The Cold Wind’s are Starting to Blow

Despite being past the official date of the start of autumn, if it weren’t obvious from the sheets of rain we’ve been having on and off lately or even the slightly nicer weather in the shape of overcast skies, then the slight nip in the air means that autumn is well on its way.  Yes the late muggy summer is now officially over and we’re heading for stormier climes.  Not that this is a bad thing mind you, autumn is one of my favourite times to be outside.  The weather is cool and crisp with the scent of damp earth heavy in the air and I’m looking forward to the fireworks show of golden leaves as they change over the next few weeks.

Plant growth is now at a very slow rate (apart from the damned brambles!). Still, there are things to be done to prepare for the changing of the seasons, especially if this autumn intends to continue as it appears to be starting. So what to do; firstly now is a good time to complete deadheading of most summer flowering flowers.  Most of them will either be coming to the end of their year or have already done so, so if you haven’t taken the secateurs to them yet now is the best time. The same goes for pruning – fruiting shrubs, fuchsias; roses; hedges and some wisterias can all benefit from being cut back a little around now, better to conserve energy so that they are ready to spring forth in…well spring.

This leads onto another good point; composting. With all the leftovers you’ll have from the deadheading and pruning you will probably be making a hefty deposit on the old compost heap. Bear in mind that we are going to be seeing some nice wet weather, perfect for rotting down compost, so best get the heap ready. This is not just a case of dumping the new stuff on top and leaving it, that will only get you a damp pile of half rotted plant muck. The trick is in the mixing, first add your fresh cuttings, then give the whole thing a good turning over to break up all the layers of compacted and well rotted compost and disperse the new stuff throughout the heap. That way the air will get to the good stuff and help it rot down to perfection while the new stuff will speedily cook down now that it is surrounded by nice, warm, bacterially active muck. Weird how spending so much time in the garden changes your perception of rotting plant matter.

One last thing you may wish to make note of is turf. Now I know laying turf might not be the first thing that springs to mind right now and many will be looking suspiciously at their perfect lawns right now wondering what I’m on about. What I’m talking about is ordering backup turf. No one ever thinks it will happen, or rather it always comes as a surprise when it does, but now is the time that torrential downpours are most likely, the kind that waterlog, flood and kill whole chunks of lawn. If you live in an area with clay soil and drainage is a natural problem, or indeed if you just haven’t gotten round to improving your drainage yet then it can’t hurt to have a few good bits of turf waiting in the event of a grassy apocalypse. Chances are it won’t be too bad, but if left untended you could end up with some gruesome looking holes in your lawn that will make even the most seasonal garden look downright depressing, so have replacements ready in case.

As I say I love this time of year, it has its drawbacks but really that’s just an excuse to get out and fill your lungs with that autumnal air.