It’s that time of the year again – when we finally admit it’s a bit too chilly for comfort to sit out on the patio with our after-dinner coffee. Not only does this mean remaining indoors for our final caffeinated beverage of the evening, but it also necessitates a certain ‘springing to action’ where the garden is concerned. Or at least it does if we want it to remain suitable for cultivating purposes next March and April. So, to work…
Remove dead shrubbery and re-pot plants
And give the garden a good raking at the same time, ensuring the lawn is as leaf-free as possible. Leaves, stems, petals (we’re thinking annuals in particular here), insects – scoop it all out from beds and bushes and add it to a compost bin which you’ll be able to use next spring (just remember not to put the remains of any diseased plants in there).
Feed the soil – and the birds
Provided it’s cold enough, give the soil in your plant and flower beds some nutrients to work on over the winter months by spreading a good grounding of compost right now. Deliver as much as you can, bearing in mind it’s to last a good few months. It might not be a bad idea to give the lawn a sprinkling of fertiliser either.
Meanwhile, with the weather getting colder and the soil harder as a result, the birds will be finding it more difficult to find grubs. Encourage them to hang around by hanging out some seeds, nuts and dried fruit.
Find new furniture
It’s possible to grab yourself a real bargain at this time of the year with many gardening centres and outdoor furniture shops reducing their summer stock of garden furniture – tables, chairs, parasols, lighting and other accessories.
If you already have all-weather furniture you’re happy with such as rattan, wicker or teak then store it in the hut or move it to the end of the garden and cover it with tarpaulin to shield it from the worst of the rains. It’s fine to leave it outdoors all winter as it won’t get damaged with the cold; even the cushions are water-proof.
Repair and maintain
Now’s the time, with the all the obtrusive plants out of the way, to survey your kingdom – or rather, garden – and discern what needs fixing, and how. Fences or garden huts may need repaired, walls might perhaps require a bit of rebuilding and it’s not unknown for paving stones to need re-aligning at the end of a summer.
The notion of repair should include gardening tools as well. Give them a good polish and sharpen any edges blunted over the summer such as shears, scissors and fork teeth.
Replant and re-pot
Bury tulip, daffodil and crocus bulbs in the soil to give them a chance to flower next March and April.
Put the plants you know won’t survive the winter outdoors into new containers and bring them inside to the heat. The others that are still standing upright in the garden, leave for the birds, butterflies and bees to appreciate. Just as you’ll be appreciating that after-dinner coffee on the porch again next spring…