As Summer gives way to Autumn some gardeners may think it is time for a rest but our speaker told us that there is much to be done in our gardens at this time of year, as we prepare them for Winter and to ensure there is colour in Spring. We were provided with an array of array of tasks from lawn care to planting bulbs. Moss can be removed from lawns using a moss-killer followed by scarification to remove the dead material and “thatch” from the turf. Then the turf should be spiked so as to improve drainage and aeration, and a slow release fertiliser applied before making good any gaps by sowing lawn seed. Leaves should also be removed and made into compost for application to borders as a mulch to help suppress weeds, retain moisture, add nutrients and feed the microbes which contribute to soil fertility.
Containers and hanging baskets can be planted with violas to flower throughout the winter months and combined with heucheras whose colourful foliage makes them ideal companions. Shrubs such as Cornus and some Salix species can provide colour with their berries and bark.
Autumn is traditionally the time to plant spring flowering bulbs such as narcissi and tulips. By planting in containers and over-wintering them in an un-heated greenhouse they can be encouraged to flower earlier. A slow release fertiliser should be added to the compost.
In addition to all the gardening chores that need doing in the Autumn we were reminded that wildlife also benefits from a helping hand. Our efforts to encourage wildlife by creating habitats for insects and birds in the garden will be repaid as many of them are predators, such as ladybirds which feed on aphids. So it is important to provide suitable places for insects and bats to overwinter and also feed the birds.
Autumn Aspirations proved to be both a very informative and inspiring presentation that showed the importance of gardening with respect for nature and how this approach is to the mutual benefit of our gardens and wildlife.