Getting ready for Autumn

Autumn is a very busy time for the gardener.  Get your hands dirty and enjoy the sunshine before the cold comes!To ensure colour through winter, plant and sow now and make sure that you have the right herbs/veggies in before it is too cold.  Certain winter flowering bulbs and some spring flowering bulbs can be planted. Harvest your herbs early in the morning for drying. Lemon verbena and lemon balm and tarragon, especially as they will lose their precious leaves in winter. Try to get rid of  weeds before they set seed. Compost making is never ending and those wormeries need to be taken out and “divided” every now and then. Talking about dividing, this is the best time to divide lots of plants like strawberries, irises, and many perennial herbs and bulbous plants. Feed those guys which are going to flower or bear fruit soon, like the citrus trees. In Autumn a lot of cuttings can be taken, especially of the more mature wood. It is easier than you think! A lot of your flowers have finished flowering, this is the time to gather those dried flower heads full of seeds. Keep some of the interesting shapes for pot pourri making.

This is a good time to add a new bed to your garden.  You have time to weed, compost and mulch the soil in preparation for the new plants (some which are best to plant in winter, like trees and deciduous species). As the days get shorter and colder, a lot of animals are preparing for winter too. Be careful not to remove too many leaves or old branches etc from your garden. They provide food and shelter for a lot of animals who would like to overwinter in your garden. As the leaves fall, gently rake them into the beds where they will provide much needed mulching for your plants and homes for little creatures. Mulching saves water too!

If you have moved to a new garden, take note of how the sun moves over the next few months, which plants and trees are deciduous and make notes in a little gardening book, so that you will know what to plant amongst those shrubs and under those trees and against trellises and walls next year this time. Also take the time to read through old gardening books of the same month to get a good idea of what to do or not to do this time of the year. Have a look at neighbour’s gardens to get ideas of what to plant in yours.  Get to know the soil in your garden. You will get a good idea about what soil it is by looking at what is growing there already.

When you consider planting more plants and trees, try to plant indigenous. Indigenous trees,plants and grasses attract our butterflies and birds and secondly, try to plant what grows in your climate. These species are well adapted to the area and will save you money by not dying on you and reward you with special guests like birds, little reptiles and insects.