All about autumn: From edging to hedge-trimming, this is what you need to do in the garden this month
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Our columnist is planning a bulb-planting frenzy - and says a shortage of space shouldn’t stop others doing the same
As I write this, I’m sitting at my desk in our new home, overlooking the garden and the whole new set of challenges that I am both excited and slightly daunted to have taken on. It is an incredibly well established and beautiful garden, but of course there is the pressure to make sure that we keep it that way!
The rain is falling softly onto the fresh green grass, and those scorching days of summer where we prayed for rain daily seem like a distant memory. The garden has started to recover well, and although there are one or two patches on the lawn that are yet to totally recover, it won’t be long before it looks back to its best again.
With the onset of the autumn months, I really start to enjoy the garden. My daughter is now old enough for me to be able to start to spend some proper time out in the garden again doing real jobs, rather than just grabbing the odd minute to grab at some overgrown weeds.
With October will come the frenzy of planting bulbs. It’s been my favourite job in the garden for as long as I can remember. It is probably the one time in the year when I feel that I am properly connecting with the garden and putting something back for all the pleasure that it gives me throughout the rest of the year. Of course we add new plants and shrubs from time to time throughout the other seasons, but it’s not quite the same as planting hundreds of bulbs, when you know that the impact in the spring will be so dramatic.
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I am lucky that we have plenty of space for planting bulbs - the challenge comes when digging down and finding that there is already one planted in that hole from last year, or sometimes it will be the difficulty of being able to dig down around tree roots to find somewhere to squeeze a bulb! If, however, you don’t have any flower beds, or maybe you’ve been planting bulbs for years in your garden, and can’t physically squeeze another one in - there is always the option of pots or containers for planting in.
If you have a decent sized pot, you will be able to plant different layers of bulbs, so that they will be able to flower in succession, and if you plan it well, you will find that one pot can give you continual colour from earlier January, right through to late March/early April. By planting snowdrops, ‘tête-à-tête’ daffodils, and tulips, you will be able to enjoy a variety of different spring flowers, all within the same container, and if you position it somewhere outside a window, it will give a great display that you can enjoy from inside the house when it’s too cold to go outside!
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Aside from planting bulbs, the other big jobs that we have been tackling recently in the garden have been trimming the hedges and edging the lawns. Although these jobs can sometimes seem slightly onerous tasks, they are always hugely satisfying once finished. The trimmed hedges look fantastic, and really frame the garden beautifully - we don’t have any fencing in our front garden, so the hedge gives a great clean line along the side of the house, and really helps the rest of the view to ‘pop’ when you are looking out on it.
Edging the lawns can be a back-breaking task, and one that is best done with someone to help you. If one person can be doing the actual edging whilst the other follows closely behind picking up the waste, it’s all done far quicker, but there is nothing more soul destroying than getting to the end of edging a whole lawn, and then looking back to realise that you have to go the whole way round again picking it all up!
There will be quite a lot to be getting stuck in with in the garden over the next few weeks, but the rewards in the coming months will be well worth it!
Things to do in your garden this month:
• BULBS, BULBS, BULBS! Get out there and plant some spring bulbs. Even if you don’t think you’ve got much space, there is always room to squeeze another packet in somewhere! If you don’t have flowerbeds, or a garden, but you do have some outdoor space where you can put some pots - I always love the bulbs which come up in the pots on our patio - they really cheer up any grey space.
• If you planted dahlias in your garden, you will likely have enjoyed the last of them for this year, so it’s time to lift the tubers out of the ground now.
• Cut back your raspberry canes - this is a job I have been putting off, as we have still been enjoying the odd one or two raspberries that are fruiting. By mid-October this job will definitely need to be done, and then the netting from the fruit cages can be removed, and carefully rolled up and packed away for next year.
• Harvest any apples, and store them well for over the winter. If you do this properly, they should keep fairly well
• If you have any climbing roses, now is the time to cut them back.
• Reap the rewards of any pumpkins or squash that you have been growing - there will be more on pumpkins in next month’s column - just in time for Halloween!