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Helping pollinators in October

Mags in the Dahlia tunnel

The change in temperatures, light and overall look of the garden is so obvious now we’re heading into October. I must admit I’m enjoying the changes, it’s such a beautiful time of the year. Here on the farm it’s all about getting ready for spring with tulip and narcissus planting season well under way.

If you haven’t already invested in some spring bulbs, I highly recommend it, there’s nothing to compare to the cheer they’ll bring from January onwards. It’s getting late for crocus, and daffodils but still worth it. Tulips on the other hand are best left to be planted until early November as the tips can get damaged in early spring by frosts but you could pop a few into a pot to have a little garden on your table come spring. Lasagne planting is a great way to extend the reason in pots as indoor and outdoor planters. A decent sized pot with good drainage and added grit at the bottom, a layer of compost, Largest and latest flowering bulbs first like tulips another layer of compost followed by Daffodils and lastly some crocus and muscari. These will flower from February right through to April and you’ll be so glad you did. 

Gunnera

Take some photos now while the trees and deciduous shrubs are still in leaf and in a few weeks when they’re gone it’s so handy to reference where you’d like to make changes. I love when the leaves fall because you get a real sense of the garden structure its laid bare but holds the promise of late winter with my all-time favourite winter flowers like hellebores, snowdrops, and our native primrose. These almost indestructible plants will crank out flowers no matter what the weather throws at them and as they’re woodland natives they can fill those summer shady locations like beacons of light and life. I’ve noticed my mahonia sending out flower spikes it will fill the air with its delicious scent, feed my pollinators who have foregone hibernation and in turn it will bear beautiful black berries to feed my blackbirds and thrushes in the spring. 

Scent is so important in Winter as it’s a lure for pollinators and we get to benefit from it too. Shrubs like Saracocca sweet Christmas box, a beautiful winter flowering shade loving plant that out of flower you’d completely ignore but come winter It is a star! Equally Winter Honeysuckle with its sweet fragrance filling the air on those still crisp winter mornings is an utter joy.

Mint going over, it’s always left for out pollinators even when we don’t use it as bouquet foliage

Viburnums are another star of the winter garden both the deciduous types like ‘Bodnantense’, and evergreen ‘Eve price’. But the workhorse for me is Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’. All these shrubs provide a vital winter food source for our pollinators while giving us joy and colour in what can be a drab time of the year.

These will all be available in good garden centres now and this is a great month to get them in so they can establish before the onset of winter.

I hope you’ll find these suggestions useful and together we can build pollinator corridors while giving pleasure to ourselves.

 

Bee Kind

Mags