We hate to be the bearer of bad news but summer is very nearly over… We know, we know, what summer? We’ve not exactly been blessed with the sunniest of climes over the last few months but here’s hoping for some late September sunshine!
Sadly there is no time to sit here dreaming of an Indian summer because there is a lot of work to be done in the garden as the season changes. Grab yourself a cuppa, get a pen and paper and let’s get planning for the gardening season!
When does autumn start?
First things first, let’s actually establish when autumn begins. There are two ways in which the seasons are defined - meteorologically and astronomically.
The meteorological calendar is split into equal periods of three months:
• September – November is autumn
• December – February is winter
• March – May is spring
• June – August is summer
The astronomical calendar determines the seasons due to the tilt of the Earth's rotational axis in relation to its orbit around the sun. Equinoxes and solstices are related to the Earth's orbit around the sun and so these determine the start of different seasons in the astronomical calendar;
• September 22/23 - Autumn Equinox – the day and night are of equal length
• December 21/22 – Winter Solstice – the day with the shortest period of daylight
• March 20/21 – Spring Equinox – the day and night are of equal length
• June 21/22 – Summer Solstice – the day with the longest period of daylight
Let’s get gardening!
A lot of the jobs that we are going to mention here are about preparing your garden for the winter months:
• Net ponds before leaf fall begins
• Clean out cold frames and greenhouses ready for some autumn growing
• Raise the height of your lawn mower blades as growing starts to slow
• Order/buy your spring flowering bulbs ready to plant very soon
• Mover tender plants into a greenhouse or conservatory
• Raise pot off the ground using bricks to prevent water logging
• Set up your greenhouse heater in preparation for early frosts
• Sweep leaves as they begin to fall and try to keep on top this job, this will prevent it becoming a mammoth task!
• Insulate outdoor containers from frost
• Install solar lights in the greenhouse so you can still be busy out there on dark winter’s evenings
• If you manage to get a dry day you could use this to paint sheds and fences with a preservative to protect the wood from rot and decay
• You can begin to plant spring flowering bulbs from September.
• This is also around the right time to begin dividing herbaceous perennials; the RHS gives some handy tips on how to do this here.
• Keep deadheading and feeding your hanging baskets as they will keep going until the early frosts
• Now is the perfect time to carry out some essential lawn maintenance – try aerating your lawn with a garden fork, removing thatch from the top of the lawn with a rake and feeding it with an autumn feeder
• You can now plant winter bedding plants such as pansies for beautiful colour throughout the colder months
• After tidying borders, mulch with bark chips, well-rotted manure or leaf mould to insulate plant roots for the winter and keep weed growth in check.
• If you haven’t already, there is still time to plant spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils. You can also plant tulip bulbs this month
• This month is the perfect opportunity to plant a magnolia tree – this will give you a stunning spring display
• For some hardy winter colour, plant heathers and grasses in pots
Hopefully we’ve given you enough to be getting on with over the next few months! If you need any help or gardening advice – don’t be a stranger, pop into the plant centre where we will be more than happy to help!