Jobs for autumn

Date
Published in
Various local newspapers (UK)
Written by
Kim Wilde

One of the most spectacular and exciting times of the year in the garden is the autumn, when the foliage of trees, shrubs and climbers changes from green to wonderful shades of reds, yellows and oranges and the full glory of a whole seasons growth reveals itself in the form of amazing berries, ripe fruits, stunning seed heads, spectacular coloured stems and vivid flowers.
The intensity of autumn colour in deciduous trees, shrubs and climbers very much depends upon the frequency of cold nights accompanied by bright sunny days in October, before the plants naturally shed their leaves.

The autumn is one of the best times of the gardening year in which to plant a whole range of hardy plants, including roses, that will benefit from being planted at this time of the year, as they are able to take advantage of the warm, moist soil to establish new roots before the winter. A number of topical plants looking good at the moment include Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum' the Japanese Maple, Liquidamber stryraciflua the Sweet Gum Tree, Hamamelis x intermedia the common Witch Hazel and Pyracantha 'Orange Glow' the Firethorn.

Early October is the time to re-plant your summer containers and hanging baskets, especially if the plants have been blackened by the first frosts. This will ensure colour and interest throughout the autumn and winter period.

A wide range of autumn bedding plants are available to plant now, such as Winter Flowering Pansies, Yoder Chrysanthemums, Voila, Bellis, Polyanthus, Wallflowers, trailing Ivies, Heathers and Ornamental Cabbage as well as a selection of dwarf conifers and evergreen shrubs. Don't forget to add some Spring Flowering Bulbs at the time of planting to create even more colour next spring.

In your flower borders, you can start to lift any congested clumps of flowering perennials. Dig up the whole clump and divide into smaller pieces, discarding any old and unproductive portions. Replant young healthy plants in small groups into re-conditioned soil.

In your vegetable garden there are plenty of tasks to be getting on with now. Remove the blackened foliage of runner beans, which can be dug into the soil and store away the canes until next year. You can now start your autumn digging and sow an early crop of Broad Beans as well as Winter Lettuce, which may need some winter protection. Autumn Onion Sets can also be planted and these will mature ready for an early summer harvest next year.

As the leaves fall this autumn, take time to rake up this free bounty for your compost bin. Leaves make an excellent medium for composting and will produce copious amounts of fresh garden compost next year that is great for digging into the soil.