In the garden this week — Cyclamen, diseased trees, lavender and asters
Life & Style

In the garden this week — Cyclamen, diseased trees, lavender and asters


When you go to plant the pink or white corms of cyclamen neapolitanum (on sale now as dry corms) you may become perplexed about which way these are placed in the ground for unlike other cyclamen, they develop roots from the tops of their corms.

How then do you find the top and bottom?

Look for the bottom first for it will be seen to have a hollowed out concave pattern.

Even then, the bottom may not be obvious.

Because these cyclamen enlarge year after year they eventually grow to dinner-plate size, its top surface eventually becoming disfigured, wizen and with cracks and dents.

This will be the top, even on fairly small corms.

Now you have two indicators as to which is top and bottom.

For all that, do not take fright at the sight of some of last year’s roots still visible on top and you ending up assuming that they go on the underside.

Diseased trees

Early October would be a good time for taking out old and diseased trees and putting in new. Remember however that sawing down a tree does not always kill the stump. Many re-sprout and when it comes to suckers you may very well be plagued for years following a decision to cut but not remove the stump. Whether you decide to just leave the stump in your garden or convert it into an ornamental feature, it still needs to be killed if you don’t wish to run the risk of further problems with honey fungus, suckers, or side growths from previously dormant buds. Ideally, all stumps should be ground into sawdust by employing the services of a tree surgeon. The largest can be reduced to a mixture of sawdust and soil in under an hour allowing the gardener to replant immediately. For the DIY enthusiast, the cut surface should be drilled with a series of holes at least half an inch wide, and as deep as the drill bit will allow. Fill the holes with a product called S.B.K. Brushwood Killer to which has been added half as much again of old engine oil. Use the Brushwood Killer neat — that is, add nothing to it except the old oil. Cap the holes with putty so that rain does not wash the solution out.


Lavender plants can get gnarled and woody if left un-pruned and mid-September is the ideal time to take the shears to these even if they’re still showing a few flower spikes. Remove all of these, also their stalks and a couple of inches of spiky foliage aiming to make the whole bush into an attractive rounded shape. Over the next six weeks, the bushes will produce more new silvery spiky leaves making for an attractive feature over the winter months when little else is to be seen.


Asters come into their own this month but pay particular attention to their health and cultivation by dividing every fourth year in October (or March if you are under pressure) discarding the older, outer parts in favour of the vigorous around the sides of the clump. A variety which I highly recommend is ‘Little Carlow’, pictured, an old-fashioned strain which does not get mildew or other debilitating disorders. As well, they continue flowering for a long period and die gracefully when their time in the limelight is over.