I know some people find the Autumn a little depressing what with the dark mornings and evenings, wet weather and only worse to come….but try looking at it in a different light.
On the positive side of things it’s a great time to re-organise or re-design as you have more time on your hands – the general everyday maintenance of the Summer months is way less. Very little watering, no feeding, only really mowing the lawn to pick up the leaves and nothing much going on in the vege patch.
There are a few chores that are worth getting on top of now and it does spruce up the garden up making it look loved and not neglected!
Cut back all the herbaceous plants to ground level and lightly fork over borders pulling out the weeds and annual bedding as you go. If there are any plants that you want to move because they’re in the wrong place / too close to other plants etc. now is a good time to do it as they settle into their new site much more readily. And with everything cut back and tidy you can see the framework of the garden so it makes it easier to see and sort out any design flaws.
The other major task is to protect those plants that can’t cope with our winters – whether it’s the cold or wet but more often or not the combination of both. Summer bulbs like Dahlia and Gladioli need the full protection of a frost free and dry environment – lift and let them dry off before storing – pack in sawdust in either a cardboard box or hessian sack as this lets the bulbs breath.
A lot of the annuals that we grow in the summer are actually perennials (fuchsia, pelargoniums, osteospermum) so can be potted and over wintered on the window sill / conservatory / greenhouse which can then be used next year. If you have plants that are in containers that need some protection move the container close to the wall of the house – it’ll be warmer, drier and out of the worst of the weather.
Herbaceous plants like Penstemon can be given extra protection by putting a layer of garden compost over the crown of the plant. Large plants that can’t be move like tree ferns and banana will need to be protected by wrapping in garden fleece or hessian. Two things I’d strongly recommend to cheer up your autumn- lift and pot up some herbs like mint, chives and tarragon that happily grow on your kitchen window sill and provide you with fresh herbs for a good month or two.
Make sure you visit a garden or park to look at the spectacular autumn colours whilst you have the chance.