Dear Gardeners,

Autumn really is the best time to plant some new hardy plants in your garden. The soil will be warm and moist to encourage rapid root development meaning the plant is much better able to grow away rapidly next spring and cope if there are any dry spells in the early summer.

  • All types of hardy plants can be planted now including fruit, hedging and evergreen plants such as Camellias and Rhododendrons. It also follows that if you want to move plants around the garden, this is the best time. Also, at this time of the year, the sun is still strong enough to make some very pleasant gardening days!
  • As your summer bedding begins to fade or succumb to diseases, pests or the weather, it is also a good time to replant sooner rather than later. Pansies, Violas and Cyclamen will establish and continue flowering much more successfully if planted whilst the days are still reasonably warm and long. Don't forget to under-plant with some dwarf bulbs such as Narcissus Tete a Tete, Tulip Red Riding Hood or some Crocus for that pleasant surprise in spring as they burst into flower.
  • Great plants to look out for this Autumn, which will provide colour for you reliably every year, include Ceratostigma, or Hardy Plumbago, with its stunning blue flowers from August to November. It's a small shrub, growing to no more than about 2 feet (60cms) tall with a similar spread. It prefers a mostly sunny location. Or, for something really unusual in terms of colouring, look out for Callicarpa "Profusion". This will grow to about 5 feet (150 cms) tall with a spread of 4 feet (120 cms). In spring, the new growths are bronze-purple and for the early part of the summer it's an attractive green leaved shrub, but from late summer it really springs into life! Firstly it produces a profusion of lilac flowers, which set large clusters of deep lilac to almost turquoise long lasting berries. At the same time, the foliage turns to a striking deep rose to purple colour before the leaves fall. These are easy to grow hardy shrubs for most locations providing they get about half a day's worth of sunshine. 
  • Whilst the Autumn is not the time to do a lot of pruning, some general tidying in the garden will bring several benefits - most noticeably in the appearance of your garden during winter. Weeds can act as hosts to pests and diseases, dead flower heads harbour the spores of degenerative diseases and dead leaves. Litter also provides hiding places for slugs, snails and other pests. Collecting the fallen leaves from your roses will hopefully reduce the chances of an early attack from blackspot or mildew next year.
  • If all you want from your grass patch is somewhere for the children to play then you don't need to worry too much about giving your grass anything more than a good feed this Autumn. However if you want a smart green sward there are jobs you should be doing now. Firstly use a lawn rake and give the grass a good strong raking. This removes the "thatch" of dead grass clippings that build up around the stems of the grass preventing the grass from developing. It will also remove moss as it begins to grow in the cooler damper weather. You can then apply your Autumn lawn feed and moss killer, which promotes root growth and toughens the grass up ready for the winter cold.
  • In all but the mildest parts of the country you need to keep an eye on the weather forecast to ensure you lift and store tender plants such as Geraniums, Fuchsias, Begonias, Dahlias and Gladioli before they are badly damaged by frost. When lifting Gladioli you will notice they have produced some small cormels, which, if you are keen and patient, you can grow these on and they will become flowering corms in approximately two years.

Remember, if you have any gardening questions, click here to ask me!

Until next month, happy gardening!

The Diamond Doctor