Many of us grew up with our parents and grandparents extolling the virtues of this gentle, misty season in terms of growing potential in the garden, but more recently the trend has moved firmly towards planting in the spring. Perhaps driven by a series of harsh, cold winters or the desire for 'instant gardens' once spring arrives luring us out of the house, there is a danger that the advantages of 'good gardening practice' are overlooked.
TIME to redress the balance and remind ourselves of why it is GOOD to PLANT in the AUTUMN.
Essentially it is all about creating and establishing healthy roots on a plant as a strong foundation for the following year. Plants that have healthy established roots in autumn have a head start in spring, producing stronger plants plus more flowers earlier in the following year.
Autumn is also a great time to assess the success of your garden over the year, what has worked well and what perhaps needs a bit of attention. As it can be seen as a whole, gaps that have developed over the year can be easily identified and filled either with new plants or by division of existing ones helping to give you further interest for longer.
As spring and summer pass perennial plants produce shoots, leaves, flowers and then seed, fulfilling their need to reproduce. Once completed their focus and energy shifts towards creating new root growth through the autumn before the frosts arrive, followed by winter dormancy. Autumn is perfect for promoting good root growth as the soil retains its warmth, air temperatures are naturally lower reducing transpiration and rainfall increases - a definite WIN WIN situation, reducing the need to reach for a hosepipe to keep newly planted flora alive.
Any time from mid August until the end of October is a good marker for autumnal planting but as with all these timeframes, it does depend upon the actual 'season'. In a long autumn with late frosts not appearing until mid or late December, you can continue to plant quite late. But if winter comes early be wary of planting in cold, waterlogged and frosty soil. Just as we would, the plants will sulk.
For maximum benefit choose plants that will naturally flower in spring, as they will be bigger, stronger and flower earlier than their counterparts planted in spring.
For a wide selection of suitable plants click here. Go on indulge yourself and reap the benefits next year