My partner, who does not work in the garden, lamented the beginning of autumn the other day. We’d spent the last blast of summer being inundated with dusters, sandpaper, and sweat, he groaned. We had hardly used the garden while it was “beautiful”. Little did he know of the plans I was going to involve him in long after the clocks go back.
The fall equinox falls on Tuesday, but there is still a lot to do in your yard and there are many ways to enjoy it. The two generally go hand in hand: when you maintain your property it’s a nice place so you can spend more time out there, even if the mercury is dropping.
Many fall gardens are about tidying up and preparing for the cold weather to come: tending the soil, gathering leaves for composting, and planting the bulbs that provide vital hope and light in the depths of February, and joy below. It lacks the flashiness and instant gratification of summer gardening, but there̵
Fittingly for 2020, the main event on my calendar is what I refer to as the “Poo Party”. In mid-October, I’ll be bringing in a handful of heavily armed friends to haul a ton of well-rotten manure around the house and into the garden before settling in for a socially detached lunch. While this is an extreme form of mulching, throwing a load of organic matter on your beds sometime between October and December before the ground gets too cold is a smug chore that your spring plants will thank you for.
You can mulch either before or after bulbs are planted (tulips will certainly go in later), but spending a bright afternoon throwing out all of the ones you cleverly pre-ordered or bought for a theft at the grocery store is a fall must . I will plant iris, allium, daffodil and fritillaries in the beds along with tulips, but I will inevitably also ram a few leftovers into pots.
Speaking of pots, they are a guaranteed way to ensure details if the garden falls. I will sow perennial pansy Viola ‘Tiger Eyes’ in Victorian terracotta seedling pots to show warmth on the garden table. Plugging in plugs of some flowering strains, as well as hardy annuals that don’t show up until spring, is a good idea for instant gratification.
While a fire pit – preferably one made of oxidized iron – is firmly on the Christmas list (and not in my yard), I’ll still make an outdoor corner out of what we have. A couple of hard chairs or a bench in the sun trap of your garden, ideally surrounded by fragrant winter delicacies – sarcococca, daphne, winter honeysuckle – and not too far from the door, can persuade me to have a cup of coffee in my garden coldest days. Because cool, fresh air and some pottery can help the world of good when the nights fall.
- Plant onions
- Sow hardy annuals
- Go out with a hot drink
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