Peonies for Containers

During these interesting times many of us might be feeling like potted plants, waiting for the day we can stretch out our roots again.

Although we may think our peonies feel the same in pots – container-bound and cramped - peonies actually quite like being in a small environment as long as they are taken good care of.

Container growing is a great way to enjoy the beauty of a garden in a small space.

So what does the ideal potted environment look like for peonies and which ones are best for containers?

Here are a few tips for getting the best out of your potted peonies.

Pot size

Firstly, you’ll want to bear in mind how big your peony will get.

You can do this by checking the height and spread of your chosen variety to make sure there will be space for your peony to spread out in its pot and have enough room to grow on your balcony or patio.

The ideal pot size to start off with is 30-50cm.

As your peony grows you can transfer it to a bigger container which will likely be every 3 to 4 years. If you already have a potted peony that’s outgrowing its pot it will be best to wait until October to transplant it to a bigger one.

Variety

Patio and Intersectional varieties make great container plants. Ones such as Paeonia ‘Oslo’ and ‘Singing in the Rain’ are great.

Here are some more suggestions for peonies perfect for pots (pictured right):

Paeonia ‘Dublin’ (Patio Peony ‘Dublin’)

Single white flowers with a golden centre

H: 50cm S: 30cm

Paeonia ‘Moscow’ (Patio Peony ‘Moscow’)

Sumptuous bright red semi-double flowers with yellow centres

H: 60cm S: 40cm

Paeonia ‘Border Charm’ (Intersectional ‘Itoh’ Peony) (Mid Season Flowering)

Large, lightly scented, pale yellow, semi-double flowers with red centre flares

H: 75cm S: 50cm

Paeonia ‘Bartzella’ AGM (Intersectional ‘Itoh’ Peony) (Fragrant) (Mid Season Flowering)

H: 75cm S: 50cm

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Gay Paree’ AGM (Peony ‘Gay Paree’) (Fragrant) (Mid Season Flowering)

Fabulous single flowers with cerise outer petals. In the centre of these flowers are light pink petaloids with cream edges. A slightly shorter variety

H: 75cm S: 50cm

Paeonia ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ (Intersectional ‘Itoh’ Peony) (Fragrant) (Mid Season Flowering)

Beautiful, semi-double scented pale pink flowers edged in cerise/lilac

H: 75cm S: 50cm

How to pot

  • Make sure the soil and container allows for free draining as peonies don’t like having wet feet
  • Plant the crown no more than 2.5-5cm below the soil
  • Fill with peat-free compost and slow release fertiliser
  • Leave a 2.5cm space from the top/rim of pot to allow space for water
  • Give it a good drink
  • Position in a full sun or part shade location that is sheltered from strong wind

Pointers for Pots

  • Although peonies are tolerant of dry periods, the soil in pots tends to dry out quicker than in the ground, so make sure to water regularly
  • Peonies in pots will need to be fed once a year with a fertiliser such as our Professional Fertiliser
  • Tuber plants like peonies that are grown in containers can be more sensitive to freezing than when they are in the ground so it may be best to bring them indoors for winter, positioning them in a cool area

 

But you won’t have to worry about that last point now with Spring upon us.

Enjoy your potted peonies and let us know how yours do!

Growth Cycle of the Peony

Excited to introduce a peony to your garden this year for the first time or perhaps adding another one to your growing collection?

What can you expect when you order a peony from us?

All of our peonies are nurtured until they are at least 5 years old. This means they are well established Paeonia plants at flowering maturity when they go to their new homes. This ensures that your Primrose Hall Peony should flower from its very first season in your garden.

We grow all our peony plants in 100% peat free compost which is what your potted peonies will be in when they rock up at your door.

EARLY SEASON GROWTH

If you have already ordered a peony from us or are thinking about ordering one, the images to the right is what you can expect it to look like now in its early season growth, according to the 3 main types.

You can spot the early foliage easily with its bright reddish colour and this will change to green as it develops into leaves.

PLANTING

When planting your peonies out into your garden, the depth of planting is very important. If they are planted too deeply the roots will grow and produce foliage but flower production won't be as prolific or at all.

Ideally, for intersectional peonies, the buds, or growing points, should be 2-5cm below soil level – for tree or woody peonies, these should be plant about with the graft union about 15cm below the surface. Space them 60-90cm apart so they have room to spread out as they mature.

Make sure the soil is well-drained and has plenty of organic matter.

