Good things that come with autumn

A blackbird inspecting apples.
A blackbird inspecting apples.
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The days are shorter, temperature lower and wind stronger, which might lead some to think that gardening is over for the year.

But true sons and daughters of the soil know better. There are several good things that come with autumn.

A blackbird feasting.

A blackbird feasting.

Visually it can be such a joy to walk in a well-planted garden or arboretum, where there are ripe fruits aplenty, followed by stunning leaf colour change. Positive thoughts continue as we move into a period recognised as nature’s planting time. It’s not so bad after all.

Fruit displays on ornamental trees are the number one entertainment source right now, the longevity of each depends on where they stand in the pecking order – literally!

In this garden the blackbirds feast according to a definite schedule. They started weeks ago with various berberis varieties, then switched to ripening soft fruit bushes, before returning to ornamental shrubs such as cotoneaster, which is now completed denuded of berries.

Second phase of the feasting incorporates tree fruits; cherries, plums, apples and pears, interspersed with rowan, rose hips and leycesteria. The fiery pyracantha, snowberry, ornamental crab apple and holly are fairly safe for the time being because they’re viewed by the birds as dessert.

Crab apples.

Crab apples.

Sharing a fruit harvest, ornamental or otherwise, is a reasonable price to pay for the entertainment value alone, but there is another positive side to bird activities. This emerges as we discover valuable seedlings whilst walking around the garden, the result of birds having deposited them unwittingly with a dollop of natural fertiliser. Typical discoveries in this garden include young cotoneaster, berberis, roses, holly and hawthorn.

If you’re keen to propagate your own such plants now is the time to start. Collect enough berries to make several layers in a medium-sized pot and use gritty sand.

The idea is to separate each fruit layer with a two centimetre covering then stand the pot outside over winter. Frost will break the dormancy, preparing the way for germination, as in nature.

This is a satisfying and inexpensive route to an ornamental hedge.

Rugosa hips.

Rugosa hips.