Our gardens might be getting ready for their long winter’s nap but there is still plenty you can do to bring in colour and interest – as well as getting ready for spring. Written in partnership with Hillier
IMAGES: ANNIE SPRATT, UNSPLASH
Gardening is as much about appreciating the beautiful now as it is about planning and planting for the future. In autumn, you can plant for instant impact as well as for the following spring. As days get shorter, nature gradually transforms towards spectacular fiery reds and golds — although there are often beautiful balmy days in the garden to be had.
Start repairing any summer damage and preparing for the following spring while appreciating the beautiful colour still around. Preparing your garden in autumn, taking care of the lawn and pruning relevant shrubs and plants will give you a healthier and more fruitful garden come spring. There’s nothing better than seeing the bulbs you planted in autumn coming to life and indicating the end of winter and the start of a stunning colourful spring garden. Discover how you can transform your garden with expert advice from Hillier.
Start off with a great autumn sort out
For the gardener, the Great Autumn Garden Sort is every bit as fulfilling as the rite of spring cleaning. Any summer damage can be repaired and your garden lovingly prepared for the cold weather around the corner and the promise of spring to follow.
- Collect and compost fallen leaves, but leave a few small piles in tucked away spots on the ground to act as shelter for overwintering wildlife.
- Tidy the borders: remove weeds, and dig up annuals and add them to your compost heap.
- Replant the borders with winter bedding plants like pansies and violas, with evergreens to fill the gaps. Camellia, sarcococca, viburnum and photinia are all excellent choices for winter interest.
- Plan and create new beds and borders.
- Left tender plants, such as dahlias, canna, begonias and citrus, and bring indoors before the risk of frost.
- Plant your spring bulbs (see below).
- Prune perennials. Those with attractive seed heads, such as sedum and hydrangea, can be left for birds to enjoy. For the rest, cut the collapsed stems at the base with secateurs and remove any dying leaves.
- Divide / split mature perennials. They can be moved to other parts of the garden to invigorate growth the following year.
- Prune and tie-in roses.
- Check fruit trees. Prune unwanted growth and spray with winter wash.
- Plant trees. October and November are excellent months for tree planting, enabling them to put on good root growth before the spring.
- Restore your soil. Add a layer of nutrient-rich multi-purpose compost.
- Accelerate compost production. Add a compost maker to speed up the process of producing rich, dark, crumbly compost.
- Bring light back into your greenhouse. Remove any shades put up during the summer and clean and disinfect windows inside and out.
- Repair your lawn following its summer use. Scarify to remove thatch from your lawn by using a manual lawn rake or a powdered scarifier.
- Aerate your lawn for better movement of air and water. ‘Spike’ holes 10-15cm apart with a garden fork.
- Flatten bumps in the lawn with an edging spade or iron.
- After raking, aerating and flattening, repair any worn or missing patches of lawn by sprinkling over lawn seed. Lightly rake into the surface and walk over it to firm the ground.
Plant shrubs for autumn colour
Abelia x grandiflora – fabulous foliage in a range of colours and beautiful late season flowers that attract pollinators, available in a range of sizes to suit most gardens and can be grown in a large patio container too.
Acer – Japanese Maples, the autumn foliage colours on these plants can be stunning, ranging from yellow to orange and through every shade of red there is a variety with a size and colour to suit every garden.
Ceratostigma Forest Blue – having flowered all through late summer and into autumn this wonderful little shrub puts on an incredible final flurry of golden yellow foliage hues before going into winter dormancy.
Choisya – a classic evergreen garden shrub which will often flower in autumn, great shrubs to provide structure and colour as well as flowers in a garden. They are easy to look after and thrive in almost any garden.
Cornus – many of the coloured stemmed Cornus really come into their own with a final display of autumn foliage colours that perfectly sets off the foliage against the stems from the deep purple foliage of C. keselringii to the pale yellow of C. Budds yellow and every tone in between. Once the leaves have dropped the beautiful coloured winter stems and then held on display, where they are truly one of the stalwarts of any winter garden.
Cotoneaster Berried Treasure – developed by Hillier, this selection carries huge amounts of attractive orange red berries carried in clusters, these add interest to the garden and as the colder months arrive provide a valuable food source for our winter birds.
Euonymus alatus compactus – the autumn foliage colours on this shrub have to be seen to be believed, whilst its one of the first to colour up and the display is short lived the whole shrub burns a bright fiery red one the leaves fall the stems are also an attractive feature.
Leucothoe – there are many great new varieties such as L. Curly Red, L. Burning Love, L. Macijaz and L. Scarletta which are evergreen but develop fantastic winter foliage colours from September right though into the spring – these can be planted into a border or used in a mixed winter pot where their fabulous colours and foliage can be enjoyed all winter.
Nandina – an evergreen shrub which has seen much development and breeding in recent years resulting in more compact, robust plants and better foliage colours. Varieties such as N. Obsidian, N. Gulf Stream and N. Twilight make fantastic doorstep plants for the winter months either in mixed planters or on their own and can then be planted out in the garden to enjoy for years to come.
Plant your spring bulbs
When planting your bulbs, be aware different bulbs need to be planted at different depths to get the best from their flowers. Always check the depth indicated on the bulb packet. The illustration below indicates the typical planting depth for some of the most-loved bulb varieties.
IMAGE: LOVE LEXI FOR THE HOME PAGE
When planting bulbs in pots, use a good quality compost, such as Hillier Multi-Purpose Compost. This is an open-structured compost that will encourage strong root development. When planting bulbs in pots, lasagne planting is one popular approach to really get the most from your bulbs. Much like the popular Italian dish, this approach involves creating distinct layers of bulbs. This makes it essential that a mix of bulb varieties with different planting depths are selected – for example, tulips on the bottom, with muscari and narcissi above.
This feature is a paid advertorial feature produced in partnership with Hillier
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