Gardening in Autumn….. the Willowfield Way!

All the notions of an Indian Summer all got washed away in the heavy rains of early October. It has been warm but the spells of heavy rain and dampness has made gardening fairly difficult. The grass has been growing away and due to the constant rain it is very hard to keep it cut until last week when we had a spell of some really dry weather in which an autumn clean up could be launched on the lawn and the rest of the garden.
The constant ample supply of rainfall during the summer did provide plants with ideal growing conditions even though some flowers did suffer from being constantly wet, going soggy and mouldy fairly quickly. A lot of trees put on extra growth which might get damaged once the autumn storms start rolling in off the Atlantic in the wild way that they do ! So, before that happens let’s see what has to be done in the garden.

Prepare the lawn ready for the winter. In any dry spell between now and the end of October cut the grass on a low setting to even off the grass and remove any tufts of moss. Apply an autumn fertilizer or if you are early enough a feed/moss and weedkiller will help. Frequent mowing at this time of the year helps to remove fallen leaves that can suffocate the grass underneath if not removed. Depending on the density, individual broadleaf weeds like thistles, plantains, dandelions and coltsfoot in the lawn can be pulled up , roots and all, so grass can grow back again in the spot they were taking over. If too many to handle a selective weedkiller can be used.

Trees around the garden need to be checked over to make sure newly planted ones are well secured and will not fall over in the first storm. Older trees with extra big leaf canopies after summers growth may take a beating early on in the Autumn so watch out for breaking branches that may need pruning back.

Some shrubs are still performing well and will keep on going until first frosts. The Hydrangea especially is flowering away and putting on a great display. The white, cone shaped, paniculata types are very vigorous and their cone shaped panicles are a complete contrast to the mop heads and lace caps of the regular Hydrangea. For Autumn displays these would rank up at the top of most reliable and easily grown shrubs. Also a good contrast for the common Buddleia. The Autumn is also a good time for planting new shrubs in your garden as they can settle down in their new surroundings during the quiet autumn and winter months so they are ready to burst into growth next spring. It is still too early to start pruning your shrubs so let them enjoy the rest of the growing season ! Come and check out our Autumn stock of plants at Willowfield.

Many perennials and herbaceous plantslike Lupins, Delphiniums, Astilbe, Day Lilllies..etc have reached their prime and are fading away for their winter’s sleep and you can cut them back to ground level and remove the trimmings.

Heathers are flowering away in full bloom at the moment and are a great addition to any garden. These summer/autumn flowering varieties of Calluna need an acid soil (peaty) so just make sure you use an Ericaceous compost when planting up. Most of the garden soil around Kenmare is acidic so should be no problem planting in the garden. The winter flowering Erica are not so fussy and can be planted in any soil type. Heathers can also be planted in window boxes, patio containers and even hanging baskets for a good splash of Autumn and winter colour.

If your patio containers are getting a bit tired looking, the winter Pansy and Violas are now available for planting up. These will give colour throughout the winter but need to be planted up soon so they can put on a bit of growth before any cold weather comes. Mini Cyclamen can also be used to brighten up containers. Small conifers, trailing ivy, Cinneraria ‘silver dust’ and spring flowering bulbs can all be added. For a one hit wonder, the large Garden ‘Mum’ will fill a pot all on its own and look good for several weeks…instant gardening !

Spring flowering bulbs can be planted from now until the end of November in the ground or in patio containers. There are dwarf varieties of Tulips and small flowering Narcissii are ideal for the patio containers and the more traditional ’Golden Harvest’ Daffodils and ‘Apeldorn’ Tulips are best planted in the ground. Crocus and Hyacinth can also be planted to extend the flowering season from late January through to April.

It’s Harvest time in the veggie garden and remember to clear away finished crops to keep the garden tidy and remove sanctuary for slugs and other bugs ! Digging in seaweed and well-rotted manure can take place from now on so as to be ready for next spring. Pick any apples from now on until mid-October or before high winds are forecasted, and store in boxes between sheets of newspaper. Fallen apples should be eaten first or cooked as their keeping quality will be diminished due to bruising on falling from the tree. Watch out for wasps, they are rather grumpy and nasty at this time of the year!

Don’t forget to start feeding the birds from now on. Their natural sorces of food will begin to diminish from now on and they will all appreciate at an extra bit of easy food from the bird table.

So, plenty to do. Make the most of any dry weather when it comes so the garden is under control for the winter ahead.

Happy Gardening !