Diane Beddison

Gardening is Fun!

The soil is still warm and there is plenty to do in the garden.

Early autumn is a suitable time to move evergreen shrubs. Dig as wide and deep a root ball as you able to, and wrap it up so the soil doesn’t dry out. Dig a hole wider than the root ball and plant at the original level. Backfill hole, adding some slow-release fertiliser outside the root ball. Firm down the soil then water in well making sure there are no air pockets.

Now is also a good time to plant spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, ornamental alliums, ranunculi and bluebells, and annuals and perennials, such as sweet peas, aquilegia, lobelia, alyssum, nasturtium, cornflower, marigold, pansy and viola. Many natives can be grown from seed, so why not try daises such as everlasting daisies, and paper daisies and Billy buttons.

Autumn is the best time to dig clay soil while it is reasonably dry. Remember to pace yourself when digging in clay soils to avoid injuries. Dig soil roughly and incorporate organic matter such as aged compost and manure.

There is still time to give your garden a general feed. This is particularly useful for plants which will flower soon, such as Camellias. Always water fertiliser or manures in well to avoiding burning the plants.


Look for ways to recycle plant material to improve your garden and the wider environment.

Over autumn, deciduous trees and shrubs will lose their leaves, so best to be prepared. Use what you have lying around to build a cage or two to store leaves. Cover sides with materials such as old carpet to keep leaves moist. Add leaves as they fall to create leaf mulch. Leaves from trees such as oaks take a long time to break down. So, if you have an old blade in your lawn mower, run over these leaves on the lawn to start the process. Once leaves are well rotted down, cover your soil with leaf mulch. This organic mulch improves soil structure and add nutrients for plant growth.

Making you garden go further with free plants

Perennials that have finished flowering can be cut down. But don’t stop there. Divide large perennial clumps to create more plants to fill the gaps in the garden.

Take hardwood cuttings of shrubs like hydrangea, buddleia, weigela and rosemary. Reuse small plastic pots after washing thoroughly. Fill a few pots with a well-drained propagating mix. Take cuttings from a good typical branch. Using a clean sharp knife or similar, cut just below a leaf node. Cut off the growing tip and remove leaves from the bottom half of cutting. Place enough hormone rooting product for today’s task into a small container. Dip each cutting in and plant into a prepared hole. Add plenty of cuttings to each pot. Water pots everyday whilst weather is still warm. Move cuttings that have that have strong roots into single small pot. Once plants are growing well, use them for you own garden or give them to family and friends.

Planting Design

In my March article, I talked about selecting a new deciduous tree. Autumn allows us to see the transition of trees with mature leaves providing cooling and summer shade, to an explosion of autumn colour, as nutrients are drawn back into the tree.

Check out your garden now before deciduous plants lose their leaves. Take note of what plants have been successful and those who have failed to thrive. Plant more of the species that do well in your garden.

Take photos of your garden now and again during winter. This gives you reliable information to review you planting schemes later.

Plant of the Month

Camellias are attractive landscape plants with their lovely warm green glossy leaves. And their large autumn flowers, from white, lemon, pink through to reds are a beautiful bonus. Camellias are ideal as a feature in your garden, or to provide privacy. Camellia sasanqua with their smaller leaves, and somewhat arching habit, can be espaliered in narrow garden beds. They cope with a reasonable amount of sun. Camellia japonica and some of the hybrids will brighten up a shady area and are best hedged to hide a fence along a side path. Plant camellias in spots where they are protected by walls, buildings or tall evergreen trees or shrubs.

Enjoy autumn in the garden.

Diane Beddison is a frequent visitor to Daylesford and the Principal of Beddison Garden Designs