Autumn garden by David Domoney
Crack out your galoshes and don your Macintosh, the autumn weather is well and truly upon us! Whenever we’re on the cusp of the changing seasons, I am always filled with a great sense of hope and expectation for the approaching season, and autumn is no different. Special autumn-flowering plants mark the change in the garden, set off by a backdrop of spectacularly colourful leaves, and the cooler weather invites us to light up the fire pits and cosy up around them together, enjoying the last few weeks of sunlight before we sink beneath winter’s moody spell.
There’s plenty to be doing in the garden at this time of year to get the best out of it not only now, but into next year’s season as well. Here are three top tips for what to do in your garden this autumn:
1. Planting for autumn colour
Add an extra zap of colour to your garden this autumn by planting up delightful, autumn-inspired window boxes and containers. I don’t know about you, but nothing says ‘autumn’ to me quite like a golden Chrysanthemum on the patio or a window box bursting with flowering heathers. These plants are front and centre in garden centres across the country right now and can be potted up at home for immediate effect. You can even buy heathers that have been dyed to produce a veritable technicolour dream coat of options. Just bear in mind that, as they grow, they’ll fade to their natural colours—the dye only lasts for about one season!
If you’re looking to plant up window boxes full of winter-flowering pansies, primroses and viola, a wonderful way to keep windows from looking stark until these bedding plants flower is to mix them with something for immediate impact. Try trailing ivy to create greenery waterfalls, ornamental grasses, like Festuca Glauca (Blue Fescue), to add texture and icy tones to your displays, and unusual plants, like Ophiopogon planiscapus (Black mondo) ‘Nigrescens,’ to provide contrast and daring for lively-looking autumn-to-winter window boxes.
There’s nothing quite like creating fantastic-looking windows to improve your indoor and outdoor space simultaneously. You get the benefit on the approach to your property as well as when peering out from inside. It’s two-for-one!
2. Making use of fallen leaves
Your garden will soon be covered with a kaleidoscope of fallen leaves, but don’t just rake them up and send them to the tip! There are a whole host of quick, easy and eco-friendly uses for autumn leaves in the garden, so let me tell you about a couple.
First up, the easiest option—leaves can be spread over soil in beds and borders as a fantastic protective mulch for your plants. This mulch will provide excellent insulation for tender perennials or root vegetables, as well as helping to prevent frost heaving (where cycles of repeated freezing and thawing push plant crowns out of the ground) of shallow-rooted plants like Heuchera, Bergenia and Strawberries. The mulch will also be beneficial for spring plantings, heling to retain moisture and keep weeds down around delicate plants while they’re trying to establish themselves.
Second, and only marginally harder, is to make a leaf mould. There are several ways you can do this but by far the simplest way is simply to pile up leaves in a corner and surround them with a loose frame. In my garden at home, I have four bamboo canes thrust into the ground in a rough square shape with chicken wire wound around the outside. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to section off the space to contain the leaves and prevent them from blowing away. The best leaves for leaf mould are the thinner leaves of oak, beech and hornbeam trees, which breakdown very easily with no help required from you. Ensure they stay moist and the leaves will start to compost of their own accord. Within two years, you will have an incredible free, eco-friendly soil conditioner for adding to garden beds and borders. Simple!
3. Adding garden features and furniture
A simple option with maximum impact is to install new garden features and furniture. This will transform your space in seconds flat and, at this time of year, there are a lot of bargains to be had.
Garden centres stock up on bulky garden furniture at the start of the season but need to rid themselves of stock around now to make way for the next season’s items. If you can buck the buying trends and purchase now, you’ll improve the look of your outdoor space immediately and save a few bob in the process.
If you choose comfy outdoor sofas with weather-proof cushions, like this one by Hartman, you’ll be encouraged to make use of the last few weeks of light nights and get more pleasure out of your garden. Just imagine gazing out of your windows, past the beautiful window boxes onto an impressive outdoor lounge—it’ll make you want to get out there rather than dozing in front of the TV.
Make the absolute best of new furniture by placing it around an on-trend fire pit, where you and your guests can knock yourselves out toasting marshmallows over open flames, or beneath outdoor heaters, to create a cosy space for al-fresco dining.
'Autumn garden by David Domoney'
Make use of my top autumn gardening tips and you’ll have a garden to be proud of, this year and beyond.