A year into developing our new little garden as sustainably and cost-effectively as possible, things are gradually taking shape. The woody potentillas, viburnums and Parthenocissus I rooted as cuttings and layers last year have doubled – and in some cases quadrupled – in size, climbers are inching up the fences and, remarkably, the formerly shoulder-high almond tree now peeps over at the neighbour’s garden.
A vibrant accumulation of annual, biennial and herbaceous flowers filled out the beds this summer – all grown from seed, plugs or pilfered divisions. Among them are hardy perennials fattened by June’s heat and July’s relentless rain to the point of needing splitting again. There have been crops of salad leaves, rocket, dill and parsley, a few tomatoes, raspberries and growbag potatoes, though the shifting sunlight across the seasons has been something to get acquainted with: an area I’d assumed would be bathed in summer sunshine proved inadequately bright for the bronze fennels and blue salvia I’d planted; in other areas a topping of mulch was needed to combat overexposure.
So, autumn is the time for pause, to take stock of the spring and summer growth and note the gaps, failures, thrivers and space invaders for next year. That said, tasks loom for the months ahead. These are the five jobs I’ve prioritised for autumn that offer a break from the mundanity of weatherproofing fence panels and hoicking toy cars out of the catmint …
Sow hardy annuals
Strip away the annuals – the tumbling California poppies, lemony cosmos and tall, vivid orange Mexican sunflowers that have brought the garden to life this summer – and you’ll be left with a paltry lot: scattered