The days are getting shorter and we’ve already had some cold spells but the promise of berries and glorious autumn colour is something to look forward to. Autumn is one of the busiest and most important times in the garden and efforts invested now will reap dividends next year. There is much to do.
Getting the garden ready for winter involves many important garden chores. Tender and half hardy plants (such as pelargoniums, Dahlias and Cannas) need to be lifted and brought inside. Perennials that have been in the ground for 3 years or so may need dividing, and spring and summer-flowering shrubs can be pruned. Do not prune winter-flowering shrubs or plants that produce winter berries as you will inhibit their performance. Clear up leaves as they fall to stop slugs, snails and fungal infections, and rake them off the grass as soon as possible to prevent brown patches forming. Cut down herbaceous perennials that no longer look attractive and that will not look good enhanced by frost. Once weeded and put in order, beds should be mulched and lawns given an autumn feed.
October is an excellent time for planting – trees, shrubs and perennials planted in the autumn will get a head start because they can spend the colder months directing their energies into root formation, to boost a better show above ground next year.
Now is the time for Spring Bulb Planting, although tulips are better planted at the end of October to reduce the risk of fungal infection in warm, wet soil. From snowdrops and winter aconites in January, to daffodils and crocus through February and March, to tulips and alliums in late spring and early summer, there is a bulb to give splashes of colour and form. They are very good value, and have instant impact, and particularly in a small garden, it is effective to choose a colour scheme, and to have a larger quantity of the same type and colour of bulb. So for example, plant 10 tulips of the same variety in a good sized pot, or 20-30 daffodils in a border or 7-9 alliums in a summer bed to achieve a striking effect.
Growing bulbs in pots is generally a good idea, for most except the woodlanders such as snowdrops and winter aconites. They are easier to protect from squirrels with wire netting. They can be moved into position when the attractive leaf buds start to emerge. They are easily disposed of at the end of the season, and if being kept for another year, can be moved somewhere out of sight to die down, and then easily removed from the pot and stored. Happy Gardening!
Anne Fraser and Caroline Streets
07729 835988 & 07930 876348