Water immediately after planting, being quite generous with the water to help settle the roots in.

WHEN WILL I SEE FLOWERS?

Typically, tree peonies are the first to bloom followed by herbaceous and intersectional. Intersectional or Itoh peonies often flower twice as long as tree peonies.

The following is a general guideline of the flowering season for peonies in the UK.

Weather conditions and your specific location will affect the timing - cooler areas will be a week or 2 later and warmer areas a week or 2 earlier. The length of time the flowers are produced is dependent on the variety chosen.

Very Early - flowering begins late April

Early - flowering begins early May

Mid - flowering begins mid-late May

Late - flowering begins early June

You can expect your Primrose Hall Peony to last for decades in the garden, producing more and more blooms each year. Primrose Hall Peonies can flower from April until July so make sure to look at the flowering times of each variety to ensure you have a continuous flower in the garden!

BUT WHICH ONE TO PICK?

Here are some examples of varieties to pick to enjoy flowers throughout the season:

Tree

Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Hana-kisoi’ (Floral Rivalry) (Japanese Tree Peony) (Early-Mid Season Flowering)

Unusual, rare and highly collectable; tree peonies are highly prized. Hana-kisoi (Floral Rivalry) has stunningly large single flowers that are a silky pink with a raspberry basal flare.

 

 

 

 

Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Okan’ (Japanese Tree Peony) (Mid-Late Season Flowering)

Unusual, rare and highly collectable; tree peonies are highly prized. Okan has large, soft yellow semi-double flowers with sturdy, stiff erect stems.

 

 

 

 

Herbaceous

Paeonia peregrina ‘Fire King’ (Peony ‘Fire King’) (Early Season Flowering)

Herbaceous perennial with glossy green divided leaves and single bright red flowers with striking yellow stamens. Relatively compact.

 

 

 

 

Paeonia 'Miss Mary' (Mid Season Flowering)

Sumptuous deep, rich red single flowers with golden stamens on floriferous herbaceous peony.

 

 

 

 

 

Or for the patio:

Paeonia ‘London’ (Patio Peony ‘London’)

Compact and free-flowering herbaceous perennial. Double deep pink flowers.

 

 

 

 

Intersectional

Paeonia ‘Pastel Splendor’ (Intersectional ‘Itoh’ Peony) (Mid Season Flowering)

Unusual and rare peony. Finely cut green foliage on sturdy framework and single to semi-double flowers that are shades of lilac, pink, cream with a deep red/purple flare at the base. The seed head is amazing for late season interest.

 

 

 

 

 

Paeonia ‘Sonoma Apricot’ (Intersectional ‘Itoh’ Peony) (Mid Season Flowering)

Unusual and rare. Finely cut green foliage on sturdy framework with large, smooth apricot fading to lemon flowers.

 

Hopefully this clears up a few of the magical mysteries of peony planting.

Please let us know if you have any questions!

 

Peony of the Month – ‘Love Affair’

‘Love Affair’.

What a grand bloom.

Its name takes me back to the time when I first fell bud over stem in love with peonies.

I remember the moment this love affair began quite vividly.

My grandfather taught me a lot about horticulture and gardening, showing me how to sow seeds, grow vegetables and, with chrysanthemums, how to pinch them out and curl the petals to get the perfect bloom. Today I use what I learnt from him with my peonies.

Of course, the biggest thing he left me with is his love and passion for gardening.

My after-school job was watering the hanging baskets at the local garden centre and I absolutely loved it. I got to spend time in the nursery with the plants and with people who loved plants.

So when it came to choosing A-levels, I really wanted to study horticulture and botany but my career advisers and teachers said I needed to do something a bit more "sensible" in terms of any future career so I ended up studying law.

But fundamentally it wasn't what I wanted to do. I was always looking for ways to grow plants and be outside.

After switching careers, buying this nursery and starting to experiment with growing various perennials, I recall one day spotting peonies from afar and thinking “What is that flower?!”

It ruled the nursery, towering above everything else.

It’s a love affair that has not faded and I suspect it never will.

‘Love Affair’ is a sumptuous, fragrant, semi-double Itoh Hybrid. When mature the flowers may become nearly double. This variety is particularly sought-after as there aren’t many whites among Intersectionals, making it very unusual and rare. Its snow white petals can, at times, have a hint of pale pink of the carpels in the centre, highlighted by golden stamens.

