Autumn is my favourite season. Of course spring brings its own excitement, but this time of year can be very beautiful: mellow weather, rich colours and a more relaxed feeling in the air. Many garden trees and shrubs give us a vibrant display of colour before shedding their leaves in preparation for the winter, from the buttery yellow of Ginkgo biloba, the maidenhair tree, to the vivid burnt oranges and reds of Acers.
Against a clear blue sky these colours really lift the spirits. Some plants also have a generous larder of decorative fruit. Trees like Sorbus, or mountain ash and varieties of Malus, the crab apple have fruit that feed the birds and look fantastic. Berried shrubs such as Pyracantha and Cotoneaster will encourage wildlife in to dine on them.
There are some interesting herbaceous perennials that flower in early autumn. They include Nerine and Schizostylis, which both offer a contrast to the normal tints of the season as they come in shades of pink from candy floss to cerise depending on variety. Planting them, or other additions to the garden, is not a problem at this time of year as the soil is usually still warm and moist and will allow the plant to establish before winter takes hold.
Now is also the time to plant your spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, crocus and tulips. Think about planting them in drifts through borders or lawns for a naturalistic effect. They can be included for extra interest in tubs of winter pansies or violas. It’s useful to pot up a few herbs from the garden like mint, parsley or chives to put on the kitchen windowsill to use when the weather turns bad.
Other jobs for the autumn include lifting any dahlias or lilies for storage over winter in a frost free place, once the foliage has died down. If you have a pool it should be cleaned and netted to prevent leaves falling in and rotting. Greenhouses will benefit from being cleared out and cleaned thoroughly to kill off fungal spores and other nasties waiting to infect your plants next year.
So don’t be to over zealous, leave some seed heads for the birds or maybe some free plants next season!
But one of the best things about autumn is when the new seed catalogues come out! So you can sit down and plan all the fantastic things you want to grow next year. They contain lots of information and growing tips so it’s worth sending off for one or two to peruse at your leisure. You’ll be spoilt for choice!