Jobs to do in your garden this autumn

There are hundreds of Japanese maples to choose from but favourites include Acer japonicum ‘Vitifolium’ (Photo: d)
There are hundreds of Japanese maples to choose from but favourites include Acer japonicum ‘Vitifolium’ (Photo: d)

It’s also time to start preparing for spring next year.

In autumn you can find bags of mixed daffodil bulbs in supermarkets and DIY stores that come in all shapes and sizes, although most will be the large, bright yellow trumpet type. Price is always a good indicator of how easy a bulb is to grow – the cheaper it is, the easier it is to grow.

Daffodil bulbs will grow pretty much anywhere, even in lawns where you can plant them in great drifts and mow them away by the time you want to sit out in the sun.

To create a natural-looking drift of daffodils, put the bulbs in a bowl and then throw them out. Wherever they land plant them. If you are planting in lawns, cut out three sides of a square and lift the turf back, put in a few bulbs then firm the turf back again.

The best way to work out how deep to plant a bulb is to dig down about two to three times the depth of the bulb. Because bulbs have developed over centuries, in every habitat, they can grow in just about anywhere in the garden from densely shaded areas through to arid gravel patches – bringing vibrant colour to beds, borders and containers.

Other plants offering brilliant garden colour, but this time in autumn, are Japanese maples.

These compact trees and shrubs are ideal for even the smallest of gardens as they never grow too tall. Maturing into small trees and shrubs, often wider than they are high, their elegant beauty also makes them great for containers.

Some offer finely dissected, lacy leaves or foliage coloured red, gold or fresh green through summer before firing up their autumn palette. Japanese maples are best in sun or partial shade, sheltered from strong winds and all are hardy.

They should be planted outside during November-February and like moist, free-draining, soil. Bushy varieties thrive in pots so long as they don’t dry out.

There are hundreds of Japanese maples to choose from but favourites include Acer japonicum ‘Vitifolium’ – a large shrub or small tree with deeply lobed green leaves that turn crimson, purple, orange and gold (Height x Spread 8mx10m); Acer palmatum ‘Inaba-shidare’ – a mound-forming maple with finely dissected purple spring foliage, turning green then crimson (2mx2m); and Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ which is an upright tree with coral-red bark and foliage that matures to canary yellow (6mx3m).

If you grow your own vegetables, then you can plant onions and garlic bulbs this month. If you want a crop of garlic for early summer then plant individual cloves in late October.

You can always start them off in modular seed trays or pots, planting one clove per cell or pot and protecting them from winter weather by placing in a sheltered spot outside.

For best results go for named varieties from garden centres or mail order suppliers as supermarket bulbs can be disappointing.