The heat is off – but Susie White ex­plains how you can keep the gar­den in­ter­est­ing and wel­com­ing to wildlife

My Weekly - - Gardening -

There’s still plenty to see in au­tumn gar­dens, from glow­ing dahlias, pur­ple asters and golden grasses. Why not plan a visit to an ar­bore­tum as leaves trans­form into vivid colours, or to a gar­den open for the Na­tional Gar­den Scheme?

As leaves fall in my own gar­den I see them as a har­vest, rak­ing them from paths and paving, heap­ing them on to the wood­land bor­der where they will rot down to keep my shade­lov­ing plants happy.

Af­ter Novem­ber I try not to walk on this bor­der be­cause bulbs will al­ready be emerg­ing. They will come up through the leaf­mould as it rots down.

A wildlife gar­den doesn’t have to mean an un­tidy one. I keep the paths and edges neat, the area around the house look­ing or­dered but the bor­ders full of places for in­sects and other crea­tures to over­win­ter. So be­tween now and the be­gin­ning of De­cem­ber, I cut down and com­post peren­ni­als such as gera­ni­ums, lupins or ladies’ man­tle that will oth­er­wise turn into a soggy mess if I leave them. Plants that will stay up­right in the wind or give me some­thing in­ter­est­ing to look at in win­ter are left: sea hol­lies, Siberian iris seed­heads, se­dums, but all the an­nu­als will be cleared away once the frost hits them. It’s im­por­tant not to cut back grasses, but to wait un­til Fe­bru­ary when the new growth starts to show. Don’t try and di­vide them now ei­ther – wait for early spring.

I’ll move ten­der plants into the green­house for win­ter and clean ter­ra­cotta pots be­fore stor­ing them in a shed to pro­tect against frost. If you have a tree fern, stuff the cen­tre with straw, pull the fronds up over it, top it with fleece and cover with bub­ble wrap to keep out the rain. Cordy­line palms should be brought into a porch or garage and barely wa­tered, but give them an oc­ca­sional good soak­ing.

Flow­er­ing red­cur­rant

Robin on seed­head


Win­ter jas­mine

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