Decorate Your Doorstep!

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Top Tip

Fill and freeze a water bottle overnight. In the morning, remove the cap and place upside down in a planter. As the ice slowly melts through the day it releases the water at a steady pace.

After the hottest summer ever in the UK, many gardens are now left looking a little flat.

You may have noticed late Summer-flowering plants burst into colour earlier than usual this year, flowering vigorously but then burning out fast.

By this time of year, most Summer bedding plants should be at their peak, but they're similarly left looking past their best.

So what to do?

A blooming good greeting

Our front doors are a lot more than just entrances. They're the first thing we see when arriving home so should be as welcoming a sight as possible!

If you've already got planters or baskets by your door or porch, now is a great time to replant them with gorgeous autumn and winter colour. And if you don't, what are you waiting for?!

The key when planting at this time of year is to remember the growing season is short and plants won't fill the space as rapidly as in spring or early summer. This means you'll need to plant more closely than you would normally - if you can see compost then you haven't planted thickly enough!

Growers produce many special ranges of small plants at this time of year, all of which are ideal for pots and baskets - we have a good selection on sale in-store at the moment.

Watering made easy

If using a peat-free compost - which I think most of you do judging by the shift in our sales pattern this year - remember that it's very free draining so needs to be watered more often than traditional mixes.

Putting a piece of plastic with a few small holes punched through it in the bottom of a hanging basket will prevent water from running straight through, without causing the compost to become waterlogged.

Here's my top tip for watering baskets and pots in dry weather: fill and freeze overnight a standard "meal deal" sized water/pop bottle. In the morning, remove the cap and place the bottle upside down in the planter. As the ice slowly melts through the day it releases the water at a steady pace. Refill and repeat as required!

Get set for Spring

If planting this autumn, don't forget to plant spring flowering bulbs below any autumn/winter plants. Miniature daffodils and narcissi look great in pots and baskets.

Tulips suit anywhere from planters to borders. For the best effect, always read the packets to identify their stem length: short ones are best in hanging baskets and windy locations, long ones look great in borders.

Crocus popping up in lawns or rockeries is always a delight. If you want sweet-smelling hyacinths or Paperwhites in the home over Christmas you need to be planting them now.

Other jobs to do this month

Lawns need a good autumn feed. This will help root growth and perk up the grass after the trials of this summer. Don't use summer feed as it will encourage too much top growth; the Autumn Lawn Food is a special formula and will give a much better result.

Leaves have begun to fall prematurely this year so gather them up and add them to your compost heap. No doubt you'll still have another cut or two of the lawn ahead so grass cuttings can be mixed in with the leaves to create a rich compost.

Cut back flowering stems as and when they come to an end - if we're lucky enough to have an "Indian Summer" then this can even help plants to throw out a few late flowers.

Once you have dressed your door in its finest autumn colours do please enter our Decorate Your Doorstep competition - full details available at Charlbury Garde Centre or on our website We have many gift voucher prizes to be won!

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