Autumn in my region brings a reprieve from the heat and an expectant air of cooler days to come. It is a time full of promise as we fill the gaps with plants after summer pruning, execute our plans for next season’s Spring display and anticipate the beautiful new release roses we ordered for winter planting. Yes, Autumn is a heady time for gardeners and the more that we can do now, the better the next spring and summer will be.
There is hurried anticipation similarly felt in the last days of one’s holiday; enjoying the last taste of summer on the verandah, one more picnic or drinks by the pool as the impending cooler days draw closer. A time of relief in the garden as much more can be done. I love the feeling of satisfaction, being able to tick off those tasks that have been put off through the lazy days of summer.
Just like that, a few weeks on and a different season brings renewed energy and vigour. I’m inspired and longing to get outside and into the garden each morning. (when the rain stops) The hot, humid days are almost done, and the garden beckons. This time of year is one of the best for roses in our climate. In past years most of the roses will continue to bloom in a blaze of colour until May or when the first frost arrives.
Where do we begin after summer, and what tasks should happen first? I’ve found the end of Summer is usually a very messy time in the garden; perennials, grasses, spent rose blooms, and summer flowers all need cutting back. Its unruly, wild, and overgrown as plants go to seed and dry out. Then, once trimmed, the garden has gaps making it look bare and unattractive in parts. All those creative ideas that have surfaced over the summer are just waiting to be started, but first, a few tasks to form the basis of a successful new season.
Ten Tips for a Spectacular Autumn Garden
- Clean up after summer any spent rose blooms, leaves, fallen branches and debris from summer storms, weeds and undergrowth around the roses.
- Trim roses, lavenders and hardwood perennials and take cuttings for more plants.
- Check the soil and test then add compost, manure, gypsum or soil conditioner as needed and attract worms into the garden.
- Plant new annuals for winter colour and perennials ready for spring.
- Sew seeds for winter flowers, herbs and green leafy vegetables.
- Transplant any trees and shrubs and/or pot up for winter protection.
- Prepare the soil ready for new season bare root roses and pots for planting bulbs for spring.
- Dig up and divide perennials if needed and let some go to seed and the roses to hips.
- Check the roses, fertilise one last time for late flush of blooms, remove diseased foliage, spray with your eco rose management plan, label before the leaves fall and make final decisions on any transplant moves.
- Weed, reshape the edges and redo the mulch.
Let me introduce you to one of my absolute favourite roses, which is still flowering at present, Shropshire Lad; a David Austin short climbing shrub rose with soft peach coloured slightly cupped rosette blooms. Why is it a favourite? It is so versatile, almost thornless with a fruity fragrance. It is perfect as a pillar rose and has a delicate English peaches and cream look. Shropshire Lad roses are perhaps not as robust as is required in Australia, but it has a subtle beauty and does not mind growing in partial shade. I have two growing in the garden, and they have recently recovered from my risky move taking them from two huge pots into the garden to grow on vintage style obelisks. The welcome rain helped them, and they are doing fine now with new shoots and buds about to open.
Shropshire Lad was bred by David C. H. Austin (1926-2018) in the UK in 1997 as part of the English Rose Collection. The registration name is AUSled and it will grow to 120-180 cm tall. Shropshire Lad rose can be left as a large shrub at the back of the garden or trained as a climber or patio pillar style rose as I have done in the garden. The three images of Shropshire Lad above and below are from Wikicommons as mine are still in bud form after moving and have not been photographed as yet.
I was always under the impression that Shropshire Lad was named after David Austin, but although he did come from Shropshire, his rose is named after a book of poems by A. E. Housman about Shropshire published in 1896. Shropshire is a county in the West Midlands region of England and is bordered by Cheshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, and Wales.
Title quote by Marion Cran
Content Di Baker 2022
Images Di Baker or as cited 2022
The featured header image is by Pixabay