The Autumn season can be both pleasing & at times a little dismal with the brightly coloured leaves of the fall which adds colour to the surroundings, the harvest of fruits, vegetables and grains, the cutting back of plants and seed germination but also the thought that we are again getting closer to winter when daylight becomes shorter and the temperature gradually gets cooler.
The seasonal name Autumn originates from the Latin word ‘Autumns’ and in Greece it is a time for harvesting grapes & olives with the making of wine & olive oil and also picking pomegranates which is made into a liqueur. The arrival of the robin is also a symbolic to Autumn which stays throughout the winter and also very tiny lizards which hatch out from their eggs and hide under leaves and foliage. Also lovely Autumn bulbs which are native to Greece flower in September and October include snow drops (Galanthus), lilies (candidum and Chaledonieum) candidum autumnale, Crocus (iridaceae) and Narcissus serotimus.
Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, fruits and grains, also known as the goddess of the earth bringing grain and cereals to mankind after the harvest. Her daughter Persephone is kidnapped by Hades and is taken to the underworld resulting in the delay of the seasons, causing the destruction of plants and animals on earth. Hermes goes down to the underworld to return her to earth but does not know that she has eaten some pomegranate seeds and when she reaches the surface she reunites with her mother Demeter and has been destined to return to the underworld at specific times of the year, a time of Autumn and winter.
Now that Autumn has arrived you may need to think about pruning, cutting and dividing perennials, things that need to be completed before the frost ( in cooler countries) planting bulbs and clearing fallen leaves.
When pruning deciduous trees it is advisable to wait until October or November when the leaves have fallen and you can see the branches more easily ,it also gives the tree time to repair its self before winter, this period is also a great time to cut back any hardy shrubs in your garden. Another task for Autumn is to plant bulbs so that they have a cold period before they start to come up in Spring, whether you choose to plant them in a container or in the ground it is best planted in well drained soil around 18 c, so that the bulbs wont rot over the winter months with a good light source.
Tulips, Allium, Anemone, Crocus, Cyclamen, Daffodil, Iris, Hyacinth, Snow drops, Narcissus and Crocus are beautiful plants that are grown from bulbs.
Sowing seed in Autumn is great for germination of some plant types, with others the seeds will fall or are dispersed by birds onto the ground and after a cold period will germinate in Spring. But in cooler countries there maybe a problem with frost after germination when growing outdoors. Although seeds of Sweet peas, cornflower, flax, marigold, queen Anne’s lace,poppies, California poppies, antirrhinum, dill, Cynoglossum, Lupinus, viola, primula and foxglove are ideal for growing from seed in Autumn, but may need to be grown undercover as seedlings, until they are old enough to be planted outdoors if there is not enough warmth.
Autumn is also an excellent opportunity to remove any plant debris in containers or in the garden to remove diseases, bacteria, fungi and unwanted insects as you come into the winter period. Old blooms, flower stalks and dead leaves can be removed which can also make it easier for the plant to produce new grow in Spring. Cleaning surface areas for plants germination and underneath pots can also help to prevent diseases and insects.
Some varieties of pelargoniums flower in Autumn such as P. abrotanifolium, P. mollicomum, P. graveolens and P. ionidiflorum which are still flowering in October here in Crete, although some low growing species are dormant during the summer and then after the rains start to produce new growth and flower in winter. Pelargonium anethifolium has a tuberous root with flowers- yellow to greyish pink with purple markings and is night scented, the leaves are feathery & is dormant during the summer months. Pelargonium barklyi has lovely light green ornamental leaves that are hairy with deep veins & a purple zone along the edge, usually dark purple/red underneath with cream coloured flowers, the tuber is turnip shaped and can survive dry hot summers when it is dormant. Pelargonium chelidonium is also dormant during the summer but flowers in Spring which are bright pink in colour with darker markings, a turnip shaped tuber and ovate leaves, Pelargonium aciculatum has pale yellow to cream flowers with darker markings and greyish leaves. Pelargonium asarifolium, Pelargonium auritum and pelargonium carnesum Autumn/ winter growers.