Busy October as we prepare for winter

October is one of the busiest months of the year for the horticulture team at the Gardens.

The first job of the month is to start bringing in all tender plants to overwinter in the nursery glasshouses before the first frosts arrive.
We’ll be moving the dahlias from the terrace glasshouse beds and all the tender plants from the Totally Tropical beds on the Loudon Terrace, on the car park and in the grass garden, and they will be kept dry and in optimum condition, so they can be replanted next year.

We’ll also move the cacti and other succulents from the terrace, but these will overwinter inside the butterfly house, which has now closed for 2021.

Once the summer bedding has been removed around the bandstand, on the terrace and car park, the planting of winter bedding begins: 4000 polyanthus, no less.

We’ll also begin the task of planting hundreds of spring-flowering bulbs outside around the gardens and in pots inside the nursery, ready for a welcoming floral display early next year.

The lawns will receive their last cut of 2021 to keep them looking tidy over the winter and we’ll also continue to cut the hedges so they look neat over the winter.

Another big job for us over the next few weeks will be collecting the fallen leaves, which will rot down to make leaf mould in 12-24 months’ time. If you haven’t made leaf mould from leaves in your own garden, we recommend it as it takes minimal effort – and the leaves need to be collected anyway. Leaf mould is a great conditioner that enriches the soil, improves water retention and helps to maintain the soil’s crumbly texture.

Simply place the leaves into a bin liner, pierce holes into the bag and tie it up loosely. If the leaves are dry, dampen them a little before tying up, then pop them into a corner of the garden and leave it to rot down.

If you don’t want to use a bin liner, make a frame out of chicken wire and put it a sheltered area of the garden. Fill it with leaves, moisten it if it is dry and leave it until the leaves have rotted. You could cover the top with chicken wire or perhaps some cardboard to stop them blowing away.

There’s always something amazing to see here at the Gardens, and two of the big highlights for this month are the fabulous cyclamen hederifolium and nerines, which are in full flower and bring some fresh colour to the borders.

We’re also hosting four great shows this month: the Cacti Show on Sunday, October 3; the Cyclamen Show on Sunday, October 10; the Midland Bonsai Show on Friday, October 17; and the National Collection of Cyclamen tour on Thursday, October 28. We’d love to see you there!

We love to see your social media posts when you visit us. If you spot something you love (the peacocks are always popular!), have a question about a specific plant or just want to highlight your trip, please tag us or post to our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. We hope to see you all soon.