Keeping calm in the garden

There’s no escaping the fact that winter is on its way – the clocks have gone back; Bonfire Night is almost here and we’ll soon be looking forward to Christmas (albeit somewhat differently this year).

The beauty of gardening is that there is always something to busy the mind with – it’s good for the soul and it definitely helps to calm the mind for a few hours. Even with the shorter days, you can still enjoy some time in your outdoor space, whether that’s tidying up the borders, sweeping up leaves or trimming shrubs.

November is the time to remove the Cannas and Salvias from the grass garden – a sure sign that the warm days have gone for now.

Credit: @globetrottergem via Instagram

We’ll also be lifting the dahlias. We have hundreds of these beautiful summer and autumn flowers on the Terrace and we’ll be taking them to the dry store in the nursery for the winter, to ensure they are in good shape for next year’s display.

Dahlia tubers can survive mild winters in the ground and if they are in sheltered spots, they can be protected with a thick mulch. Nevertheless, lifting them, removing as much soil as possible, removing the flowering stems about 5cm (2in) from the base and storing them upside down in a cool place, such as a shed or garage, for a few weeks to dry out is a good idea. They can be replanted in May, ready for another lovely, colourful show of blooms.

In place of the dahlias, we’ll plant polyanthus, daffodils and tulips for a welcome burst of spring colour on the Terrace.

Do you love the colour of the autumn leaves?

They’ve been particularly spectacular this autumn – both on the trees and when they fall to the ground to create a golden carpet. Of course, we don’t let the leaves rot on the ground for long, as it will ruin the grass. Instead, we collect them up, bag them and wait for a couple of years them until they transform into rich, crumbly leaf mould. We’ve been doing this for a few weeks now – it’s hard work, but definitely worth the effort.

If you want to make your own leaf mould this year, simply: collect all of your leaves, bag them up or put them in a wire mesh container and leave them. If you have lots of thick leaves, such as horse chestnut and sycamore, it is best to put the lawnmower over them first as it helps to break down the structure. If you can, turn the leaves every so often to aid the breaking down process.

If you have many evergreen leaves, such as holly, shred them and put them on your compost as they will break down faster.