Graham Richardson is head gardener at Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden

OCTOBER and November can be very busy months in the gardens as we start the big tidy-up before winter sets in.

Now is the time to start lifting the summer bedding if you haven’t all ready done so and replace it with some spring bedding such as wallflowers, polyanthus or winter pansies.

It’s still not too late to plant tulip and daffodil bulbs which I see are still available in garden centres among the Christmas decorations.

Start cutting back the herbaceous perennials.

It has been a funny year for these as we lost quite a few during the summer drought only for them to make a comeback when it finally started to rain again.

Remember that you can collect seed from many of these which can then be sown under glass straight away and hopefully be established enough to be planted out next spring.

I have been interested to try some of our agapanthus from seed this year, although they don’t always ‘come true.’

Being from Southern Africa they have enjoyed the hot, dry weather.

I will sow them in a propagator, although they only require about 13 to 15c, protect them next year then, if I’m lucky, they may flower in two to three years’ time.

Once you have cleared your beds and borders it’s a good idea to mulch with leaf mould or well-rotted garden compost to keep the weeds down and reduce the need for watering if we happen to get another dry summer.

We use our own leaf mould from last year which is looking really good and of course this now gives us the space to start collecting this year’s leaves.

What goes around comes around, as they say.

The last of a bumper apple crop is now being harvested.

Some late varieties can be left on the trees but it is a good idea to bring some in to store.

If you don’t happen to have a fruit store then a cool shed or garage will do.

Don’t store any that are bruised or blemished and remember to check them regularly.

We still have parsnips, leeks, celeriac, chard and kale in the ground and are about to plant garlic and broad beans for next year.

Onion sets can also be planted but I prefer to wait until spring. We are also planting spring cabbage and lettuce under glass.

Don’t forget that this is still the traditional time to plant trees, including fruit, especially if they are bare-rooted.

Make sure that the hole is big enough to accommodate all of the roots, add some bonemeal and stake well.



Pots of geraniums may be still going strong but they won’t be for much longer, so if you want to keep them for next year, find

them some shelter now.

Cut them back to 10cm and put pots in a light, frost-free place such as a greenhouse or a sheltered porch next to the house.

If the spot isn’t completely frost-free, wrap the pots in bubble wrap.


The ground should still be soft enough to dig up overcrowded clumps of perennials and split them, replanting the divided

clumps to give them more space.

This will lead to better performance in years to come.


Try to do this when the weather is still fine. If you tidy evergreen hedges now, they will look neat until next year as they won’t put on much new growth during the cooler months.


Try to dig out any pernicious perennial weeds you see lurking, such as bindweed, couch grass and ground elder.

You’ll need to dig them out completely, root and all, as if you leave any fragments of root in the soil they will come back in spring.