Autumn is now on it’s way after what has seemed like a short summer with very mixed weather (unless we are having an Indian summer since I wrote this)! One of the main jobs over the next couple of months will be raking up fallen leaves. If you have room, store them in a pile to make leaf mould, but if not, store them in black bags which have been stabbed with a fork and they will rot down for mulching or adding to the garden next year. If they are very dry, add a sprinkling of water.
In the borders, cut back any growth which isn’t ornamental for the winter months and add to the compost heap. Any plants which have become too large can be divided now and it is also a good time to plant any new varieties while the soil is moist but has some warmth in it. The same applies to shrubs, you could also move any which may need more room or are in the wrong spot. Add some good compost to the planting holes to give them a good start. A good layer of mulch, garden compost, bark chippings etc once clearing and planting is complete will help to keep weeds down and keep moisture in.
If you have had tender plants outside, now is the time to get them under cover in a greenhouse or conservatory before you are caught out by an early frost. When Dahlias and cannas have been blackened by frost they can be cut down. Remove them from pots or the garden and stand them upside down for a few days to dry off and then keep them frost free for the winter. If you haven’t already done so, prune climbing roses. Bush roses and tall shrubs like Buddleia should be cut back by half to prevent them rocking in the wind. Be sure to clear any leaves from under roses especially if they have black spot to prevent them being reinfected next year. Keep mowing lawns until growth slows down and hedges can still be trimmed if it isn’t too cold.
Get the last of the bulbs planted, although tulips are best left till later in the month. Plant baskets and pots up with a mix of bedding and bulbs. Why not add something different this year. There are mini shrubs in pots available from garden centres and along with grasses will add extra interest. Raise the pots on clay feet or bricks so that they can drain well during the winter. Watch out for lilies in the nurseries, they can be planted in pots now. Plant fairly deeply sitting the bulbs on a layer of horticultural sand for better drainage. Keep the pots in a sheltered corner and next year, they can be brought out to fill gaps as they begin to flower.
Dig over empty ground in the vegetable garden. If you can get hold of some well rotted manure, spread a thick layer on top and it will gradually enrich the ground over the winter. Finish harvesting any fruit and on a cold day you can make chutney from your surplus produce!