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October 2016 Newsletter

Dear Gardener

October is probably one of my favourite months of the year – the weather is changing from Summer to Autumn, the leaves are turning golden and falling from the trees, and it marks a busy and active period in the gardening calendar!

It’s a great time to start planting your bare root trees or sprucing up your beds and borders with perennials while the soil is still warm from the Summer, as the temperature won’t be too high to stress the plants. You can plant up your containers too for colourful displays starting from this year and going into spring.

While the weather is still clear, we will be getting our lawns ship-shape for next year by giving it a thorough treatment of raking, top dressing and aerating. Give your lawn a good phosphorous-rich feed and it will encourage the roots to develop strongly overwinter.

Once you have put down your tools for the day, why not take a rest with a cuppa and take a look through our new Unwins Autumn catalogue, which is packed full of ideas ready to entice you this season.

Happy gardening!

Leanne Swift

Jobs to do in October...

Bulbs and bedding

The weather is a bit hit-and-miss at the moment, with sunshine one minute and rain the next, however it’s an ideal time to get planning or planting your spring-flowering bulbs and bedding.

It’s up to you how and where you place your bulbs and bedding, but here are our suggestions on different looks you can try.

Plant bulbs and bedding together in a container on your patio or balcony – they will bring colour and interest to your garden for longer and, come spring, flowers will emerge to give you an almighty display. The Winter Wonder and Spring Fireworks Collection perfectly combine bulbs and bedding, and are really easy to plant. The bulbs are supplied in layer pads so that it’s quicker and simpler for you to plant…just layer the pads with compost, prepare soil for bedding, add the plants and watch them burst into life.

Plant small bulbs and bedding in your winter/spring hanging baskets – plants such as pansies and violas will add colour to your baskets in winter, while pretty and dainty narcissi such as ‘Tete a tete’ will erupt to flower at head height so you can really appreciate the detailing of the flowers.

Daffodils are a truly symbolic flower of spring and look fantastic when planted naturally throughout your lawn. Gardeners at big country estates tend to plant in this manner as it truly highlights what a great flower a daffodil can be. Simply scatter your bulbs on a length of lawn to achieve the natural-look and plant them in situ at a depth of around three times the height of the bulb.


Green Manures

Autumn is a great time to give your soil a little TLC particularly if you’ve noticed that your garden plants have suffered during the summer.

Soil that is too sandy or clay by nature will massively benefit from the planting of Green Manures, as it’s a natural way of improving the soil in your flowerbeds.

To prepare your soil for planting Green Manures, we would recommend the following:

  • Find a temporary home for your perennials: First cut back and lift up any perennials and plant elsewhere in the garden or in containers.
  • Dig and rake: Dig over the patch of soil and rake it to achieve a crumbly texture.
  • Sow: Once the soil has been prepared, sow green manure crops either by scattering seeds over the vacant site (broadcasting) or sowing the seeds of green manure crops separately. They’ll start to germinate and grow within the month. Dig them in while they’re fresh and green as this allows the breakdown of plant material into humus, releasing the nutrients slowly over time.
  • Replant: Move your perennials back to bed towards the end of autumn if the soil is not frozen. If it is frozen, then wait until spring until you move your plants back to their original home.


Protect from slug and snail damage

Slugs and snails are rife this year, thanks to a very mild winter and wet spring; just as well there are a number of different methods in which you can effectively reduce their numbers.

Your garden will benefit from slug pellets, surrounding your crops with copper tapes or mats, creating beer traps, slug bells or apply a biological control like Nemaslug to repel slugs and snails from damaging your flowers and leaves. 




Create winter hanging basket

Winter doesn’t need to be a dreary time in the garden – have a flick through our Unwins catalogue and you’ll see just what colours you can achieve in your garden from as early as December!

Winter hanging baskets can have some really impressive flower-power until early spring. My particular favourite, Autumn Hanging Basket, features gorgeous cyclamen and the collection can also be planted amongst low growing bulbs such as Crocus and narcissus Tete a tete

To prepare your hanging basket for planting, just half-fill the container with compost and massage out any large clumps. Place your plug plants gently into position handling the rootballs or the leaves. Avoid pulling at the fragile stems which are prone to damage and can affect flowering. Add compost into the gaps and firm the soil gently. Water well, especially if it’s a warm October day. 


Divide herbaceous perennials

I’ve been particularly impressed with my perennials this year and will be introducing them to different areas of my garden to continue the fantastic display next year. To increase your stock of perennials, including plants like wild primrose , hardy geraniums, and epimediums, just divide big established clumps and separate the roots.

Lift the established clump up gently with a fork and shake off any excess soil. With gloves, prize the clump apart into smaller sections. For plants that have tougher roots you might need a hand fork to prize the roots apart.

