Autumn in the Garden 2021
Thursday, 14 October 2021 | Alison
The combination of sun, rain and average temperatures this summer has proved to be ideal for extending the growing season, with summer bedding flowers still giving some colour to our gardens, pots and hanging baskets. Roses have been generous by producing a second round of blooms and many have kept flowering all summer.
Vegetables have done equally well. My favourite summer vegetables, the humble runner beans, have been fantastic. With the regular feed they have been given this summer, these ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ plants have produced masses of long, plump and tender beans which we have picked and enjoyed eating most days.
But autumn beckons and with the drop in temperatures, the leaves on the trees are turning from their green summer livery to their autumnal, ever in fashion, shades of burnt orange, reds and coppers so it is time to get some essential gardening jobs started so here are a few things to get going with now in your garden.
Let’s start with something easy and fun to do –
Collect seeds from your favourite plants to sow in the new year. Poppies, cosmos, calendula, runner beans and hollyhocks are just some that can grow successfully. Place seeds in a brown paper bag to allow them to dry out. Label the bag. Put in a spot that isn’t damp. Once seeds are dried, separate the seeds from the chaff so that you are only saving the seeds not the hulls and other bits of debris. Keep in a labelled airtight container/tin until you want to sow them.
Look on our website and order some wallflowers and pansies to brighten up winter displays and spring bulbs to plant up either into pots or into your borders. Daffodils and crocus can go in during October. Tulips can be left until November to plant. There is less chance of them succumbing to tulip fire, a fungal disease that can show itself on the new leaf growth as brown spots or twisted and distorted leaves.
Leave a small area of the garden borders unraked and untidied especially under hedges so that smaller wildlife and insects may find a home for the cold winter months. Dead leaves make ideal nesting material for hibernating hedgehogs. Fallen bamboo leaves that are dry when they fall are perfect.
Taller perennial stalks and seed heads can be left in situ and not cut back. Tie them up in the centre with string to form a tepee shape and then stuff the lower area with fallen leaves. Achillea, golden rods (Solidago) and taller grasses are a good idea to use as their stems are quite sturdy This is an excellent way to provide winter homes for beneficial insects. The added bonus is that you are protecting next years new growth and you get to enjoy the frosted seed head tops that will glisten in the cold winter sunlight.
Tomatoes from the greenhouse can be taken off the plants now, even if they are still green. The lower light levels and heat are not going to ripen them this late in the season. Either make green tomato chutney or put them in a kitchen drawer with a couple of ripe tomatoes and before long they will be ready to use.
If your garden borders are looking, well, too green at this time of the year, clear some space by being firm with yourself and composting older or underperforming shrubs and perennials. Now is the time to invest in some perennials that will give reliable autumn colour.
Autumn is the best time of year to plant a tree in your garden. The soil is still warm and planting now will give the roots a chance to settle in and grow a little before winter sets in. Consider a fruit tree, apple or cherry, that will give spring blossom and autumn fruits. A deciduous tree like ginkgo biloba will bring a whole season of colour to your garden with the changing leaf tones and unusual leaf shape. Some birch trees have an extended season of interest into winter with peeling bark.
Right, I am off into the garden to tackle the runner bean plants and clear my vegetable bed of weeds and do some cutting back.
Have fun and enjoy your garden!