October flower – Michaelmas daisy
These are very colourful plants with flower heads consisting of lots of small daisies in a cluster. Their colours are usually brilliant pink, purple, red, white, mauve and blue. Many have a prominent yellow centre also.
They were first discovered growing in a swamp in America – which gives us a clue about where to plant them. Damp soil in sun is ideal but semi-shade also suits them. If they don’t get enough moisture they can develop a white dust (known as mildew) on their leaves, which is disfiguring, kills the leaves and eventually, the plant. There are many varieties, called Asters, but the Novi belgii types are the most susceptible to mildew. The plants vary in height and have different sizes of daisy florets, which makes for individual and varied plant appearance. Keeping weeds free from the surrounding soil helps growth and will be a job to do this month throughout the garden, as weeds harbour slugs and pests and these, along with winter conditions can be very damaging to plants.
Other October jobs are:-
Lawns – apply lawn fertilizer and sow seed on compost spread on bare patches. If you have not done it earlier, scarifying the soil to remove dead grass and moss will show up the bare areas needing treatment.
Plant – Bulbs. These need different condition eg Daffodils grow better and flower the following year best is given moisture, whereas Hyacinths, Tulips and Crocus like a sunny, dry place. You can look out for other bulbs you like and look carefully to see which conditions each likes. If the instructions are not on the packet, consult a book or go online. Tulips are best planted in December, as a disease called Tulip Fire can attack earlier plantings. Outdoor hanging baskets can be planted up with pansies, polyanthus, primroses, small spring bulbs and small evergreen plants especially grown for baskets. These are very colourful and readily available at most Garden Centres. In spring the small shrubs can be planted in the garden, to fill gaps caused by plant losses or reorganization.
Plant – Herbaceous plants and Shrubs. There is still sufficient warmth in the soil to establish new plants but hot sun will not make them wilt. Rain will limit the amount of initial watering required. As with bulbs, consider the site and soil conditions each plant likes and remember that colour on leaves is as important as flower colour, especially with evergreens.
If you want to grow Raspberries, Blackcurrants or any soft fruit, now is the time to plant. Make sure the ground is cleared of weeds well, to help the new bushes to thrive.
October is an exciting month, as planning how your garden will look next year is very pleasurable.
Happy Gardening! From Community Life Magazine.