Create a holiday paradise with these top tips by Garry Winwood from Stone Cross Nurseries.
The children are going back to school and autumn is nearly upon us, yet this doesn’t mean you need to let that holiday feeling go.
To recreate your dream holiday destination introduce tropical plants into your garden. Don’t worry that the weather is not the same as your holiday – there are many plants for you to be able to achieve a touch of the Mediterranean just outside your window.
Palms that thrive in Sussex
1. Phoenix canariensis is a Canary Island Date Palm that is hardy and copes well with wind and coastal conditions. After 20-40 years it can reach heights of around six metres. It has big graceful leaves that arch. It looks fantastic as a centrepiece in a central bed under planted with bedding plants or herbaceous perennials, such as heuchera and coreopsis.
2. Trachycarpus fortunei is hardy in sheltered gardens. This is a really good palm for a pot where it can gracefully dance in the breeze.
3. Cordyline – cabbage palm. This is the most widely grown palm suitable for coastal and high wind gardens. As the lower leaves die off the plant grows exposing a central trunk.
1. Summer bedding: gazania, geraniums and dahlia can provide a rich tapestry of colour when interspersed with evergreen perennials such as heuchera.
2. Summer and autumn perennials: eryngium, coreopsis and sedum give long lasting colour year after year.
3. In winter you can add pansy and viola to offer additional bedding colour.
4. Winter flowering shrubs such as viburnum, mahonia, skimmia and sarcococca all offer much needed winter colour.
Plant of the month
If your garden is lacking a little colour why not introduce our plant of the month - pot mums.
These chrysanthemums will fill with flowers and offer fabulous pots of autumn colour. They are thirsty devils and will require watering daily and feeding weekly with rose or tomato feed.
Plan for spring
September is the month to start planning for spring as this will pay dividends next year.
Here are some of our favourites:
1. Bedding: Wallflower, sweet William and bellis are biennial, meaning you plant them in the autumn ready for them to flower in the spring.
2. Bulbs: It’s time to think about planting to ensure they establish for spring. Daffodil, snowdrop, crocus and iris can all be planted from September onwards – don’t miss out on your favourites and put in a few new varieties to give you a surprise in the spring.
3. Watering: It is very important to keep rhododendrons and camellias well-watered in the autumn months as this is when the flower buds are swelling ready to bloom in the spring.
Hang on to the summer bedding colour
Don’t let your summer colour go. By continuing to deadhead your bedding summer plants you will be able to keep the blooms coming well into the autumn months.
If you planted them with controlled-release pellets it is still important to feed with tomato food to give them an extra boost, as the pellets will be running out of steam.
Also remember water well. If the plants get stressed by running out of liquid they will give up and die off.
With the soil warm from the summer sunshine and the weather cooling down now is an ideal month for planting trees and shrubs.
Putting them into the ground now gives them time to bed in and establish their roots prior to the winter frosts.
When planting use a good rooting aid, such as bone meal, and come spring your new shrubs will be fully established and ready to grow.
Add additional plants to give instant colour such as sedum, which never fails to impress and fills an empty space.
Alternatively, try evergreen ferns as they provide graceful elegance throughout the year.
By adding mulch to the surface of borders around shrubs and perennials you will suppress weeds, lock in moisture and add goodness to the soil – don’t let your weeds mature and establish themselves.
If you have roses that have finished flowering or are infected with blackspot it is time to cut them back to around a foot from the ground or top of the soil if in pots.
Rake up any fallen leaves so that the disease will not remain in the soil ready to attack next year.
Pruning should be disposed of in council green waste bins as home composting will not generate enough heat to kill off the disease.
Roses are tough and hardy and will benefit from having a severe pruning. This give them time to rest prior to re-growing in the spring and providing an abundance of colour next summer.
Dividing plants is often beneficial to their long term performance. It gives them renewed vigour and prevents them from becoming too big, dwarfing other plants around them.
You can divide plants such as hemerocallis by lifting the clump and prising it apart using two forks. Alternatively use a spade to slice through the middle of the clump.
The two fork method is preferable as it keeps more root intact, however, it is not always practical. When you replant the smaller clumps incorporate some bone meal into the soil to enhance the plants root development.
Plant hyacinth bulbs so you can give them as fragrant home-grown presents – buy some beautiful pots, bulbs and you have started your gift buying.
1. Once the tops of onion bulbs flop over they are ready to harvest. Remove them from the ground and leave them in the sun to bake for a few days to dry off. They can then be stored in netted bags in a cool dry place.
2. Similarly once the foliage of potatoes has died off they will not grow anymore. Harvest the tubers by digging them up and storing the potatoes in paper bags or potato sacks. Do not let the light get to them as this will turn them green and make them inedible.
3. Squashes such as butternut and pumpkin will be beginning to ripen. Courgettes will still be producing.
4. You still have time to plant out spring cabbage ready to harvest in spring.
5. Whilst it is encouraging to see tomato plants still growing, the leaves should be significantly thinned out. This will allow more light to get to the fruit helping it to ripen before the days shorten and the weather turns.
6. There is still time to sow lettuce, radish and spring onions so that you have tasty salad crops through to Christmas.
7. In the fruit garden early fruiting apples such as discovery can be picked by grasping the apple in the palm of your hand and twisting it away from the tree branch.
Stone Cross Nurseries, Dittons Road, Stone Cross, Pevensey BN24 5ET. Call 01323 488188 or visit www.stone-cross-nurseries.co.uk
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