October Newsletter 2021

October is a month of colour, with shades of reds, oranges and yellows in abundance, a time of ripening rosy red apples, pears and damsons, when many climbers, roses, shrubs and trees are busy producing a profusion of hips, berries, and fruits. It’s also a time of seasonal change with the lingering warmth of summer but by the end of the month it can feel distinctly chilly, with nights longer than the days.

The wonders of Chelsea flower show

Gardens have looked fantastic in Autumn this year and of course we have had the Chelsea flower show, normally full of spring colour and early flowering plants but this year held in late September, a first in its 108 year history - and what an inspiration it was for gardeners, full of ideas about using Autumn plants and Autumn colour.  Chelsea amply demonstrated how wonderful gardens can look with the combination of herbaceous plants such as Rudbeckias, Heleniums, Asters, Sunflowers, Crocosmia, Echinacea, Heliopsis and Penstemons plus of course the Dahlias with their myriad flower shapes and colours, all  interplanted with grasses with beautiful seed heads, stunning in the autumn light and sunshine. All this at a time when many people are thinking about putting their garden to bed for the winter…

Berry good…

Good plants for autumn berries include Callicarpa which has really striking  and unusual purplish/violet coloured berries, as well as beautiful bronze spring foliage and good autumn leaf colour. This, plus the fact that it is easily grown in either sun or partial shade, makes it a real winner. Other perennial favourites, also easily grown, include Cotoneasters or Pyracantha with berries of red, orange, or yellow depending on varieties. Evergreen Viburnum davidii has turquoise coloured berries, or for a taller plant for the back of the border Viburnum Opulus has white lacecap flowers in Spring and early summer set against maple-like foliage and in autumn produces striking clusters of golden yellow berries.

Species roses are fantastic garden plants, immensely versatile in the garden as hedging, shrub roses or as climbers, and Clematis look particularly good growing up a climbing rose, adding extra interest and flowers. Roses are suitable for all gardens, producing single delicate flowers in many colours which are a magnet for pollinating insects. Then in autumn there is a dazzling display of cherry, orange or red hips to provide interest over a long period as well as a good food source for encouraging birds and wildlife into the garden.  

Fiery colours…

For autumn leaf colour and for good fiery orange, yellow, gold, and red shades the weather needs to be warm by day and cold by night, with no wind and little rain. Autumn colours show up best with a solid dark background such as conifers and evergreeen strubs. Plants to try include Japanese maples, or Acer palmatum, with maple shaped leaves which change through every permutation of orange and red, or Acer dissectum which does best in a sheltered position out of hot summer sun, with its deeply divided leaves that turn into gorgeous  shades of orange and yellow. Other good shrubs to try include Berberis thunbergia and deciduous rhododendrons such as Luteum which has beautiful scented flowers in spring as an added bonus.

It’s planting time!

Although you can plant container grown trees, shrubs and roses year round, now is the best time for planting large specimens, ornamental trees, roses and shrubs because the ground is in perfect condition, being still warm from the summer and damp from autumn rainfall, so the roots can make good headway in establishing a good root system in time for next spring’s growth. Also, because leaves have fallen the plant is not losing water through transpiration enabling it to get off to a better start next spring too.

When planting, dig a large planting hole at least twice the size of the pot and work in plenty of organic matter such as soil improver or farmyard manure which is available sold in bags for convenience. Also work this into the soil removed from the hole, and either add in a small amount of bone meal or use Mycorrhizal fungi rubbed into the roots and spread into the hole – this is a beneficial fungi allowing better uptake of nutrients from the soil. Plant at the same depth as the container. Back fill around the root ball with a mixture of your reserved soil and organic matter mixture,  firm in, and water well.

Planting up containers

Many of our customers enjoy replacing summer bedding with winter and spring bedding in tubs and baskets at this time of year, and the warm tones and vibrant colours of violas and pansies are a firm favourite, providing colour from autumn through into spring, only slowing down in the worst of the winter weather. Chrysanthemums of all colours and sizes, ornamental cabbages, wallflowers, evergreen grasses, ivy cascading over the side interplanted with spring bulbs for extra interest like crocus, dwarf daffodils and dwarf tulips add colour to your container over a long period. Autumn flowering Hebes, some with variegated foliage and with their lilac and pink flowers surrounded by autumn flowering mini cyclamen, or Violas with Ivy or the silver leaved Calocephalus for some contrasting colour, all make for a pleasing display, which is very cheering as the days lengthen and grow darker toward the end of the month.

Shady corner?

For containers that are placed in a shady position try using Nandinia, known as the sacred bamboo, with leaves of vibrant orange in the autumn, or the variegated Leucothoe, together with evergreen ferns or the coloured leaves of Heuchera, interplanted with mini cyclamen and spring crocus, all making for a colourful container in a shady corner.

When it’s Spring again…

For glorious spring displays after the winter gloom, you can’t beat the vibrant colours of daffodils and tulips, and there are so many varieties to choose from that you’re spoilt for choice. If you can’t decide on one colour or variety, there are packs of assorted bulbs such as the ‘4 months of daffodils’ collection of 30 bulbs, or the ‘bees and butterflies’ collection, 70 bulbs, perfect for pollinating and flowering from February to July, as well as giant sacks of bulbs for naturalising.

Don’t forget the front garden

Both for reasons of practicality and looks a good  idea can be to create raised beds round parking areas, and fill these with evergreen plants like pittosporum, ilex crenata, pieris, fatsia, phormiums, spotted laurel, eleagnus or topiary plants. As well as improving the look at the front of the house, this also helps to create environmentally friendly ‘wildlife corridors’ in towns and built-up areas.

If the weather does turn damp and cold, don’t forget houseplants, very much ‘on trend’ now, and there is always a wide range available for all conditions and room temperatures, with different leaf shapes, textures and colours, as well as vibrant flowers, climbing and trailing plants and some, like the Spathiphyllum or ‘peace lily’ even improve air quality – there really is  a plant for every room and situation in your home.

Gardening is our passion…

We want to help you enjoy your garden, and the plant teams at Van Hage are here to help you do just that, so do come and take a look round our plant area – it’s looking stunning in the autumn sunshine!
Looking forward to seeing you soon

From the Van Hage team