Autumn Tidy Up!!

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Autumn is such a beautiful colourful time of year but many plants die or die back or just look a bit sad. The question is to tidy for the winter or not? It might look neat if we do but there are more reasons not to! A little food for thought from Cathie…..

Autumn leaves

Please don’t burn them. They can be composted, made into leaf mould or left on the borders and covered with compost as long as they are in touch with the soil and not smothering the plants. A discreet pile can provide a habitat for invertebrates and amphibians to overwinter in.

Seed heads

Can look beautiful, provide winter interest and are a valuable food source for birds, particularly finches who love the Aster (Michaelmas Daisy) seeds.

Herbaceous perennials

Many Summer herbaceous plants die down in the Autumn but the dead part of the plant can protect the base during the winter and the young developing shoots in early Spring. It also provides a habitat for wildlife so why cut it down?


It’s beneficial for many of our invertebrates and amphibians to leave areas of grass longer in the winter too, good to have a range of habitats with short grass, slightly longer and even a meadow area if possible.

Woody perennials

Autumn is the time for pruning many deciduous shrubs in order to ‘tidy up for the winter’ but a lot provide food for birds and insects so leave the roses that have hips and the fruit trees until the Spring.

If you need to prune, leave the prunings in a pile for stag beetle larvae, frogs, toads and ground beetles all of which will reward you by eating slugs in the Spring! Hollow stems provide nesting space for solitary bees and Hedgehogs love a pile of twigs and leaves to hibernate in, perhaps pop a nesting box underneath!

Next month : The Winter Prune

Cathie’s Professional Gardening Services now taking bookings for Spring

1.Horticultural consultancy with Cathie to help you learn about your garden and to work out an action plan.

2.Cathie and her team of horticulturists can expertly transform your garden following a consultancy.

3. Don’t leave it too late to book your Winter pruning session!

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See also

An Introduction to Keeping Bees

Advice for new beekeepers from Cathie at Cathie’s Gardening School, Secretts Garden Centre, Milford. We now have three colonies of bees in the teaching garden

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Christmas Wreath

At this time of year I like to look at the meanings behind some of our Christmas traditions. We’ve covered Holly, Ivy, Mistletoe, Christmas roses