Autumn gardening tips
Plant, mow, rake! Easy tips to keep your garden in shape throughout October. No experience necessary – and a bit of graft now won't eat into valuable drinking time, come Spring.
Temperatures start to nose dive, the risk of trench foot is high and the pull of a pub fire and a glass of shiraz is strong, but if you put a bit of graft into your garden now, you’ll reap the rewards come Spring.
We picked the brains of Jonathan Kitching, a horticulturist and director of Rosebourne who knows a thing or two about mulching, mowing and, er, other gardenny things starting with ‘m.’
Rosebourne Aldermaston is celebrating its 1st birthday on Sun 6 Oct and Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood (from 3pm)– a walking talking glitter ball – will be back (I interviewed Craig at the grand opening last year) for a book signing and all the backstage gossip.
But before we get carried away in a vat of fake tan and cover ourselves in sequins, we need to focus on getting dirty (not dancing). Here are Jonathan’s top tips on how to keep your garden gorgeous this month.
Just as the majority of the garden is going to sleep, you can still keep the colour going throughout autumn by replacing your pot plants with pansies, cyclamens, heathers, and hardy chrysanthemums and violas should power through until next year. It’s also a brilliant time for planting bulbs. Alliums – stunning architectural flowers with big purple heads; and tulips which are available in almost every shade and different shapes; are a great alternative to daffodils, which have gone out of fashion.
My top tip? Plant bulbs deep into a pot and pop your pansies, for instance, on the top. Then you’ll get a really striking pot of flowers in Spring, with very little effort. The bulbs must be quite deep. Add compost at the bottom, 4-5 inches down for tulips and alliums, put some more compost on the top, then pop your late bloomers on top – pink tulip bulbs with blue pansies would look amazing.
It’s nature’s natural time for planting as it is not too hot and roots have time to establish. So if you’re planning to plant shrubs, trees, do it now.
In terms of tools? For pots and basket, you won’t need anything more exotic than your hands and a trowel. If you’re planting a lot of bulbs into borders, a Bulb Planter that takes our a core of soil and releases will make light work of this back breaking job.
TIDY UP AND CUT BACK
As herbaceous perennials die back, you can cut them back to the base of the plant. It’s also a good time of year to give shrubs a trim. It should be done for shape, thinning it out a little bit. If you’re worried about how much to take off, it can withstand up to third off. So anything that’s got a bit big for your garden, remove up to that amount, but focus on the removing the old wood and leave the younger shoots. It’s a good time to get on top of weeds too. Put in some effort now and there will be a lot less to do in the warmer months when you want to enjoy your garden.
Roses only need the dead flowers taking off. Don’t prune until Feb/Mar. If you have’t dead headed your lavender and trimmed that yet, do it now to avoid the woodiness and encourage new growth.
You know autumn is well and truly here when the leaves turn glorious colours and start falling. If you leave them, they won’t do any damage, and will naturally rot down, but it looks tidier when you collect them up. They can also get very slippery in the wet weather so it’s good idea to clear paths to avoid a fall. A plastic rake and a grabbers make light work of this job, or in vest in a leaf blower. Then simply sling them onto your compost and, I’d recommend adding an additive (you can a pack of this powder up at garden centres) and it helps to speed up the rot down.
As the grass stops growing, you can do your final cut of the year, raising the height of the cut. While the weather is still mild, scarify your lawn to get rid of the thatch and moss, aerate the lawn (with a fork or hire/buy a machine) and apply an autumn lawn feed (high in pot ash) which will encourage roots to grow and toughen up plants to withstand cold and disease. You can also create new areas of lawn by sowing seed or laying new turf. You’ll be rewarded with a thick luscious lawn for your efforts, with almost no need for sprinkling.
CLEAN FURNITURE AND PUT AWAY
Before you put away all of your outdoor furniture, give it all a good pressure wash. If you’re leaving larger pieces of furniture out over winter, you might want to buy covers to avoid it getting dirty. Teak and High-Density Polyethylene rattan can stay outdoors all year round, but it will get dirty. Metal will rust over time.
Don’t miss Rosebourne’s 1st birthday celebrations on Sun 6 Oct – 10% off all purchase (excluding the restaurant), first 100 customers will receive a free orchid and, there’s a free glass of Prosecco if you order afternoon tea for two (Mon 7 – Fri 11 Oct).
Rosebourne, Basingstoke Road, Aldermaston, RG7 4LD. Tel: 0118 971 2123