Saturday, 16 September 2017

6 jobs for the autumn garden

Callicarpa bodinieri Profusion Green Fingered Blog
Here are six things I'm doing in my garden this September, shared as part of The Propagator's Six on Saturday.

There are still good looking plants to enjoy, but I'm also renovating some things after the end of summer, making others look good for autumn, preparing for winter and even looking ahead to next year.



Callicarpa for bright purple autumn berries

The top picture is Callicarpa bodinieri "Profusion", a popular plant in garden centres once the berries ripen to their incredibly vibrant purple colour. The time to prune flowering shrubs is after they've finished flowering. This can cause confusion when you want to enjoy the berries that succeed the fruit. Not pruning can produce a tall leggy plant of irregular shape but you don't want to cut of the stems holding the berries. I cut back to just above a good cluster which makes then more visible and contains the plant to a fairly attractive shape ready to start growing again in the spring.

Sawing wood for winter

Fire wood Green Fingered BlogLog burners are increasingly popular and its a good idea to saw any wood now before the weather gets wetter and colder. We'll use ours for toasting marshmallows over a fire outside. I've got a fair bit of wood left from reducing the size of the mature pear tree and I've been cutting into smaller pieces so it can be stored somewhere dry.
GREEN FINGERS TIP! You can add wood ash that's left over after a fire to your compost heap to give it some extra potash, which is good for increasing flowers and fruits.

Take note of plants and combinations that did well

Verbena bonariensis Miscanthus sinensis Green Fingered Blog
Pink Verbena mixing with Purplish Miscanthus
I've been really pleased with the way that Verbena bonariensis and Miscanthus sinensis have mingled this autumn. Their pink and purple tones have worked really well and the tall floaty texture is something I am aiming to have more of in the borders next year... 

Plant now for next year

Panicum virgatum Green Fingered Blog
Panicum virgatum "Heavy Metal"
...which brings me to my main herbaceous border. I have removed an Acanthus spinosa that didn't flower this year and had grown too big for the space it was in. I've replaced it with a Panicum virgatum, which I hope will take it's expected form of being a tall slender grass that will mingle with flowers in a similar fashion to the verbena and miscanthus. It was in the half price section of the garden centre, but is looking in great condition so should hopefully turn out to be a bargain. By planting it now it will have time to get established before winter and have a good root system from which to grow after I cut it right back in spring. It's addition is the first change of a few I have in mind for developing the textural feel of the main border, but that's for another post.

Tree Pruning

This silver birch had a main stem (is it big enough to call it a trunk?) that divided in two about three feet off the ground. The look I have in mind for it, a few years down the line, is a single main trunk to a good height, with the characteristically coloured bark (it turns whiter as it gets older). I decided to cut off the weaker looking of the two stems to avoid them growing too closely together as they mature. That can lead to disease as well as creating the wrong look in this instance. Although now the remaining stem looks off centre, as it gets thicker with age this should be less noticeable and it won't be adversely affected by a second one too close to it. 

Weed and re-seed the lawn

I'm not expecting my lawn to look anything like the centre court at Wimbledon any time soon. It hosts a swing and a trampoline and gets plenty of shade and rough treatment. But until recently it was full of moss and weeds, and this is the perfect time of year to do something about it. The warm but moist conditions, courtesy of morning dew and plenty of Welsh rain are ideal for treating and re-seeding grass. I put a weed, feed and mosskiller treatment on it to kill off unwanted stuff (I don't mind a few daisies but the moss and creeping weeds take over eventually if left unchecked). After this had had a week to do its work, I raked out the dead material, scratched the surface to loosen the earth, and then scattered some grass seed over the now bare patches, and covered it with a fine covering of compost. I did this by tipping the compost into a sieve and sieving it across the areas of the lawn I had sown. This is just enough to cover the seed and keep it in contact with the soil. Keep it moist and it should start to sprout after about a week. Keeping it moist has not been difficult here lately!

So those are my six for now. What are yours? You can let me know in the box below, and visit The Propagator to share them as part of his Six on Saturday. I'll be back with more ideas for your garden soon.


  1. Yes, that Verbena bonariensis is a real mingler. And, it self-seeds prolifically, so it can get around and mingle more. Great choice!

    1. I love plants that you can plant once and don't have to do anything else too, plus you get more of them without trying too! Once you've got them in your garden, you'll always have them in your garden!