Gardeners’ Diary Autumn
by Colne Life magazine
As autumn draws in, it’s time to sprinkle some seasonal colour in our garden and prepare the patch for winter sleep. Our top tips will ensure a trouble-free winter and a blooming good spring.
Regularly removing dead flowers can prolong the blooming period of certain plants like dahlias and roses into autumn. Any flowering herbaceous plants that have already finished flowering can be cut back and tidied, whilst some, such as hardy geraniums, will grow back with a second flush of foliage and flower for a late-season display. Tie in whippy growths on rambling roses to bear next year’s flower trusses, positioning each stem as nearly horizontal as possible. Training new development in this way helps to encourage a prolific flower display along their length. Prune Wisteria cutting whippy side shoots back to around five leaves, or they won’t flower well next year. These may require a second pruning later in the autumn.
Deadhead dahlias to encourage further flowering until the first frosts. Deadhead roses to encourage a late-season flush and tie in whippy growths on rambling roses to bear next year’s trusses of flowers. As gaps appear in beds and borders, sow hardy annuals such as nigella (love in the mist) and centaurea (cornflowers) to bloom in spring. Plant new perennial plants while the soil is still warm to enable them to establish a robust root system during the winter months in readiness for spring.
Lift tender dahlias touched by the first frosts. In milder areas, on well-drained soils, consider leaving them in the ground, top dressing with a thick protective layer of mulch. Cut back and tidy cottage garden perennials, adding them to the compost heap. Leave grasses and seed heads to feed winter birds and to shelter overwintering insects. On frosty mornings they look stunning in the low winter sunshine too! Plant biennials now, such as sweet-scented stocks and Foxgloves for vigorous statuesque plants to carry masses of flowers early in the spring. Prune and tie in climbing roses now, cutting shrub roses back by around half to prevent damage from wind rock.
ColneLife August 23