Then it rained and autumn arrived in the hedgerows, whilst the summer crops dithered about whether to have one last go. Runner beans stalled and have teased with a few late flowers and Marrow plants disappeared into the mist as the white dust of mildew covered them over. As anticipated last month, not the kindest of seasons. The heats been ok, but the wet punctuation has made for some very unpleasant humid days and it’s been great for plant diseases. There have also been a lot of rodents about and I have seen rats all over the place, which is a delight when you want to get some bits into storage. Do keep an eye open. As you clear space in the vegetable plot there are still bits to play with, overwintering onions will fill space and there are shallots and garlic cloves still be found. Whilst conditions stay mild you will still be fine to bung in spring cabbage and they will settle quickly. By the end of the month we will back around to overwintering Peas and Broad Bean seeds too.
This is always a big month for bulbs and it is worth getting stuck in. Daffodils in particular which can rot in very wet winters, will make good root and be ready to face anything. You have a bit more scope with tulips, which are altogether tougher. I have had good success with smaller bulbs, overwintering them in small pots in sheltered corners and standing them to transplant in early spring when they are showing green. If you try this, get a little bit of grit in your compost to improve drainage. The winter bedding is still about in plentiful supply and I do urge you to get on if you are going to plant. It is good to have a bit of colour across the winter and there are some strong plants about. Not offering colour but a good investment, you should be able to find plenty of wallflowers as well.
If winter colour is what you seek and you have space, then you are still ok to plant shrubs and late displays are starting to show on garden centre benches. The Mahonias are looking very promising, but Viburnums, Jasmine, Winter honeysuckles and winter sweet are all worth a look.
And finally, watch the autumn sweep through, this month nature puts on a real show, as leaves turn and plants ready themselves for rest.