The Green Scene – Autumn Glory

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Autumn is what Mr Keats aptly described as the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. The year moves on and the pageant of the seasons continues.

Autumn is all about colour – this is the season of colour. The countryside is covered in gold, red, yellow, crimson, bronze and copper. Summer appears a distant memory but there is much to look forward to and enjoy at this time of year.

Just take a moment over the next while and have a look – the horizons are misty and mysterious, the foliage is beautiful, catching the rays of the sun. Note the contrast of evergreen shrubs against paler skies. Photographers can have a ball at this time of year.

A walk in your garden at this time of year is a magical encounter. Look with a gardener’s eye and you will see conifers, get the scent of witch hazels, and notice the threads spun by spiders–. it’s a sensual experience.

And it’s a busy time for gardeners. There are plenty of essential tasks to carry out. Let me suggest a few. There is still time to renovate any worn patches on the lawn by seeding or laying grass turves. Continue to cut at a higher level. Plant tulips and hyacinths. Plant deciduous trees and shrubs and cut back your clematis iackmanni and viticella to 18 inches.

All herbaceous plants can be successfully transplanted now. Clear all summer beds and borders and plant with spring bedding. Give a dressing of complete fertiliser before planting with wallflowers, bellis, pansies and polyanthus. November is a good month for planting roses.

Incorporate a generous amount of well-rotted compost before planting. Sow broad beans and hardy peas for over wintering. Plant spring cabbage and onion sets of early crops. Plant new fruit trees and bushes. Prune blackcurrants and blackberries and plant rhubarb crowns.

As we enter winter, containers are ideal for creating winter and spring colour on your patio. There is a huge variety of plants available to use bright colours for dark days. Buy the healthiest specimens available. Try the following plants – camellia donation, holly, skimmia, euonymus silver, heathers, winter pansies, ivies and cyclamen.

Prune and tidy up roses, as next year’s trusses of flowers will be born at the end of new shoots from this year’s growth.

Gardening is good for you, both physically and mentally. It is well known that it reduces stress levels and lowers blood pressure. It can provide an oasis of calm in the midst of our busy lives. It can make a great contribution to our overall well-being. See your garden as an opportunity – a place to explore, to cultivate and at times, a place of escape. Most of us don’t enjoy seeing the darker mornings and shorter days coming in, and all too soon we will be hit with images of an approaching Christmas.

So maybe use your garden, whatever its shape or size, to exercise, to imagine, to grow. Never underestimate what a beautiful surrounding can do. It’s Autumn! What William Bryant said rings true, “Autumn – the year’s last, loveliest smile”.

By James O’Doherty