Gardening Tips - prepare a new look for winter

PUBLISHED: 00:00 27 September 2013 | UPDATED: 09:06 27 September 2013

Red leaf acer

Red leaf acer

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Give your garden beds, hanging baskets and pots a new look for winter, says Dan Booth, head gardener at Brodsworth Hall

With less daylight to play with in October, it is important to plan your garden work effectively and dont get bogged down raking leaves off the lawn, they will keep coming until well in to November! Apart from leaf clearing one of the biggest tasks we traditionally complete here at Brodsworth during this month is the bedding change over from summer to spring designs. This involves the removal of all 11,000 summer bedding plants and associated dot planting, digging over all 28 beds and then incorporating our homemade compost before planting up the spring scheme containing over 11,000 bedding plants and more than 5,000 bulbs.

Heres an idea of whats coming up at Brodsworth next year. Our spring design (looking its best from March to June) includes violas, pansies and polyanthus as an under planting to a bulb design including two varieties of Anemone, seven different tulips and one little Iris. If you have an area of bedding in your garden you should be following the same process at some point this month. Exactly when will depend on whether or not we get an early frost and also how fastidious you have been with your dead heading duties.

While you have compost and trowel to hand you may as well change over your hanging baskets and pots to a winter design. Use violas, heather and ivy for colour all winter with a few dwarf spring bulbs underneath for a burst of colour in 2014. For pots, troughs and tubs try to raise them off the ground using pot feet or bricks to prevent them becoming water logged, this goes for all containers not just those bedded out.

Herbaceous plants will also be winding down for the year now so make the most of any dry weather by cutting back and tidying up. Any larger clumps of perennials that have not been lifted and divided for a couple of years or more can be split now and used to plug any gaps or, if youre feeling creative, this is a good opportunity to re-design your border. It is likely that the summer after any lifting and splitting is done the display may not be as good so try to phase this work so that you dont split all your perennials at the same time.

Any warmer spells will ensure the grass keeps growing so dont put the mower away quite yet. Weve even had to cut grass in December! Before the grass stops growing, theres a chance to make some turf repairs while there is still some warmth in the soil. If youre trying to repair an area of compacted earth make sure you cultivate the soil well before laying the turf or it may not establish before the frosts arrive.

Frost will become more of a reality towards the end of the month so start thinking about moving tender plants into the glasshouse or conservatory. If you dont have this kind of space, protect plants using straw, bracken or the less traditional frost fleece. Plants such as Dahlias or Cannas should be dug up once they have had the first frost and cleaned off for dry storage until February/March next year. Pop them in a paper bag or wrap them in newspaper and store in a cool, dark place over winter.

You can get away with letting the leaves pile up for a while in most areas of the garden if you dont want to be raking every day but one type of plant that wont enjoy being covered in leaves are alpines. The leaves will prevent air flow and hold moisture over the plants and this can very quickly cause them to rot. This is a particular problem with rosette or cushion forming plants such as Saxifraga and Androsace. Whilst youre giving the alpines some attention give them a quick pick over, taking out any dead section or straggly bits and filling the gaps with extra gravel or grit. This will encourage re-growth next season.

Brodsworth Hall is a beautiful Victorian country house surrounded by a collection of grand gardens in miniature lovingly restored to their Victorian splendour.

For more information contact:

Brodsworth Hall & Gardens

Brodsworth

Doncaster

DN5 7XJ

01302 722598

english-heritage.org.uk/brodsworth

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