Autumn flowers can keep your garden looking bright and cheery as the darker evenings draw in and the leaves start to fall from the trees.
Here are ten of the best autumn flowers for some end-of-summer blooms, and the time of year you should plant them for the best results.
Asters are named for their distinctive star-like blooms with long individual petals. They can be propagated from softwood cuttings in spring, or by dividing mature clumps at the end of autumn or during winter.
Flowers can be expected from the summer months through to October, so asters are ideal if you want your summer garden to look pretty for as long as possible into the autumn.
Plant autumn crocus bulbs in July or August for flowers in September and October, which should return year after year once the plants are established.
Autumn crocus are best placed under a tree, shrub or other shelter, to keep their delicate flowers looking beautiful after heavy autumn rain showers.
Plant begonias for bright petals that should appear in the summer, but can last for as long as the nights remain frost-free, sometimes as late as November.
You can plant begonias out once the last frosts have passed, but in a cold spring they can also be started in the greenhouse for use in pots, planters and hanging baskets.
Chrysanthemums provide a burst of colour and include some surprisingly hardy varieties that can last well into the autumn months.
They can be propagated by taking softwood cuttings from a mature plant in spring, and should make it through the winter months if you protect them with mulch.
Cyclamen do well under trees, in the shady and dry patches where other flowers refuse to grow.
You can plant cyclamen bulbs during the autumn months, even as late as September, and depending on the variety you can expect flowers anytime from late summer through to winter and early spring.
Dahlias can be planted out once the last frosts have passed, but you can start them in the greenhouse if you want and only put them into the ground in late May.
They’re a slightly earlier blooming autumn flower, and should be out in August and September, which covers the period when many other garden favourites are on the decline.
Gladioli (singular: Gladiolus) can be planted from spring – about a fortnight before the last frosty day – right through to the early weeks of summer.
By planting a few at weekly or fortnightly intervals, they should grow and flower at different times, potentially giving you a display from August through to October.
Hesperantha deserves more of a place in UK gardens, with the potential to bloom from late summer through to Christmas if there are no frosty nights in between.
Established hesperantha can be divided and replanted in mid-spring every 2-3 years. Alternatively, collect the seeds in early winter and plant them once spring arrives.
With its dainty white petals, the snowdrop is a cheery companion in the winter months, and may appear from January through to March.
Newly bought snowdrop bulbs can be planted in autumn, or the bunches sold in pots in winter can be planted directly and should return each year after that.
Finally, one more winter friend. Aconites produce a buttercup-like bloom in late winter and can carry your garden through February and March as spring bulbs start to appear.
Like snowdrops, they can be bought ‘in the green’ in spring, or planted as newly bought tubers during the autumn months.
Growing your own food in an allotment gives you good control over the types of fertiliser and pesticides your fruit and veg are exposed to, and also lets you choose exactly what to grow.
Here’s our pick of the five easiest things to grow in an allotment, in line with the healthy theme of National Allotments Week 2020.
Onions are a versatile ingredient and you can grow them in several different ways, including starting from seed.
It’s common instead to grow onions from a ‘set’, which is a small onion you plant in your allotment and then harvest once it reaches full size.
You can even plant the root end of a mature onion when you slice it off during cooking, which should grow back into another onion over the course of 90-120 days.
Potatoes are the classic British staple food, so it’s no surprise that many allotment holders choose to grow them.
You can plant potatoes in beds or grow them in containers. If you have a greenhouse on your allotment, you can also grow them through the autumn – which means your roast potatoes on your Christmas dinner could come from your own harvest!
Just be wary of damage to your potato plants. Some of the biggest threats include frost, excess water in the soil, and slug damage.
Rhubarb is a fruity allotment favourite – although it is technically a vegetable – as it grows well from ground level and you can harvest just as much as you need each time.
There are only a few things you need to know, including that rhubarb needs plenty of space, so might not be suitable for small allotment plots.
It’s also important not to eat the leaves or give them to wildlife or pets, as they contain oxalic acid; however, it is safe to put them in your compost bin.
Blackberries are so easy to grow that you can find them in almost any public park, footpath or hedgerow.
However, that shouldn’t stop you from planting them on purpose, as they’re delicious and not difficult to cultivate.
You can grow blackberries from cuttings and propagate more plants easily too, as the tips of stems can put down new roots when they come into contact with the soil.
Blackberries grow well in shady areas, which makes them ideal for allotments with ‘less than perfect’ growing conditions for most other fruits.
Herbs grow well on allotments with very little effort, and they’re an excellent way to add flavour to meals without packing more fat or salt into the recipe.
Grow chives for a convenient way to add a mild onion flavour; oregano for a taste of Italy on pizzas and in pasta dishes; or versatile classics like parsley and sage.
All of these are easy to grow and don’t take up too much space, so you should be able to add a herb garden while still leaving plenty of room to grow fruit and veg on your allotment.
Most of us could use some extra exercise, but it’s not always easy to find time to get out of the house.
But you don’t even need to go beyond your driveway to take in some gentle exercise and fresh air – it’s waiting for you quite literally on your doorstep.
There are a huge number of gardening health benefits, not just for you, but getting children into the garden will benefit the whole family. Here we’ll look at five ways gardening is good for your health that we think belong near the top of the list.
Forget setting up a DIY garden gym, gardening naturally works your core muscles, without overdoing it (unless you start trying to lift and carry rocks or filled planters).
Lifting smaller items in the correct way is good for your legs and back, while the variety of different tasks you carry out around the garden will give your arms some exercise too.
Doing non-repetitive tasks, as you do when gardening, helps to build muscle tone naturally, so you never have to worry about whether it’s arms or legs day or pay gym membership fees.
No matter where you live, a healthy garden can improve the air quality around your home – both inside and out.
Plants naturally remove carbon dioxide from the air, replacing it with oxygen instead. That’s one reason why green spaces are an important part of town planning.
You can create ‘green lungs’ of your own by planting a good mix of different flowers, shrubs and trees – you can even grow indoor pot plants that release more oxygen overnight, which could help you sleep better too.
The air isn’t the only thing that’s fresh in your garden. Pots, planters and raised beds can be home to a variety of edible treats, from fruit and vegetables, to mint and borage petals to put in your Pimm’s.
Cooking with fresh ingredients, or eating raw foods freshly picked and washed, can give your vitamin intake a boost.
Besides, it’s just more satisfying eating a meal knowing that you grew part of it yourself.
Not all of the health benefits of gardens are physical. They offer ways to socialise more, which can give your mental health a helping hand.
If you have kids, you could get them involved with your gardening efforts, or ask your partner or other family members and close friends to help.
Even if you live alone, a garden can lead to interactions with other living things, either by entertaining human guests, or by enticing wildlife like birds, squirrels and hedgehogs to pay your garden a visit.
It’s sometimes tempting to feel like exercise is getting you nowhere, especially if you’re more interested in keeping in good health, rather than building muscles or losing weight.
But with gardening, you’re working towards other visible results at the same time. You not only gain natural physical fitness and lung capacity, you also create an outdoor space that looks (and often smells) great.
At the end of a long day digging the flower beds or moving boulders around your rockery – bending from your knees each time, of course – you can sit and enjoy your creation, surrounded by pretty flowers, sweet scents, and the birdsong of feathered friends as they visit your feeders.
Whatever you do, you should be enjoying your garden, and a healthy natural lawn is a big part of most peoples’ garden space.
There’s no age limit on gardening. Many of us enjoy maintaining our outdoor spaces into old age – but there’s also no limit on how young you can be, either.
As a family, playing in the garden is a wonderful bonding activity. Involving the kids in gardening is a great way to get them outside in all weather too, as well as give them skills that will stand them in good stead in future life.
Gardening teaches care, patience, chemistry and biology, and if you grow herbs, fruits or vegetables, it can teach home economics and cooking too.
For a relatively small cost, you get all the health benefits of spending time together, time outdoors, and help build an area for the whole family to enjoy.
If you want to get your children engaged with gardening, it’s a good idea to start fast. Some seeds will sprout within a couple of days, while some will grow in a glass of water so you can see progress without having to wait for them to reach the surface of soil.
Grow something brightly coloured, sweetly scented or edible, as this will give an extra element to the experience for your kids.
Cress is an incredibly easy option – you can grow it indoors as a precursor to trying more ambitious outdoor crops, and it’s a tasty addition to sandwiches too.
Let your children help you design a layout for your garden. You can of course steer them in the right direction, but it can be worth having them choose where to position planters, grow frames and flower beds.
This can bring together different arts and crafts, from sketching out a scale drawing of your garden, to colouring in or collaging the various planting areas where your child would like them to go.
Help them to understand that gardens are organic – they change with the seasons, and you can always move things around in the future if you want.
That way, if they want to try something different or more ambitious, you can reassure them that if it doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world.
