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RHS believes autumn is arguably the most important gardening season

With some two-thirds (65%) of people not knowing that autumn is an important gardening season, the RHS has this week launched ‘Grow at Home this autumn’ to encourage and help people to plant now to save water and money.

Almost seven in ten people (68%) think spring is the most important gardening season, compared to just 8% who think autumn is.  Some 65% of people when asked if they thought autumn was an important gardening season either disagreed or said they didn’t know.

The RHS commissioned YouGov to conduct the research, which surveyed some 2116 adults across the UK, as the gardening charity hopes to help millions of gardeners to ‘Grow at Home this autumn’.

Whilst spring is an important gardening season, the RHS is raising the benefits, many environmental and financial, of gardening over autumn as well.  The soil is moist and warm, but not yet soggy, and so easy to plant and gives plants more time to grow new roots and be less vulnerable to dry periods in summer.  Evergreens particularly establish well in autumn without the difficult fluctuations of spring weather and, when planted in spring, they usually need significant watering.

Trees are better planted in autumn or winter.  Autumn is especially best for planting trees in clay soils, which can be ‘gooey’ in the winter and dry to ‘concrete’ in spring. Just 22% of UK adults think trees should be planted in autumn and only 8% in winter, with one in three saying they don’t know when to plant trees (32%) and 30% saying to plant in spring and 4% in summer. 

The RHS’ Grow at home this autumn began on 14 September with a ‘bulb’ themed week, which should help over half of UK adults (61%) who don’t know you should plant tulip and daffodil bulbs in autumn.

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Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said:  “Helping people to garden is core to the RHS’ being, especially for the environment and their health, happiness and wellbeing.  With the recent growth in gardening, many don’t know that autumn is arguably the most important gardening season, which is something we’re committed to changing by promoting and sharing the benefits of gardening now.

43% of UK adults who garden or grow plants outside consign their fallen leaves to the council green waste bin – a waste of a valuable resource and also less good for the environment compared to it being used ‘in-garden’

“Water is a critical issue and planting evergreens, trees and many perennials over autumn usually means that we can water a lot less, with cooler climates and higher levels of rain.  We are seeing more dry and hot spring and summer months, when people can use a lot of water to keep newly planted plants alive.”

Just over half of UK adults who garden or grow plants outside (54%) deal with garden waste in the autumn by putting in in their council green waste bin, followed by 30% who will compost it, and one in ten who will take it all to the green waste tip.

Of those who have fallen leaves to deal with over coming months, just 8% said they used them to make leafmould, however 29% do add their leaf waste to their compost bin.  Again the Council Green Waste Bin was the most popular way to get rid of leaves with some 43% using this method.

Chief Horticulturist at the RHS, Guy Barter, says:  “Leaves often vex gardeners so no wonder two out of five consign them to the green waste bin, but leaves make the finest soil improver as leafmould.  Making leafmould helps the environment by eliminating the cost and carbon emissions associated with green waste collection.  Equally beneficial is raking leaves into heaps under shrubs and trees – they rot away by July and won’t promote slug damage or smother lawns and plants around woody plants.

“Garden compost makes brilliant soil improver, second only to leaf mould, and it is free. Despite this more than half of people despatch garden waste to the municipal waste, either taking it to the tip or using green bins. There is a lot of off-putting myth around composting, but it is the simplest process and with a pair of smart rat resistant bins it need not take up much space nor cause smells or flies, and even if it contains a few stems and twigs, it will do your garden much good.

“The survey showed only a quarter (27%) of gardeners will be buying goods this autumn**. Others will miss out on end of season discounts as vendors seek to clear stock and avoid probable annual price rises. With Brexit and Covid we’d suggest people buy goods now, not only as good gardening practices, but also due to potential cost increases in supplies.

“Only one out of four do replant containers for winter (26%) and fewer than half (43%) plant bulbs, missing out on an inexpensive and rewarding way of planting. Just over one in five do no autumn planting (22%) and just under one in five (18%) lifts and divide perennials – a crucial step for long term border success, and easier to do now than in spring.***”

The RHS’ Grow at Home this autumn, will have seven themed action packed weeks, with dozens of advice videos, some question and answer sessions and will be accessible to all via RHS social media @The_RHS on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and at www.rhs.org.uk/growathome

  •  14 – 20 Sept – Bulb planting week!  
    • Ideas and ways to grow your favourite bulbs, with indoor ideas, bulbs for containers and ways to add spring colour to your borders
  • 21 – 27 Sept – Save money, get better results and get year round colour!
    • Learn how to split plants to get plants for free and many other ideas
  • 28 Sept – 4 Oct – Grow Your Own Winter crops week 
    • Winter Veg Planting and harvesting tips! Onions, garlic, broad beans, kale, shallots plus delicious recipes
  • 5– 11 Oct – Grow A Tree of Hope Week
    • Inspiration and care tips for planting trees to benefit our health, the environment and wildlife.
  • 12– 18 Oct – Celebrating Autumn colour
    • Top tips on how to incorporate autumn colour into your garden and home and discover the autumnal delights on display at RHS Gardens.  
  • 19 – 25 Oct – Compost Week
    • How to make leaf mould and compost
  • 26 – 31 Oct – Autumn Clean! Important as Spring Clean!
    • Clean greenhouse, tidy up borders and lift tender species 
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