Six things in the garden for October

Black bamboo 15 feet tall Green Fingered Blog
Four things I'm doing in my garden this October - and two things I'm not...

Time for another six things in the garden on a Saturday, courtesy of The Propagator, who started this whole thing and keeps it going admirably. Pop to his site to see all the other posts and maybe add yours. Here's mine:


This was not your typical harvest. I have three clumps of bamboo forming a little glade through which you walk to get to the furthest part of the garden. One clump is Phyllostachys nigra - black bamboo. This one has shot up to the same height as the nearby mature pear tree, a good 15 feet or so. Well four of its stems have, the rest is a more sensible height in keeping with its surroundings. The four outliers had started to look out of place. I was fascinated to see just how high they could get, but they were now high enough to look just wrong, so time to chop them down, making the clump look more suitable for my little woodland glade and giving me some extremely sturdy canes big enough to stake a triffid!

Saggy Sedum

Sedum spectabile looks great in autumn, a welcome splash of shocking pink when many things around it are turning brown. But this one had suffered at the hands of the blustery weather in recent weeks so I employed some twine and small canes to give it some support and push it "up and in"! Taking the advice of Gertrude Jekyll, who said that "sticks and stakes must remain invisible", I've done my best to ensure that they can't be seen. There is still a slight hollow in the middle, but I think it looks better and is less prone to dragging its flower heads on the grass. 
Sedum spectabile Green Fingered Blog
Saggy sedum before...
Sedum spectabile Green Fingered Blog
Uplifted sedum after

Pruning Mahonia

Actually this is the result of something I did many weeks ago. Mahonia was growing straight up, flowering at an ever increasing altitude each winter, and inhibiting the view from a window. I took a risk because I wasn't sure this would work, but I simply snipped off the main stem above a node in the hope that it would bush out sideways and producing flowering shoots at a lower height. It has a beautiful fragrance so it's good to keep the flowers close to head height. Looks like it worked.
Mahonia pruning Green Fingered Blog

Mahonia showing new buds

Forcing hyacinths for Christmas

Your house can be filled with the heady scent of hyacinths by New Year if you buy specially prepared bulbs and force them. To do this you pot them up and put them in a dark, dry cupboard for a few weeks. You don't even need compost, you can put them in a glass jar with water just touching the base of the bulb. Mine are now hidden away and I'll check them every week until I see signs of life. Take them out when they have some shoots and pop them somewhere fairly light, keep them watered and they'll soon flower and smell amazing. If you want them to flower in time for the festive season you need to get a move on and do it soon - timing is everything when you're trying to control nature!
Forcing hyacinths for Christmas Green Fingered Blog
Force hyacinths in a jar

Not deadheading roses 

All summer I deadhead roses to keep them producing more and more flowers. Some are still going strong. I can still enjoy the scent of Rosa "Lady Emma Hamilton" in its third flush of flowers this year, for example. But no more deadheading. The weather is turning and they will produce few if any more flowers now. Instead I let them mature and develop their hips. As with humans, some hips are more interesting than others, but all rosehips are more interesting than pruned stems. 
Stop deadheading roses, let them have hips Green Fingered Blog
Leave roses to develop their hips in autumn

Not pruning Camellia

Camellia is one of the early spring stars of the garden. It provides evergreen structure all year but dazzles before almost everything else gets going again. At this time of year it sometimes looks a bit scruffy, throwing stems skywards with zeal. It's very tempting to snip them off to maintain a nice clean structural shape, but this is cutting off the flowering shoots, many of which are already forming buds that need to be nurtured over winter and enjoyed in spring. Symmetry and form must be somewhat sacrificed for an abundance of flowers and colour several months in the future. Good things come to those who wait. 

Camellia pruning Green Fingered Blog
Don't prune Camellia now
That's what's going on in my garden now. For more frequent updates from my garden, join me on Facebook or twitter, and make sure you head over to The Propagator to see what everyone else is up to.
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  1. Nice six. I "Chelsea Chop" sedums (cough, can't be bothered to check spelling of Hylowotsit) and find they stand up better as a result. I'm not so careful with my Mahonia - I take about a quarter of the stems down to ground each year. The rest I just chop off every few years at around the height I want leaves to start at. Growth usually emerges spontaneously. Though pruning at a node will result in more rapid growth, of course.

    1. Hi, good to hear from you. I hadn't thought of Chelsea chopping sedums before but I have another one in a different bed that was even leggier this year, I think that might be the answer next summer.

  2. Interesting about not deadheading roses. I think the leggy ones will have to be pruned back, but I do agree about the attractiveness of rose hips. As for staking, my sedums are sheltered and don't need assistance, but I have a Chrysanthemum that looks exactly like your sedum. Must develop staking skills.

    1. Hi, Thanks for commenting. I'll cut all the roses right back in late winter when they're ready to start all over again, or if they're so leggy they can't actually stand up. Until then the hips are something extra to look at.