Bonfires and bright, burnished colours. Autumn is well and truly here and glowing!
The leaves are falling all around – so make the most of them. Leafmould is one of those things that seasoned gardeners hold reverently in their hands – possibly because good quality leafmould takes at least 2 years to mature. But once its ready it can be used for potting compost and enriching beds. The easiest way to make it is to leave fallen leaves where they are and allow the worms to pull them under the soil and do the job for you. However, if the leaf-fall is very thick and smothering other plants or across a lawned area then you’ll need to rake it up. Once gathered, place the leaves in a bin liner, pierce it with holes, tie the top up and leave for two years.
Protecting tender plants…
Although our winters are milder now frost, wind and cold are still a threat to tender plants. If you’re growing exotic plants like bananas or tree ferms you’ll need to wrap them in hessian, bubblewrap or straw.
Until it gets really cold, keep dead-heading to encourage more flowers while you can – dahlias respond especially well to this in late autumn.
Take hard wood cuttings…
Buddleja, dogwood and willow can all be propagated in this way. After the leaves have fallen, cut a pencil length piece of stem cleanly beneath a bud. Make a sloped cut at the top of the stem so you can tell top from bottom and plant it in potting compost upto half its own depth. By spring there should be a good root system ready to be potted on.
Now is the last chance to get bulbs into the ground for spring and plant bare root plants such as roses. Its also a good time to plant magnolia trees and other trees, while their growth is dormant.
Fruit and veg…
Wait for a frost before lifting parsnips as the cold snap will sweeten their flavour. Lift and divide rhubard and plant autumn garlic. Now is also a good time to apply manure or mulch to the veg plot, ready to ‘feed’ next year’s crops. Plant raspberry canes and currant bushes now while they are dormant. Between now and February you can also prune apple and pear trees but leave all plum trees until summer to avoid silver leaf.
Keep the greenhouse clean and ventilated and aerate your lawn. You can also edge the lawn, which gives the garden a crisp look for the winter. You can also plant out winter bedding for a splash of colour on darker days.