You’ll see blooms on this vigorously growing beauty mid-season to late mid-season and can enjoy the dark green foliage on its compact, medium bush (about 70cm) throughout the growing season.

Developed and registered by Hollingsworth in 2005 (parentage Lactiflora ‘Gertrude Allen’ x Lutea Hybrid ‘Alice Harding’) this Intersectional Hybrid appeared around 1990 as a branch sport of the American Peony Societies yellow flowered ‘Prairie Sunshine’. ‘Love Affair’ and ‘Prairie Sunshine’ seem just about identical in all respects apart from the petal colour, however the symmetry of ‘Love Affair’ with its wonderfully broad, rounded guard petals and copious rows of inner petals makes it a superior Intersectional Hybrid.

Intersectional Hybrids are also known as Itoh peonies as they were named after a Japanese breeder, Mr Toichi Itoh, who created the first hybrid in the 1940’s, crossing Paeonia x lemoinei (a hybrid tree) with Paeonia lactiflora Kakoden (a white flowered herbaceous).

There were many others involved along the way in making this “impossible dream” of creating the perfect flower come true, but we’ll talk about this more in a future post.

So what have we learnt?

Well, if lawyers can become horticulturists and impossible flowers can come about, any dream will do and can come true!

Wouldn’t you agree?

Plant of the Month – Early Windflower

Early Windflower. Doesn’t that name conjure up a lovely woodlands landscape with little storybook characters pottering around in the brush? I can just see this bloom there waving gracefully in the breeze.

We’ve chosen this whimsically named rare herbaceous perennial as our January Plant of the Month.

One of the first flowers to come out of A.P. Saunders’ breeding program, coming about in 1939, he continues the magic, describing it this way:

"The white flowers, like autumn anemones, nod gracefully above the fern-like foliage. We cannot recommend too highly these lovely garden plants. Vigorous growers, these alas set no seed."

Autumn anemones, nodding gracefully.

More beautiful word pictures.

The Early Windflower definitely has a delicate Japanese anemone appearance. A hybrid between P. veitchii and the Himalayan Peony, P. emodi, this parentage contributes to its wild look.

As you can tell by the name this one is an early bloomer. So early, that even before the woodland peonies have woken up it will be the first type of peony to start flowering in your garden.

You’ll see these single, white, side-facing flowers, complimented by their finely cut pale green leaves, at the first hint of spring and have been know to produce up to 6 or 7 flowers on each stem. Their foliage also makes a very pleasing background for other flowers you may have, so even before it starts flowering it's doing a wonderful job looking great in your garden. Tolerating partial shade, they are happy in any sheltered position in fertile, moist, well-drained soil. They really are not fussy at all.

Vigorous and fast growing into a large clump with many stems and flowers, we highly recommend them for any gardener, old or new, as they have so many good characteristics - easy to grow, robust, unusual and lovely to look at.

You could add this one to your collection along with another that blooms a week later  - the “Late Windflower “. Sharing P.emodi parentage, there is very little difference between them besides the timing of their flowers. So they’d be a good pair to have in your garden to bring some continuity to your display.

Saunders continued the magical theme there is even one called “Sparkling Windflower”.

So now that you’ve gotten to know about our January plant of the month, you may want to make sure your peonies are hibernating happily in the winter season.

If you forgot to trim the stems back in Autumn, you can still do that now and as we learnt in our Autumn post, peonies aren't afraid of the cold so as long as you made sure to plant your peony in a well-drained container or area in the garden and are keeping it moist when it isn't damp enough, your peony is slumbering with a great big contented smile on its face.

At times in winter you may see the crown making its way through the soil and showing you some "eyes". Rest assured it's not giving you the stink eye. This is perfectly natural for a mature peony and you don’t need to do anything about it!

If you have a tree peony, you don't need to trim the branches in Autumn. You can leave them to stand bare-branched for the winter. However, if you did happen to have cut it down to the ground it's likely that if the roots are established enough it will be able to produce new branches when spring rolls around, but you will have to wait and see.

Have any questions about Windflowers or caring for your peony during the winter season?

Let us know!

Christmas Velvet – Plant of the Month

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

Snow is magical. We watch it from our windows picturing ourselves frolicking in what seems to be perfectly light, white fluffiness.

In our excitement we hurry down to the nearest park and proceed to scrape together what we hope will be a bright, white, artful sculpture. But it turns out to be more of an unrecognisable, beige slushie.

Sometimes reality can be disappointing.

