The autumn chill hasn’t quite kicked in yet, which is just as well as it’s given me time to set the garden right and prepare it for Jack Frost’s arrival.
Yesterday, despite a month’s worth of rain in one day, I managed to get some of those autumn tasks done. From cutting back sorry-looking perennials with their now blackened and decayed limbs, to mulching the base of my fruit trees, it seemed all corners of the garden were crying out for my attention. Like a man possessed, I did my best to tend to their needs and reassure them they will make it through to next season. But it’s not all grey in our garden, there are still pockets of colour singing brightly on these gloomy days, in the form of pyracantha and fuchsia.
Dahlias are one of my favourite flowers. I’ve grown several varieties in the garden this year, and I want them to grow again next year, so yesterday I dug up the tubers and placed them upturned on a rack in the greenhouse. I’ll let them dry out for about a week, then pop them into a large pot, fill it with sand and store them in a dark space in the shed until late next spring.
Another of my favourites is digitalis, and every year I successfully grow them from seed, in both white and purple. However, next year, I’m going to be adding a new colour to the garden and this was the weekend to plant out my apricot-coloured digitalis, which I had grown from seed in the polytunnel. With a strong root system in place, I have every confidence that these little fellas will thrive in my north-facing garden. After all, they’re woodland plants and parts of my shaded garden replicate these conditions. I’m also thinking of introducing more ferns and hostas next year. In the lower part of the garden, the secret garden I like to call it, I had hoped to tackle the lawn: raking, removing the thatch, aerating and feeding. But this may now have to wait until spring. We have a large family of frogs living in our garden, and for whatever reason, they do like a party on our lawn! Next year, I may finally hand the lawn over to Mother Nature by seeding wild flower and clover into it. But for now I’ll leave the frogs to socialise on the lawn as I go about setting up the bird feeder and bug hotel for my other winter guests.
With much of the soil dug over, and the last of my tulip and allium bulbs planted, I’m feeling a little more confident about the garden. There’s still much to do, but if winter does sneak up on us, it won’t be catching this gardener off guard.