Now that cooler weather is approaching its time to move half-hardy plants into the greenhouse (or frost-free area). But there’s no time to put your feet up, there’s produce still to be harvested and the garden needs to be tidied and prepared for the winter. Also, ensure the garden is full of life next spring by sowing and planting now.
Wallflowers are at their best in Spring, and teamed with spring flowering bulbs, particularly tulips, they bring vibrant, dazzling colour and fabulous scent to your garden.
Wallflowers are biennial, in their first growing season they establish foliage and strong roots, then in winter they lie dormant. When the light levels start to rise again the following spring they not only resume growing roots and foliage but also develop buds and flowers which then set seed.
The basic wallflower has yellow flowers and will seed itself and grow enthusiastically in seemingly solid walls and stone – hence the name wallflowers. They like good drainage and suffer if they sit all winter in wet ground. Wallflowers are brassicas and require alkaline soil. Most of the gardens in this area therefore provide the prime growing conditions.
The cheapest way to buy wallflowers is in bundles of bareroot plants. A bundle of 20 plants at P&R Garden Supplies is £1.89 – Less than 10p per plant! Soak the roots in water before planting out in borders or containers. Plant in groups (for the best effect) in prepared soil that has been dug over with the addition of some garden compost or leaf mould to retain some moisture.
Wallflowers should be grown hard, and never given any kind of fertiliser. This is so that they put all of their energy into producing flowers, not lush growth. The addition of lime prior to planting will help the plants resist clubroot.
Although they are very hardy it is a good idea to pinch out the growing tips when you plant them to create bushy plants and to get rid of any very late, vigorous growth that will be hit by early frosts. In the depths of winter you may find that the lower leaves go yellow and drop off. Do not be alarmed as long as the crown is intact the plant should be fine.
As well as spring flowering bulbs, wallflowers look great planted amongst other spring flowering plants such as forget-me-nots, primroses and sweet Williams. Why not try planting in containers that are placed by a seating area or doorway so you can enjoy their honey-sweet scent this coming spring.
Top Tips for October:
• Prune back tall shrubs such as buddleia to prevent wind rock.
• Move conifers and evergreens that are growing in the wrong place.
• Finish planting spring bulbs (apart from Tulips which are best planted in November)
• Be ruthless, and turf out summer bedding plants (even if they are still looking good) Pansies are more likely to flower over winter if they have a chance to become established before the colder weather halts growth.
• Collect and bag fallen leaves to create leaf mould.
Whatever October brings I hope you are able to spend some time in your garden.
Rachel Sobiechowski BSc(Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon, Suffolk, IP27 0PW
01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk