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OctoberIn the Garden This Month
The autumn colours of ripe fruits on Crab Apples and Rowans join many others this month as the year heads towards winter. With their waxy coating, many berries are persistent on the branches long after the leaves have coloured and fallen and make a good larder for foraging birds as the weather gets colder and insects become harder to find.
Late summer and autumn perennials add their rich hues to the borders, along with the dainty, starry flowers of late Clematis viticella varieties. Other perennials, along with ornamental grasses, display seed heads that give the garden a contemporary twist and a jewel like quality when they are wet with morning dew and mists. These seed heads are also useful food for birds and a hibernating place for many insects and spiders, including Ladybirds to stay safe until the following spring.
Winter flowering shrubs including Viburnum, Mahonia and Sarcococca (Christmas Box) are stirred into action by the colder weather. Buds that have been forming for months swell and open, many with a sweet scent that wafts through the garden on sunny days.
Birds almost stop singing but gardeners can hear the quiet song of the Robin as he sits nearby waiting to swoop on insects and earthworms disturbed when pots are moved or soil turned. The Blackberries are finished for another year but Hazel nuts and acorns are ripening – favourites with Jays and Squirrels who bury them in the ground for winter food. Greenfinches return to gardens now to feast on seed heads and sunflower hearts from feeders, as well as peanuts which are also loved by Blue and Great Tits through the winter months.
Amongst many migrant birds arriving now, winter Thrushes are driven further south by cold weather and it is common to see flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings together, hopping along on grass fields and in parks taking berries from trees – a sign that colder weather is on the way!