Wednesday, 25 April 2007

A Gentle Plea for Autumn Planting

At a recent seminar I attended on water-wise gardening and water-saving methods at the Hillier Gardens in Hampshire I was staggered at the alarming statistic that the south of England receives less annual rainfall than parts of the Middle East!?

So I thought it may be timely to remind all gardeners, new and experienced that one of the best times for any form of gardening activity is the autumn.

It has become glaringly obvious this year that the ‘window of opportunity’ for any real gardening activity is getting shorter. So begin to plan ahead for the autumn and don’t wait another season before you are caught out by either water-shortages or long dry winters or indeed a long wet spell!!

Autumn has always been the best time for fruit tree, ornamental tree and shrub planting, particularly bare-root hedging plants. But it is also an ideal time for most ground preparation and for planting of all garden plants. The soil will still be warm and with a decrease in day-time temperatures and increased rainfall, growing conditions are ideal to give plants a good start. If garden borders are given a good mulch of organic matter as well it will both help to feed the soil over the winter period and also help to conserve moisture if there is a hose-pipe ban. A bulk purchase of compost is a very good investment as is increasing water butt capacity and installing other rain saving devices.

I know I speak for most horticultural professionals when I say that we can best meet out clients needs if gardening projects are planned now and worked on over the autumn and winter period. It is simply impossible to fulfil all gardening tasks between the Easter Bank Holiday and the May Bank Holiday – so make plans now and begin to act on them. Because if all predictions are correct we are going to have to get used to these changing weather patterns and adapt our gardening practises sooner rather than later.

Chris Barnes – garden design, consultation and management

www.chrisbarnesgardens.co.uk

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