But we are absolutely certain you will not be disappointed by the reality of the lush red opulence of Christmas Velvet – our plant of the month.

Just look at her standing there in all her velvety glory. Isn’t she lovely?

I say “she” just because these particular flowers lend themselves to being wonderfully womanly in their voluptuousness.

However, it is interesting to note that the female peony (Paeonia officinalis) and the male peony (P. mascula) have been used in Europe medicinally since time immemorial. It isn't quite clear today why they are referred to as male and female as both are male (having pollen/sperm) and both are female (having eggs within ovules that turn into seeds). So both "male" and "female" function within the same flower. However, some say male peonies can be larger than the females and history speaks of a few other theories but these are known as the common names for these plants today.

Christmas Velvet is a rare and very collectible plant of the herbaceous variety. Its large, full double, bomb-shaped blooms sporting many velvety petals are supported by sturdy stems and flower vigorously, close to the foliage. The leaves are relatively fine and compact which contributes to more open looking shrubbery than the average peony. It has a mild sweet fragrance, flowers May/June and reaches 80cm in height. Originating in the US it is very versatile as it can be used in landscaping and as a cut flower.

When looking at the breeding specs of this flower it has a seed parent (P. lactiflora) called "Mikado".

I don't know about you but that immediately had me singing that “Flowers that bloom in the Spring, tra-la” song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” here.

Between that and the pollen parent (P. officinalis 'Alba Plena' x P. peregrina (lobata Perry)) “Good Cheer” there’s so many reasons for having a good sing song!

So if you have a happy little slumbering Christmas Velvet in your garden already you will have found, like other peonies, it is happy in a sheltered position in any fertile, free-draining soil in full sun or part shade. (If you would like one, click on the image alongside to pre-order for next year)

If placed in a sunny position you will enjoy seeing the initial strong red-coloured bud fading beautifully as it opens. If in partial shade the red will deepen after opening. It’s best to find a position where there is a balance of sun and shade – too much shade and the amount of flowers per plant will likely decrease.

When it comes to red peonies, colours range from bright blood red, true red, orange-red to darker reds with brown, mahogany, sangria or wine overtones. Such is the marvel that is the peony that you could line up all the different varieties of red peonies next to each other and they would all be a different shade of red!

Speaking of wine, I'm sure you're aware that the sometimes bizarre tasting notes that can be found on the back of the bottles are all subjective (who wants to drink tobacco and grass cuttings?). It can be similar with peony colour definitions. Basically, their colour description is done by whomever is looking at them. And we all see colour differently, don’t we? I have found myself in quite a few heated discussions with friends over the years about whether a colour is more blue than it is green and vice versa. Or shall we agree to disagree that it’s just teal?

How would you describe the ruby red colour of these lovelies that are Christmas Velvet?

Why peonies think Autumn is cool

Autumn. What does it conjure up in your mind?

I’m thinking snuggling with the dog by the fire with a good book and hot choccie.

Wrapping up warmly for brisk walks in the crisp morning air.

Guilt-free lie-ins on weekends.

For some of us it’s not so rosy. When the cold starts setting in we may feel like death warmed up and struggle to extract ourselves from the comforting warmth of our bed.

So we may be inclined to think that our peonies also don’t like the cold weather. We may even think they're dead!

Never fear although winter is near. As mentioned last week, autumn is actually a good time for peonies. They quite enjoy the cold and the opportunity to hibernate. They need these conditions to work on making a fresh batch of buds for you to enjoy in the spring.

So how do we treat our slumbering plant babies?

  • Allow foliage to remain until touched by frost. If you remove it sooner it will affect the plants ability to make and store food reserves needed for growth and flowering in spring.
  • Cut herbaceous foliage back to an inch or 2 above the surface and Itoh to about 4 inches, being careful not to damage the buds at ground level
  • Dispose of the foliage carefully, even burning it, to prevent peony wilt in the spring
  • Make sure your soil is well drained. This is very important no matter what type of soil you have, especially in winter.

 

Although peonies are happy in any good quality soil, at this time of year you might want to use a well-balanced fertiliser such as bone meal or our own Summer Rejuvenator

Some have come to believe that it isn’t a good idea to move peonies. On the contrary! Peonies are only too happy to have a change of scenery. And now is the perfect time to divide and move them!

