Alan North – Frost does not mean it’s time to stop gardening

Tulips in the Pond Garden at Audley End

Tulips in the Pond Garden at Audley End - Credit: Archant

The first frosts have arrived and this month brings the first stage of Winter. However, there are still some jobs in the garden to complete this growing season and start preparations for the next.

Alan North

Alan North - Credit: Archant

At Audley End this month we begin the exciting task of planting thousands of tulips to give a dazzling display next Spring. We use them in our formal bedding displays alongside plants including the beautiful Myositis sylvatica (forget-me-not) This lovely plant is excellent for under-planting spring flowering bulbs such as tulips and can be grown in full sun and partial shade. A perfect spring planting combination.

Tulips also look fantastic when used in informal displays within herbaceous borders and in containers to give further colour and spring interest. In all examples plant the tulip bulbs, pointy end up, at least twice the bulb’s width apart and at a depth of two or three times the bulb’s height.

Other tasks we will be tackling this month and that you can be doing at home include:

• Rake up the remaining leaves from lawns. Removing the leaves will allow air and light to the grass and keep your lawn looking healthy. Collect and store the leaves to give you a free and easy compost. Most leaves will take two to three years to break down and compost. It is worth the wait. Leaf mould really is the best soil conditioner for beds and borders so be patient and give it a go.

Audley End gardens in the autumn. Picture: AUDLEY END HOUSE

Audley End gardens in the autumn. Picture: AUDLEY END HOUSE - Credit: Archant

• Plant shrubs and trees. Planting at this time of year ensures the roots receive plenty of moisture along with time to settle and establish before the Spring.

• Lift Dahlias and Cannas this month. Once the foliage has blackened and frosted, carefully lift the plants and cut the stems back to a few inches. Clean the plants and allow them to dry before storing them in a dark and frost-free space.

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• Continue to mow whilst the grass is still growing to keep it tidy, however gradually raise the cutting height to avoid damaging the grass. Never mow in frosty conditions or when cold winds as this will scorch leaf tips.

• Plant garlic between November and April although you will generally get a bigger and better crop if you plant it in the autumn. Garlic prefers a position in full sun with a well-drained, light soil. Dig in plenty of organic matter such as compost, well-rotted manure or recycled green waste before planting. This will also provide nutrients for your garlic.

I hope to see you all soon in the garden at Audley End. Visit this weekend to see our fantastic pumpkin display in the kitchen garden and wonderful Autumn colour throughout the grounds.