In October, David Coton is getting the garden prepared for the onset of colder weather but, at the same time, the arrival of spring bulbs in the garden centre is a reminder that you should also now be planning ahead for next year.
Many gardeners like to think of themselves as thrifty individuals. Why go to the expense of buying anything new when you can cobble it together from odds and ends?
When it comes to plants they are only too happy to take softwood cuttings in the spring, forgetting that in the autumn they can also extend the life of many plants, saving money next year.
Forget about annuals whether hardy or half-hardy. Sweet peas, poppies, cosmos, French marigolds, nemesia and the like can be consigned to the compost heap after flowering or when you have collected seed.
However if you take cuttings from tender perennials such as fuchias, gazanias and geraniums and protect them over winter you'll be rewarded with lots of free plants in the spring.
Tender plants are also worth propagating in case we have a hard frosts or they don't survive several weeks in their greenhouse winter quarters.
If you have any lavender, salvia, hebe, verbena or penstemon, get out into the garden now and take end of season cuttings that will take root before they become dormant.
Cut off the end of a non-flowering shoot about 5ins long just above a leaf. Remove any lower leaves. Make a clean cut just below a leaf joint, leaving a cutting that is about 4ins. Fuchsias are an exception, preferring to root from shorter cuttings, maybe only one or two inches.
Now plant the cuttings, perhaps with a dusting of hormone rooting power, to about half of their length around the edge of a small pot filled with compost, a little sharp sand or grit should be added to improve drainage.
Water and then cover all but geraniums, and any other cutting with soft downy leaves, with a small plastic bag to conserve moisture and encourage humidity. After about six weeks this can be removed.
Stand the pots in good light but not direct sun. Water sparingly and remove any dead leaves, flowerbuds or cuttings that wilt and have clearly not taken.
In late March or early April you can pot the rooted plants individually and feel very pleased with yourself.
With warmer weather and an early Easter, the garden centre is busy at the moment with customers stocking up on summer bedding plants - snapdragons, cornflowers, cosmos, verbena, phlox, petunia, As well as filling planters, hanging baskets and borders with colour that will last all summer, there are always plenty of jobs to do in the garden during April and David Coton has these suggestions.
Every gardener must have noticed a decline in the bee population over recent years. Intensive farming that demands the use of toxic chemicals, climate change and parasite infestation have all been put forward as potential causes, it's a worrying trend but one that we can all help to reverse.
As an excellent alternative to conventional products, Trimetals' storage solutions blend top quality manufacture with contemporary style. Their range has now been extended to include two new maintenance free sheds and Robert Hall has all the details.
Zest 4 Leisure manufactures a large variety of timber garden furniture, fencing and leisure products, David Coton visited their brand new nine acre site near Chester last week to find out more about current development and future plans.