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Putting the Garden to Bed – by Plant Manager Debbie

By 24th October 2018News
October jobs for the garden

Gardening jobs for October

With summer gone, things finally start to wind down in the garden. However there are a few jobs which, if done now, will help you prepare for Spring.


Traditionally, Autumn is thought of as ‘the time’ to plant roses, shrubs, hedging, perennials and trees.

This is because the ground has had all summer to warm up and plants are able to settle in quickly, before winter temperatures dip. Another advantage is that rainfall is higher, which means that there is less need to supplement watering ( except during mild periods of drying winds). October is also the time to plant spring flowering bulbs. With so many varieties to choose from they are a simple and effective way to add dazzling colour to borders and containers from January – May, for many years to come.

Using a bulb planter or trowel, plant bulbs in odd numbered groups for a more naturalistic look. Be sure to plant two-three times their height, using a spade for speed if soils are compacted. Bulbs prefer free draining soils, so if this is not the case add horticultural or alpine grit to the soil or compost you use to back fill the hole with.

Planting bulbs in this way also helps identify where they are later in the year when other plants are added.


When plants outgrow their space, or you simply want a change, autumn is the ideal time to move them:

  • Using a fork or spade dig up dormant plants.
  • Remove any dead stems or old foliage with secateurs or garden scissors.
  • Dig a hole larger than the one it came from.
  • Fork the bottom to loosen the earth and then re-plant with a mixture of garden soil and compost.
  • Water in if it is mild and the ground dry.

If you have established flowering perennials (plants which die back each year and re-appear the following) you can re-invigorate these and get plants for free by splitting them. Wait until the foliage browns and dies back then dig up the whole plant and divide in to 2 or more sections, making sure each has living shoots and roots. There are several methods dependent on the plant variety and its age. Some may require making a clean cut through the plant using a spade, another method is to place two forks back to back and prize them apart. Plant where desired, or re-pot into John Innes compost No2 and water in.


This is a common method whereby woody stemmed plants, such as shrubs and trees, have stems and boughs reduced in size. As a general rule, this would apply to deciduous plants which flower in spring. Summer flowering varieties are more usually pruned in Spring. The idea is to maintain a healthy, open plant while allowing enough time to form flower buds.

The two main types of pruning are:

  1. Reducing all of the stems to approximately 1/3 above an outward facing bud, or pair of buds.OR
  2. Remove all old, crossing or diseased stems throughout the plant, until approximately ½ of the stems have been removed.

Both methods aim to create an open, healthy plant, the difference is that the second method allows ½ of the plant to remain at its original height. Especially useful if it has been planted for screening.

Finally, before frosts and lower temperatures dominate, it is the ideal time to move tender, potted plants, either nearer to the house or frost free locations, such as garages. Remember any plants which do not die back entirely will require natural light. For added protection or when plants are too large to move, frost fleece is a breathable material which can be used to wrap around the plant, along with bubble wrap which can be placed around pots to help insulate roots

Debbie, Plant Manager
Bay View Garden Centre

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