As we continue to enjoy our late summer flowers and the bountiful produce from our gardens, our minds will start to turn to the Autumn and Winter months ahead and to the jobs we need to do to prepare our gardens and allotments. Shorter and colder days do not mean we need to spend less time in the garden and indeed, many have learned the pleasures of spending more time outside during these last difficult six months. Even half an hour of fresh air and maybe even sunshine can lift our spirits and improve our physical and mental well-being.
So here are some jobs you can do as Autumn progresses.
It is always a good idea to take stock of your garden during the summer and see what plants do well. Collecting seeds and taking cuttings from your perennials and hardy annuals, ensures an ongoing supply of new plants next year for little cost. Salvias are very popular at the moment and they are excellent to take cuttings from to overwinter, ready to plant out next year. Seeds can be collected and stored from poppies, nigella and you may notice new little plants are already growing in your garden ready for next year. Seeds are normally ready to collect two months after flowering and have dried off and turned brown. Try and collect the seed heads on a dry day and store for a couple of weeks in a bag or a box before shaking off the seeds. Once excess plant material has been removed, store in an envelope or a bag in a cool dry place. It is very satisfying to grow your own plants from seeds collected the previous year and there are usually plenty of extra to share with friends and family. Spring bulbs can be planted in Autumn ready for a wonderful display next year.
Now is also a good time to divide any herbaceous perennials that have got too large or you just want to spread around the garden. Plants moved in autumn will usually survive the experience well and have time to establish a good root system ahead of next year’s growth. Dig around the whole plant, and if you cannot separate it with your hands, then cut in half or more with a spade, before replanting in its new position. It doesn’t matter if you sever some of the roots.
As leaves fall and plants die back, continue to tidy up the garden and put these in your compost but some plants can be left to provide interest in winter such cornus stems and seed heads on thistles etc. You can leave piles of leaves and twigs in discreet corners for wildlife to use over the winter months. Move any tender plants such as geraniums and half hardy fuschias into your greenhouse or into a protected area less likely to get frost. We are very lucky that we do not get such severe frosts as other parts of the country. If you keep an eye on the weather, you can leave some less hardy plants in your garden and cover them in the event of severe weather.
Geraniums are very easy to propogate and indeed they never really become dormant. You can take cuttings at any time and some of them should root successfully. Just take care not to overwater them and they do not need to be covered.. If you do not have a greenhouse, this is an excellent to way to keep your favourite plants for the next year as they will survive well indoors. Overwintered plants generally need very little attention.
Hedges need a good tidy up now, especially if they've been neglected over summer. It's also time to prune your fruit trees to stimulate the formation of fruit buds and flowers. This should be followed by a final prune in November before winter sets in.
Hayling Island Horticultural Society held two successful Virtual Shows this year and we do hope that we will be able to resume ‘normal service’ next year.. If you would like more information on the Society, or how to join please visit our website website: www.hihs.org.uk or facebook page. They are both full of useful and friendly advice and have certainly been a source of support for fellow islanders.