Generally we think Spring = main planting time, which is true to a point especially for sowing seeds and planting tender things but traditionally Autumn IS the time for planting.
It’s a great time to plant hardy trees and shrubs as they establish really well and you get a much better success rate. The reason being that the soil is still lovely and warm so the plant roots carry on growing, also the autumn rain comes in which of course really helps to water them making life much easier than in the spring and early summer when watering is much more demanding AND you’re doing way more in the garden!
The other reason the plants get going so well is the roots don’t have to work so hard as the plants aren’t putting on any aerial growth (watering the next year will need to be done in dry weather but it will be way less). This time of year is also bulb planting season and I really think its worth planting spring flowering bulbs, they’re so reliable, versatile and add a fabulous splash of colour to any garden…and many get better year after year.
Bulbs can go almost anywhere, containers, raised beds, along hedge lines, under trees, borders and in lawns. Bulbs in containers are treated slightly differently than ones planted directly in the ground – in maintenance and actual planting. When planting in the ground it is much more permanent (with the bulbs coming back the following years) and as such require very little work once in. Basic straight forward tips are – make sure you put the bulbs in deep enough, as a general rule three times the depth of the bulb (but check the packet as there are exceptions).
If you don’t plant them deep enough they will still flower the first year but will spend the next year or so “pulling” themselves down to the right depth which often means their flowering is reduced. The other advantage of having them down deeper is they’re more insulated from cold weather and squirrels and mice are less likely to dig them up and eat them!
With heavy clay soil it’s worth putting 3-5cm of gravel at the bottom of the hole so the bulbs never “sit” in water which can rot them especially the more fancy ones and poor sandy soils benefit from digging in a good garden compost and adding a general fertiliser.
When it comes to containers it’s best just to have them in there for one flowering as unless you feed well and really look after them they never perform as well – after flowering plant out in the garden and they will regenerate giving colour for many years. The great thing about containers is you can create a great display by layering different bulbs putting the smallest on the top. One last tip – get your bulbs as soon as possible you’ll get a much better choice.