Peter’s Gardening tips for late October

This is not a normal autumn! The colours are so late after all the rain and amazingly warm temperatures.

Leaf Coloration

Bright yellow,red,and orange,
The leaves come down in hosts;
The trees are Indian Princes,
But soon they’ll turn to ghosts!

– Allingham

Just get out over the next few days and enjoy! Any wood with Sweet Chestnuts growing has the ground covered with them. The prickly hedgehog type cases with the chestnuts inside or split open on the ground. They are Huge this year. Get them before the squirrels and deer munch them all!!

Whilst in the woods take a closer look at Mosses, Lichens and Toadstools – the miniature world of Fairies, Elves…They’re just magical!

Fairies' homes!

The miniature world of Fairies and Elves

Back to gardening!

Sweet Peas:

Definitely one of the best cottage garden plants with a wonderful scent and makes a fabulous cut flower.

If you would like early flowers next year, now is the time to sow them. I sow the seeds in Root Trainers. One per cell. These are the best sowing module for Peas,Beans and Sweet Peas, because of the depth of the cells – they all produce long tap roots. Root Trainers are reusable,washable and give great results. Sweet Peas come in a wonderful range of colours available from Kings, Suttons, Unwins, Fothergills, Thompson and Morgan seed companies to name a few.

Everlasting Sweet Pea

Everlasting Sweet Pea


This week is mainly dry unless you live in Northern England or Scotland.

Scarify and aerate the lawn and put down autumn lawn feed with moss control which will be watered in later in the week!

The same goes for grass seed sowing. It will germinate as long as the soil is above 5°c.


If you haven’t already tidy and clean out. Wash the glass down for maximum light levels. Insulate with bubble wrap or polycarbonate sheets. Bring in all tender plants and a few herbs to keep you supplied with over the coming weeks.

Planting Time, Digging up, Splitting and Dividing of plants:

Unless your soil is really heavy clay, wet and sodden, now is the best time to plant new trees,shrubs and herbaceous plants. Large clumps of perennials can be lifted and divided. Clear away any non productive veg and dig over the ground roughly leaving large lumps for the frost to break down. Raised beds can be mulched and let the worms draw the goodness down.




Birds are flocking together- wonderful to see Skylark, Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Corn Bunting all on the stuble fields close to home. It’s been so wet the fields haven’t been ploughed yet so loads of farmland birds enjoying the wild flower seeds and spilt grain. I wish we had more winter stuble fields for the birds to feed on.

First flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares arriving to feed on another exceptional year of berries on Hollies, Cotoneasters, Hawthorns and Crab Apples. Still a few butterflies, bees, wasps and bumblebees feeding on the Ivy flowers and anything else in flower.

Autumn Watch starts this Tuesday 28th of October on BBC2 8pm.

So this week with the children on half term go collecting some leaves and make a Technicolor Colage of a Witch, Dragon, Chicken – whatever you fancy, let your imagination go and kick a few leaves!

Happy hunting for leaves and make something of them – even compost…

Happy Gardening!

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Peter Mills

I love everything to do with natural history, wildlife, biodiversity and of course horticulture - basically the big outdoors. I grew up with very good teachers namely my parents and my French grandfather who was a superb grower of vegetables. At Hadlow College I studied a three year OND in Horticulture. I had a market stall selling plants. Went onto wholesaling house plants to florists and garden centres across southern England. In 1986 I joined Clandon Park Garden Centre as manager. Whilst there I started my career as a gardening radio presenter with the BBC Southern Counties Radio. This continued for 15 years, building up valuable contacts with the RHS Wisley, live broadcasts from Chelsea & Hampton Court Flower shows, South of England & Surrey County shows etc. Since 1998 I have been self-employed, working as a Head Gardener and in private gardens . Through the RHS Advisory Department at Wisley I advise on horticultural problems in members gardens, including pest & disease problems, lawn-care advice, pruning of wisterias, fruit trees, roses, wildlife gardening, growing fruit & vegetables, creating wildflower meadows, identifying plants and control of pernicious weeds. I am an extremely lucky guy who loves what I do and the trade called Horticulture!

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hilda watson
26th Oct 2014
Thanks for voting!
I only have a terrace, and am looking for plants that will flower thru the winter to grow in pots, already have winter flowering pansies and red berry plant...
Peter Mills
26th Oct 2014
Thanks for voting!
Hi Hilda,
Mini Cyclamen, Winter flowering heathers Erica carnea, Erica x darlyensis, Violas. Few plants will flower if the weather turns nasty. Think of foliage as well Heuchera, Adjuga, ivies, hardy herbs, heucherellas, ferns.
Regards Peter.

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