Horrible to witness - swearing
Estranged - daughter-in-law
A solution? - obesity
There's a lot you can do now to help your garden survive the upcoming (and much colder!) months. To prevent any unfortunate casualties, here is our selection of simple (but effective) jobs for the season ahead. Use this as a checklist, but remember that these tasks are designed to be completed over the next three months - there's plenty of time to schedule them all in around those rainy afternoons!
This involves the laborious task of leaf sweeping and picking up debris, including rose leaves which can carry diseases through to next year. Remember to create small piles of debris and twigs throughout your garden to give homes to insect life and invertebrates.
Dig the soil over, feed it with bone meal where necessary and prepare it in larger areas for frost action to break it down. Clear any spent bedding plants and replace with quality compost or manure for winter bedding. Plant wallflowers and pansies for spring display in addition to bare-rooted plants ordered from nurseries, such as peonies and roses.
These cuttings provide a relatively cheap and easy method of growing plants for next year. Take semi-hardwood cuttings of plants - lavender, camellias, honeysuckle, artemisia and osmanthus work well - and hardwood cuttings of cornus, weigela and perovskia. Keep them in pots on the window sill.
Scarify your lawn by removing built up thatch, dead grass, weeds and moss from the lawn's surface using a metal rake. You should also consider aerating the lawn, which reduces the compaction that occurs during the summer period. Go over it with a mixture of sharp sand and good soil, being sure to fill any holes. If you need a new lawn, prepare for it to be laid now - autumn is the ideal time. Alternatives include a meadow lawn with wild flowers.
Hedges need a good tidy up now. It's also time to prune your fruit trees to stimulate the formation of fruit buds and flowers. This should be followed by a final prune in November.
Create spaces for new trees and shrubs and also transplant items to fit your new garden design.
Decide on the structure you want to leave for winter interest and cut down the remaining perennials when they have finished flowering. It is also the time to take offshoots from perennials that may have outgrown their allotted space and either pot them ready for next year or place them in appropriate bare spots in the garden.
Cover them with netting to prevent leaf drop. Add a polystyrene float or ball to ensure a hole stays open if the surface ices over during the winter. Tidy any marginal aquatic plants to reduce debris that would otherwise rot and increase nitrogen levels in the water.
This is the time to service and purchase parts, repair broken window panels and repair any leaks before the bad weather begins.
Check if anything needs careful stalking or protection. Also look at your fencing and decide whether any repairs are required.
Gardeners are nature's optimists, perpetually preparing for each new season. The temperature has started to drop, the sun is lower in the sky and the days are getting shorter. Plants and animals have a natural response to the colder seasons, but we'll still be outside, tidying and snipping and looking forward to what's coming next...
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