Au­tumn To-do list

The crisp morn­ings, clear starry nights, seasonal colour change and still over­cast days with a hint of bonfire smoke in the air all com­bine to lift the spir­its. Head out­doors – it’s time to plant bulbs, tidy the land­scape, and plant trees, shrubs, climber

NZ Gardener - 365 Days of Flowers - - The Au­tumn Gar­den -

FLOW­ERS TO SOW

• Cinerarias, co­re­op­sis, corn­flow­ers, cy­cla­men, del­phini­ums, di­anthus, for­get-me-nots, foxgloves, gode­tia, hol­ly­hocks, hon­esty, im­pa­tiens, lark­spurs, linaria, lo­belias, mignonette, neme­sias, nemophila, nigella, pan­sies, polyan­thus, pop­pies, prim­u­las, vi­o­las, snap­drag­ons, stock and wall­flow­ers.

• Sow sweet peas in cold cli­mates, but hold off till late win­ter if you live in the north. In warm ar­eas, au­tumn-sown sweet peas grow too tall – by the time they flower in spring the first blooms will be up to 2m off the ground, leav­ing you star­ing at their scrawny legs. Sow sweet peas di­rect or in trays to trans­plant. There's no need to nick the hard seeds with a knife, or soak overnight – or even mol­ly­cod­dle them.

FLOW­ERS TO PLANT

• Au­tumn’s the ideal sea­son to es­tab­lish trees, shrubs, climbers and peren­ni­als.

BULBS TO PLANT

• Spring-flow­er­ing bulbs need per­fect drainage or the dormant bulbs will rot be­fore they sprout. If you have heavy clay soil, mix the top layer with sand or com­post, or plant bulbs in pots.

• As a gen­eral rule, bury bulbs at twice their depth, with the pointy end fac­ing up.

• Anemones, cro­cus, early daf­fodils and ra­nun­cu­lus go in first. Plant these be­tween early Fe­bru­ary and late March (though anemones can be planted up un­til the end of April).

• Plant freesias, daf­fodils, blue­bells, grape hy­acinths (mus­cari) and hy­acinths from late Fe­bru­ary un­til the end of April.

• Tulips are last in line. Plant these in May or June. In frost-free cli­mates, pop tulip bulbs in the fridge, away from your veges, for 6-8 weeks prior to plant­ing. This false win­ter kick-starts their flow­er­ing.

• Mixed bags of bulbs and end-of-sea­son bar­gains are good value but can be a lolly scram­ble on the colour front. Plant in a tem­po­rary bed for the first sea­son, and take note of their colours as they bloom. Bulbs can eas­ily be dug up and shifted once their fo­liage has died down.

• Mass-planted bulbs look best. Group bulbs to­gether, spaced 10-15cm apart. In pots you can plant even closer, but make sure the bulbs aren't touch­ing each other.

• To fill gaps in your spring gar­den, plant bulbs in plas­tic pots that can be sunk into flowerbeds when in bud.

• Most bulbs need sun, but blue­bells, freesias and daf­fodils do well nat­u­ralised un­der de­cid­u­ous trees, as they die down be­fore the trees are in leaf. Tril­li­ums, arisae­mas, chion­o­doxa and ery­thro­nium also grow in shade.

LIFT & LA­BEL

• In cold cli­mates, ten­der tuber­ous plants, like can­nas and dahlias should be lifted and stored in­doors. In warm ar­eas, leave them be.

• Many peren­ni­als die down com­pletely in win­ter, leav­ing no trace. If you're plan­ning win­ter land­scap­ing projects, mark where your favourite hostas, del­phini­ums, Solomon's seal, ligu­lar­ias and de­cid­u­ous daylilies are hid­ing so you don't dig them up.

FREE PLANTS

• Take leaf cut­tings now from African vi­o­lets and fancy-leafed be­go­nias.

• For in­sur­ance, pot up cut­tings of ten­der pelargo­ni­ums and Mar­guerite daisies, just in case they're knocked off by win­ter frosts.

• Save seed of chamomile, cleome, corn­flow­ers, cos­mos, foxgloves, hol­ly­hocks, lark­spurs, nico­tianas, salvias and sun­flow­ers.

• Di­vide peren­ni­als, in­clud­ing asters, berge­nias, cam­pan­u­las, daylilies, hostas, pen­ste­mons and Shasta daisies. All peren­nial daisies re­quire di­vi­sion af­ter three to four years, or plants be­come un­pro­duc­tive – which means no flow­ers!

• Take semi-hard­wood cut­tings from camel­lias, fuch­sias, hy­drangeas, roses and woody peren­ni­als such as laven­der, hebes and aza­leas.

FEED

• Rhodo­den­drons, aza­leas and daphnes won't say no to a hand­ful of sheep pel­lets.

• Sprin­kle blood and bone around bed­ding an­nu­als that bloom in win­ter, such as pan­sies and polyan­thus.

“In the gar­den, Au­tumn is, in­deed the crown­ing glory of the year, bring­ing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil. And at no sea­son, safe per­haps in Daffodil time, do we get such su­perb colour ef­fects.” ROSE G. KINGS­LEY, THEAUTUMNGARDEN, 1905

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