Shorten days trigger big changes for deciduous, woody plants as they begin to shut down for the winter by shedding their leaves and getting prepared for cold weather. Autumn colors transform the garden, changing almost daily as the foliage of deciduous trees and shrubs puts on a final show before falling. Annuals die off with the first frost and herbaceous perennials appear dead as their tops die away.
But this is not the end in the garden. Even parts of the plant that have died and been discarded have a purpose. Fallen leaves, shredded prunings and other plant trimmings all have a future role in the garden, as they are gathered up and recycled. Composted, they will provide part of the food system that will feed next year's plants.
Now is time to sprinkle fertilizer over the areas to be planted up this autumn. Empty and wash out water butts, before replacing them to collect winter rain. Check all tree stakes and ties and replace loose and damaged ties, and loosen any which are too tight.
Continue take hardwood cuttings of roses and shrubs like cornus, willow, buddleja and ribes. Propagate hedging varieties of conifers from cuttings, using shoots of the new growth. Root directly into gritty soil in a cold frame.
Do not forget to order fruit trees, bushes, roses and shrubs to plant out over winter. Where possible, choose newer, disease-resistant varieties.