October is an ideal time to prepare for the planting of new trees, shrubs and hedges, and start taking hardwood cuttings.
Next month (November) marks the start of the traditional rose-planting season, so now is a good time to start preparing any new rose beds. Remember that roses will normally remain for many years where they are planted, and every bit of extra care you take now will result in healthy, long lived plants.
If you have not yet finished pruning rambler roses, do so early in October. Carry on deadheading, although the production of flowers will slacken off naturally with the onset of cold weather. Some semi evergreen roses will keep most of their leaves in mild winters but the vast majority are deciduous and will lose their leaves in the autumn. Sweep or rake the leaves as they fall, to keep any lurking pests or diseases at bay and dispose or burn them if black-spot is a problem.
Planting of container grown evergreens can be done in October, while the last traces of summer warmth remains in the soil. Those planted last month should be watered at the first sign dry soil and make sure they are free of perennial weeds.
New hedges that were planted in spring can be given a trim this month, to prevent them from ending up straggly and open at the base. If you are planning to plant a new hedging this autumn, prepare the site as soon as possible. Especially if planting bare-rooted stock with will need to be planted as soon a possible to prevent the roots drying out, otherwise you will need to heel them in until the site is prepared. Besides removing weeds, site preparation involves breaking up compacted soil and correcting problems in drainage and soil fertility.
Incorporating well-rotted organic matter will also help correct most problem areas. When added to heavy soils, it helps open them and improve drainage, while same organic matter added to sandy free draining soils enables them to retain more moisture. It also improves soil fertility and helps correct extremes in acidity or alkalinity. Digging two spits deep (two spades' depth) is the traditional planting preparation for planting hedges, but this is very hard work indeed, and digging just one spit deep, with the lower level broken up with a garden fork will do as well.
Having increased your stock of plants by taking soft cuttings in spring and semi-ripe cuttings in summer, now is the time to propagate shrubs and trees from hardwood cuttings. Many species roses, shrub roses, climbers and ramblers can also be propagated from hardwood cuttings. This is a simple task, and well worth doing if you want more shrubs, either for your own garden or to give to friends or to sell for profit. For details visit our section on Propagation by Cuttings.
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Trees and shrubs with autumn colour:
Cotinus coggygria (smoke bush)
Hamamelis (witch hazel)
Rhus typhina (stag's horn sumach)
Trees and shrubs with fruits and berries:
Hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn)
Malus (crab apple)
Rosa rugosa & rosa moyesii
Sorbus (Mountain Ash)
Clematis orientalis & tangutica
Quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) & Vitis (vines)