I’ve been a bit remiss with my gardening blogs of late. Too busy motorbiking around the Alps and managing work commitments. Anyway, the garden did its thing this summer, I enjoyed it and I hope you took the time to enjoy yours too! The big stuff I wanted to grow is still quite small, it’s only year one after all. Things will improve next year.
But now the garden looks knackered, it has done its thing and needs some attention.
I prefer to tidy things up as they go over. Anything with a glimmer of life, or a flower in it gets left. You can leave the whole lot untouched if you are happy to see it that way and some architectural plants such as sea hollies and miscanthus can stay as they look great all the way through winter anyway. I like to keep clearing as it makes way for spring bulbs to be seen and so on. Don’t forget to keep weeding as well, there are plenty of weed plants that will happily set seed all the time so don’t ignore them.
If you want something a little smaller, sorbus commixta “Olympic Flame” is a cracker.
Whilst we are on the subject of trees, this is going to sound a bit bonkers but it you have any silver birch trees in your garden, get a bucket of warm water with a dash of washing up liquid in it and give the trunk and lower branches a good wash. I use a dustpan and brush brush. Rinse off and you’ll be amazed at how stark and bright the white bark will appear and they’ll stay like that all through winter.
All your summer bedding is going to get zapped with the first decent frost. Most will turn to mush and vanish. Bigger plants like dahlias and cannas can be lifted and overwintered in a frost free garage if you can at all be bothered. For dahlias, I’ll snip off the stems to about three inches, wash all the soil off the tubers, give them a good drenching spray with Roseclear and then let them dry off completely in the conservatory. Once dry they just go on a plant tray in the garage until I pot them up in the Spring. With cannas, I just lift the whole root, snip off the stems again, take off the bulk of the soil without washing and then just stand the root on a plant tray or saucer in the garage and leave it like that. No watering, nothing until getting them started again next year. Keep an eye on them for signs of rot and Roseclear them if necessary but don’t get them too wet.
You can still move perennials around at this time of year if you think they are in the wrong place or need dividing. The soil is still “warm” so there’ll be a bit of root growth for a while. It’s a good time to plant trees for the same reasons and if you want trees for autumn colour, get down to the garden centres now as they should be at their colourful peak and you can see what you are buying. This is one of the best I think – acer rubrum “October Glory”.
Now to the lawn – unless there is so much grass there that it looks like it could do with a herd of cows on it, I’d be inclined to not cut rather than cut it too short and give the moss chance to take hold – it probably will anyway but why encourage it? If you do cut, cut when it is as dry as it can be. Keep tidying the leaves off the grass, this is important. My Dad used to simply leave everything until all the trees were bare and then rake them all up in one go by which time the grass had already been smothered for too long, there were loads of bare patches and then loads of moss and weeds later on. Unless you have literally tons of leaves, just put them onto the borders, they’ll soon rot down and are great for the soil. They’ll help keep the weeds down too.
There is still time to plant bulbs, but it is getting late for daffs and crocuses so don’t hang around. Tulips can be planted for a while yet. Remember plant them at the back of the beds rather than the front so the leaves won’t look such an eyesore. Or, just buy a load of different things and cram (and I mean cram) them all into a tub. Tulips first then daffs and the smaller ones on top. Always a good display at the start of the year.
Talking of bulbs – if you see a particular snowdrop in the garden centre (B&Q have them), galanthus elwesii (you can easily remember that last part if you are from west Yorkshire and have Spanish blood) buy them! They are one of the biggest and best snowdrops you can find and often in flower first. Plant them at the bottom of a trellis or arch somewhere so you can see them from the house.
That’s about it I reckon, don’t forget to feed the birds and enjoy what is left in the garden.
Happy gardening! Mike x