HomeHome + GardenThrough the trees comes autumn with her serenade

Through the trees comes autumn with her serenade

Local horticulturist and author Sally-Anne Fowles, of Spirited Gardening, shares planting tips for your garden in autumn.

As I sit here, on a warm, late Summers day, writing this page, listening to the enchanting song Autumn Serenade (Coltrane & Hartman), I look forward to the brisk chill in the air of a dewy autumn morning.
And with the seasonal promise of rain (fingers crossed) my mind wanders through the “lolly shop” garden centres, with hands in my pockets, attempting to keep my purse strings under control. I think I should forget the last notion as the temptation of even just one more plant is too much for a gardener to bear.
With thoughts of planting, autumn is a fabulous time, as the soil temperatures are still feeling warm to touch and usually glorious, soaking rains have set in. I’m thinking right now that I may have to kick off my shoes and attempt a very dedicated, mindful dance to summon the spirits of rain. I hope they hear me soon, or otherwise stop laughing at my attempt to knock out a spectacular pirouette and grace me with some drops on my face.

Local horticulturist and author Sally-Anne Fowles, of Spirited Gardening.

Prepare your soil
If regular, steady rains haven’t arrived, it is incredibly important to be very aware of your watering regime. Even with the autumn drop in temperatures, plants are still thirsty.
Once, the rains arrive, get your boots on, and start incorporating really good quality organic materials, such as processed composts or composted animal manures. What will this do? Not only will this improve the friability of your soil, but it will also feed and encourage the incredible worms, microorganisms, and mycelium networks (fungi) which do the work that converts organic material into useable forms for your plants, also correcting pH levels and improving your topsoils moisture holding capabilities, to boot.
So, the moral of the story is – don’t be fooled by the cooler temperatures, be mindful of moisture levels in your garden and keep up supplementary watering until good soaking rains set in.

Musical plants
Have you ever popped a plant in to (what you believed at the time) be the ideal spot, only to discover, as it grew, it simply didn’t suit? Well, autumn is your ideal time to dig and move evergreen plants while the soil still has some warmth and the root systems will have time to settle prior to the chill of winter. Before digging said plant, ensure that you give the root ball a really nice soak (ideally, the day before) which will help buffer the plant from a shock to its system. Also, prepare its new home prior to the move by cultivating the soil, adding some nice, processed compost, some gypsum if on clay soil and soak the hole as well.
So, what are the keys to digging the plant? Firstly, get your boots on, grab your trusty sharp spade and dig the root ball. The depth of the dig will depend on the size and age of the plant, however, it is important to dig as much of the root system as cleanly as you can. Give consideration to the size of the root ball and prune the foliage back to achieve some balance.
Lift the plant by the root ball (not the stem/trunk), pop it into its new home, backfill with soil, water well (and regularly until settled), maybe add a little seaweed tonic to condition the roots and top off with a nice layer of mulch.

Tip toe thru the tulips
Autumn is the time to purchase and plant beautiful spring flowering bulbs. So, make sure you frequent your local nursery or jump online to delve into the spectacular array of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, ranunculus, and more.
Bulbs are so incredibly easy to grow and generally, not temperamental, as long as you can give them decent soil, moderate water, and a dash of organic fertiliser. And, they are fabulous for pot culture too.

Until next time,
Sally-Anne

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