Shovelling sh*t while the plants still go at it!

October is almost over, so here’s a diary of what’s been going on in Littlebury gardens to refer back to next year.

The month started fairly mild, but has been wet and the weather has now finally gone cold (reaching -8 degrees at night by the 21st). Which is fantastic news because the Vine Weevil menace should now withdraw until next year! The neighbours will think me less mad as I won’t be going out at night with a torch. For now.

Our friend Ian helped us shift a load of soil and rubble to the tip at the weekend, which meant we could bring in a load of muck to improve the soil and mulch around some plants. I’ve been weirdly excited about improving the soil. Job done.

Clapham Common - sunny but cold morning, leaves dropping off all trees now
Clapham Common – sunny but cold morning, leaves dropping off all trees now
Wandsworth Town community garden still looks amazing
Wandsworth Town community garden still looks amazing
Our Garden on the 22nd Oct
Our Garden on the 22nd Oct
A load of old shit, literally. Manure for a mulch!
A load of old shit, literally. Manure for a mulch!
Salvia 'Raspberry Royale'
Salvia ‘Raspberry Royale’
Salvia ‘Maraschino’ – these both look so neon, they’ll be perfect next year as they are clearly strong flowerers
One of the ferns looking good - this one appears to deter slugs
One of the ferns looking good – this one appears to deter slugs
Spring crocus' flowering already because the weather was so mild
Spring crocus’ flowering already because the weather was so mild
Berries on next door's trees
Berries on next door’s trees
Winter and spring pots at the ready
Winter and spring pots at the ready
The Lavender and Rosemary did better than I thought they would. The Cornus kousa var 'Chinensis' is starting to drop its leaves. Brunnera macrophylla 'Mr Morse' is doing better out of its pot.
The Lavender and Rosemary did better than I thought they would. The Cornus kousa var ‘Chinensis’ is starting to drop its leaves. Brunnera macrophylla ‘Mr Morse’ is doing better out of its pot.
Hart's tongue fern and the Dryopteris look OK - must catch the slugs before they do the damage next year
Hart’s tongue fern and the Dryopteris look OK – must catch the slugs before they do the damage next year
If the Salvias can do this from a cutting in just one month in autumn, in summer next year they will be incredible
If the Salvias can do this from a cutting in just one month in autumn, in summer next year they will be incredible
I didn't expect to grow anything down here! But it's done really well
I didn’t expect to grow anything down here! But it’s done really well
For some reason, everything does really well in this small shady bed. The fern is a bit cat trodden on and slug eaten, but otherwise, the Hellebore from a Clapham fete is doing really well, so is the other division of a Brunnera 'Mr Morse' - bring on the spring white / fresh garden!
For some reason, everything does really well in this small shady bed. The fern is a bit cat trodden on and slug eaten, but otherwise, the Hellebore from a Clapham fete is doing really well, so is the other division of a Brunnera ‘Mr Morse’ – bring on the spring white / fresh garden!
This shady pot area is doing alright. The Fuchsia 'Hawksheads' have come on well despite looking a bit dodgy mid summer, and the ferns are, unbelievably, doing really well in that scrap of soil. Some bright orange and red violas just for fun this year.
This shady pot area is doing alright. The Fuchsia ‘Hawksheads’ have come on well despite looking a bit dodgy mid summer, and the ferns are, unbelievably, doing really well in that scrap of soil. Some bright orange and red violas just for fun this year.
The Cordylines seem to be much happier now it's cooler and wetter. The Astilbes have looked a bit dodgy all summer - perhaps our garden is too dry. Otherwise, the Brunnera is doing well here too, as is the other Hellebore, fern. While the Echineceas are shutting down.
The Cordylines seem to be much happier now it’s cooler and wetter. The Astilbes have looked a bit dodgy all summer – perhaps our garden is too dry. Otherwise, the Brunnera is doing well here too, as is the other Hellebore, fern. While the Echineceas are shutting down.
Who knew that a mulch could make everything look so much tidier! That Hebe (while I love it) is going next year, its flowers are too pastel. If you want it, let me know, it is quite stunning.
Who knew that a mulch could make everything look so much tidier! That Hebe (while I love it) is going next year, its flowers are too pastel. If you want it, let me know, it is quite stunning.
The Monarda 'Cambridge scarlet' managed a couple of flowers this year but otherwise seemed to be doing badly. However, in the last two months it has sprouted loads of off shoots. I'll have to keep a check on its spread but hopefully this is a sign of a better display in 2015.
The Monarda ‘Cambridge scarlet’ managed a couple of flowers this year but otherwise seemed to be doing badly. However, in the last two months it has sprouted loads of off shoots. I’ll have to keep a check on its spread but hopefully this is a sign of a better display in 2015.
The Kniphofia, like the Monarda, managed one flower and did little else until now where it seems to be growing more strongly. Perhaps more water in summer.
The Kniphofia, like the Monarda, managed one flower and did little else until now where it seems to be growing more strongly. Perhaps more water in summer.
No flowers from the Acanthus spinosus this year but it's grown loads (I did plant it quite late in early summer). Expect a good display in 2015.
No flowers from the Acanthus spinosus this year but it’s grown loads (I did plant it quite late in early summer). Expect a good display in 2015.
Fatsia japonica is coming into flower now - it's quite overgrown and a sun hogger, so will probably cut right back to ground level next year to make more manageable (and protect more from snails!)
Fatsia japonica is coming into flower now – it’s quite overgrown and a sun hogger, so will probably cut right back to ground level next year to make more manageable (and protect more from snails!)
Sambucus niger has grown well this year. Will cut right back in spring to help it bush out more.
Sambucus niger has grown well this year. Will cut right back in spring to help it bush out more.
The cyclamen look great but I think have become too waterlogged as they appear to be dying back in bits. Either that, or the Vine Weevils laid their evil eggs and the larvae are munching the roots.
The cyclamen look great but I think have become too waterlogged as they appear to be dying back in bits. Either that, or the Vine Weevils laid their evil eggs and the larvae are munching the roots.
Inside, the Schlumberga is budding up after good growth in the summer. This'll be it's third flowery Christmas!
Inside, the Schlumberga is budding up after good growth in the summer. This’ll be it’s third flowery Christmas!
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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

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