Ornamental grasses really come into their own at this time of year. Their stems are set moving by the wind and catch the low light. Nassella tennuissima (formerly Stipa tennuissima) thrives in the sun in poor soil, it is a fairly short lived plant but will seed itself around. Pennisetums are the ones with the furry seedheads. A taller plant, up to 1m, it flowers from midsummer onwards, again in a sunny position. Deschampsia has a cloud of seedheads, molinia is an upright, both are native to the British Isles. Miscanthus is a large and robust evergreen, with tall silky tassels in late summer.
Spring thoughts: Buy nice fat garlic bulbs for planting now, I find they do well if planted on a ridge, they get the winter cold to trigger them into growth and summer warmth to plump them up for harvest. Plant broad beans too this month, I have had more success if the new shoots are covered with cloches. It is not too late for bulb planting. Tulips can go in as late as November but other bulbs, even early spring crocus and snowdrops, if planted this month will just flower a bit later than you would expect.
Autumn clean: Clear any spent plants and weeds in the greenhouse and add organic matter and a tiny touch of fertilizer. Plant salad and herb plants to give you a crop through the cold months.
Much Mulch: A minor touch of tidying up and weeding might not go amiss but please leave seedheads for the wildlife. Then apply a layer of mulch wherever you can. I am a big fan of Strulch, but last year’s leafmould is equally good, nothing too fertile, you don’t want to be applying the accelerator to growth at this time of year.
Leaf fall: Collect them and bag them for leafmould and net ponds to stop them getting clogged with dead material.
Plants for bugs – providing sustenance for insects throughout the year: There’s still many herbaceous in flower but Michaelmass daisies and sedums are at the top of the menu for butterflies.