Autumn Gardening Calendar


Many berrying trees and shrubs add extra colour at this time, including cotoneasters, pernettyas, cultivars of the mountain ash (Sorbus), and the firethorns (Pyracantha). Some of the first glowing autumn leaf colouring is provided by the snowy mespilus (Amelanchier), Michaelmas daisies (Aster) bring fresh colour to borders and many species and cultivars of the dainty autumn crocuses and colchicums begin flowering, the latter being without leaves, which appear in the spring.

If peonies have to be moved or divided, this is the best time to do it; also the winter-flowering Iris unguicularis. From now until mid-October is the second period when lifted conifers and other evergreens can be moved safely. After planting, water them freely in dry weather. Prune rambler roses, removing or shortening the old stems and tying in the new ones to replace them. Many roses, especially ramblers, can be raised from cuttings taken now. Use ripe shoots 150-200 mm (6-8 in) long, inserted to half their depth in a patch of well-drained soil. Shorter shoots of the cotton lavender (Santolina) also root well with this treatment. Remove any foliage that would be buried. The tougher hardy annuals, such as calendulas, cornflowers (Centaurea), and godetia, can be sown now to provide larger plants and earlier flowers next season. Lift and pot any pelargoniums, tender fuchsias, and cannas you want to save before the first frost arrives; keep them in a warm greenhouse, or in a light place indoors, for the winter.


autumn treesAll the trees and shrubs noted for their fiery autumn leaf colour, including the snowy mespilus (Amelanchier), Berberis thunbergii, Japanese maples (Acer), Virginia creepers (Parthenocissus), and ornamental vines (Vitis), can set the garden ablaze with colour. The display of brilliant berries continues and the brightly coloured crab-apples (Mains) add to the show, some hanging on long after the leaves have fallen. Some autumn crocus and colchicum species continue to open their frail blooms and many border plants, such as ice plants and Michaelmas daisies (Aster), hold their display well into the month, while others make a second, smaller, but nonetheless welcome showing. The first glistening pink blooms of Nerine bowdenii open now, as do the kaffir lilies (Schizostylis), and most bedding plants continue to be colourful until cut down by the first autumn frost.

Complete the work of planting all bulbs (except tulips) as soon as possible. Weed any hardy annuals sown last month and thin them out to 75 mm (3 in) apart from the winter. Clear fallen leaves from low-growing plants. Lift and store away gladiolus corms and dahlia tubers once their top growth has been frosted, or at the end of this month. Prepare ground for new plants and set them in place as soon as possible after they arrive. Most border and ground-cover plants can be lifted and divided now and the soil refurbished before they are replanted. In any case borders should be tidied up, old leaves and stems removed, and canes and other supports cleaned and stored away.


As deciduous trees and shrubs shed their remaining leaves, the winter garden scene emerges, but provided it is well planted with evergreens it never looks empty and dead. The coloured-leaved conifers, especially, can provide plenty of variety. Also revealed when the leaves fall is the colourful bark of some trees and shrubs, like that of the coral-bark maple (Acer), and this is attractive the whole winter through. Kaffir lilies (Schizostylis) and nerines continue to flower, together with a few late autumn crocuses (Colchiatum). Evergreen ground-cover plants also keep the garden alive, especially those with brightly coloured leaves, such as some of the ajugas and ivies (Hedera).

Last of the bulbs to go in are the tulips, which round off the bulb-planting season. Divide and replant overcrowded clumps of lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria). Clear away the remains of summer bedding plants and the late-flowering border plants. Gather up fallen leaves and stack them in a wire-netting enclosure to rot down and provide a useful mulching material. Alternatively, add them to a compost heap where all except very woody plant debris can be rotted down to produce a valuable organic fertiliser. Some evergreens, including privet (Ligustrum) and laurel (Primus), can be rooted from hardwood cuttings inserted in light soil in a sheltered spot outdoors. Such deciduous shrubs as Buddleia davidii, flowering currants, flowering quinces (Chaenomeles), and vines can be increased in the same way.

02. July 2013 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Garden Management, Gardening Calendar | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Autumn Gardening Calendar


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