In the garden – October

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At the time of writing we are still enjoying warm and sunny weather and most of us are hoping for some rain although some areas experienced huge storms during mid September. Many of the summer flowering perennials and shrubs are beginning to look a little tired but the ‘Mexican’ sages (salvias) which are among my favourite plants are still giving a good show of colour. The ornamental grasses, especially Saccharum ravennae and Miscanthus cultivars, are looking good too.

A genus of shrubs that do extremely well in most gardens locally is Abelia. Abelia triflora flowers earlier in the year but the majority of Abelias flower from July until the first frosts. Deciduous or semi evergreen shrubs which mostly grow to about 1m50/2m with an arching habit. They all like a reasonable soil, sun or half shade and a little summer water.  Provide those and you will be rewarded with a really long period of flower. The flowers are all scented and are very attractive to insects. One of the most popular is the white flowered Abelia x grandiflora which is also available in a prostrate form, there are also pink abelias with A Edward Goucher being the most well known. Variegated forms are sometimes also seen. At La Petite Pépinière we grow a number of abelias in the garden so if you are interested do come and have a look.

Pictures are of Abelia Edward Goucher, and Abelia x Grandiflora.

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Tasks for October include:

* if you have not already done so; planting bulbs – planting instructions will be on the packets but in general plant the bulb at about three times the depth of the bulb and a similar distance apart. Remember to look at the flowering times on the packet when buying so that you maximise the season of interest . Remember too that most spring flowering bulbs come from areas with summer dry climates and prefer sunny positions with good drainage.

* dividing herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses.

* once we have had some rain – planting trees, shrubs, perennials and hedging plants. Do incorporate some organic material (terreau or compost etc) and some river sand or gravel to improve the clayey soils that most people in this area have and water the plants well after planting. Most plants, even if they are ultimately drought resistant will need supplementary watering during their first summer or two. When you are choosing new plants for the garden remember that this is a difficult climate; we have hot, dry summers, quite cold winters in much of the region and strong winds. Choose plants which come from Mediterranean climate zones of the world, or from other areas with similar climates rather than tropical or temperate zone plants; they will perform better and require less watering.

* sowing seeds of plants that will flower early next year such as larkspur (pied d’alouette), wallflowers (giroflé), sweet peas (pois de senteur) and hollyhocks (rose tremière)

* pruning summer flowering shrubs such as Cestrum and oleanders.

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Later in the autumn we shall be holding our autumn sale on Saturday 15th November 10am to 6pm , more details nearer the time but La Table d’Emilie will be here again offering their wonderful food.

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For further information contact Gill Pound at La Petite Pépinière de Caunes (shrubs and perennials, ornamental grasses, unusual plants and plants for dry climates, garden advice and consultation), 21, Avenue de la Montagne Noire, 11160, Caunes-Minervois.

Tel: 04 68 78 43 81, email Gill@lapetitepepiniere.com

Website www.lapetitepepiniere.com

Opening hours for the remainder of 2014 will be 10/11/12 October and 7/8/9 November; from 10am to 6pm on all three days. We are always open by appointment – just phone or email to fix another time. Remember that you are welcome to visit the garden with no obligation to buy but just to make observations.