gardening with Anne McKeon

As the growing season slows down and prepares to rest for the winter months ahead, gardening takes a change of direction. Foliage is beginning to change coats, putting on its rust and red shades of autumn; annual bedding plants are dying off while perennials on the other hand are storing up food supplies for the dormant season ahead. All things considered autumn enters and leaves in a blaze of colour.

At the moment plants such as Rudbeckia fulgida, Sedum Autumn Joy, Erica carnea species, Solidago Goldenmosa, Agapanthus africanus Alba, and Rosa Cheerfulness are making their presence felt in my garden with their glorious displays. Bulbs such as Colchicum and Cyclamen coum are peeking through the beds also, adding to my autumn garden.

Aside from enjoying the plants in bloom at the moment, this time of year is also ideal for planning ahead. Make note of the mistakes that you made this year (gardening mistakes I mean! ) so that those mistakes can be rectified in the next growing season and not repeated. I am sure that you had more successes than failures in the garden this year so I would urge you to build on those successes next year.

Select and order your vegetable and flower seeds for next year. The beauty of armchair gardening is that you can garden from the warmth of your front room. Spend time browsing through books and catalogues before deciding on what you require.

Now is the ideal time for buying and planting your spring flowering bulbs such as daffodil, crocus, snowdrop, tulip, and so on. I would be inclined to hold off on planting your tulips until late November but buy them now all the same.

I’ve been making a list (and checking it twice! ) over the past few weeks of what plants I need to order for my own garden. I’ve made note of weak points that need replanting and of gaps that need filling. I intend to plant a large group of Agapanthus africanus, blue I think as I already have some white growing in my garden. I also want to plant another group of peony as I am growing to love them more each year. The English garden designer John Brookes once told me that if a plant is worth planting once then it is worth repeating. Sometimes I feel that my own garden is not large enough to home my wish list of plants and landscape ideas. My head is always full of plans for my own garden as well as those of my clients.

Cleaning the garden at this time of year is absolutely vital no matter what your plans for the future are. Prune away overhanging branches (only those that are a danger to passers-by ), dead wood, and branches that have recently completed flowering.

Gather fallen leaves for use in the compost or for adding to soil and compost when planting new trees and shrubs, etc.

Spend time over the coming month digging over borders and vegetable plots. Such digging will help eliminate pests and diseases while exposing soil to winter frost to be broken down in readiness for next year’s plants options.

Autumn should not be seen as the end of the gardening year but as the beginning of a new year outdoors.

Happy gardening!

Anne.

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