AUTUMN & WINTER IN THE GARDEN
As the change of seasons becomes more apparent and the clocks have made their annual change back one hour it's time for a seasonal reminder of some gardening tasks that benefit from our attention at this time of year.
After the first frost has blackened the foliage it's time to lift Dahlia tubers. Remove all foliage and stems and shake off as much soil as possible, then turn them upside-down and set them out somewhere under cover to dry off completely. Pack them into a pot or tray in dry compost or sand and store them in a frost free place until they are ready to be started back into new growth next Spring. If your Dahlias are in a warm, sheltered spot and you don't want to lift them cover them in a thick mulch for extra insulation over winter.
As the days shorten and temperatures drop it's time to remember our vital feathered friends! Wash out bird feeders with mild detergent, rinse and dry thoroughly so they are ready for use. Stock up on wild bird seed and fat balls or perhaps have a go at making your own fat balls - a great activity for children to get involved with.
Alpine plants, Cacti and Succulents in pots should be brought under cover either indoors or into a cold-frame or greenhouse to protect them from excessive rain. These plants don't mind the cold so much as the wet. You won't need to water them very often, if at all, until Spring.
Autumn is the traditional time of year to plant bare-rooted roses, shrubs and trees. This is a really economical way to buy plants, especially if buying multiple plants for hedging. The soil still has a bit of warmth and the plants are in their dormant stage so they should get established and be ready to grow away come Spring. Remember to check newly planted trees and shrubs through the Winter in case they need firmed in, watered in dry spells or perhaps any stakes will need re-secured.
As heavier rain, strong winds and snowfall can cause quite a bit of damage it is good to protect plants where possible from the worst of the weather. Tall shrubs can be pruned by about one-third, climbing plants should be firmly anchored to their supports and border-line tender plants can be given an extra layer of mulch or, if in pots, moved to a cold-frame, greenhouse or even tucked into a sheltered corner against the wall of the house.
Every season has its own beauty and even though outdoor work is more restricted it's a good time to enjoy the fireside and dream of the improvements you might make next year.