Bumper harvest ahead

Pink echinachea, yellow rudbeckia and purple Michaelmas daisies
Pink echinachea, yellow rudbeckia and purple Michaelmas daisies

Autumn is the mellow season. The hectic flowering and activity of summer is over.

Seed-heads and berries look stunning but the changing colour of leaves signals the dwindling of the growing season. Our warmth is gradually fading, replaced by crisp or damp autumnal days.

The signs and predictions are that 2013 is going to be a productive year giving a bumper harvest of nuts and fruit with rich pickings for wildlife.

Berries hanging pendulously from branches of trees in autumn will continue to provide colour well into winter, until the birds discover them!

Some interesting berry bearing trees include quince, sloe and crab apple.

Make sure you have some late-flowering plants in your garden for insects to feed from on warm days.

Long flowering perennials keep colour in our gardens. Todmorden in Bloom favourites include Japanese anemones, rudbeckia, echinachea, verbena and sedums.

Bulbs are easy to grow, so rewarding for new gardeners! Autumn flowering cyclamen will establish well if planted soon.

For the gardener this is a busy time. Perennials, such as crocosmia or geraniums, can be split or cuttings taken whilst time for them to establish before really cold weather starts.

Likewise, divide overgrown clumps of alpines. This will encourage new growth next year and improve their overall appearance.

Some annual flowers, poppies for example, have a head full of seeds which you can shake around for free flowers next year.

Remember to bring tender plants under cover or protected carefully before the first frosts.

Raise containers onto pot feet to prevent water logging.

It’s traditional to revitalise lawns after dry summer weather and ensure they are fit to get through winter.

Remove the dead moss by vigorously raking the surface.

Areas of the lawn that get heavy traffic, such as play areas, become very compact which can cause problems with drainage and moss. Improve by pushing a garden fork into the ground, then wiggle it around to make air channels.

Finally, perk up tired lawns by giving them a feed.

Use an autumn lawn fertiliser, which is high in phosphates and potash to help develop strong roots and healthy leaves.

Pick up and burn diseased leaves and keep a sharp eye out for any pest damage.

Clear fallen leaves from ponds and flower beds, then add to compost or put in black bags, leaving for 12 months to make leaf mould.

General tidying should include weeding and cleaning paths before winter.