Autumn—a time of change

Keith Mundy

With autumn well and truly with us there are plenty of things to do with new plantings of trees, shrubs, perennials, and vegetable and flower seedlings.

Autumn is the most desirable season for planting as the day temperatures are lower therefore lower transpiration rates but the soil is still warm enough to allow the roots to establish before the winter sets in. The plant will then rest through winter and when the first warm days of spring arrive the plant has already settled in and new growth will commence immediately.

Being a perfect time to plant, you might consider adding some interesting new plants to your garden.

In the shrub department you cannot go past the Camellia sasanqua range. These beautiful autumn flowering plants come in several forms from tall shrubs to groundcovers. Their colours are usually soft pink and whites with some lovely crimson and red forms thrown in for good measure.

They have both single and double forms and the groundcovers ‘Marge Miller’ and ‘Snow’ can be planted either as a groundcover or do very well in a pot. Use a premium potting mix if potting and fertilise regularly with a liquid or slow release Camellia/Azalea fertiliser.

The taller varieties make an ideal screen planting or hedge and there are many new varieties especially developed for these purposes. They are generally pest and disease free apart form an occasional infestation of aphid, which is easily controlled with a systemic insecticide or one of the many organic controls that are making their way into nurseries.

Another great addition to the garden for autumn flowering is the beautiful Japanese Windflower (Anemone hupehensis). This lovely perennial prefers a site that receives some protection from hot summer sun as any dry stress during summer will reduce the development of flowers. They come in colours of white, pink and dark pink and in single and double forms.

Autumn also brings with it the commencement of plantings for the winter vegetable garden and also the autumn through to spring flower garden.

The vegetables to plant now will be all the brassicas, peas, carrots, parsnips and turnips along with leafy greens like winter lettuce, spinach and so on. The list is endless.

In the flower garden, varieties including pansy, viola, primula, stocks, poppies and wallflowers can also be planted.

Prepare the soils for both vegetable and flower seedlings with some animal manure well forked through and water in with a combination fish and seaweed fertiliser. This will get them started well as natural plant hormones in the fertiliser will reduce transplant shock.

Remember, as I mention in most articles, to mulch all your plantings with a good mulch like sugar cane or lucerne mulch. This will keep the plants moist and the weed competition down.

And dead-heading perennials and roses will encourage them to have one last flower before winter. Do an autumn feed of lawns with a complete lawn food to give them a boost and to tide them over for winter.

The things to do in the autumn months are endless so get out there and make a difference!

Happy gardening!