Greenfingers… The Alan Titchmarsh Column

He’s a brilliant presenter, accomplished gardener, talented novelist and all-round horticultural inspiration; and this month, as autumn works its way into our outdoor spaces, Alan Titchmarsh explains why variety is the spice of life, even in the garden!

With the approach of autumn, at the moment we’re going through that phase where the colours and the shapes are changing. There’s sometimes a sadness when you realise summer is coming to an end, and the leaves certainly seem to be falling earlier this year. My advice though is to embrace the new season and really go after all the potential and possibilities that it holds. After all, we’re actually very lucky in Britain – where plants are concerned we can afford ourselves a different favourite every month; snowdrops in January, daffodils in February, tulips in March and so on.

People tend to associate autumn with brown and orange tones, and a rustling underfoot; but it’s about much more than that. One of the most exciting times is when you wake up on a certain day and you can just smell the fact the season has arrived. It’s something in the air – a kind of sourness, a tang that lingers. You can smell things just beginning to decay, but it’s in a way that is replenishing, stimulating and invigorating because it means things are turning and new possibilities are around the corner.

So as autumn arrives I would offer the following bits of advice. Firstly, hold on to the last bits of colour and savour them. Next, enjoy what’s there – perhaps you have some raspberries or any number of the late-flowering varieties such as Cyclamens, Begonias, and of course, Crocuses.

Also see how your garden is evolving – sure, that asparagus bed is no longer cropping, but look at the lovely ferns it’s now growing.

Next, perhaps start autumn with a tidy-up of borders, or a clean out of the greenhouse, or perhaps even renew a few tools. Also consider getting your compost boosted with all those leaves suddenly in abundance. And finally, invest in some evergreens to offer texture and volume in areas of the garden that might start looking a little sparser.

Mostly though, look forward to the coming change and admire nature’s versatility. There is tremendous colour still around us, and where the leaves have descended, look at the skeletal, artistic majesty of trees.

Remember, anticipation is an underrated commodity. People expect everything instantly now because they are able to go into a supermarket and have what they want when they want it.

Yet there is more to it than that where our gardens are concerned – I like looking forward in life and I thrive on anticipation because, of course, when it does happen, it’s that much more enjoyable.


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