Try to keep things fun throughout the experience of gardening with your kids. Don’t let those regular garden tasks seem like chores – try to combine them with some optional kids garden activities too.
We believe that a healthy lawn is the heart of every garden. Our Gold Standard Turf bounces back well after being played on by children and pets, and provides the perfect centrepiece for you to surround with raised beds or rockeries.
Gardens are the best of both worlds – private space that you can design and look after yourself, but with access to the great outdoors for some fresh air and exercise.
Start your kids young, and by the time they grow up, they’ll have the skills they need to be self-sufficient by growing fruit and veg in the garden, or just enjoying the outdoors by planting flowers and tending shrubberies.
Birdwatching is a popular hobby at the best of times, but during social distancing and self-isolation, even more of us are paying attention to the feathered friends and other sorts of wildlife outside our window.
If you have a garden, then you have more options to attract new species of birds to within a good viewing distance, but you don’t need to have any outside space of your own.
You can spot birds from any window, even in urban areas, and once you start to learn about the different types, you might be surprised by how much variety is in your area.
To bring more birds to your yard, put up some bird feeders. You can hang them from trees, fences, or put up a freestanding bird table.
Try different foods – if your local shops have them during your essential grocery run, you could get some fat balls, suet pellets or bird seed.
Different species like certain foods the best. Berries and berry-flavoured suet sticks are more likely to attract robins. Niger seeds are favoured by goldfinches.
If you’re limited to what you can see from a certain window, just do what you can. You can get bird feeders that attach directly to the glass using suction cups, for example.
Set up a comfortable chair in a position that gives you a good view out of the window, ideally without overlooking any neighbours too much.
Keep a note of the birds you see, and you’ll soon learn which directions give you the most action, the species that are common in your area, and the less frequent visitors.
Your variety of species might be smaller in urban areas but you might start to notice the same individual birds coming back day after day – and potentially spot where they fly away to, too.
If you see the same birds flying off in the same direction every day, their nest might be nearby. Try to identify species that are known for nesting in roof spaces, and see if you can make a good guess of where they might live.
Urban birds can be extremely entertaining. They’re less fussy about their food and less nervous too, so if you have a small yard, you might still be able to sit outside and see them close up as they fly down to feed.
The internet is an amazing tool when learning about birds. Look for any distinctive colour markings – for example on goldfinches, the red head and splashes of yellow on the wings.
Even a quick search can identify many species of birds from their markings. If possible, take a photo and use a tool like Google’s Reverse Image Search to find photos of similar birds, which is another handy shortcut to identify which species you are looking at.
Again, as you learn the common visitors to your garden or street, you’ll naturally start to notice the less frequent visitors too, so you can start to make a note of any rare or unusual species, or those that might have travelled further than you’d think to reach your feeder.
For example, if you are looking for natural ways to fight slugs in the garden, try attracting thrushes and hedgehogs, both of which love to snack on slugs.
Here are a few ways to make your garden a home for wildlife of all kinds, with plenty of beneficial effects as a result, not to mention the positive impact on your family’s mental health.
Hedgehogs are high on many gardeners’ ‘would like to meet’ list, so create a mini hedgehog habitat in a quiet corner of your garden for the best chance of receiving a spiky visitor in the night.
You can buy special hedgehog food, but meat-based dog food and cat food (not containing fish) works too, along with a shallow dish of water – you might also want to leave small access holes at the bottom of your fences.
A bird bath can attract many more winged visitors to your garden, perfect for bird watching. Keep it in the shade to prevent it from drying out. This should mean you can rely on rainwater to fill it for longer and also slows algae growth, which thrives in direct sunlight.
If you opt for a moving water feature such as a fountain, it will probably come with a filter in the pump. The slimy stuff that accumulates on the filter isn’t very pleasant, but it is rich in nutrients, so use it as fertiliser for your flowerbeds.
Wildflowers are equally happy growing in bare soil as they are growing through grass, so it’s up to you whether to make a meadow retained in a flowerbed or scatter seeds on an area of lawn.
Either way, a good mix of wildflowers should attract butterflies and bees into your garden, and thorny teasel can bring in goldfinches, especially in autumn as the tufty flower heads dry out.
You might not use your garden at night, but nocturnal wildlife does, including hedgehogs, foxes and a particular friend to gardeners – bats.
Keep night lighting to a low, plant fragrant night-time flowers and consider putting up a bat box, and you can expect these lovable flying mammals to take up residence, keep the midge and mosquito population under control, and deposit richly fertilising guano on your shrubberies in return.
