Autumn gardening tips: from our garden to yours
Autumn is a special time of year for many gardeners. Allotments are brimming with fruit and veg and the soil in your garden will still be warm enough to plant spring bulbs, including daffodils, tulips and crocuses.
To help you make the most of the season, we're sharing tips on soil health, planting tulips, choosing plants to invigorate the senses, plus much more.
The beginning of the season is all about harvesting fruit and veg and planting bulbs and seeds while the soil is still warm and soft.
Now is the time to get over to the allotment or vegetable patch to collect what you can from the last of the summer crop (courgettes, tomatoes, salads, cucumbers and runner beans) and check on apples, pears, squash and leeks, which should almost be ready for harvesting.
Hardy annual seeds (cerinthes, ammi, scabiosa and cornflowers) provide opportunities for sowing. Bulbs (tulips, crocuses and daffodils) can also be planted in pots or flower borders. Planting and sowing during the autumn works particularly well in milder climates.
When the leaves start to fall and we head into mid to late autumn it's a good idea to rake your lawn, cover tender plants and shrubs with fleece and prepare the soil for spring vegetable planting (see more on this below).
The National Trust School of Gardening
The National Trust School of Gardening is a book packed full of tips, ideas, guides and illustrations inspired by the places we care for. It has all the information you need to transform your own garden or growing space and is suitable for both new and experienced gardeners. To celebrate the launch of the book, we're sharing a video featuring the author Rebecca Bevan on a visit to Dyrham Park in Gloucestershire.
We experience nature with all our senses and we can design our gardens and growing spaces around sight, touch, sound and smell. Our gardeners share their knowledge of plants and trees that can be planted in autumn to invigorate your senses during the winter months ahead.
Christmas box (Sarcococca hookeriana)
This small evergreen shrub can be easily overlooked until mid or late winter when its lovely lingering scent will catch your attention. Plant it close to a path for best effect.
Wintersweet and early stachyurus
If you like unusual plants then look out for these two late-winter beauties, wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) and early stachyurus (Stachyurus praecox). Both flower in late winter and early spring.
Paperbark maple (Acer griseum)
The paperbark maple is a small tree for all seasons. In the winter the copper-coloured peeling bark catches the stark sunlight that accompanies a crisp and clear day.
Tibetan cherry tree (Prunus serrula)
This small tree may not be a first choice for flowers but its glossy bronze bark is a spectacular sight in winter.
Daphne 'Jacqueline Postill'
With its winning combination of flowers and scent, there are few plants that can compete with 'Jacqueline Postill'. It's known for its large mauve blooms and powerful fragrance.
Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima)
This is a reliable and easily-grown shrub, which produces creamy white flowers that attract bees and last throughout much of the winter.
Keeping your plants healthy
Healthy plants help keep us healthy too. They clean the air we breathe, provide food and support wildlife. We asked our gardeners to share their top tips on keeping plants happy and healthy so you can offer the best care to your plants at home. A lot can also be done during the autumn to ensure your garden can weather the winter months.
Remove leaves from around pest or disease-prone plants such as roses, box or horse chestnut trees. The shed leaves can harbour diseases during the winter.
Get plants from reputable growers and avoid any plants that look tired or unhealthy as they can harbour diseases and pests.
Rake up leaves to make leaf mold to feed next year’s plants.
Caring for borders
Clear dead stems and foliage on perennials in your borders. If your compost is ready to use, it can be spread on the soil to feed next year’s growth and insulate roots from the worst of the winter frosts.
Caring for veg plots
If you have a vegetable plot clear spent plants such as peas and beans before they rot and become refuges for disease.
We need your support
We care for more than 200 gardens with a history spanning 400 years or more. This involves protecting a collection of 70,000 different types of plants, as well as a variety of different landscapes and historical features. Taking care of all of this is challenging and costly work and we can't do it without your help. A donation of £25 today could help us plant a rare rose shrub or contribute towards replanting a herbaceous border at one of the places in our care.