‘Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.’ - George Eliot
Isn’t this the most magical description of autumn? Traditionally it is a period of change leading up to the darkness of winter so this may explain why so many poets and writers have reflections during this season.
As summer fades and the change of season draws ever closer, autumn is a busy, but perfect time, to think about practical and healthy ways to prepare the garden for a quiet sleep over winter. It’s also a useful time to reflect and possibly reconsider the design of your garden. Perhaps you want to move some plants to another location with differing conditions, such as more light or shade, where you know they could thrive more; or have you noticed empty spaces during the summer months that need extra plants?
It’s also a busy time for those who have planted their own produce. Harvesting in autumn must be one of the most satisfying of jobs, knowing you have grown your own fruit and vegetables and are now seeing the results of that labour. There is a new generation of gardeners who freeze, dry, can and bottle all their fruit and vegetables and produce jellies and infused vinegars from their garden-grown produce too (more on that in a later blog). Fantastic!
As sorry as many of us surely are to see the end of summer, it’s a great time to get out on cooler days and be a serious gardener! Spring may not be at the forefront of your mind but it’s all about preparation, and the tasks done in autumn before the cold of winter arrives will make gardening in spring more enjoyable and easier. Before we look at some of the garden tasks of autumn, be sure to take a moment to contemplate and enjoy the last of your flowers that are still blooming. All set?
Weather permitting, the last time to cut the grass is when October merges with November. Although falling leaves can look very romantic they should really be cleared off your lawn as they will deprive it of the albeit weak sunshine that is left before winter. This will ultimately help to improve your lawn’s resistance against weeds and moss. Try to rake the leaves as they fall and it will make your job lighter. What to do with all those leaves? How about making a leaf mould to nourish your garden?
Bring inside any pots that are fragile and could be spoilt with a freeze.
Make sure any fallen fruit is picked up. This helps to reduce pest risk, which could wreak unintentional havoc next year.
Perennial Beds and Bedding Plants
It’s time to plant your winter bedding plants and to give a last weeding around your perennial beds. You can also, if you want, lay some mulch for extra protection.
Time to remove any old plants and carry out a final weeding. Autumn is also the best possible time to add organic matter in the form of compost or manure. This will enhance the nutrients in the soil for next season’s vegetables. Also, here’s an idea for you to try out that you may not know about. Now is the perfect time to plant garlic. Yes garlic! Plant it before the ground freezes – single cloves, about 2.5cm deep and 10cm apart. Hey presto, or I should say hey pesto, next summer full heads of garlic to harvest.
Have you thought about harvesting seeds from your annual and perennial plants? This is an inexpensive way to plant up your garden for the following year. Never done it before? Here are a few tips:
Only harvest ripened seed pods, discarding the outer casing.
Keep track of them by placing them in marked, sealed envelopes and then put the envelopes in an airtight container in the fridge. That way they should last a couple of years.
It sounds like extra work but the rewards are high. If you harvest too many for your own use, think what a lovely gift that would be for family and friends.
A healthy pond has a balance between plants and oxygen. The plants must not overwhelm the pond. The maintenance required in autumn reflects this simple philosophy. It is important to keep the water free from any decaying vegetation. Prune back any excessive foliage from submerged plants and if possible, put netting over the pond to catch the falling autumn leaves.
Did you know that if there’s an early ‘cold snap’ in autumn it’s important to keep the pond ice-free, as submerged decaying vegetation will release methane gas which, if trapped by a layer of ice, will be potentially lethal to fish? Poor fish - we can’t have that!
So make ready. Autumn’s coming! For more tips on preparing your garden in autumn for an easier and healthier spring garden contact North Leeds Garden design today.