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October offers us many opportunities in the garden.  The soil is still warm, so it’s a great time for planting or moving plants that aren’t yet in their ideal position.  It’s worth taking time out to consider how your garden works for you.  Did you sustain any losses over the dry spring and summer?  Has this opened up any new planting opportunities?

What to do with your tomatoes in September

As autumn’s whisper reverberates through our landscape, many plants are now fading, as they respond to the changing season and become rapidly aged by the ever lengthening nights’ embrace.  This is a season of salvage, protection, and celebration; it’s time to bring tender plants inside our homes, conservatories, and glasshouses, and to gather in our harvest.

Peatlands and peat bogs: precious environments that urgently need our protection

Peatlands are extraordinary environments, which now cover just 2-3% of our planet’s surface.  Home to a fascinating range of native plants and wildlife, peatlands form unique ecosystems that support incredible flora and fauna.  Many of the plants, insects, birds, and wildlife that have evolved in these boggy, acidic areas can’t survive anywhere else.

Autumn leaves

Autumn is such a magical season.  Each year, I’m utterly enchanted by autumn; I watch in delight, as the leaves on trees and shrubs turn from green to gold, burnished amber, and a stunning array of fiery autumnal hues.  Autumn leaves twirl and dance, as they make their descent, gliding and tumbling through the air, whispering softly as they flutter, before gently landing on the ground below. 

Growing Garlic, Wild Garlic, and Elephant Garlic

Home grown garlic is one of life’s joys.  The best garlic is planted in autumn.  So, if you’re thinking of growing your own garlic, don’t delay, this is the time to plant it!

Garlic Growing Conditions

Over the years I’ve grown a lot of garlic.  The best garlic I’ve grown was planted in a free draining, sandy soil, in early autumn. 

Jackie Currie and her National Collection of Allium Species and Cultivars

Garden designer Jackie Currie, runs Euphorbia Design with her business partner, Lorraine Cooke.  Together they design and revitalise gardens in the Surrey area.  Jackie enjoys growing many plants, but her real passion is for Alliums.  She’s utterly devoted to this genus of plants, so much so, that Jackie’s garden and allotments are packed full and beautifully planted with thousands of Alliums. 

Controlling sciarid flies around houseplants and inside terrariums, on plants grown inside our homes, conservatories, and glasshouses What are sciarid flies?

Sciarid flies are teeny, tiny flies, from the family Sciaridae, they’re also known as fungus gnats, or by their genera’s scientific names of Bradysia or Lycoriella.  Although sciarid flies live outdoors, as the flies are so minute in size, you’re unlikely to notice these insignificant little flies outside. 

I always look forward to seeing Jonathan Hogarth and his beautiful displays of miniature Hostas at the RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows, so it was especially nice to have a chance to have a proper catch up with Jonathan this week; Jonathan has given me special permission to share his very best, tried and tested, Hosta growing tips with you!

I love terrariums and bottle gardens!  I so enjoy designing tiny plant worlds and creating miniature gardens.  This is the ideal time to build a terrarium or bottle garden, these Lilliputian microcosms are fun to make!  Terrariums will enhance your home and provide the perfect gardening therapy through the autumn and winter months.

The photograph above shows some of the ingredients that I use to formulate my own compost mixes for terrariums and bottle gardens. 

Fragrant Daffodils

For me, deliciously scented flowers are a delightfully uplifting feature of the garden.  A beautiful moment spent enjoying garden flowers and their fragrances is utter bliss!  Time spent with delectably fragrant flowers eases life’s worries and stresses, brings joy to our day and makes everything feel better.  I have a particular fondness for scented daffodils or Narcissus.  Narcissus is the botanical name for this genus, while daffodil is the common name we use, but both names refer to the same group of plants.

Wildlife friendly ways to kill slugs and snails

I don’t like slug pellets.  Slug pellets have had a disastrous effect on the wild food chain – as well as killing slugs and snails, slug pellets harm hedgehogs, song thrushes, and other creatures.  Slug pellets kill these dear animals in the most cruel, drawn out, and painful manner.  Nothing could induce me to use slug pellets in my garden, allotment, or anywhere for that matter – however large the slug or snail population had become, and however many of my precious plants had been eaten. 

Now that the Christmas decorations have been taken down, if you find yourself wondering how to add a renewed freshness to your home, if you dream of an energising, yet relaxing sanctuary, then you might wish to consider growing some new houseplants and bringing some living greenery to your home.

It’s best to work with the conditions that your home can provide. 

I am particularly fond of scented daffodils; last year I conducted a Scented Daffodil Trial, to showcase beautiful and enchanting daffodil cultivars, which produce exquisitely fragrant, long lasting flowers.

I’ve been looking forward to sharing the finest performing daffodil cultivars from my Scented Daffodil Trial with you, and as September is a great month to plant daffodil bulbs, this column offered me the perfect opportunity.

Protecting your plants from Slugs and Snails

For many gardeners, the slug and snail population seemed to explode last year, with many fraught and distressed gardeners asking for my advice on the best way to protect their plants from slugs and snails.  I am strongly opposed to slug pellets.  I wouldn’t wish to kill any of the slugs or snails in my garden, as I believe a healthy eco system is important.

Each season is so distinct, yet so very special, offering us various gifts and opportunities until the moment has passed and the next season arrives with its offerings.  November might seem like a quiet period in the garden, but this month offers us the valuable chance to move any plants that aren’t growing well, or indeed any that have grown rather too well and have now outgrown their current situation.

I love hedgehogs!  Hedgehogs are so endearing and entertaining, every time I have seen or encountered a hedgehog has been such a special and uplifting moment.  Each hedgehog I have seen shuffling along or snuffling about has touched my heart, lifted my spirits and brightened my day.

Sadly nowadays there are many threats to hedgehogs – they’re in danger as they try to cross our busy roads, but even away from the roads, hedgehogs face many dangers in our own gardens, because of these dangers, hedgehogs are becoming more scarce, and these delightful, charming, and loveable creatures are now endangered.  

Growing in the Fast Lane Fungi

Fungi are part of almost all of our terrestrial ecosystems, for much of the year we aren’t aware of their presence, they exist as mycelium, a mass of tiny thread like filaments, hyphae, that live entwined in the soil and undergrowth.  We see their fruiting bodies – mushrooms or toadstools – for a short time while they are in season.

I co-wrote this article for the May 2014 edition of Vantage Point Magazine with Anna Maynard from the Godalming Chiropractic Health Centre.

Gardening: How to Have Fun and Prevent Injuries!

Anna Maynard from the Chiropractic Health Centre and Beth Otway from Godalming in Bloom have joined forces to help you enjoy gardening safely and avoid injury while working outdoors.

Gardening is a fascinating hobby; as well as stimulating your mind and senses it is wonderful exercise for your body. 

Gardening on a Budget

Gardening can be as expensive an activity as you’d like.  Whatever your budget it’s important to spend your money wisely on items you’ll find useful, indispensable or wonderful!

Specialist Plant Fairs, Seed and Plant Swaps

Village Fetes, Open Gardens, Gardening Society Plant Sales, Seed and Plant Swaps are all great places to buy plants at fantastic prices. 

Now is the time to move tender plants under cover.  Make sure that you’ve thoroughly checked your plants (and their pots) for pests, before you re-position them in their new home.  Protect your plants from slugs and snails by smearing a ring of petroleum jelly around your pots to act as a barrier.  Make sure it’s wide enough – a couple of inches should do the trick.