After a long summer in the garden, it’s easy to forget the benefits of autumn and early winter planting. Here’s a timely reminder that this is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. If you plant now and up until Christmas, you can take advantage of warm soil, despite the cooler air temperature.
Now the evenings are darker, why not brighten up your garden with autumnal colour? Our Plant of the Month is the skimmia, which looks lovely combined with cheery cyclamen, particularly in clusters of red.
The washed-out flower heads of hydrangea hold frost and spider webs beautifully, adding interest to your autumn garden, so don’t be in a hurry to cut them down. Wait until spring so birds can nibble on seed heads and over-wintering insects can keep their habitat. Sedum and eryngium also hold on to their seed heads and provide cover and habitat for insects.
Kaffir lilies may still be holding on to a few flowers and the Christmas rose will be budding up to give you some lovely pure white flowers for December and January.
Warm up by forking over the soil. In doing so, it takes advantage of frosts that will break down the soil. Cover any bare soil with mulch, manure or leaf mould. It can improve the soil and make it easier to work when you’re planting next spring.
The time is right for planting tulips, and you’ll be glad of the effort when they’re looking stunning in the spring, so get planting while you do your leaf clearing and digging. Add lots of horticultural grit to help with drainage. If you’ve planted any bulbs in bowls, place them in the dark and water them when the soil gets dry.
Prune roses to stop the wind catching stray branches. You can cut down the main stems by about a third. Make sloping cuts with a sharp pair of secateurs. It will come back to life next spring.
It’s also a good month for planting roses. They look like twigs in the garden centre, but they’re bursting with potential for next year so give them a head start now. Give the roots a good soak before planting.
If you have a pond, clear out fallen leaves, twigs and dead pond foliage before it’s too cold. This is a great month also to get stuck into the lawn. You can scarify, aerate and top dress feed. Choose an autumn lawn food that is high in phosphates for root development.
Until next month, happy gardening!