BRIAN KIDD: Mum’s the word for an added splash of autumn fire in borders

Chrysanthemums bought in pots and added to the border look great in autumn.
Chrysanthemums bought in pots and added to the border look great in autumn.
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Everyone seems to want to get on with planting for spring, but do hold on until you have a frost which kills the summer bedding plants before rushing out there trying to clear everything away.

Remember, winter will be a little shorter all the time you can see a few flowers and lots of foliage furnishing the garden.

If you do want to make a start there’s nothing wrong with going out to buy plants and looking after them in a lovely light place so they will continue to grow.

If you do this you can select the colours you want, your favourites. So forget all about everything being ‘mixed’.

Hanging baskets are often a failure during winter so let’s get rid of them.

They hate being up there in the air, in all the cold winds we’re about to experience, so take them down once they have stopped blooming.

Now shake out the old compost and put it on to a border or into the compost heap.

Clean up the baskets and put them away until next May. Or you could use them, upturned, to cover tulip bulbs in the rock garden.

To enhance a wall however, because of the protection a wall gives, flat-backed baskets are fine.

A good display can be achieved if they are fixed so one is about two feet below another.

While it may not be possible to achieve a cascade of flowers similar to that enjoyed during the summer, it can still look really good.

Now then, the compost for plant containers is important.

Garden soil on its own is useless. What you need is good compost and John Innes No3 is the strongest and a lot less likely to dry out or, for that matter, become too wet.

If you had summer plants in containers it’s a good idea at this time of year to take out the top half of compost and replace it with fresh.

This not only sustains the plants but also gives you the opportunity to take out any vine weevil grubs which may be devouring the roots of the old flowers.

Tubs, troughs and pots are best emptied completely.

Why? So pieces of broken flowerpot can be placed over the holes in the base in order that the excess water may escape.

After emptying them, half fill them with the old compost and then top up with new.

Next summer we shall have to renew the compost with fresh John Innes compost.

Remember to put all containers on little feet so earthworms can’t get into the compost.

In the garden at home the chrysanthemums we bought in pots to fill gaps are looking great.

Use them to really bring some added autumnal blaze into your garden.

So have a look at chrysanthemums in pots and pop them into bare patches in the borders.

I can assure you that you’ll be delighted for several weeks to come.


Before lighting the bonfire please check there are no hedgehogs asleep in the base. Even if you live in a densely-populated area, hedgehogs may have chosen your garden to hibernate in for the winter.