I love lists. I love making them and even when the length of the list outruns my ability to complete all of it! Perhaps it reveals some obsessive or compulsive side of my personality? I find my lists getting longer in the autumn for two reasons. Firstly, there is so much that can be achieved at this time of year and secondly because lurking at the back of my mind is the prospect of the oncoming winter which may end the window of opportunity.
Now is a great time to tackle garden projects especially rejigging or completely renovating borders that are not really pulling their weight. Because the ground is warm still, it is quite feasible to move even large shrubs or even trees if you have the right equipment. Moving now means that they can start to root into their new places before winter without experiencing drought stress. The key is to take as much root as you can with your plant especially the fibrous roots furthest from the main stem. You can always cut down the top growth so that the reduced roots are not overstretched trying to supply too much foliage.
Replanting a border that might have become tired can be hard work but great fun, especially if it was not your idea to plant it in the first place then it is also guilt free! It can be especially fun if you are lucky enough to live in an old or historic property then you can turn up all sorts of exciting finds. I recently found a large oddly shaped piece of metal in one border which is shaped like a large triangle on a stick. The mind boggles but perhaps it was a key to the world’s largest tin of Spam!
Once you have done all of the chopping, cutting, digging, hacking and slashing you will be left with something that looks like the surface of the moon. Then it is time to break out the sharpened spade and it does need to be sharp otherwise it won’t cut through the ground so run the grinder over the back. Dig over your plot trying to iron out some of the unwanted changes in level as you go. This will break up any surface compaction that has been created and get the soil ready to accept the lashings of organic matter that should follow. The aim is to create an amenable root zone so that your new plants get off to a flying start.
It is not only in the main garden that you can make changes. Now is a perfect time to plant up containers for winter with bulbs and winter bedding. Wallflowers are a classic partner for tulips though my heart does belong to the viola. These tough little plants will endure any weather and always lift their faces to smile at you. They can be a little at the mercy of slugs but otherwise with a little vigilance can be trouble free.
Well that’s a few things crossed off the list anyway. Just time for me to grab an apple from the trees before I start again!