A compost heap is a great way to make your own fertiliser from garden cuttings, glass clippings and the right kinds of kitchen food waste.
Compost needs to drain, so make sure liquids can run off from the bottom of your compost container – this also leaves somewhere for microbugs to get in and help the digestion along.
Carbutts is a family-run business selling fresh cut turf daily from our Cheshire farm. Get in touch today to see how we can help your garden lawn flourish.
National Allotment Week 2019 is still running for three more days, and it’s a great opportunity to learn more about growing your own fresh produce, whether in a rented allotment plot, your own back garden, or even a window box.
The week-long event invites members of the public to visit their local allotments, many of which have opened their gates from August 12th to 18th.
You can rent an allotment in cities, towns and villages the length and breadth of the UK, but National Allotment Week is also about encouraging people to grow their own at home or in other private spaces.
First of all, you need bare topsoil free from any grass so you can plant your seeds – so it’s time to lift the turf, if you’re starting with a grassy plot.
If you’re starting a vegetable patch in your own back garden, you might want to clear an area and then lay fresh turf along the edges, giving you a neat outline of healthy grass that’s easier to maintain with a straight, sharp edge.
If you’ve inherited a rented allotment plot that’s strewn with rubbish, left-behind tools and other materials, spend some time properly clearing the space so you can plan it out and plant it out effectively.
Fully clearing an allotment plot can be a challenge – there might be old root systems snarling up the soil, and you might even want to remove the topsoil and replace it with a more fertile and well draining mix – so don’t shy away from this part to get off to the best start.
While clearing the plot, you might encounter dangerous materials like broken glass or buried shards of metal – so wear sturdy gloves, use tools, and stay safe.
Again, by properly clearing the area in the first instance, you give your allotment the best chance to thrive, with no nasty surprises while digging over the earth further down the line.
Allotments, especially overgrown plots, can be tempting habitats for animals, especially if there’s an abundance of berries, fruits and tasty vegetables growing there.
You might consider wildlife to be pests if they eat your hard-earned produce, but at least give animals a chance to leave safely before you fence and net off the plot – and especially before you take a mower or strimmer to the long growth.
Finally, whether you’ve inherited an allotment or you’re starting a vegetable patch in your own garden, work with what’s already there if possible.
That might include hardy and herbaceous perennials left by the previous occupant, wild plants like garlic, mint and berry-filled brambles, or even more established features like fertile fruit trees, all of which can give you your first harvest sooner than you might think.
June 20th is National Clean Air Day and in honour of that fact, we’re taking a look at how to reduce air pollution with a natural lawn.
Clean Air Day is a UK initiative that aims to educate people about common air pollution causes and the simple steps we can all take to reduce air pollution.
The result of this is more people who know how to reduce air pollution in their own homes, and improved air quality for them and their neighbours – it’s a win-win!
With this in mind, here’s our guide to how your natural lawn is keeping your air clean, and especially why mature grass is worth hanging on to.
Natural turf covers an area with green grass and, like other green plants and leaves, it uses photosynthesis to grow.
That means it takes in sunlight, water and carbon dioxide, and converts them into the physical carbohydrate building blocks it needs to grow, while releasing the leftover oxygen.
All of this is good for air quality in several ways – it reduces CO2 in the atmosphere, releases more breathable oxygen, and it’s also worth remembering that everything we eat, from meat to vegetables, started out as sunlight and CO2 before a plant turned it into carbs.
You’re probably not going to eat your lawn or let farm animals graze on it, but there are plenty more known benefits of natural lawns:
On top of all of these benefits, a natural lawn at the front of your house will typically enhance the kerb appeal of your property and help you to sell it if you want to move house – you might even get more money for it with a well-kept front garden.
If you’ve decided to lay turf to reduce air pollution in and around your garden, there are some simple steps you can take to maximise the benefits in the months and years to come.
We would always recommend preparing the ground well before laying turf – we even offer a professional Turf Laying Service to get it right every time – but there are also long-term air quality benefits to doing this. Get in touch with us if you want to arrange one!
By preparing the ground, your turf can put down deep roots. This allows it to find water deeper into the earth in the future and encourages stronger growth, locking away even more CO2 in the form of physical hydrocarbons.
Letting your lawn go to meadow is the latest ‘in thing’ in gardening, and people everywhere are leaving their grass to get overgrown and full of weeds in the hope of attracting wildlife into your garden.
Unfortunately in many cases you’re more likely to end up ruining your lawn and making your house look abandoned.
