At precisely 16.49 today autumn officially begins here in France. There’s no doubt in my mind that a French autumn can certainly rival anything America has to offer. The leaves of the french oak, beech, maple and walnut trees all begin to turn the most beautiful russet reds, through oranges to burnt browns until they finally leave the trees to cover the ground in a rich tapestry of umber, ochre and sienna.
The mornings and evenings have already started to feel chillier, with the first ground frost gracing the open fields this last Wednesday morning. But never fear, as the last warmth of the sun begins to fade, we can turn our thoughts to preparing our gardens for next year and start casting our minds forward to the joys of late winter and early spring flowers.
Here are my top 10 jobs for the French autumn garden
1. Plant spring-flowering bulbs. Why not choose something a bit different, try Erythronium, Allium, Fritillaria, Iris reticulata, and Anemone bulbs
2. Maintain your lawn – aereate, scarify and add seed. If like us your lawn is really just a well mown patch of weeds, I find gazon rustique to be the best type of seed to add as it puts up a good fight!
3. Tidy perennials, remove dead leaves but leave seed-heads for the birds to enjoy.
4. Lift, divide, and re-plant overgrown clumps of herbaceous perennials; Hostas, Agapanthus, Bergenia, Hemerocallis, Delphinium and Sedum.
5. Plant autumn varieties of garlic (l’ail d’automne violet or blanc).
6. Sow green manures (graine engrais vert) in the vegetable garden. It improves soil structure, suppresses weeds and adds nutrients. Give it a go, afterall there’s not much else happening in the vegetable garden right now.
7. Clear fallen leaves and use it to make leaf mulch, or if you can stand it, let the leaves lie where they fall and allow creatures to snuggle under their protective layer over winter and give the birds plenty to forage for.
9. Plant new trees and shrubs. In autumn trees have lost their leaves and are dormant, allowing them to focus their full attention on root development.
10. Give everything a boost ready for next year, add manure to your vegetable garden and flower borders.
I’d love to hear your top jobs for the autumn garden, please don’t hesitate to add them via the contact form below.
A bientôt and happy joyeux automne!