We can't believe it's that time of year already but, yes, the winds have blown the leaves from the trees, there’s a proper chill in the air, and the wetter weather is settling in. It's time to prepare the garden for the colder spell to help ensure fabulous rewards when springtime comes around again.
You can get your daffodil, hyacinth, and tulip bulbs into the ground now, as well as planting winter pansies, violas and primulas. If you haven't already done it, carefully dig up any dahlia tubers, begonias, and gladioli to store – and give your roses the best chance of a healthy start next year by gathering any leaves infected with black spot or rust.
Spread compost onto veggie patches and give your apple and pear trees a prune (you can do this right up until February). Deter codling moths from laying eggs in apple tree branches by putting grease bands around the trunk. If you have been using netting to protect your fruit trees from aerial thieves you can remove it now to avoid settling snow weighing down delicate branches that might crack under the weight.
Give your greenhouse a clean with some disinfectant and, if you're feeling energetic, give it a wash out with a pressure-washer. You can use bubble wrap to insulate the glass and trap in warmth from winter sun while still letting in light. Make sure that a little ventilation is possible but not too much! Other useful jobs are to clear out leaves, moss and other debris from gutters and swoosh out any water butts to keep them in tip top condition during the wetter months.
You can help your lawn by making holes in the soil to allow more air, water, and nutrition to reach the grass roots. It's really easy to do, just grab a garden fork and spike the ground all over at a slight angle. While you're doing that pick up any remaining leaves from the autumn's natural fall cycle and add them to your compost bin.
Evergreen hedges will benefit from a final tidy up about now too. And while terracotta pots look lovely in the summer they're not really intended for our winter climates and can get destroyed by icy weather, so bring in any that can be moved and raise other pots off the ground with old tiles or bricks to help prevent waterlogging any of the plants within.
And finally, encourage feathered friends to keep visiting by stocking up on feeders and suitable fodder for each species. They'll reward you with their natural pest patrolling and you can enjoy seeing them at work from inside with a cosy cuppa!