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Green Fingers in Autumn

After a dry few months, down at Caves Folly in Colwall Bridget is seeing how the garden has coped. 

Following a dry and fiery summer many of us gardeners are relieved to have some rain and to see the plants recovering from the heat. We now have the wonderful finale of autumn leaves to look forward to and vegetables and fruit to harvest.

It has been interesting to see which plants survived the dry conditions. Many of my alpine plants thrived, along with the south African plants such as Diascia, Nemesia and Gazania. Mediterranean herbs such as Oregano, Lavender, Rosemary, Thymes also flourished.

With the climate changing we will have to look towards growing plants that tolerate extremes. Alpines are a great example as they have to tolerate extreme cold, drought and intense light levels.

It has been interesting how plants and grasses in the shade have survived the intense heat even though they are still in drought conditions. The importance of shade was definitely made apparent this summer. Fields with tall hedges and lined with trees had shade for animals and some grass and hedge food for stock to graze.

There is lots to do as autumn progresses. In the Kitchen Garden the soil is warm, and with moisture now in the soil, October is a good time to prepare land and dig compost into the soil. You can harvest maincrop potatoes and clear any diseased leaves. Freeze, store, bottle, jam any fruit and veg for the winter and cut back peas and beans, leaving the roots to break down naturally in the soil.

It’s time to plant garlic, pot up herbs such as thyme and mint and bring them into the cold greenhouse or windowsill for use in winter. Now is the time to sow broad beans inside.

October to November are the perfect months for planting in the Ornamental Garden. Trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, bulbs and wild flower plugs can all be planted out now. If you have any tender plants, bring them into a greenhouse or wrap fleece around them. Cut perennials back leaving any seed heads for birds, divide them up and sow sweet peas.

Don’t forget the wildlife! Leave some areas of the garden untidied and create habitats for wildlife to nest and overwinter. Make leaf mould, store it in old compost bags or bin liners that have holes pierced in them. Cut back wildflower areas and carry out a last autumn cut to suppress excess grass growth. Sow yellow rattle in early October, clear your pond of sediment but don’t remove it all, as many creatures live in the mud. 

As you can tell, the gardening never stops! Enjoy your autumn.


Bridget runs Caves Folly Nurseries on Evendine Lane in  Colwall (WR13 6DX). They are open from March until October, Thursdays to Saturdays from 10 - 4. You can contact them on 01684 540631 or visit their website: