Autumn is definitely here, and we’re all feeling the cooler days and nights. It’s such a beautiful time of year, with the leaves changing colour. It’s the perfect time for a garden tidy and to get in touch with and enjoy nature in your garden and outdoors.
- Cut back herbaceous perennials as they die down, and divide overgrown clumps of perennials such as crocosmia, daylilies and hardy geraniums. Use the sharp edge of a spade to divide woody roots, or insert two garden forks back to back to lever apart fibrous root clumps.
- Move tender plants, including aquatic plants, into a greenhouse or conservatory before the first frosts. Keeping citrus trees away from draughts and radiators.
- In cold areas, lift dahlia tubers after the first frost. Let them dry, then store them in a box, covered with dry compost. In milder areas, you may get away with simply mulching heavily.
- Plant onion, shallot and garlic sets now for a bumper crop next year.
- If you’re growing Brussels sprouts for your Christmas dinner, stake the plants and firm the earth well around the roots to protect them against autumn winds.
- Harvest apples, pears and nuts. If you have a glut of apples and pears there are many local cider producers who will take them off your hands, and often you get a bottle in return as thanks!!
- Harvest the last of your peas and beans, then cut the plants down to ground level, leaving the roots to release their stored nitrogen back into the ground. Harvest squash and pumpkins before the first frosts.
- Pick any unripe tomatoes and peppers and ripen them indoors by placing them in paper bags together with a banana or an apple – these fruits release ethylene which encourages ripening. Check on them regularly and remove any rotting fruits.
- Prune climbing roses, and reduce the height of shrub roses by half to protect them against wind rock.
- This is your last chance to mow lawns and trim hedges in mild areas, plus renovate old lawns or create new grass areas by laying turf where needed.
- Raise pots on pot feet to improve drainage and reduce the risk of frost damage to both pots and plants.
- Replant pots and hanging baskets with winter heathers, ivy, violas and cyclamen for winter colour. Plant wallflowers now too, for spring blooms.
- Plant hyacinth bulbs in pots indoors now to give you flowers at Christmas. Look for bulbs marked ‘Prepared for indoor growing’, which will have been given cold treatments to encourage them to flower early.
Every garden can be enriched to become a home for local birds and wildlife, planting flowering meadows for butterflies and insects, hedges for nesting birds, and blossom and blooms throughout the year to bring in bees, butterflies and insects.
There are many ways to make wildlife welcome in your garden from building mini ponds and bog gardens to providing shelter for insects and putting up bird feeders, baths and nesting boxes.
To find out more, visit the HTA’s October, ‘In touch with nature’ page HERE.