The garden is receiving less and less light, the mornings are a bit chillier and a few leaves on trees and shrubs have begun to turn red and golden. Yep, autumn is coming, and I excitedly look forward to shifting gears and planning ahead for a beautiful next gardening season.
From adding more color for the early spring season from bulbs, planning the succession of blooms in my borders and boulevard, and tending well to plants which need to make it through likely a cold winter, fall in the garden involves work, but also dreaming and hoping for what is to come if all is tended to well.
Today I would like to share with you 16 tasks I have on my schedule for the upcoming six weeks.
1.Improve my soil – add compost
With my boulevards which I hope to gradually create cottage garden style borders, this year was all about gaining control over the weeds and deciding what I wanted to keep. Having put mulch down around the existing plants, I dedicated my first summer to deciding how and what I want to plant all along the frame of my house.
In order to give future plants the best chance of growing, I will be placing compost on top of the boulevard area, as well as my other borders.
2. Helping my tomatoes ripen before the first frost
Taking Monty Don’s advice, I will be trimming off all of the leaves on the tomato plants to give the existing tomatoes the most access to the limited sun they have in hopes of their ripening before the first frost.
(below: my tomatoes are in great need of pruning – this Big Beef took off in just the past two weeks, and needs me to start the pruning of the leaves ASAP.)
3. Adding hydrangeas
My long-term goal is to create a garden that provides color and interest from early spring through autumn and even through the winter with evergreens. One addition this fall will be a handful of phantom hydrangeas (picture at the top of this post) which turn from white to a soft, rusty blush for the autumn season which is currently the season in which I need more color.
4. Visiting garden centers to scoop up sales on perennials
Currently, many garden centers and nurseries are offering significant reductions on perennials. Planning ahead helps me confidently purchase plants in bulk and save a good amount.
5. Planting spring bulbs
There will be one or two weekends this fall that will be in celebration of the upcoming spring as I will be outside digging endless holes in the soil, plopping in bulb, after bulb, after bulb. From more daffodils, snowdrops, muscari, hyacinths and tulips, I am excited to offer more spring color that will be a wonderful burst of life from the earth after what is usually a long, cold winter.
6. Divide perennials
For any large perennials, I will be dividing and moving to where I would like them to grow and spread. When the mums are done flowering in late fall, they will also be divided and moved about as I look forward to more of their fall color.
7. Potting up basil to bring inside
While I know basil is a delicate fine herb and will be gone as soon as the first frost hits, I am going to bring my bush basil inside after having potted it in a small kitchen pot. We will see how long it lasts inside, but it is doing so well in the garden currently, I want to prolong its availability.
8. Harvesting berries
The marionberries and blackberries in the garden are ripening and ready now and will continue to offer berries into October. I look forward to enjoying them fresh off the vine and freezing a few bags to be enjoyed during the winter.
9. Planting peonies
With a couple of bareroot peonies arriving this fall, and my mom sharing five peonies from her own garden, I will be enriching the soil and finding them each a new home in my garden. Hopefully, in a couple of years, I will have the peonies I dream about in my spring garden.
10. Pull out sunflowers after the first frost
My sunflowers have absolutely surpassed any hope or expectation I had for them this summer, and as they came into their own late in August and are still going strong, I look forward to enjoying their sunshine until the first frost.
Once the frost hits, I will also be keeping many of the heads and leaving them about the garden for birds to enjoy while uprooting and disposing of the rest of the plant.
11. Find a permanent home for my potted hostas
Each year I include a hosta in each of my pots along with annuals near my front door. The hostas each live on into the following years as I plant them in the ground having found a permanent home for them in my shade garden. Over the past four years, I have continued doing this, and am gradually building a sea of green that offers memories of the past and a reminder that time can produce an amazing abundance of beauty.
12. Fertilize my bulbs
I just recently received the advice about fertilizing my bulbs in the fall (thank you mom :)). With daffodils and tulips already in the ground, and as shared above, more going into the ground, I will be taking a weekend to fertilize each one to hopefully bring about a beautiful spring season.
13. Plant out my foxglove when it becomes ready
My foxglove seedlings are growing, but they have a waaaaaays to go before they can go outside to establish their roots through the winter. However, my hope is to do so by the end of October.
14. Mulch my roses and hydrangeas
Whether with leaves or mulch I pick up at a garden center, each rose shrub and climber or rambler rose along with the newly planted hydrangeas will receive a good “hug” for the winter months.
15. Clean and tidy up the perennials and garden as a whole
From cutting back the remaining perennials that are done blooming, pulling out the annuals which are done for the season (thank you snapdragons – you have made the walk to the front porch a happy place!), as well as cutting 1/3 of each shrub rose bush down (more will be pruned in the spring), preparing the garden for a strong spring is the goal as well as reducing unnecessary extra work in the early spring and late winter.
16. Continuing to feed the birds
The birds have become a lovely addition to the garden, and every day, they feast at their cafe. As autumn arrives, their natural food becomes more sparse, so making sure I keep the feeder full through the winter is on my must-do list.
The seasons are changing, and oh how I am eager to step back outside after the smoke subsides and put my hands in the dirt again. Wishing you a productive and enjoyable fall season or spring season for my southern hemisphere readers.
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