It’s going to be a busy autumn – gardener Pete Harcom shares his list of clean up jobs for the winter, as well as planting tips to be ready for spring
We can now look forward to the spectacular display of colours from our deciduous trees and shrubs.
In general terms, autumn is the best time for planting trees and shrubs and hedges.
Here are a few jobs to be getting on with this month:
Clean up the greenhouse and move any potted or planted frost-vulnerable plants (like fuchsias and pelargoniums) into the greenhouse to overwinter. If you have limited space, put the plants together in a long flower pot (window-box type).
Make sure you have your sweet pea seeds ready for a winter sowing.
Collect seeds from hardy perennials and sow them in a cold greenhouse now.
If you have shade paint on your greenhouse glass, now is the time to remove it. While it is dry, remove the paint carefully with a dry cloth.
This will let in more light and help grab as much of the sun’s heat as possible on cooler days.
Clear up your borders; remove the annuals and plant up for spring with wallflowers, pansies, hellebores and perhaps Bellis perennis daisies.
Be sure to plant some flowering bulbs to help the bees when they emerge from hibernation – crocus, snake’s head fritillary, winter-flowering clematis and grape hyacinths are all particularly good for bees. Bees that emerge too early from hibernation on sunny winter days are in danger of dying if they don’t find a source of food quickly, so by providing a constant source of nectar in your garden, you can really help them on their way.
Cut back, divide and replant your herbaceous perennials.
Protect half-hardy plants with leaf mould or compost if you are leaving them in the garden borders. Hardy fuchsias will definitely benefit from this.
Hedgehogs will really benefit from extra food now, especially as they will be needing to fatten up before their winter hibernation. No need to buy expensive products – local hedgehog rescue centres feed them on dry complete kitten food.
Keep rose beds and plants clear of fallen rose leaves, especially if black spot is a problem.
Complete the pruning of rambling and climbing roses.
Here’s an interesting plant for you to try – Trillium erectum, or wakerobin. Fully hardy and perennial, these wildflowers from North America are plants of open woodland, so filtered shade is needed rather than full shade. They flower from April to May, and reach around 30cm. They need a humus-rich soil that is well-drained, but not tooled.
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