Summer has well and truly ended early and while we should expect more fine weather (for Womad this weekend, one hopes), we will not achieve the same heat and strength in the sun. So it is all on for the new planting season.
Right now is the optimal time for taking cuttings of easy to grow plants such as perennials, fuchsias and vireya rhododendrons. It is getting a little late for hydrangeas though they should still root. Select new growth which has hardened sufficiently so that it does not snap if you bend it. The rule of thumb is one wound at the base of the cutting for everything except rhododendrons. If there are a lot of leaves, either remove some or cut the leaves in half to reduce the amount of water loss. Insert the cuttings into pots of free draining potting mix without fertiliser and watch for roots to develop. Sadly camellias and hardy rhododendrons are not easy at all for the home gardener to strike. However, vireyas are very easy. Gardeners in frost prone areas can take cuttings of tender material to overwinter them.
The rains will trigger growth on spring bulbs so do not delay lifting and dividing dormant clumps. Bluebells go into growth early so it is the last chance on them. Even the daffodils will be starting to move.
It is definitely the last chance to prune cherry trees and plum trees this season.
Earth up celery and leeks to blanche the stems.
March is the most important month for planting winter vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, spinach and cabbage – all the brassicas. Winter lettuce can also be sown and you may still get away with carrots and parsnips though we prefer to get them in earlier.
Keep caterpillars at bay on your brassicas already planted.
With the autumn rains having come early, start the autumn fertilising round.