Bulbs celebrate the end of winter. But you need to plan now and plant for a superb spring display as planting in late summer and early autumn enables bulbs to make good root growth and get established before cold weather stops growth.
For colour, form and fragrance look to the stars of the spring bulb repertoire are tulips, narcissi and hyacinths.
Autumn is a great opportunity to sow new lawns. You can get a head start and plan to prepare the area well first: and read our guide before you start!
More Plant Care Features
Maintaining the display
Removing dead flower heads is key to prolonging flowering. Why? Because the sole objective of our flowering plants is procreation; producing seed.
All the plant's energy goes into producing a fine crop of seed, instead of a wonderful show of late summer flowers. Deadheading prevents seed production and the plants, intent on making 'babies', flower again.
Salvias, delphiniums, roses, geums, hemerocallis and many other favourites will simply flower again, or for longera longer season, if we remove the dead flower-heads. Alchemiila, nepeta and geraniums can be cut hard back after their first flowering and will regrow, and re-bloom.
Besides, a tidy and border with dead-heads removed looks just so much better.
Collecting Seeds Division, cuttings, 'slips'. There are many ways to increase your plants and to carry annuals from season to season. Collecting seed is one method often overlooked.
Some plants seed freely and widely. So much so that gardeners deadhead them quickly before they can takeover the gardens. Other seeds need to be collected. When the seed heads or pods have dried, but not opened, cut or shake them into a brown paper bag, not plastic as moisture is trapped and the seeds go mouldy. Label each bag as you go, it's even harder to recognise seeds than plants!
Clean the seed (remove seed coverings, pods, petals and stems) and store in a cool dry place until ready to sow. Many seeds germinate better when fresh, hellebores often have prodigious numbers of offspring under their canopy as the seed has fallen and germinated fresh, but are reluctant to germinate if even slightly stale.
Re-working the display Time to take a long hard look, using any summer photographs and your trusty notebook, and decide to plunge in and re-work the borders this coming winter.
Apart from dividing congested and over-large plants,bringing more interest in form (shape) and texture creates a better display, and over a far longer period.
Preparing a Border Planting a new border is tremendous fun, and it is exciting to see the new plantings develop. To get the best result, and avoid constant problems with weeds and soil nutrients later, make sure that you get the preparation right before you plant.