How conifers can help to transform your garden

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For a lot of gardeners October is a tidy-up month, getting plants and containers ready for winter. It’s also the best time of year for planting shrubs and trees, especially conifers. Plants are becoming dormant and therefore have the winter to get their roots down and become established whilst the soil is still warm before frosts start.

Not surprisingly, it’s National Conifer Week during October and garden centres and nurseries around the UK as part of their Plan It, Plant It This Autumn campaign will become conifer information centres. Being hardy, easy to care for and long-lasting, conifers are the ideal choice for the inexperienced gardener looking for a low maintenance but high impact plant.

And someone who understands all about high impact is conifer lover Alex Gregory MBE, Team GB Olympic gold medal rower. He said: “Conifers have always been a part of my life. From the early days of climbing in their branches, to the family pilgrimage we took to the Californian giant redwoods.

“There’s something fascinating about the variety of sizes, colours and shapes conifers provide, they really are a feast for the senses. Every garden should have at least one conifer.”

Whilst being practical and useful, conifers are also visually stunning and can transform a garden into something quite magnificent. They are a wonderful way of adding colour and shape to your outdoor space especially as many conifers change colour throughout the year. With several hundred varieties of conifers available in the UK, there is one to suit every type of garden and they look just as good in a container on a patio or balcony as they do in a more spacious setting.

When it comes to garden maintenance for October, pruning is top of the list. It needs to be done before frost sets in, so treat yourself to a new pair of secateurs if yours have seen better days.

Conifer trees in The Scottish Borders.

Conifer trees in The Scottish Borders.

If pruning climbing roses then cuts should be no more than 5mm above a dormant bud and should slope away from it, so that water does not collect on the bud. This applies to all cuts, 
whether removing dead wood, deadheading or annual pruning.

Other top tips for this month from the Royal Horticultural Society and National Garden Gift Vouchers ...

Plant spring bulbs such as daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths

Prepare the ground for new fruit trees, nuts, vines, canes and bushes

Dig over vacant areas 
of the vegetable plot, as the 
approaching cold weather may help to improve the 
soil structure

Cut back perennials that have died down

Leave some plant seed heads as food for the birds

Clear up fallen autumn leaves regularly

Move tender plants into the greenhouse or near to house walls for added warmth

Plant out spring cabbages

Harvest apples, pears, grapes and nuts

Order seeds for next year

National Garden Gift Vouchers can be bought and redeemed at over 2,000 outlets in the UK, with more than 90,000 garden plants and products on offer. Visit www.thevouchergarden.co.uk to see the outlets that sell and accept them. You can become a fan and buy vouchers on facebook www.facebook.com/GardenGiftVoucher
s or follow on twitter 
@GardenGiftVouch or via the blog at www.vouchergardenblog.com