The best of the garden and what to do outside this week

Brightly coloured autumnal leaves of woodland. PA Photo/Michael Caldwell

Brightly coloured autumnal leaves of woodland. PA Photo/Michael Caldwell - Credit: Archant

There’s never a shortage of chores to do in the garden but the onset of autumn provides plenty to do with fallen leaves to clear and preparations for winter to protect your plants

Blackcurrants. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

Blackcurrants. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos - Credit: Archant

Take soft fruit cuttings

If you haven’t yet done it, there’s still time to increase your stock of soft-fruiting plants such as gooseberries and blackcurrants. Take hardwood cuttings from blackcurrants, each about 22cm (9in) long, from good healthy bushes.

They will root easily when planted in a trench to a depth so that only three or four buds are left above the ground. Choose well-ripened wood and cut with sharp secateurs just above a bud.

Trim the tip off above a bud and plant the cuttings 15cm (6in) apart, pressing the soil firmly around them with your foot. It will take about a year before you can remove the new plants to their permanent growing positions.

For gooseberries, choose shoots of this year’s growth, about 30cm (1ft) long, and pull them from the parent plant with a heel of old wood. Remove the top 5cm (2in) of the cutting and all the spines and buds, except about three or four at the top. Plant 15cm (6in) deep in a trench and 15cm apart.

Best of the bunch: Staghorn’s Sumach (Rhus Typhina)

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Some may disregard this North American tree as the suckers can pop up all over the place, but if you remove them close to the base of the plant, it can be kept in check and the glorious autumn colours it produces will be well worth the effort.

Highly favoured as a small courtyard tree, it can eventually grow to around 6m, the red-hairy stems with large pinnate leaves turning fiery red, gold, purple and orange in autumn. The effect is greater when set against the dense cones of red fruit borne by female plants. It’s an excellent specimen for small sunny gardens, but avoid planting it too close to the lawn because of its suckering habit, or surround the roots with a non-perishable barrier, which will restrict the plant’s spread.


What to do in the garden this week

:: Clear fallen leaves and recycle them to make leafmould

:: Prune rambling and summer-flowering roses

:: Cut off the top growth of dahlias when blackened by frost. Lift and dry the tubers for storage

:: Plant container-grown trees, shrubs and climbers

:: Reduce food given to pond fish

:: Cut off deteriorating foliage from pond plants before it falls into the water

:: Clear away tomatoes, peppers and aubergines which have finished cropping in greenhouses and put them in the compost bin

:: If you have picked the last of your French and runner beans, cut back the top growth

:: Divide overgrown or congested clumps of perennials, unless the soil is sodden or really dry