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GINGER GAIRDNER: Autumn is a time to make plans

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At this time last year, the dahlias in my garden had already been blackened by the first frosts of the season, been dug up out of the ground and drying off in the glasshouse in preparation for their winter storage.

Not this year. They may not be looking as full of life as they were back in August but still good enough to be keeping their spot in the garden at least for a few weeks more.

Although I did see some snow on the hills when out walking with the kids during the school holidays, we’ve yet to have that real cold hit, but it’s definitely starting to feel autumnal now.

Autumn is upon us

There’s at least a little bit of rain most days giving that damp feel to the gloomy grey skies above us.

The temperature’s not sure what it’s doing either, one day it’s feeling cold making us gardeners look out the winter gear then we’re regretting it the next day when the temperatures takes a leap again.

The joy of being outdoors in autumn.

The colours of autumn

I’ve always felt this is one of my favourite times of the year where I can’t help feeling this is just nature at it’s best.

Trees and shrubs, the larger members of the plant kingdom, put on spectacular autumn colour displays before their leaves dropping off, signalling they’re now having a well-earned winter rest.

After 30 years of working outdoors maybe I’m more in tune with nature than I realise and another reason why I like autumn so much is because like the garden, I too am ready for a wee break now.

Time for a wee break

Not completely mind as there’s still much to enjoy and be done out in the garden but enough just to slow down a wee bit, recharge the batteries and be ready to go again next year full of energy.

I get how these darker months of the year for some people are not ones to enjoy.

It can be tough. Travelling to work in the dark, returning home in the dark, stuck inside the office during what daylight we have and then, on a day off, the weather doesn’t exactly encourage you to get outdoors.

When the weather allows, there is still plenty to enjoy outdoors.

Thankfully when the weather is just right, and I actually include a good, gloomy day too in this, we have our public, botanical, National Trust, estate, historical and Scottish Garden Scheme gardens to get out there to enjoy and lift our spirits.

Despite what the TV schedulers think, WE KNOW there’s still plenty of work to do and much to appreciate in our own gardens.

With a little bit of planning now we can work out what jobs need doing over the next few months leading up to spring, allowing us to schedule in some therapeutic breaks out in to the garden when the timing is right.

There are still things we can do

With the weather not being warm and relatively stable, no real cold nights to make any dramatic change, my garden seems to be sitting in suspended animation at the moment.

For that reason I have to admit I’ve not being too much in it lately.

The area I mow has not grown enough to merit a cut, I reckon it’ll need one more trim this year but all I’ve done lately are the edges which has been enough to keep the garden looking neat.

When the weather’s wet like this it’s a good idea to keep off the grass anyway as any routes we regularly use will soon wear away to mud.

A wood chip path in the garden is an eco-friendly way of keeping the mud at bay and protecting your lawn.

I’ve got a situation like this developing in my own garden so one of my winter jobs will be to convert this into a suitable path.

I want to try and achieve this sustainably, not using any hard landscaping materials or cement.

We had to get some work done on a tree recently so I’ve kept back a couple of crooked branches which will define the sides and the tree surgeons left me some wood chips which will make the path to walk on.

Getting bark is easy

Bags of bark can be bought from garden centres but I’m quite sure if you spoke to a local garden or tree surgeon they may have a branch or two lying around they’d be happy for you to tidy up for them.

In the gardening year this is definitely the period of preparation and planning.

As the garden starts to wind down, make yourself a cup of tea, get out into yours and just enjoy the last of this years display.

A time to make plans

Take a look around you, look back on the notes you’ve been making all spring and summer and plan out the jobs needing done and the changes to be made to keep you out and active in the garden over the winter.

Moving a shrub, re-shaping a bed or border, planting a new hedge or planting a tree- we’re into bare rooted season now where the plants are cheaper.

Preparing the veg plot and washing down the glasshouse are just some of the jobs to be done over the next few months, which will get us all set and raring to go next spring.