Gardening tips for autumn

PUBLISHED: 17:48 03 October 2016 | UPDATED: 15:45 13 October 2016




What you can be doing in your garden at this time of year

Planting flower bulbs (tulip) in the flower-garden in autumnPlanting flower bulbs (tulip) in the flower-garden in autumn

The month of October conjures up mixed emotions. Summer is well and truly over and the long English winter ominously approaches - so doing a spot of gardening before it starts getting dark early might actually help banish the pre-winter blues. But what can one do out there at this time of year?

One thing you can do to begin with is collect and sow seed from perennials and strong annuals in anticipation of what is to come (if you don’t like the cold, dark winters, it always helps to focus on the future...). Make sure you put a net over your pond to stop the autumn leaves falling in and, while we’re on the subject of nets, cover your vegetables with the bird-proof variety. While we’re on the subject of leaves, rake up any fallen ones to prevent winter diseases (fallen leaves also provide shelter for vine weevils).

“A few key garden activities for this time of year are planting spring flowering bulbs, as well as pansies, violas and cyclamen - which will add colour and texture to the garden heading into winter,” notes Becky Owen of Scotsdales Garden Centre, a well-known name in local horticulture with three branches spread across Cambridgeshire. “It is also a key time to replant hanging baskets and containers to give colour throughout the darker months...

“We also recommend that people should now be removing moss from their lawns and it is an ideal time to reseed any sparse patches. To help the animals prepare for winter, it is a good idea to start feeding the birds again, if they have had a break over the summer, and to put out hedgehog boxes which are ideal for hibernation.”

Trimming the rose bushesTrimming the rose bushes

“Now is a good time to clean up,” continues the marketing and development manager at Scotsdales. “Once you have added a little colour with some autumn planting, it’s a great time to prune and dead head roses once they have finished flowering. It is also a good time to raise pots off the ground using pot feet before the first frost and also to install a water butt ready to collect rainwater over the wetter months.

“A slightly boring chore - but good to do now - is to clean pathways and patios so there is less chance of them being slippery later on in the year. There isn’t a bad time of year to be out in the garden, but if you’re not sure whether you should do a certain aspect of gardening, then call us and a member of our knowledgeable team will be able to help you out.”

What has Becky been doing in her garden? “I have recently replanted one of the beds in my garden so I have been busy tending to it and watering it over the heatwave... I love lavender, which is great for bees and butterflies, and have recently planted a lot of that in my garden.

“I have planted lots of lovely spring flowering bulbs so am already excited for the spring to see them come up in a burst of colour. I have also bought a new bird-feeding station because I love seeing them in the morning when I too am eating my breakfast!”

Commenting on gardens in this area and potential challenges facing the green-fingered hordes of Cambridgeshire, Becky observes: “Cambridge has a wide range of soil types so a huge variety of plants grow here... You need to be careful if you are in a particularly chalky area that you put any acid-loving plants, such as camellias or rhododendrons, in pots with ericaceous soil because they won’t like the alkaline in the chalky soil. One challenge for Cambridgeshire gardeners is that because the land is so flat, it is often difficult to create relief and interesting features through use of different height levels.”

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