Good Gardening With Alison Jones


Don’t give up on the garden now summer is over. Autumn is a spectacular time of year for nature, and with an addition or two in your garden, you can enjoy wonderful autumnal colour.

It’s an ideal time for planting, since the soil is the right temperature to encourage roots of newly planted shrubs, hedging and other hardy plants. By planting now and up until Christmas, you can take advantage of warm soil, despite the cooler air temperature. Autumn rain should make the ground easier to work, so long as it’s not frosty.
Erica arborea ‘Albert’s Gold’ is the best known and most popular of all the tree heathers. Its bright golden foliage provides cheerful evergreen colour, and scented white flowers are an occasional bonus in early spring. It has an RHS Award of Garden Merit. This colourful feature shrub can be under-planted with red or white flowered Erica carnea and x-darleyensis varieties.

Plant in well-drained, humus-rich soil, in a sunny position, sheltered from cold winds. It’s tolerant of alkaline soils and is good in containers, but needs winter protection from the cold. To maintain its compact habit, trim lightly in late spring or early summer.

Our houseplant of the month is the chrysanthemum, often nicknamed pot mum. It makes a great pot plant with its cheerful daisy flowers, which are ideal for brightening a dull spot.

The chrysanthemum is effective at cleaning the air, but because of this, you’ll need to water quite often, perhaps up to twice a week. Aim to keep the soil damp. Most flowering house plants, including the chrysanthemum, will keep their flowers for longer if the temperatures are on the average to low side, so 10°C - 18°C / 50°F - 65°.

Solanum thurino ‘Apples of Orange’ is a pretty plant often referred to as orange tree. It is a far relative of both the potato and tomato plants, although its fruits aren’t edible. The solanum thurino is from South America.

The orange tree is a colourful addition indoors or outside, cheering up your patio, terrace or balcony. After flowering, it grows beautiful shiny berries, which gradually change colour from green to orange. It’s perfect for autumn and Halloween, with its orange colours.

Plant fruit trees and soft fruit now and you’ll get your first harvest next year. Apple, pear and plum trees are available in the garden centre, along with raspberry, gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes.

When planting a tree or shrub, give it a long soak first. Add some slow-acting fertiliser to the planting hole to get it off to a good start and once planted, firm your new plant in to stop it moving around. Make sure all your new and relocated plants are well watered in dry spells.

If you haven’t done so already, feed your lawn with an autumn treatment to sort out any moss and provide nutrients to harden off growth. In doing so, your lawn is prepared for all the weather winter can throw at it.

It’s good to get out in the fresh air and tidy the garden. Most flowering plants can be cut back. Get rid of weeds and dead leaves. Cut back hedges, and if you have a pond, remove dead leaves through the season.

Happy gardening, come rain or shine!


Alison Jones is Plant Buyer for Garsons Farm in West End, Esher.