Every September, the Garden Trade meets in Birmingham to look at all the new products and ideas for the coming season. I’ve just returned from this year’s show and judging by what I saw, there’s plenty to look forward to next year.
Lots of our QVC suppliers were there, including Burgon & Ball and here’s a familiar face I spotted on one stand, QVC gardening guest David Ponton.
Hozelock are introducing a Cloud Controller, enabling the user to control the watering of their garden using a mobile phone. Mind you, it’s going to cost £114 for the convenience.
As happens most years, the biggest players in the market, Scotts Miracle-Gro and Westland, seem to know in advance what each of them is planning to launch, then they rush out their own version in time for the show. This year, they’re both introducing pre-seeded planting pellets (or pods). Simply water and watch the seedlings grow.
Talking of plants, I was very taken with some new mass-flowered, scented Nemesias and some stunning compact surfinia petunias (pictured) which I hope that Montrose of Guernsey will be selling on our garden shows next spring. I also noticed some intriguing new ideas including solar powered watering systems and Lou’s Poo, a brand new plant food made by a herd of alpacas!
Back home, I’ve been tidying up my trial beds, removing the finished sweet pea plants, and starting my bulb planting. I was lucky enough to get some of the amazing W.S. Warmenhoven alliums that we sold on our shows last weekend and I’ll be planting them in the borders this weekend.
Talking of jobs to do, there’s lots more I’ve got planned for the coming weeks. Here are my top tasks for the autumn:
- Autumn is the best time of year for planting most perennial plants including trees, roses, hedges, shrubs, climbers and most fruit. The plants will settle in over winter and get off to a great start next season. When planting, add some organic matter (see below for how to make your own), and then sprinkle in some Rootbooster, which will help improve the soil, build the roots and help the plants grow bigger and better.
- Make the most of those falling leaves. The Golden Gark is the easiest way to gather them up. Pop the leaves in a black bin bag, mix in a handful of grass clippings, make a few holes in the bottom of the bag, then forget about it for 12 months. Next autumn, the leaves will have rotted down to make wonderful compost, which is great for planting and for enriching the soil.
- The grass is still growing, although slowly, and will need a light trim from time to time. Raise the cutting height to 4cm/1.5in so you don’t cut too much off. Brush off any worm casts before mowing or they’ll get squashed and form muddy patches. Give it a feed with Lawn Magic to green it up and toughen it up in time for winter.
- It’s likely to get a bit blustery over the coming months. Prune buddleia, shrubby mallow (lavatera) and tall rose bushes by a third to lessen the chance of wind damage over winter.
- Pick any remaining apples and pears before the weather turns. Eat any windfalls or damaged fruit – don’t try to store these, as they’ll rot. Any surplus autumn ripening raspberries (if you’re lucky enough to have a big crop), can be frozen.
And do try to find time to enjoy your garden too. There’s something rather magical about those bright, sunny autumnal days, and in my experience, they’re even better when sitting back, sipping a cup of tea.