BRIAN KIDD: Autumnal blues? Here’s a quick fix

Autumn favourite  Japanese anemone.  Picture:  FD Richards

Autumn favourite  Japanese anemone. Picture: FD Richards

Polyanthus: dig them up when they finish blooming.

BRIAN KIDD: on how to save polyanthus and potted roses

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At this time of year a lot of people give up on the garden. Weeds are growing like mad and everything looks as if it’s falling apart.

Don’t let this get you down, there are several things you can do to cheer the garden during autumn.

We have been dead-heading the herbaceous plants in one of our borders.

In some instances, we have been cutting the stems back quite hard to where there are still some flower buds, in particular on the tall phlox, and we feel even if we only have a few flowers it will keep winter away for a bit longer.

In another area the golden yellow flowers on the heliopsis and rudbeckia are really cheerful and look great alongside aster frickartii, which is a pale blue mildew-resistant Michaelmas daisy. The Japanese anemone has hundreds of flowers which are pure white. I know a lot of people think Japanese anemones are commonplace, but they do look wonderful during the autumn.

Aster alma porsche, a brilliant red, is just coming into flower, a great gem to enhance any garden. Again, this one is resistant to mildew.

You can buy pots of all these gems to plant in the garden and remember, they will come up again year after year. They are called herbaceous perennials.

Where there was a huge gap, three pots of chrysanthemums have been planted.

We chose the colours we liked best (yellow, white and a bright red) and found plants which had just a few flowers in bloom with masses of buds.

These have been taken out of the pots and planted and you would never know they hadn’t been there for weeks.

But the point is, this part of the border looks brill and will still be as good in six weeks.

At the allotment the main crop potatoes have been dug.

It is a good idea to get them out as soon as possible to prevent slugs spoiling them, but this year I found evidence of rats eating my lovely potatoes.

My pear tree, which is about seven years old, was summer-pruned last month, which meant every side shoot was reduced to half its length.

Last night I scattered half-an-ounce of sulphate of potash per square yard over the top of the soil all over where the canopy of leaves is. This dressing was raked in and watered afterwards.

The reason for this is that it will induce flowers and, if the spring is warm, there should be a good crop of pears.

The allotment is huge, but instead of worrying about the work that needs to be done I am looking at the good parts.

Must cut the grass paths this week. This will take more than an hour, but I must put a large bag of mowings over a wasps’ nest when it gets dark!

TIP OF THE WEEK

If you don’t have a garden but would like to grow plants in pots on an outside windowsill, look forward to spring by growing miniature bulbs in pots. Clay pots are best because they are less likely to fall over in the wind.

Good bulbs are chionodoxa, scilla, grape hyacinths, dwarf tulips and dwarf narcissus.

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