The potential pitfalls of this are wide-ranging:
But there are some easy ways to attract wildlife into a garden whilst keeping a tidy natural lawn.
Even a small area of planting can have a big impact. Consider low-maintenance plants like borage to attract bees and butterflies and teasel to attract goldfinches in the autumn.
Use perennials and your garden will grow back year after year, while evergreens and woody deciduous shrubs should stay over winter too – a buddleia, also known as the ‘butterfly bush’, is one good deciduous shrubbery option.
You might be surprised that the RSPB’s guide to starting a wildflower meadow warns against planting wildflowers in rich soil.
Instead they recommend planting mustard for the first year to use up excess nutrients – again if you have a flowerbed or rockery filled with poor quality soil, planting common wildflowers can easily create a contained mini meadow area.
If your garden doesn’t have room for a meadow area, you could cut away just a few inches of turf around the edges and plant a mini meadow border.
This can give smaller gardens a beautiful edging, and as the foliage dies back ready for winter, the fairly narrow bare border should not be too distracting or unsightly either.
Don’t just focus on pretty wildlife like robins and butterflies – know what’s common in your local area and what’s beneficial to have around.
Bees are important and usually won’t sting you if undisturbed, so don’t be afraid to plant bee-friendly flowers, as well as bushes like roses that will attract ladybirds and in turn help control your aphid population.
Last but not least, creating a meadow in your lawn does not have to mean giving up on maintaining the grass – in fact for long-term health, some maintenance is essential.
Plant bulbs such as bluebells and daffodils that can grow through the grass, flower in a short space of time, and then die back to leave your lawn as before.
When they’re finished flowering, carefully remove the dead growth so it doesn’t clog up the root structure of your lawn, and leave the bulbs undisturbed so they’ll grow back next year.
If your lawn is beyond repair and you crave a lush green outdoor space, the experts at Carbutts can help. We grow fresh turf on our family-run farm in Cheshire. Gold standard turves can be cut on the day you receive them, just get in touch to arrange your order.
There’s no denying that artificial grass has become much more popular in recent years as an alternative to laying a new lawn using natural turf.
It’s also used widely in some sports, and 4G turf football pitches can now be found in every town and city, especially on training pitches rather than for competition.
Earlier this year, social media users were bemused to hear of Nike’s new ‘Grass’ golf shoes, which are literally made of fake grass – ironic considering golf is one of the sports least likely to be played on 4G turf.
With Earth Day on Monday April 22nd, we thought we’d take a look at some of the reasons why natural grass turf is so great, and why we don’t think artificial turf golf courses will become commonplace anytime soon.
Brand-name ‘AstroTurf’ dates back to the 1960s and got its name from its first high-profile use, at the Houston Astrodome stadium.
Since then artificial grass has evolved, with more convincing fake grass using blades of different lengths and different shades of green to create a better illusion.
But there are still problems. Fake turf can contain some pretty undesirable materials, from nylon blades of grass, to rubber padding, to glue bonding it all together.
It also removes the benefits of natural turf for wildlife, so you won’t see birds pecking for worms, and you’re even less likely to be visited by a hedgehog.
If you’ve read any of our guides to laying natural turf, you’ll know that for the best results, the ground should be prepared by aerating it, watering it and mixing in some fertiliser.
But laying fake turf is hardly any easier, as for the best results, you need to dig out the top layer of soil and replace it with a ‘permeable sub-base’ such as limestone.
Cheap fake grass often doesn’t drain as well anyway, and this combined with a poorly prepared sub-base layer can leave you with pools of standing water on your lawn.
In contrast, Carbutts Turf offer a complete natural turf laying service. We can prepare the sub-layer for you, supply the turf and quickly lay it in place, so all you need to do is regularly water it in and maintain the grass as it starts to grow.
One of the arguments in favour of artificial turf is durability, especially on football pitches and other sports fields where it will see heavy use.
But for most everyday garden use, real grass is durable enough to withstand footfall and children playing, and will quickly recover and grow back with minimal maintenance.
If you expect regular wear and tear on your lawn, choose our Gold Standard natural turf – it is ultra hard-wearing with faster shoot recovery to get it back to its best after being played on by kids or pets.
Artificial turf has its place on football training pitches and practice putting greens, but we think natural grass can’t be beaten for lawns and gardens.
With Earth Day 2019 upon us, we hope you will agree and do your bit to keep more natural planting in British gardens for the health of our planet.
Image source: http://www.ladbible.com/latest/sport-nike-to-charge-110-for-air-max-trainers-made-of-astro-turf-20190118