Here’s the deal – most gardeners will tell you that Autumn is the time to cut back, clear and tidy borders ready for winter, lift tender bulbs, rake and prepare the lawn – busy, busy, tidying and organising.
However, for us, this is a time to embrace the magnificence of an Autumn garden – a time to celebrate a change of season, a farewell to summer and the welcome of a winter coming. Time to study and be amazed by the colours, watch how nature prepares in plants, birds, insects – to become intrinsically involved with the season – preparing yourself mentally, physically and fill your store cupboards with beautiful abundance that autumn has to offer. Here is how we like to prepare for Autumn in the garden.
In our Garden we have three don'ts:
- Don’t tidy the leaves on the ground let them form hides;
- Don’t go into your flower beds and cut back and tidy the dead stems of the plants which will be festooned with seed heads;
- Don’t rake, cut too close or add anything to your lawn, just leave a little piece of lawn to go wild and see what magic arrives;
You can do these tasks: clearing stems, organising the lawn etc in spring when the birds and insects have used the cover for shelters and food.
But here are our Autumn do’s:
- Do start to plant out your bulbs for next year i.e. tulips, daffodils, snow drops and of course lots of garlic;
- Do start a plan over autumn of how you would like your garden to look next year i.e. wild areas, new trees and plants, a pond even – make your garden a paradise for wildlife. We are busy this year re-purposing some of the beds ready for next years Gin crops;
- Do continue to harvest your vegetables and fruits and work on encouraging your winter crops.
Autumn is a time to take stock, to feel the energy of the natural world start to slow and for our own health its an amazing time of year to try and reflect the natural world within us: accepting the slowing down and embracing the turn of the year.
Watch everything; how the colour of the leaves move to such beauty and then fall to enrich the earth, watch birds feeding from the seed heads of the plants in a beautiful dance of nature how the seeds feed the birds and how in turn the seeds are returned to the earth, watch and follow the wind as it moves through the garden, watch the spectacular Autumn sunset and the soft sunrise.
Listen to everything; how the wind talks to the trees and how the leaves speak in different languages; listen to the rain and how the sound changes on different materials; listen to the crack of the broadbean pod as you prepare to eat; listen to the silence of winter coming.
Take in all the smells of Autumn – pick up a handful of fallen leaves and the smell is intoxicating, take time to inhale the last rose, how rain has different scents, pick up a clod of earth as you dig up your potatoes and breath in its life source.
Internalise the bounty of Autumn – pick apples, pears, plums, make jams, cordials and preserves. Feast on the beans, potatoes, kale, courgettes – if you’re lucky enough to own a greenhouse pick fresh tomatoes, aubergines, chillies and cucumbers. This year we've had a bumper crop of apples and our team is busy thinking of how we might use these fruits for next year.
If you have grown none of these find a farmers market or go to a pick your own but make sure they are local, fresh and chemical free to really taste the difference. Collect the last of the fresh herb leaves like mints and lemon balm so you can make the last fresh herbal teas of the season, then dry the rest to see you through winter. See our blog on drying plants at home here.
Autumn is the best of seasons to bring alive nature, to be involved at all levels not to tie, prune and clear but create habitats for wildlife by leaving, encouraging and following the precious circle of life as all forms prepare for the oncoming of winter.
Enjoy all that Autumn brings and has to teach us.
The Distillery Garden Team