Here's what to do:

  • Remove foliage (as mentioned above) and lift clump out keeping as many roots in tact as possible
  • Gently wash soil off the roots and growth buds
  • Remove sections of the crown (from which the buds grow) each with at least 3 dormant growth buds and some roots attached
  • Replant with buds no more than an inch below the soil
  • Water

 

If you are just starting out on your peony journey now is the time to purchase your potted or bare-root peonies online and do as follows:

  • If unable to plant bare roots straight away, you can keep them in their shipping box in a cool, dry location for a few days if necessary
  • For potted peonies it is best to remove from all packaging and plant as soon as possible.
  • Pick a sunny, well-drained spot that has at least a square metre away from other plants otherwise they will be competing for moisture and nutrients
  • Dig hole the same depth as the root ball and twice as wide
  • Pat soil down gently when covering your peony, making sure the red buds are no more than 1 inch below the soil to encourage flowering
  • Water after planting to settle the soil and in dry spells. Drip irrigation is preferred to reduce the chance of fungal diseases

 

There is much more to say on this subject, which we will share in future posts but this should get you off to a good start.

In the meantime, please feel free to ask us anything. We love hearing from you!

Meet “Etched Salmon” Peony – Plant of the Month

So we picked “Etched Salmon” as our Plant of the Month. Isn't she lovely?

You'd be forgiven for mistaking these blooms for the underside of a ballerina's tutu. When spring rolls around, you’ll have these Swan-Lake-ruffled-feathery-fluffs in pink, gently prancing around upside down in your garden.

Sound blooming marvelous? Well, we think so too!

“Etched Salmon” is a rare herbaceous double hybrid variety first coming into being in 1968 and registered in 1981 by Cousins and Klehm, being awarded Gold Medal as "Peony of the Year" by the American Peony Society in 2002.

Interestingly, this variety was the only one to last all six days in the heat on our stand at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2019. Now that’s a tough cookie!

So let’s get the specs from toe to top on what this beauty’s all about:

Roots Fibrous, located close to the surface of the soil.

Stems Strong, each ending with a bud

Leaves Large, petiolate, medium green in a compact bush up to 80 cm high with divided foliage. Stays full until either the first frost or autumn. Resistant to wind and rain.

Buds You’ll see buds in the second year after planting and in the third and fourth year it’ll be blooming like a bomb

Blooms Silvery coral pink with a golden border around the edges. Resembles a rose in its rounded shape created by large outer guard petals protecting a bounty of smaller more delicate ones getting darker to the centre. Changes colour several times during flowering but won’t fade in the sun. Can be 16-17cm in diameter.

Aroma Delicate lemony aroma. (When will we have a scratch and sniff function on screens?)

If you’ve fallen in love and want to welcome this darling into your garden family click on the pic on the right! Autumn is the perfect time to start with one. As long as your soil is full of goodness and well drained (especially in winter) your peonies will be that gift that just keeps on giving with minimal maintenance. If you already have peonies and they didn't flower, Alec sheds some light on that here.

Although herbaceous peony stems die back in autumn and winter, don't worry that the cold has killed it off. Peonies need the cooler weather to work hard on developing flower buds to delight you with in spring.

We love seeing this change as autumn ushers in those crisp, cool mornings preparing us for the regeneration work of winter. A wide range of autumn colours can be found on herbaceous peonies. After they have changed colour, the next stage can look a bit dull as the foliage turns brown and curls up. However, this is good news for friendly insects such as ladybirds as they use the leaves to hibernate in. So leave those leaves alone for as long as possible, for ladybird’s sake.

We find it endlessly rewarding seeing the many faces of these plants as they live their lives alongside ours. And that's why we LOVE PEONIES! Because they last forever (60-100+ years) and they just keep getting better and more forgiving and giving with time!

If you'd like to get more into the nitty gritty of planting peonies in autumn we will be talking more about that later this month.

So pop back in to pick up some handy tips and ask us any questions you have!

Celebrate RHS Hampton with our special show deal! Save £10 on Peonies!

Celebrate RHS Hampton with us!

