BEST OF THE BUNCH – Nerine
While many gardeners will now be planting their spring-flowering bulbs, others will be sitting back to enjoy the nerine, a perennial bulb whose stout stems bear umbrella-like clusters of flowers from early to mid-autumn. N. bowdenii produces beautiful pink funnel-shaped flowers ahead of its strap-shaped leaves in September, bringing a welcome splash of colour to fading borders and patios. Nerines need plenty of heat in early summer while they are dormant. They should be placed in a very sunny, sheltered spot with well-drained soil – ideally by a house wall – and just be left alone to multiply undisturbed. Plant them in spring with the tip of the bulb at, or just below, the soil surface. In winter, cover them over with a mulch of leaf mould or bracken.
GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT – Planting garlic
Most gardeners plant their garlic in the autumn, as it needs a period of cold weather the grow well. Buy bulbs that have been cultivated for planting, breaking each bulb into individual cloves. You can start them off in modules with large cells in well-drained potting compost, keeping them in a cold frame for the winter, or in a sunny site in well-drained soil. Plant cloves 8-10cm apart with 30cm (24in) between rows, so the tips are just below soil level.
What to do this week
- If the lawn is in poor condition, apply an autumn fertiliser to boost root growth.
- Cut back the stems of Jerusalem artichokes.
- Replace summer bedding with plants for winter and keep newly planted bedding watered.
- Cut down asparagus foliage once it has turned yellow.
- Plant and move conifers and evergreens.
- Start a new compost heap when you are autumn clearing.
- Make new lawns from seed.
- In cold areas, pick the last of your tomatoes and bring them indoors for ripening. Placing them in a paper bag and putting them in a drawer will help. Putting a banana in with them should help speed up the ripening process.
- Plant rockery bulbs such as Iris reticulata and dwarf fritillaries in pots, with gravel or crocks in the base and gritty compost on top of it.
- Sow pots of herbs including basil and parsley indoors.