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Topical Tips October 2018

October is a month of changes, it can be sunny and hot one day, torrents of rain the next and then a frost on the following morning so be prepared for anything!

There is still some warmth in the soil so it’s a great time for planting, read on for a few tips and jobs for this month.

Flowers & shrubs 

Top Tip: Keep dead heading plants that are in flower; it will keep them going just that little bit longer!

Top Tip:  Cut back perennials that have died down, remove and compost bedding plants that have past their best. Although we’ve just told you to cut down your perennials down feel free to ignore this if you like seed heads or just want to keep a few beautiful stems that look stunning when frosted.

Top Tip: Remove leaves from beds, use these leaves to make leaf mould. All you have to do is put the leaves in a black bin liner and leave them to rot down – simple!

Top Tip:  Cut down Buddleia, Lavatera   and other quick growing shrubs by one third to reduce wind damage. Also cut roses back by one third to prevent wind rock damage.

Top Tip:  Cut roses back as shown in the diagram below.

Top Tip:  One you have cleared and tidied the flower beds spread a mulch over the surface such as organic farmyard manure to help prevent weed growth and to feed the soil. 

Top Tip:  An easy way to collect leaves is to spread them over a small area of the lawn and run the lawn mower over them, this will shred them so that they will rot down more easily when you put them on a compost heap.

Top Tip:  If all this talk of clearing leaves makes you want to stay clear of your garden, don’t despair, get a leaf blower; most leaf blowers can also vacuum up leaves as well. We have several blowers in stock from approx. £50. You can also use them to blow away snow (remember April this year!)

Top Tip:  It’s worth lifting begonia tubers to protect then from the cold weather but in a sheltered London garden it’s worth risking leaving the gladioli bulbs and Dahlia  tubers in situ as they are a little bit more hardy, cover them with a few inches of mulch for some extra insulation.

Top Tip:  If you haven't already planted some containers with spring colour, there's still time to plant now using bedding plants such as violas and wallflowers, plus spring-flowering bulbs. Keep your pots in a sheltered spot, such as under a porch, to encourage blooms through the winter and to avoid plants rotting off in the winter wet. Cyclamen and ornamental cabbage are particularly vulnerable to rotting in damp conditions. You won't get masses of blooms during colder weather, but any milder spells should see a good show.

Toppest Tip:   If you are a fan of bulbs, as we all are at Sunshine, October is the month to choose and plant your spring flowering bulbs. We have a whole room dedicated to bulbs that is carefully tended by Fiona, do come in and have a chat with her, she really knows her onions (and daffodils and tulips). Try to plant your bulbs soon as they can start establishing a root system and will reward you with a stunning display in the spring. When planting a rule of thumb is to plant 2-3 times their own depth e.g. a bulb 2” high should be planted 4-6” deep.


Bulb Envy:  This can be a serious problem for gardeners in north London but it is soon cured by a visit to Sunshine where you will find over 300 varieties of bulb that will ensure that you never suffer from this nasty and debilitating condition.


Top Tip:  it’s probably time for the last cut of the season so raise the mower a couple of notches and give it the last cut.

Top Tip:  Give the lawn a feed with Autumn Lawn food 2 in 1 which will prepare the lawn for the winter and kill any moss that maybe present.

Top Tip:  Try not to leave any leaves on the lawn as they can reduce the light falling on the lawn can cause it to go yellow. The easy way to pick them up is to run over the fallen leaves with the lawn mower which will also shred them ready for composting.

Top Tip: Aerate compacted soil – especially clay soil – with a garden fork or a hollow-tine aerator or shoes that have spikes on them; keep fit whilst aerating the lawn. It’s best to aerate when the soils is damp –it’s much easier.

Top Tip: Repair bare patches with Patch Magic, it guaranteed to work, simply sprinkle on and water, grass will begin to grow within 10 days.

Grow Your Own

Top Tip:  Clear tomato, cucumber and pepper plants.

Top Tip:  Sow winter salads such as lettuce, Pak choi etc.

Top Tip:  Plant garlic and onion sets now ready to harvest next summer.

Top Tip:  Harvest the last of the year’s fruit and veg, leave squashes and pumpkins though to harden off so that they store well.