Autumn evokes different feelings for different people; for some, it’s the sadness that comes at the end of summer, for others, it’s a chance to wind down as winter approaches. For gardeners, however, it’s not a time to stop working – autumn is actually the perfect time to garden!
Though summer may seem like a more pleasant time to be getting green fingered, the months leading up to winter are extremely important for our garden. As the weather is cooler and root systems can develop, now is the perfect time to plant and plan for next year. It is essential that we focus on removing the old (including deadheading summer plants to prolong them) and improving soil to prepare for the new.
Today, I presented on This Morning, talking about autumn gardening and what you can do to get the most out of your garden at this time of year. See all the images from today’s set below!
Grow at Home this Autumn
This season, The RHS has launched an initiative to get people gardening in autumn, acting upon their own research which revealed that 65% of UK adults do not believe autumn is the most important gardening season. Considering the many spring-flowering bulbs, trees and shrubs, and winter vegetables that can be planted in autumn, this is a very important season for gardeners who want to plan ahead for the new year!
According to The RHS, ‘The soil [in autumn] is moist and warm, but not yet soggy, and gives plants more time to grow new roots and be less vulnerable to dry periods in summer. Evergreens particularly establish well in autumn without the difficult fluctuations of spring weather and, when planted in spring, they usually need significant watering.’
However, the benefits of gardening in autumn also extend to the environmental impact. Planting evergreens, trees and many varieties of perennials over autumn usually means using less water, due to cooler climates and higher levels of rain. Plus, fallen leaves collected from the garden make a really great soil improver for next year’s plants when added to the compost heap, rather than heading for landfill in your council bin!
The ‘Grow at Home this Autumn’ initiative began on 14th September 2020 with ‘Bulb Week’, which aims to educate the 61% of survey respondents who didn’t know that tulip and daffodil bulbs should be planted in autumn! This part of the campaign is brimming with ideas and ways to grow your favourite bulbs, with indoor ideas, bulbs for containers and ways to add spring colour to your borders. Find out more on The RHS website.
There’s lots of information below about what you can do in your garden in autumn, but if you want a more specific month-by-month guide, click here for your dedicated gardening calendar!
It’s time to swap out the old for the new! Use foliage as well as flowers and choose cool season plants: e.g pansies, violas, primroses – a primrose can even bloom under a sheet of ice and snow!
Avoid tender summer blooms (that need summer heat) such as geraniums. Feeding is not required at this time of year, and watering requirements will be much less during the cooler months.
Edibles for winter
It’s not just flowers that we should be thinking about. Autumn is the perfect time to start planting some of our own herbs and veg to grow through winter. A ‘Vegepod’ is an easier way to keep plants protected and nourished. It benefits the less able bodied (very easy planting) and helps keep soil fresh.
Lasagne planting is layering bulbs at different heights of the container, which allows you to create longer lasting displays, and save space! Bulbs are easy to look after as all the goodness is already inside of them, so perfect for people who don’t have quite as much time. It is important to look for good quality bulbs and leave enough room between them when planting.
For more info on lasagne planting, watch my video here.
Bare root plants
These are dormant (not actively growing) perennial plants that are dug up and stored without any soil around their roots. establish much easier in cooler months, works fantastically well for fruit trees and shrubs.
You can find out more about how to work with bare root plants here!
Now is a good time to give our borders a tidy and cut down plants that have become too overgrown. You can also use mulch as an aid, as well as ‘magic fungi’ that you can add to your soil to improve performance of your plants.
Preparing for winter
Here are a couple of issues that we will encounter in our gardens as we head into autumn and winter:
Frost – You can protect more tender plants that will be affected by frost using a fleece or an old curtain. Watch the frost forecasts to make sure you are prepared.
Cutting the lawn – October or early November will be your last cut of the year. Don’t cut your lawn too short as it will be more susceptible to frost and disease damage.
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.