So many colours underfoot while out walking in the woods, a tapestry of tree life, wet and soggy from the downpours and the air fragrant with the scent of damp and decaying leaves – autumn has truly arrived.
My garden is so wet that I’m discouraged from doing too much at the moment, the fact that there has been so much rain does not encourage me and when the dog goes to the door, has a little sniff and turns back into the house I know its not good. But as my list of jobs is increasing by the day, out I go!
On the terrace I’ve been renovating my containers, removing any summer plants that have gone over, adding some bulbs and filing in the gaps with some perennials that will stand up to the winter weather. Now is the ideal time to plant bulbs. I love to have have containers filled with bulbs. Often I plant two or three layers, lasagna like, of different bulbs that come up at different times during the spring. A nice little colourful lift for those dark days in the new year. When planting into containers you can be generous with the amount you plant, adhere to the depth recommendations on the package and remember that the bulbs should not touch. Some bulbs work very well in the lawn, narcissus multiply beautifully over the years and add a lot to the spring garden. Take a handful of bulbs and toss them gently onto the grass, plant them where they land (pointy side up). Expect to smile in the early spring.
My wildflower corner is looking rather scrappy at the moment but the rudbeckias are still standing tall. I’ll leave them be until the spring I think as I have lots of little robins and sparrows feasting on the dried seed heads. Being an untidy gardener has its advantages sometimes. This new meadow is full of surprises. The late spring saw it packed with red and orange poppies, in the late summer it was over-run with a very tall but tiny daisy which I don’t believe I planted. I’ve been pulling the daisy up whenever I see it, especially as it is now migrating into the raspberries and blackberries next door. Next year I’ll mow a meandering path through the middle of the meadow so that I can take a closer look at what is coming up and also so that I can more easily remove those pesky daisies.
The summer vegetables are finished with the last of the red tomatoes splitting with all the rain. Next year I’ll make sure to remove the volunteers and only have tomatoes where I want them to be. We’ve enjoyed the final batavia lettuce and I’ve cleared almost all the raised beds. The winter green cover crop is planted and I’ll just let it do its thing for the winter. I keep an eye out for weeds through the winter and pull them when I see them, this is also true for the flower beds throughout the garden. If possible keep the weeds out of your own compost bins as they never get hot enough to kill the seeds, if not all you are doing is sharing them around your own garden and they’ll pop up somewhere new next year.
If you follow me on instagram you’ll know that I’ve had a bumper year of sweet peas. I grew seven varieties and they have been flowering non-stop since May. I’ve been so impressed with these delicate, old-fashioned cottage garden flowers that I’m planning for more next year. If you love to grow cut flowers your garden needs sweet peas.
My weekend will be filled with leaf raking and rearranging and storing the garden furniture. I’ll also be busy working on my dahlias, sorting through them to toss the ones I didn’t like and to split the ones I loved to have even more next time. If you are lucky enough to garden in a shelter spot, cut the dahlias down and mulch the base so they are nicely protected from the cold. If on the other hand like me you need to dig them up, let the leaves blacken with a first frost and then dig them up. Judging by the snow on the Jura today we won’t have to wait long. I clean them up and leave them upside down for a few days to dry out before storing them in the garage over winter in boxes of shredded paper or compost. Check them every now and then and discard any rotting material. Whatever you do, don’t forget to label them.
There are plenty of dry ways to keep up with the garden at this time of year. Lots of garden centres have special Sunday openings for Christmas and certain have special celebratory days with activities and as always there are plenty of special festive markets throughout the region. I’ll be at a number of markets with my seasonal plant and bulb filled containers – keep an eye on instagram for details and come along and say hello.