@blakes_garden on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/blakes_garden/
"Did you know? Spring Bulbs: Daffodils contain galantamine and can be extracted for use in the treatment of the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease and Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus. The crimson stigmas and styles known as threads are collected and dried to be used as a colouring agent and seasoning in food."
It is essential this time of year to prepare for winter frosts, tender plants need protection at the first sign of frost usually between September and November.
In autumn tender plants should be cut back and mulched over with some organic matter, or lifted out of the ground and stored over winter. This decision should be made based on the local climate and the plant itself.
Luckily for us southerners! In milder areas of the UK and in sheltered well drained areas of a garden it could be possible to simply cut back the tops of tender plants and leave them In the ground covering them over with a mulch, however in exposed and cold areas even the hardy perennials may need a heavy mulch over winter. Plants such as tender cannas, dahlias, gladioli, and tuberous begonias have rhizomes, tubers or corms that can survive over winter in a dormant state if stored correctly.
To avoid frost damage, find a cool dark location and dry off the tubers and leave them there until spring. The same principle can be applied to tender perennials too, however to protect these, lift and pot them from the ground and store in a sheltered location. Lift and pot up tender perennials, such as chocolate cosmos, pelargoniums (most commonly known as geraniums), gazanias and coleus, put them in your greenhouse to protect them over winter.
Alongside protecting the tender plants, why not get your green fingers out and plant some informal waves of spring bulbs in a lawn? For early spring colour you include daffodils, crocuses, and snake's-head fritillaries. Apart from looking good they are a nifty indicator that the gardening season has started. If you wanted to get some colour into your garden now and over the winter season, you can plant up a colourful pot display with plants such as winter pansies, heathers, cyclamen and skimmia’s. Now is also a brilliant time to plant conifer hedges and evergreen shrubs whilst the soil is still warm.
Preparing for next year there are other jobs to be done in the garden in autumn. Such as taking cuttings of shrub herbs like lemon verbena which is popular in deserts, and rosemary and thyme in October. Hardwood cuttings from healthy fruit bushes including gooseberries, currants and blueberries in November. Cover salad plants with frost protective fleece to prolong the crop and sow batches of hardy peas and broad beans outdoors for early crops next year.
Do you happen to have a fig tree? With large fruits that have failed to ripen? Take them off and leave the smaller pea sized fruits to develop ready for harvesting next year. And don’t forget to mulch the flower beds with manure, clean out the greenhouse, removing the debris from within can prevent overwintering pests and diseases to develop, and wash the glazing to allow for more autumn daylight to enter as each UV ray counts! After that insulate the greenhouse roof and walls with bubble polythene (bubble wrap) and bring the tropical plants like bananas, amaryllis, potted fuchsias and citrus plants in, keeping them frost free and cool over winter. If you have finished those jobs, you could always rake the lawn, driveways and paths or your borders and collect up all of the fallen leaves, if you store them in some gardening bin bags, these will rot down into leaf mould which is great to mix into the soil next year. Apply autumn lawn feed to revive the grass after the rigours of the summer season and check your shed is waterproof and secure and for the winter, clean and store your tools and patio furniture in it.
While you are cracking on with the jobs and as the cold encroaches, wildlife will be finding shelter to have a cosy winter too. Give wildlife a home or hotel by building a log pile in a corner or at the back of a border. They will thank you for it by naturally cleaning up the bits you missed! If you will be having a bonfire, remember to check your bonfires carefully before lighting them up as hedgehogs or other wildlife may have snuck in when your back was turned in seek of shelter. I think that is enough to be getting on with until winter arrives, take a moment to find me on Instagram @blakes_garden and sit back and enjoy the spectacular autumn display!
- by Blake Hopley - Director and Editor