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Hello, this is your An English Gardener, bringing you your regular monthly gardening digest. What a month it has been. Here we are again, not knowing whether to wear our sun hats or our rain macs. As the weather changes, your gardens will change too.

 

Those autumn colours of red, yellow and gold that bring a new vibrancy to the gardens and countryside are beginning to get  into full swing for the coming spectacular autumn show. Many people tell me how much they love the autumn colours, but for me, it heralds the end of the warm, bright, sunny long days that many others and I yearn for. On the bright side of life, autumn is a time where we begin put our gardens to bed through planning and working for the next spring where new and abundant growth will be expected.

 

The next challenges start right here and right now.

So lets start if you already haven’t by emptying those summer hanging baskets and tubs that are well past their best and replant them with seasonal flowering pansies, variegated ivy and primulas, for instance, to create a seasonal show of flowers. Try and keep the hanging basket chains as short as possible in the winter to prevent the basket being blown about during bad weather.

 

Have you replaced the summer bedding in borders with winter flowering pansies, polyanthus, wallflowers, cyclamen and myosotis? Now is the time to get those tulips, narcissi and daffodils bulbs into the ground if you have not done so yet.

 

If you haven't already planted some containers for spring with colour, there's still time to plant now using bedding plants such as violas and wallflowers, plus spring-flowering bulbs. Be sure to use a good compost for containers. Keep your pots in a sheltered spot, such as under a porch, to encourage blooms through the winter and to avoid plants rotting off in the winter wet. Cyclamen and ornamental cabbage are particularly vulnerable to rotting in damp conditions. You won't get masses of blooms during colder weather, but any milder spells should see a good show.

Don't waste fallen leaves (except those perilous rose leaves and evergreens, which take too long to rot down) - given time they decompose into fabulously rich leaf mould. Rake up fallen leaves and chuck them into a simple frame to make leaf mould (black bin liners spiked with air holes will also do if you can bear the visual offense - but remember to dampen the leaves first). If leaves are left to linger on the lawn for long, the grass will turn yellow. Leaf mould takes about a year to mature (2years in the case of oak leaves) and makes a great top dressing for woodland plants such as rhododendrons and is an excellent and FREE home-grown substitute for peat.

Staying in the borders, Herbaceous perennials such as delphiniums, hostas, lupins and primroses can be lifted, divided and replanted. When doing this job, its an idea to put in place slug and snail measures as they just love these types of plants.

 

As we have been experiencing reasonably mild weather to date, its not to early to start planning  winter protection around vulnerable borders and containers. You should make sure you are prepared for when the colder weather comes. So its worth checking your shed or garage to see if you have enough of what’s going to be required in your garden.

 

If you've got tender plants, such as canna, now's the time to bring them indoors before they get killed by the frost. Choose a light, frost-free place such as a greenhouse or cold frame. Then keep them on the dry side during the winter, so they don't put on much growth. To reduce the threat of disease, do remember to check the plants on a regular basis and cut off any dead leaves and flowers before they have the chance to rot. The plants can then be brought back into growth in spring by gradually increasing the amount of water they receive.

 If you have a vegetable patch that has finished producing, clear it out, dig in some manure and plant some wintergreens such as, broccoli, Curly or black kale, cauliflowers and brussel sprouts. 

 

We are coming up to the time to give your hedges a final trim this year. Clip hedges, including box, yew, laurel and beech. Note. If your trees or shrubs are still carrying berries, like verbena, holly or firethorn, leave the pruning of these until the spring, so garden birds have a food source over the coming winter. Lets not also forget when pruning shrubs cut out dead, diseased, dying or crossing branches.

 

If you have a pond, its good practice to cover your pond with netting to prevent leaves dropping or blowing into the water. Remove dead leaves from water lilies and cut back any dying marginals. You may want to also start thinking about and planning  marginal plants for your pond area.

 

Well that’s it for now. Next month I guess we’ll all start thinking about Christmas amongst other things along with the weather and hopefully what we can get up to in our gardens. But don’t worry; I’ll be here to help you along. So until then, look after yourself and keep gardening.