Don't Miss Out On The Peonies That Would Have Been At The Show!
Today would have been Day 3 of the RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival. Thousands of gardeners and flower lovers would have descended on the show to chat to their favourite plant growers, taste new foods, purchase plants galore and visit all the show gardens for lots of new take home ideas. They would have even been able to listen to live music or watch potting bench demo's from gardening experts and familiar gardening faces, Sadly though, this year all of the flower shows have been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic meaning that thousands of plants are sitting on specialist nurseries all around the country waiting for new homes.
Primrose Hall Peonies would usually be treating the show visitors with a unique show deal for our peonies. So just because the show is not on, does not mean all the would be Hampton Court visitors should be missing out so from now until the 13th July we are offering the deal you would have seen at the show to everyone who visits the website.
For a limited time only we are offering all the would be Garden Festival visitors a special show deal £10 off all in-stock peony orders of £50 or over.
When checking out use code: HAMPTON10 *Valid until 13th July 2020*
We are also sharing past memories from the show. In 2019 the wonderful Jo Whiley visited Alec at the show and got his expert peony advice for viewers with peony questions at home. Check out the video to see Alec's answer to this common question about peonies.

RHS Malvern Spring Virtual Flower Show

A Virtual Flower Show Extravaganza!

 

The team from Primrose Hall Peonies would have usually spent all week setting up for the RHS Malvern Spring Flower Show  - a riot of colourful peonies on display for a hoarde of keen gardeners to "ooooh and aaaaaah" at, but alas 2020 has been a very strange year for all of us. It was with heavy hearts that the RHS had to cancel flower shows up until August because of the world wide pandemic!

But very excitingly the Royal Horticultural Society has decided to create a virtual flower show event to run from the 7th May to the 10th May which is now live! Usual exhibitors will be running show plant special offers and doing nursery tours or some of the exhibitors will be sharing video's they have made for the show for the duration. The RHS Malvern virtual flower show will end on Sunday the 10th May. What a great way to spend a bank holiday weekend!

We are excited to be offering a special show deal on the wonderful Peony 'All That Jazz' which was a new launch at the Chelsea Flower Show last year and secured a place in the top 20 for The Plant Of They Year Competition which took place at the show. For the duration of the Virtual Malvern show we will be offering £10 off Paeonia 'All That Jazz' using the code: MalvernJazz 

Please enjoy the show and tell your friends.

Happy Peony Season!

 

Garden Jobs for October

The Beginning of the New Gardening YearEchinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit', Large 3lt (17cm) Pot

The beginning of the gardening year? Yes – because it’s the ideal time to plant many types of colourful perennials and shrubs to enjoy next year. Hardy plants planted now will settle in over the winter and will start growing much sooner and faster in spring.

What to do if you haven’t much time

  • Apply a fine mulch (not bark) to soils to feed them and improve their structure. A 2-3” (5-8cm) layer added now and lightly forked into the top couple of inches will start to be incorporated into the soil by the worms. Around plants that you find have roots close to the surface, like hostas and some shrubs, just lay the mulch on top and don’t fork it.


Other jobs

Trees, Shrubs & Hedges

  • Plant container-grown climbers and shrubs
  • Move evergreen shrubs
  • Prune climbing roses to reduce damage from the strong winter winds.
  • Prepare ground for planting bare-root trees and shrubs
  • Trim conifers again if necessary
  • Plant hedges of evergreen and deciduous plants
  • Prune climbing roses
  • Take hardwood cuttings

 

Perennials

  • Cut back perennials
  • Plant new herbaceous perennials
  • Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials, adding planting compost or mulch
  • Finish planting all spring-flowering bulbs and lilies now
  • Lift dahlias, gladioli, cannas and other tender tubers and bulbs – before the frosts. Allow to dry out a little in a well ventilated, dry shed or garage and then store in a cool but frost free place that’s also well ventilated.

 

Containers

  • Continue planting containers with spring-bedding plants and bulbs
  • Don’t forget to buy perennials and shrubs for winter colour

 

Lawn

  • Rake out thatch, aerate and top-dress lawns
  • Make new lawns – with seed early in the month, or with turf all month

 

Vegetables and herbs

  • Dig in green manure crops
  • Finish lifting main crop potatoes
  • Continue lifting carrots and beetroot
  • Plant out spring cabbages, autumn onion sets and garlic
  • As soon as crops have been harvested, start winter digging of heavy clay soils, adding lots of well rotted organic matter such as mushroom compost or farmyard manure. The frosts will help to break down the clods of clay for you. Do NOT dig sandy soils at the moment as that will increase the rate at which nutrients are washed out of the soil over winter.

 

Fruit

  • Finish picking main crop apples
  • Clean up strawberry beds
  • Spray peaches and nectarines against peach leaf curl
  • Prune blackcurrants, blackberries and hybrid berries

 

Under cover

  • Buy bubble polythene
  • Sow sweet peas for next spring
  • Grow radishes, mustard, and cress for winter salad