The gardening year is drawing to a close but there is still plenty to be getting on with.
It’s still too early to put the grass cutter away for another season. Given some fine autumn weather the lawn could need attention for a few weeks yet. At this time of year the cutting height should be raised a little and not kept at what was used in summer. A lawn should not be ‘scalped’ just to save cutting it more often.
With cooler weather now, growth will have slowed down, so the frequency of cutting will be reduced. The change in the weather also means that the grass will be wet in the morning, so when a cut is required it is best left until later in the day when it will have dried out a little.
The lawn will benefit from one last feed for this season. Don’t use fertiliser that has been applied earlier as it will have a high nitrogen content to promote growth. An autumn lawn feed will contain increased potassium to ‘harden’ grass blades against the winter.
In gardening it’s always a case of looking and planning ahead and at the moment it is bulbs for spring colour. Providing colour by planting bulbs couldn’t be easier. Make a hole and pop it in and there’s the bonus of flowers in subsequent springs.
The earliest to flower are the ones to get in now such as snowdrops, crocus, eranthis (better known as winter aconites) and the reticulator group of iris. All of these grow taller than five inches so are ideal for the rockery and containers.
For best effect, planting is best done in close groups, not as single bulbs over a wide area. They can also be used among shrubs by taking a handful, throwing them on the ground and planting, where they fall, meaning they will look more natural when in flower.
Actually, this system can be applied to all bulb plantings in the open ground with the exception of tulips which lend themselves to be in a more formal setting.
Given fine weather, dahlias will continue providing autumn colour but are magnets to pests like earwigs. These pests can be trapped in upturned pots on top of a cane or in cut-down plastic drinks bottles, both stuffed with straw or moss.
Sweet peas will provide many more bouquets of fine spikes if all seed heads are cut off.