Up until now (early August) we have had a good year with plenty of sunshine which has been very good for most plants especially the roses which will continue to bloom right up to the first frosts. Of course with all the hot weather watering has been a premium, sometime twice a day. Autumn is now on our doorstep and it is time to clear away your summer bedding and add them to the compost bin. It is also a good time to plant bare root Roses getting them into the ground while it is still warm.
If your perennials are looking scruffy, pull off any dead leaves and flowers. Lift and divide any plants that are too large or overgrown. Replant healthy pieces that have good roots and leaves, firm them in and water well.
Leave tender plants to flower for as long as possible, but there are many tender perennials such as geraniums, dahlias and most fuchsias that you will want to lift and protect so that you can plant them again next year. Those plants with protected tubers or corms such as dahlias and gladioli can be left until the first frosts have arrived.
Early autumn is an ideal time to plant biennials and perennials as the ground is still warm enough to encourage root growth. Give priority to spring bedding plants, which will give the best display next year if they are moved early. Most bulbs should be planted within the next few weeks if possible. Take cuttings of roses and root them in a sheltered spot. Prune rambling roses. Sow sweet peas. Take cuttings of shrubs and evergreen trees and root in a propagator. Take cuttings of pelargoniums and fuchsias. Pot up rooted cuttings. Replant hanging baskets with spring flowering plants, heathers and spring bulbs.
Most perennial weeds are vulnerable to weedkiller in early autumn. Applying a product containing glyphosate will ensure that the roots as well as top growth are killed.
If you intend planting new fruit bushes, now is the time to prepare the ground. Continue planting summer fruiting strawberries and remove runners from these. Tie in new growth on raspberry canes to support wires. Pick plums and damsons when ripe. Now is the time to start harvesting apples and storing them. Propagate gooseberries by rooting cuttings outdoors. Cut out blackberry canes when they have finished cropping and tie in new ones.
Sow lettuce, spinach and turnips. Plant spring cabbage; remove dead leaves from brassicas and other crops. Dig up and store potatoes, carrots and beetroot. Store onions in a dry place. Pick all tomatoes from plants indoors or out. Protect cauliflower curds by bending a few of the leaves over them. Cut and dry herbs. Remove remaining cucumbers and melons from plants in the greenhouse.
Mow your lawn less frequently, raising the height of the cut as growth slows down. Apply an autumn lawn feed, high in potassium. Do this after scarifying and aerating, but before applying a top dressing. Apply a loam and sand top dressing at a rate of 2kg per sq. m. working them into the lawn with a stiff brush. However you can create a new lawn from turf or seed now.