Dig around to find best of the season

Winter heather. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
Winter heather. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
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I rely on the behavioural change in birds, insects, plants and the weather as an indicator of autumn’s arrival.

Typical of this is the wasp, which spends summer doing its bit for the colony, but come late September looking after number one for the remaining weeks of its life is the priority.

Foraging for food brings them more closely into contact with humankind. If you grow fruit, a little extra care when picking and handling is required, but I can live with their presence. Harvest everything at the first opportunity and remove the problem.

There’s a tangible reason to embrace autumn. It offers the opportunity to increase our stock of plants without costing a penny. This comes in the form of propagation, which covers lots of different plant types.

Herbaceous perennials can be lifted and divided into several sections, some for replanting elsewhere. Many flowering plants still carry soft growths ideal for stem cuttings, and many common, hardy shrubs have growth that will root unaided in the open garden. All it takes is a slit trench.

Look around the garden and there should be seed capsules of various shapes just waiting to be harvested.

I leave a few runner beans past their pick-by date until they’re completely dry, then collect the seeds for next year’s crop. Annual and perennial flower stems in the open border similarly contribute towards a less expensive seed order.

When nature’s planting time comes along shortly, I’ll be out dividing-up herbaceous perennials, not to mention collecting material for hardwood stem cuttings that are planted directly into the garden.

We all enjoy the long, warmer days of summer, but each season holds something positive for the gardener. The trick is to get into the mindset and embrace it wholeheartedly.