Chill in the air; the first frosts; golden leaves crunching underfoot?
Personally, I think it is the most wonderous time of year. As Shakespeare put it, " The teeming autumn, big with rich increase, Bearing the wanton burden of the prime, Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease." Of course, I was not want of love so the wanton burden is not orphaned to me!
Autumn is the season of tidying, of preparing for what the winter may bring; of taking stock too and thinking on the richness of the spring to follow. Perhaps best described as the slow gentle release of warm breath before the slumber.
Of course it offers much to the garden cognoscente. Visit an arboretum and enjoy the wonderful colours and textures that this time of year offers. If you are lucky, there may be some autumn crocus or cyclamen to brighten your perambulations and temper your mood. Seek out the Katsura tree, (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) whose golden leaves smell of burnt sugar when in hot sun or when crushed. A true gem of autumn.
When you return home think on. Leaf mould is a superb free source of soil improver, so, rather than burning the fallen crop why not collect it in string bags and give it a chance to rot down for a good late summer mulch next year. Nature giving free garden bounty cannot be sniffed at, or in the case of the Katsura, perhaps it can!
After the first frost has bitten, collect sloes and add it to gin. Let it steep for 2 months for a hearty Christmas warmer. If you are so inclined I am told crab apple vodka is equally stimulating but time is running out for this year's crop as the apples are starting to tarnish!
Also, start to think over your garden plans. What are you going to plant and where. Look at the seed catalogues. If you are planning an evergreen bonanza, now is the time to purchase and plant. Spring bulbs are also in need of a good home. Just remember, try not to plant them in a fine lawn or in areas of special cultivation. You may regret the impulse.
Add a last mulch of compost or manure whilst the soil still retains some heat. Your plants will reward you next year for all the cosseting you give this.