Replant the new smaller sections about 10-20cm (4-8in) apart, and water well.

Now you have multiple, vigorous plants that will establish their root well over the winter to give a new lease of life to the plants next year.


Apply autumn lawn care

If, like me, you want to achieve a green luscious lawn then Autumn is a great time to give your lawn some TLC.

There’s four jobs you can do to your lawn now to help improve on its condition:

  • Mow: If it’s been a warm autumn then give your lawn a low cut, however if it’s been particularly cool then lean towards a higher cut.
  • Scarify: Remove all dead grass and other material from the lawn as this can create an ideal environment for grass diseases. Remove excess thatch as this keeps lawn grass healthy and well-aerated. You can remove this by using a rake.
  • Aerate: Get some air to the grass roots and relive some of the compaction that causes moss to show in the lawn. Get your garden fork and pierce into the lawn regularly.
  • Top dress: Apply an all-in-one treatment into the holes that you have created in the lawn to ensure feeding and conditioning of the lawn whilst also preventing the emergence of moss and weeds.


Prune climbing roses

Climbing roses can quickly become out of control, so now is a good opportunity to reign it back in and encourage young stems to appear that have loads of flowering potential.

Here’s how to tame your unruly climbing rose:

  • Grab your secateurs, loppers and a pair of sturdy, strong gloves to protect your hands.
  • Remove any dead or diseased wood.
  • Cut some of the old, woody stems to ground-level
  • Leave around 4-6 vigorous young stems growing from the base.
  • Add lots of bulky compost around the base of the plant but not in direct contact with the stems.
  • Train the stems to grow horizontally by using a wire or trellis as this will encourage more flowering stems.
  • If stems are too rigid, cut them to encourage young stems to appear that can be easily trained from February. 


Plant indoor bulbs

Flowers can bring joy to any room, particularly when the weather is dark and miserable outside. With Christmas around the corner, indoor bulbs can look fantastic as a festive decoration or merely at colour to your room.

Varieties such as Hyacinths, Hippeastrum (Amaryllis), or certain daffodil varieties such as Narcissus ‘Ziva’ or ‘Grand Soleil d’Or’ can be planted indoors to create a showstopping display.

Bulbs need to go through a period of dormancy (rest) before flowering successfully. You can give them this artificially – leaving them in a cool (and dark – in the case of hyacinths) place for a length of time and then bringing them into the light.

For hyacinths fill a 20cm (8in) pot with bulb compost and insert 3 hyacinth bulbs in triangle formation, so that when filled to the top the tips of the bulbs are showing. Only water if soil is particularly dry. If you leave a gap between the soil level and the top of the pot, you can add some decorative stones on top.

For Hippeastrum (commonly called amaryllis) fill a 10-12cm (4-5 in) pot with bulb compost and insert the bulb so that when filled to the top, half the bulb is showing. Only water if soil is particularly dry. If you leave a gap between the soil level and the top of the pot, you can add some decorative stones on top. Place in a cool place for around 8 weeks and bring into a warm position at the beginning of December.

For daffodils fill a shallow but wide 20cm (8 in) bowl with bulb compost so that bulb tips are just below the surface. You can pack daffodil bulbs close together. Only water if soil is particularly dry.

Place in a cool place for around 8 weeks. Bring into a warm position at the beginning of December. Water well. 


Plant of the month - Rose 'Sweet Syrie'

2016 marked a special year for Roses with the introduction of Sweet Syrie. Launched at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the rose was aptly named after Syrie Barnardo – the wife of Thomas Barnardo who helped found the charity and carried on running the organisation after he passed away.

Sweet Syrie is a climbing rose with a strong, sweet scent and large alluring flowers. Simply plant this rose by a wall or fence and provide a trellis so the stems can grow through the support.

Supplied to you as a one-year-old bare-root specimen, Rose Sweet Syrie is grown in the UK, and expertly and skilfully raised, so that the plant arrives in the best possible condition ready to thrive in the garden.

Height: 3m/10ft.

Flowering period: June-October 


 RHS London Shades of Autumn 28-29 October

We’ve been out and about visiting Harrogate and Malvern shows to get more inspiration for our garden and, if you can spare some time, then why not have a day out in London at the RHS Shades of Autumn show.  The show, which is based at the RHS Horticultural Halls, will be packed full of planting ideas to extend the gardening season and highlights will include The Shades of Autumn ornamental competition, flower-arranging workshops and expert gardening advice. 



Halloween 31st October

We’ve recently introduced a limited-edition Halloween bouquet which is sure to add a unique, ghoulish touch to any room. Perfect for placing in a vase alongside a carved pumpkin and some candles, turn your lights down low and you will see the flowers glow!

Halloween Bouquets will be despatched on the 28th October 2016. Please place your order before the 27th October.

All of our flower bouquets have FREE Delivery!


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