“Autumn is the mellow season, all the hectic flowering and reproductive activity of the summer is over. For the gardener, this is the time to start putting the garden to bed” – Alan Titchmarsh
What better way to describe Autumn as putting the garden to bed…. Makes it almost sound an easy task! Unless like myself you own that tantrum throwing garden that wont go to sleep until you’ve given it all the attention it needs. Including:
Pruning of shrubs and trees – Please don’t just give in to the power tool that’ll take off the top growth but do nothing for the inside of the shrub. Instead take time to look for any old thick inner stems that can be cut out, and always prune back to a bud or leaf join. If the shrub is in flower or has berries then leave well alone until Spring to do your pruning.
Beds – Turn them over before winter removing any weed and give them a simple feed of compost, this will help feed your plants during this long slumber of winter.
Protection – Your less hardy plants such as the lovely Bourgonvillia should be brought indoors for winter, a sever frost could see it off. For less hardy plants that are planted out such as the Dicksonia Tree Ferns and Cordylines should be tied up and wrapped in a frost protection sheet (about £3 a roll in a garden centre). Fuchsias can be cut right back and protected in a blanket of peat or compost over the central heart of the plant.
Winter bedding – Once your beds have been weeded, turned and fed with compost, you can add colour throughout winter by adding winter bedding plants, such as the Cyclamen, winter Pansies / Violas and Winter Cabbage.
Hanging Baskets – Use a collection of the above bedding plants but try to create a pyramid effect with the tallest plants in the centre working down each circle. I like too add some small shrubs in mine such as the evergreen Skimmia with its display of deep red flowers. By adding the shrub it’ll give height to your baskets, but also next year you can plant it out in the garden to fill any spaces where plants haven’t survived the winter.
Bulbs – Now is the time to get those bulbs out of the shed and into the ground. Digging a hole two times the height of the bulb, plant the bulbs about two times it’s width apart, making sure they are pointing upwards.
Leaf Clearing – Yep it always happens, you clear your lawn of those falling leaves only to find the next day there are twice as many as before blown over from next door… However don’t give up, the more you collect them the more you can recycle them into leaf mulch for spring garden feeding. If you can’t bare to keep picking the leaves up then I urge you at least to rake them from your lawns onto the beds as large quantity of leaves left on the lawn to rot may kill of patches of lawn.
Lawns – Once your lawn has been given it’s last cut for the year (I recommend on a medium setting) then is the time to give it a good rake, taking out moss and any other thatch. A good scarify from top to bottom then again left to right should clear a lot of lawn rubbish. Then taking a fork prick your lawn ever two to three good paces. This will help to aerate the lawn. It may look like a lot of holes but then soon disappear over winter. Finally a good autumn lawn feed scattered will give your lawn the best chance of beating the winter blues.
So once all this hard work is done don’t forget to enjoy the treats the garden can offer at this time of year, the autumnal colours, coffee during those misty mornings and the wildlife visiting for any treats you may have left in the garden, nuts, berries etc… So sit back and relax knowing your garden has been well tucked up for winter.