wind rock during the winter months when there’s a higher risk of strong winds. Whist doing that, also check for any damaged or crossing stems that should be removed. Remove any missed weeds around the base of the bushes, then scatter some fertilizer pellets topped with a mulch of compost. October is also a good time to take semi-hardwood cuttings from roses.

Empty out summer containers that have finished their display, composting the contents then cleaning the pots ready for their next use. That could well be a winter display of small, evergreen plants along with pansies, cyclamen and heather. They will all tolerate a general compost with minimal feeding during the winter months and give muted colour to an otherwise bland space, but remember to dead-head pansies for a continuous display. I used the word 'muted' because, as some of you know, I'm not keen on bright, blousy plants during the winter months preferring a softer, minimal flow of colour through the garden.

To aid strong root growth rather than lanky stems, sweet peas prefer to go through a period of chill, so seed sowing during October and November is ideal. Sow 2 seeds per module of moist seed compost, water lightly and keep in a warm place until the tips of the seedlings show (about 5cm). At this point place the modules in a cool greenhouse or cold frame where they can stay during the winter months. The plant itself will stop growing, but the roots will continue to take in nutrients and grow strongly. Take care with watering – just ensure the compost doesn’t dry out.  Once the warmer weather arrives in springtime they can be planted out.

There are a number of edibles that can be grown over winter such as parsnips, leeks and broccoli, but empty beds will need some preparation for next spring sowings. As a rule I recommend spreading compost across for the wee beasties to take down, but last year I spread several sheets of newspaper topped with grass clippings - essentially in-situ composting as the wood in paper and nitrogen and other minerals in grass gradually degrade into the soil and, at the same time, deter some weeds as light is shut out. It did take some time for it all to disappear, but the beans I grew there this year were amazing!

We will soon be in to shorter days, dark evenings and warm, cosy fires. I'm thinking of buying a small fire pit to extend my outside sitting and my glass will be filled with red rather than white...

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