New England gardening: Keeping your garden in good shape in late autumn

Chrysanthemums: They can be planted from pots presented on Mother's Day.
Chrysanthemums: They can be planted from pots presented on Mother's Day.

The chrysanthemums are in their prime, reminding us of Mother’s Day.

If you were lucky enough to be given a potted chrysanthemum for Mother’s Day, and you don’t wish to keep it as a potted plant after it stops flowering, you can either add it to the compost or plant it into a sunny garden bed.

Cut back the long stems that die back after flowering, protect the new shoots that emerge from snails, and mulch.

Chrysanthemums are great value. They only need basic care with a little fertiliser every now and then and can last for years.

Tree dahlias: Still hanging on in some New England autumn gardens.

Tree dahlias: Still hanging on in some New England autumn gardens.

Other late autumn perennials are also putting on a great show at the moment. The grasses are in flower and will hold their seed heads well into winter.

Tree dahlias have had a chance to flower before the first frosts. Some penstemons, salvias, dahlias and anemone are holding on, but it is the autumn leaves that are stealing the show in many gardens right now.

Jobs for late autumn and early winter

There’s still time to plan your requirements and order roses, shrubs and fruit trees for planting as bare-roots in July and August.

Lift dahlias, label named varieties and store in moist sand or sawdust. If you can’t get to that job, cut back the stems when they have finished flowering and mulch the crowns of the plants to protect them from frosts.

Dig well-rotted manure in around shrub and perennial borders.

As the leaves of deciduous trees start to fall, don’t let them build up on the lawn as a layer of leaves can kill turf and encourage disease.

Rake up autumn leaves, but don’t burn them! Add them to your compost heap, sprinkling blood and bone between the layers. If you don’t have a compost heap, just rake them onto the closest garden bed and let them rot down in place.

Not only will that improve your soil, by not burning them you will also make Armidale Council’s deputy mayor very happy.

Also add any vegies that have finished to the compost heap.

The next meeting of the Armidale Garden Club is on Thursday, May 24 at 7.30pm in the Uniting Church Youth Lounge.  Everyone is most welcome. 

Flower fact: Chrysanthemums are divided into two basic groups, garden hardy and exhibition. Garden hardy “mums” are new perennials capable of wintering in most northern latitudes. Exhibition varieties are not usually as sturdy. Garden hardies are defined by their ability to produce an abundance of small blooms with little if any mechanical assistance, such as staking, and withstanding wind and rain.